"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.
To post a memorial on this page please contact Linda Griggs
From Aldo Ceresa:
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
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.
Patrick Giles leading 319 Religion is a Fortune.mp3
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.
Tune: Thomas W. Carter, 1844
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".
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
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
Special thanks to Michael Kaye for his ongoing efforts to document the Sacred Harp community
and for sharing his photos of Patrick.