November 19, 2013
A week ago today, I heard the stunning news that an acquaintance of mine had been killed. More, her daughter had also been hurt in the tragedy. Although I didn’t know the victims very well, I knew of the family. They are a sweet family, just good people. Friends of the family came forward with hugs, food and many offers of help, so much help that a coordinator was assigned to keep it all straight. It was wonderful to watch. Among those offering to help was my friend Annie, who offered to play the organ at the funeral.
Saturday afternoon, the funeral was held at our local church. The night before, Annie couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t jitters. For some reason she thought she might need more prelude music than usual. She had played for many funerals before, and normally she played prelude for about 30 minutes prior to the service starting. Sleepless, Annie arose from bed at about 11 pm and searched through several hymnals she had in her collection. Using her printer as a copy machine, she copied the ones that would fit a funeral service. For over 2 hours, she copied comforting and loving hymns. She arranged them in an order that would allow them to flow from one song to another, interspersing them with the half hour’s worth of music she already had collected. After a quick run through on the organ, she felt satisfied at 1:30 am, she retired to bed.
The next day, Annie arrived more than an hour prior to the service, in case she was needed. She was! The chapel was already filled with people, and the funeral director asked her to begin prelude earlier than usual. She was grateful she had prepared so many pieces to play. Annie took her spot at the organ and began playing.
In the end, Annie had to provide over an hour and a half of prelude music. During that time, her left leg had gone numb and her forearms began to spasm from the continued reaches to the second keyboard. However, with the addition of the extra music from the night before she was able to accomplish this without panic.
Annie expressed gratitude to God for prompting her to arise the night before and prepare more music. God knew that there would be an unusual need at the funeral, and He made sure Annie was prepared for it. And then He ‘bore her up’ as she began to feel the effects of such long term playing. Annie told me, “It was a really neat experience, to be a tool in the hand of God for the afternoon.” Annie went on to accompany the hymns that were sung as part of the service, and postlude as well. Thankfully, once the service began, she got a few minutes of a break to stretch out her leg and massage her hands and arms.
Because Annie listened to the promptings of the spirit, she was prepared. She was able to provide a sweet, peaceful setting for mourners to come and feel God’s love and reassuring peace as they waited for the services to begin. Had she been fumbling through her music, or playing the same half hour of music repeatedly, it wouldn’t have been as nice. Hearing experiences like this reminds me that our Heavenly Father loves us each individually. He knows us and wants to help us be our best. He wanted the service to be as great as possible to nourish His suffering children. If I could talk to the speakers, the soloist who performed, and the other people who were involved in the service, I’m sure they’d tell me similar stories.
Photo courtesy of BYU.edu