• The Inside Voice
  • More
  • About Us

Composer Patrick Hawes’ Spiritual Path

British composer Patrick Hawes gives an unusual answer when asked if there’s anything career-wise he wishes he could do better. His response: “Nothing.” The reason is based on Hawes’ Christian beliefs. He says he believes his ability to compose choral and symphonic music is a gift from God. “God doesn’t give you a gift and you say, ‘Thank you for the gift, but I wish it could have been better,’” Hawes said. “It couldn’t be better, it couldn’t be worse. It is what it is.”

Hawes says it took him nearly 40 years to realize the path God had created for him. As detailed in our Inside Voice article, he worked as a teacher for many years before he was asked to compose music for a school production. That request made him realize the process of composing was very natural for him.

“I think there has to be a return to beauty and spirituality – the core of art.” – Composer Patrick Hawes

One of the school pieces he created was for a choral group that he titled The Wedding at Cana. Hawes’ brother, who is a priest, suggested that the text from St. John’s Gospel depicting Christ’s first miracle would be perfect for Hawes’ dramatic cantata. The work included an orchestra, chorus and soloists.

After that production was well received, Hawes says he decided to become a composer full-time, always inspired by his Christian faith. He says one of his main hopes is that today’s artists will use both their minds and souls when composing.

“I think there has to be a return to beauty and spirituality – the core of art,” Hawes said. “You must be aware you have two creative engines – to be cerebral is not enough.”

Patrick Hawes visits the grave of his great-uncle, who was killed during World War I. The inscription on the gravestone, “He Lies with England’s Heroes in the Watchful Care of God,” inspired Hawes when he was creating The Great War Symphony.

With that in mind, Hawes has incorporated his beliefs in many of his works. One inspiration for his recent piece The Great War Symphony was the inscription on his great-uncle’s gravestone that was engraved during the First World War. It reads: “He Lies with England’s Heroes in the Watchful Care of God.” Hawes was struck by the power of those words and utilized them in the elegy movement of the composition.

In a similar manner, Hawes also frequently uses Bible verses in his professional work, like he did with The Wedding at Cana. This includes his Beatitudes and the composition Be Still from Psalm 46. He also has pieces based on prayers, including The Lord’s Prayer and Prayer to a Guardian Angel.

Hawes hopes that such works help him share his faith and properly use the gifts he’s been given. Though he hasn’t worried about that gift being better or worse, Hawes says that for a long time he was concerned God would take away his composing ability. His brother  reassured him though.

“I used to worry it would disappear – but my brother who’s a priest said, ‘If you give me a gift, do you want it back?’ I said ‘No.’ He says ‘You’ve been given a gift. No one’s going to want it back.’”

View Hawes’ spiritual, choral, and orchestral works.

Read more about Hawes in our Inside Voice piece, British Composer Patrick Hawes: Creating Works for Radio and Royalty 

Watch Pepper’s interview with Patrick Hawes here. 


Mary Rogelstad
Mary Rogelstad joined Pepper in 2018 as the company’s Marketing Content Coordinator. Previously she worked as a journalist in the international media and as a communications specialist at various nonprofits. In her free time, Mary has enjoyed singing in various choral groups and performing in musical theater.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Featured Posts

Share this post


The Inside Voice: An Interview with Larry Clark

Larry Clark is an ASCAP award-winning composer with over 300 publications in print. For over 20 years, he has been a much...

The Styles and Stories of American Patriotic Music

Patriotic music speaks to what it means to be part of this country and the shared experiences of its citizenry. It speaks...

Summer Reading Ideas for Music Teachers and Directors

Now that summer is in full swing, there’s time to kick back and enjoy some light reading. There are innumerable books that can...

Randy Vader: Choirs Doing More Than Just Singing

As CEO of PraiseGathering Music Group, Randy Vader has vast experience in the sacred music publishing business as a writer and composer,...

Belting 101: How to Help Your Students Use Their Full Voice

When I was an undergrad, I was told that belting would ruin my voice. I shunned the music I loved and focused...