Christmas Letter 2016

I started the year with the completion of dental treatment which had dominated my mouth during 2015 subsequent to one of my front teeth coming up against the full force of a fresh strawberry coated in chocolate. The implant having been completed already there remained the small and expensive issue of 5 replacement crowns which have left my smile the talk of Tampa. I have been awarded honourary membership of both the Colgate Ring of Confidence and the Donny Osmond Appreciation Society.

The low point of the year was attending the funeral of Sir William Hayward who had been such an influence on my musical career. Fortunately I was able to return to UK and attended his funeral at Shrewsbury Abbey. I was invited to give a lengthy eulogy and the singer Russell Watson, with whom Bill worked frequently, sang a couple of solos. His death and that of Paul Reed a year earlier have robbed me of good friends with deep expertise in a variety of areas.

My family continues to remember with great affection my oldest niece Emily who died at the tender age of 21 last year. Her sister Bethan continues to surprise us with her musical successes. She organised what she called EmFest in a local pub and by all reports it was a great success both in terms of the turnout and the monies raised for the Mind Charity.

The high point of the year was the marriage in August of my youngest brother Richard to Camille. The cunning fox had sequestered her on the internet from Brazil and brought her to UK where they now live happily in Guildford. The marriage was a real meeting of the Jakob clans. In a wise move children were not obvious and adults were able to spend quality time together in the hotel which we took over for two days. I played the organ and generally advised Abbots and their entourage how to navigate the revised Marriage Rites.

Within two hours of my return to Florida the death of the Pastor Emeritus was announced. Having been founding Pastor at St Lawrence for 49 years and a priest for 58 years Mgr Higgins was as well known in city business circles as he was in religious. The funeral was spread over three days and involved much diplomacy from me as my predecessor had a long-standing agreement to direct the music.  I think it would be fair to say that my position here was further confirmed as a result!

Scottish friends Ross and Scott visited me again in February and Paul Inwood dropped in one Sunday in January.

I was able to attend the National Convention of Pastoral Musicians in Houston, Texas and renew friendships with Marty Haugen and Bob Hurd. I was also encouraged by the interest shown in my compositions by publishers OCP and GIA. It was also good to meet up with my English musical colleagues Paul Inwood and Christopher Walker.

In June I managed to take a week’s holiday on Sanibel Island further south in Florida and later in September another week on the East Coast soon after a hurricane had passed!

A gift from a parishioner has enabled me to set up a recording studio in my office. It is proving difficult to get the hang of but will be greatly aided by a discovery in my favourite charity shop of the same equipment (and more) which I have now installed at home for the princely sum of $49!

I now drive a Nissan Rogue which is larger than any car I’ve ever driven but have had no accident since, possibly because it makes me more visible to the terrible drivers who abound in these parts. However my insurance costs have risen drastically as a result of the accidents I suffered and I now have to pay $1500 for only 6 months cover!

Next year looks set to start in interesting fashion. Out of the blue I was invited a couple of weeks ago to the Liturgical Composers Forum in St Louis in January. I’m looking forward to learning so much and perhaps even growing in confidence. I’ve also sent a publisher three compositions which have been tried and tested over the years. I haven’t sent anything for over 10 years and I’m rather reluctant to send stuff until it has been honed by use and even then the fear of rejection dominates. It’s a vulnerable thing to subject your heart’s outpourings to the scrutiny of others.

A new bishop will be installed in the diocese here in early January and I’ll be involved in that and it is even possible that one of my chunky pieces, Canticle of Tobias, may be used.

My organ teacher Stephen Hicks will visit Florida with his family in March and I am hoping to hear him play for the first time in 30 years since he moved to Norway. I’m negotiating now for a concert at St Lawrence.

I am hoping that during the year I will be granted a Green Card which will enhance my status here in USA. It’s a long process and in the Trump era one never knows how even legal aliens will be treated! By September I hope to be able to move from this rented apartment to a house somewhere close by. This location works well for me being close enough to work and with great access to airport and beaches of St Pete where I continue to enjoy kayaking on my days off.

As I look back on 2016 I feel greatly blessed by being able to enjoy my work in Florida, by technology such as skype (philipjakob2) which allows me to keep in touch with friends and family. I work longer hours, with less holiday and play for more Masses than I ever thought humanly possible but I am inspired by the reflections of really pastoral priests and colleagues. If you are interested then you might wish to read my blog which is now enhanced on

Current temperatures are 80F, a bit lower than this time last year but then we are experiencing a cold snap!



7930 Bay Pointe Drive, Audubon Village Apt A24, Tampa FL 33615, USA


Skype: philip.jakob2


St Lawrence Catholic Church, 5225 N Himes Ave, Tampa FL 33614, USA      pjakob@stlawrence,org



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