There’s something about music, a truth to it, something that just can’t be faked. We’ve all seen it before, perhaps in a church service, when you catch a glimpse of the other congregants and you can’t help but notice the disparate faces of the singers. On one hand is the detached mumbler who just wants to get through the hymn with as little commitment as possible.
On the other is the enthusiastic believer whose fleshy cheeks rise and fall with each joyful refrain. Sheridan was once the second kind of singer. He felt alive every time he sang and he sang all the time.
In the dark of the early dawn, as he delivered the morning paper, young Sheridan would belt out whatever melody possessed him. So lost was he in his happy abandon, he was unaware he had become an-eight-year-old newsprint-delivering rooster to some of his more light-sleeping customers.
There was a freedom of expression he found in singing that was highly valued in his family. Since childhood, spontaneous outbreaks of singing were part of the narrative of the Clark family upbringing. For them it was a way of marking the highlights of one’s day and celebrating the blessings that endured the years. His mother could make a song of any announcement, whether it was a wake-up call in the morning or a call home for supper in the evening. And if a familiar tune began to play on the radio, even the presence of friends wouldn’t restrain his family from breaking out in song. Matter of fact, on more than one occasion, dinner guests would nearly jump out of their skins, taken aback by the sheer volume of singing that erupted from the mouths of the Clark clan. Much as our ancestors passed on oral history from one generation to the next, with songs that told the story of their lives, these songs became his family’s journal of record for their trials and triumphs.
From this fertile soil sprang Sheridan’s great love for music, particularly sacred music. Be it a reverent verse or a triumphant chorus, man’s humble attempt to speak of a mighty God had never failed to move him. Whenever possessed by a song, something would ignite the deep blue of his eyes, transforming the quiet loner into a mesmerizing messenger. His passion for music carried him from humble family sing-alongs to a prestigious school of music where he continued to hone his craft as a writer and director. It introduced him to the fiery Latin contralto who would become his wife, led him to become a musical golden boy at some of the most respected cathedrals in the country, and lifted him to the lofty position of music curator for the Vatican. Indeed, Sheridan’s love for music had become the single most sustaining source in his life—until the day the music left him.