George Bayley reluctantly started
playing the organ when he was 16, at the chiding of a teacher and the encouragement of a congregation that desperately needed
someone to strike the chords on Sundays.
He said one of the most eye-opening realizations for them was when they
lived in Northern Ireland. “It’s very much a peaceful, loving place and the troubles are more tribal than Catholic
versus Protestant,” he said. Bayley converted to Episcopalian during his college years and said he felt very comfortable
in church services in Northern Ireland when ministers referred to Brother Catholic and Brother Protestant.
he returned to Alabama where he worked for a church and caught up with an old friend of his wife’s, Libby. “She
had just returned from the U.K. and we agreed to get together to swap photos and memories,” he said. The two met in
1961 and had kept up with each other through the years as family friends. “She walked in the door and lightning struck,”
he said. Within one year, they were married on Valentine’s Day. “We’ve had such fun,” he said.
The couple has traveled
together and lived in several states while he worked as choral director and organist for churches. They seem to complement
each other in many ways. Each has four children, and now they share seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Libby is now the choral librarian at St. Peter’s.
Under George’s tutelage and with her dedication, the program has grown and the choir is planning a trip to Scotland
The two recently
started a music publishing company, named Deerwood Music, after the subdivision where they now live. “It’s a vehicle
to get my works published,” Bayley said. In addition to playing and teaching the organ, Bayley has composed many scores
over the years. Choirs sing his music in cathedrals and churches as far away as Australia, England, Scotland and Ireland,
and as near as Rehoboth and Lewes.
He even has several CDs of organ music, and he will donate the proceeds of the most recent one to the choir
trip this summer. Most of his compositions specialize in smaller choirs, which is why Bayley says they are so popular in the
churchgoers and choirs every Sunday at church, and has been doing so for years. He uses his talent to praise God, and to explore
faith-based music that is often overlooked by many.
He has also inspired many students. Bayley said just the other day he was in an internet chat room discussing
how children should not be discouraged from attending service, but embraced. “I told them I work for a church that is
a tourist attraction, and I often invite children up to see the organ, or to play it,” he said. Bayley said a member
of the chat room recognized his willingness to let children learn about music. “He was one of my students from the 1950s,
and now he’s the head organist for a church,” he said.
Aside from the students he’s taught to play the organ, Bayley shares
his love and talent and continues to bring music to Saint Peter’s, and to wherever he roams.
Contact Molly Albertson at email@example.com