Stephen Hatfield, who has called Esquimalt home for over a decade, says his career in music was a “series of flukes” invoked by piano lessons from his parents when he was a kid. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Stephen Hatfield, who has called Esquimalt home for over a decade, says his career in music was a “series of flukes” invoked by piano lessons from his parents when he was a kid. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

B.C. composer’s ‘Amazing Grace’ performed at funeral of John McCain

World renowned melodist ‘tickled pink’ to be part of public mourning

Amazing Grace is the kind of song you expect to hear at a memorial service, but when it sounded through the U.S. Naval Academy during the funeral service of U.S. Senator John McCain last week, it was a version composed by Esquimalt’s Stephen Hatfield.

“It’s been out there for a while,” he says of the piece he composed more than 20 years ago that includes a choral accompaniment and bagpipes and was performed by the Brophy Student Ensemble of Phoenix, Arizona.

“It’s so plaintive,” he describes. “It just goes into your heart and can make you weep when you hear the pipes and hear the music floating over you.”

RELATED: John McCain, U.S. war hero and presidential candidate, dies at 81

Hatfield, who grew up in 1950s Langford, credits his parents for providing him with an education in music.

“My parents busted themselves to get me good piano lessons,” he says. “I feel really fortunate to have had this career because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t think I was talented enough.”

Now a world-renowned choral composer, Hatfield – who has worked with choirs in Washington, D.C. – says he was “tickled pink” to have his music be part of a public mourning for a man who he felt had both dignity and honour.

“I admired the man,” he says. “He had a rather anodyne idea of what U.S. military intervention might accomplish but given his background he had the right.”

RELATED: McCain buried at Naval Academy alongside a longtime friend

McCain, who died Aug. 25 at the age of 81, after a year-long battle with brain cancer, was a prisoner of the Vietnam war who served his country politically for 35 years, including a run for president on the Republican ticket with then-Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Hatfield isn’t sure if McCain personally chose his version of Amazing Grace after it was widely reported the Senator had planned much of his own funeral, to which he did not invite President Donald Trump.

Regardless, to think his “little piece of music” could be a part of such a “deep public expression of grief” leaves Hatfield heartened.

RELATED: Canadian officials attend John McCain’s funeral in Washington

These days, Hatfield’s creative outlet is working with local a capella group, The Millies. Having long admired the work of Lynda Raino, Hatfield calls the chance to connect with the trio musically, “the ultimate fan story.”

“I just love working with them,” he says. “It’s so different from a concert choir. It’s just so cool to think that here’s somebody of whom I was such a big fan and they pull me aboard. It’s so rewarding.”

@kristyn_anthony

kristyn_anthony@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Kelly Servinski, of the Tutti Hotel in Clinton, climbs above the river. (Photo credit: http://www.sterlinglorence.com/)
Gravel is the new gold: Cyclist bumps new biking trend

There’s gravel in them thar hills around Clinton

Amy Newman follows the route of the Cariboo Waggon Road — now Highway 97 — through Clinton. (Photo credit: New Pathways to Gold Society)
Grant received for Cariboo Waggon Road restoration project north of Clinton

New Pathways to Gold hopes to start work this summer on restoring sections of historic road

Dan Cumming (l, with Lisa Colwell, LPN) was one of 1,918 people who received their first COVID-19 vaccine at a community clinic in Ashcroft in early May. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Vaccine clinics in Ashcroft, Clinton administered 2,664 first doses

Residents over the age of 18 are still eligible to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Italian-Canadian prisoners at the Kananaskis prisoner of war camp in Alberta. (University of Calgary/Contributed)
Italian moved to Okanagan with hope; he ended up being sent to a WWII internment camp

Raymond Lenzi shares his grandfather’s story ahead of Canada’s planned formal apology to Italian-Canadians

Then-minister Rich Coleman, escorted by Victoria Police, makes his way to the east wing amid a protest blocking the legislature entrances before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

Responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, Coleman been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month

Colin Dowler rests in hospital recuperating from wounds suffered from a grizzly bear attack north of Campbell River. He was able to end the struggle by stabbing the bear in the neck with a knife like the one he is holding. Photo submitted
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport in Richmond, B.C. on Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Meeting police chance to get sense of ‘frustrating’ gang violence situation: minister

Mike Farnworth met with police representatives Thursday following a recent spate of shootings

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue manager Ken Neden, as he goes over the events of the Qualicum Falls river rescue on Dec. 12, 2020, for a United Kingdom television program “Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’. (Mandy Moraes photo)
TV show spreading news of daring B.C. river rescue across the world

Arrowsmith SAR trio share their accounts for ‘Unbelievable Moments Caught on Camera’

Shane Ertmoed’s application for Escorted Temporary Absences was granted following a hearing May 4, 2021. (File photo)
B.C. child-killer an ‘average’ risk to sexually reoffend: Parole Board

Written reasons behind approval of Shane Ertmoed’s request for escorted absences shared

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

Most Read