"Religion is a fortune and heaven is my home..."

Singing for an audience of 2000, Patrick can be seen slightly to the right of center in the back row with his hand up.

Patrick leading at the St. Bart's Sing. (Photos - Michael Kaye)

Patrick leading a "Religion is a Fortune" at the Garden State Convention in Montclair, NJ in 2003.

Patrick leading 300 people in "Cusetta" at the Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp Convention.
Aldo Ceresa, Linda Griggs, Marcia Tucker and Patrick Giles in western Massachusettes in 2004.

From Aldo Ceresa:

Singing friends,

I'm very sorry to share some sad news that I've just discovered.

Patrick Giles, a singer from Manhattan, passed away on October 13, 2005.

Patrick had a fine tenor voice and his enthusiasm for singing and The Sacred Harp was unsurpassed. In a community filled with warm and generous people, his willingness to share himself with other singers was yet remarkable. Though he has been missed at local sings for the last year and a half, his absence now will have the added sting of permanence. He was a gentle, kind soul, and will be continue to be missed.

For my own part, I last spoke to him early last summer, at which time he seemed to be improving and was looking forward to returning to singing. When later emails and voice messages went unanswered, I was concerned but knew of no other way to make contact. It was only today that I found his memorial page online. It can be viewed at:

There are also other memorials at:

Singing affected him deeply. His passion for the music was immediately evident whenever he spoke about it. Though there were surely others, I recall that 384 and 335 were among his favorite songs, a s was "Africa." He was particularly fond of the additional verses (so that the question "Is he a God...?" does not go unanswered). Here is the complete Watts text:

Now shall my inward joys arise,
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart,
And pleasure tunes my tongue.
God on his thirsty Zion's hill
Some mercy drops has thrown,
And solemn oaths have bound his love
To shower salvation down.

Why do we then indulge our fears,
Suspicions, and complaints?
Is he a God, and shall his grace
Grow weary of his saints?

Can a kind woman e'er forget
The infant of her womb?
And 'mongst a thousand tender thoughts
Her suckling have no room?

"Yet," saith the Lord, "should nature change,
And mothers monsters prove,
Zion still dwells upon the heart
Of everlasting love.

"Deep on the palms of both my hands
I have engraved her name;
My hands shall raise her ruined walls,
And build her broken frame?"

I have contacted his family and will let you know if I hear back from them. In the meantime, please forward this to anyone else who might want to know of his passing.


From Marcia and Dean:

We are so very, very sad to hear about Patrick's death. He was a wonderful person, and a joy to have known.

Marcia & Dean

From Linda Griggs:

Those of you that were at the Western Mass Convention in 2004 might remember the chairs. They were evil. They hurt your back. If you sat up straight your butt slid off the back edge of the seat. They were flimsy. So we all owed Patrick a hearty thank you for breaking one of them. But of course, he didn't see it that way.
From where I was sitting I couldn't see what happened but at the break I saw Patrick by the stairs and he said he'd decided to leave the convention and go home on an earlier bus. He just didn't feel comfortable staying at the Convention. I asked why and he began to tear up as he explained how humiliated he felt. It wasn't a solitary embarrassing incident. He seemed to be feeling a kind of built up humiliation that sits on top of years of self-loathing. I hugged him and asked him not to go. Then Marcia Tucker saw us and knew something was wrong. When he told her what happened she TOLD him not to go. I told him nobody around me even saw it we were too busy giggling with the girl behind us who'd dropped the offering plate. Embarrassing stuff just happens. And I told him, "If you leave now you'll never find out that EVERYBODY HERE IS ON YOUR SIDE. He said, "You don't understand what it is to be morbidly obese." Marcia thought about it and nodded and said, "But I do understand what it is to be terminally ill and believe me you do not want to waste a day on this."
Patrick stayed. Between Marcia and I he didn't stand a chance. Of course he stayed, and the three of us shared a special bond after that. I'm so grateful that spirit moved Marcia to be there at that moment and to have those words ready.
Reading Patrick’s obituaries among the many, many references to his talent and intelligence I saw references to his battles with his personal demons: "crippling self-doubt", self-recrimination and his inability to believe in himself.
He and I sat together at Montclair in 2004 and at the end of "Irwinton" Patrick give a great exhalation of awe at the beauty of that song.
I never realized how uplifting the lyrics are. I know several people who have developed confidence and found their voice through Sacred Harp. Patrick led songs in front of 40 people here, 100 people at Montclair, 300 at Western Mass and he was still well enough to sing at the Beacon in front of 2,000. He was beginning to receive the attention his writing deserved. It doesn't take much thinking to see the lyrics of “Irwinton” as a metaphor for finding self-esteem and realizing that believing in yourself is your birthright.

229 "Irwinton"

Tune: Thomas W. Carter, 1844
Lyrics: 1774

What poor, despised company
Of travelers are these,
That walked in yonder narrow way,
Along the rugged maze.
Ah, they are of a royal line,
All children of a King;
Heirs of immortal crowns divine,
And loud for joy they sing.

Patrick lead 319, "Religion is a Fortune at Montclair in 2004", 73t, "Cussetta" at Western Massachusets in 2004. His other favorite songs were 384, "Panting for Heaven", 335, "Return Again" and 178, "Africa".

Patrick Giles leading 319 Religion is a Fortune.mp3
Irwinton (Patrick can be heard singing) led by Brenda Pena

From George Seiler:

"Patrick Giles was a gentle, sensitive giant of a man. I first truly got to know him at the 2004 Western Massachusetts Sacred Harp convention after the broken chair incident. He was greatly embarrassed and ready to leave. One of his friends -- probably Marcia Tucker -- asked me to talk with him. For I did understand what he was going through, having been greatly overweight and having had a similar broken chair experience. Patrick and I talked for nearly a half hour about our feelings and concerns and even shared some tears. Then we came back into the singing space together. We were both pleased.
As I told Patrick, we were of the same brotherhood of overweight, chair-breaking folk. The advantage was we got the opportunity to meet and become friends. Every time we had the opportunity to sing together -- at St. Bart's, at Garden State -- we shared the pleasure of one another's company. When we sang at St. Bart's this January (2006), we sang songs in memory and celebration of Patrick and of our son, Mark. It was a good and healing singing. I was honored that Linda Griggs asked me to read the moving words she had written about Patrick I am fortunate to have known him.
George Seiler

To post a memorial on this page please contact Linda Griggs

Special thanks to Michael Kaye for his ongoing efforts to document the Sacred Harp community and for sharing his photos of Patrick.