Saturday, February 20, 2016
I played for the adult session of stake conference tonight Elder Doxey of the Seventy was our visiting authority. The stake music chairman had an opening and closing hymn planned, with a musical number in the middle of the meeting. Thursday evening, I spent about 3 1/2 to 4 hours at the stake center, practicing, choosing the perfect registrations for the hymns, prelude, and postlude, and solidifying the pieces I would be playing.
Tonight, as I was finishing up my second-to-last prelude piece, the second counselor in the stake presidency came up to me and asked if I could talk while I was playing. Of course, I said, "yes." He proceeded to tell me that Elder Doxey asked for a standing rest hymn, and wondered if "Israel, Israel, God is Calling" would work. It really didn't matter what he was asking, my answer would have been yes (that's something the Bonnie Goodliffe instilled in me during the lessons I took from her)! So I did. I replied, "Yes," then added, "I'll have to register on the fly, but we'll make it work!"
After the opening hymn, I turned to the newly added rest hymn and the page was pristine--I had never played it out of my newer hymnal, and all of my markings were in a different one. I quickly penciled in pedaling, then peeked at the other registrations I was using to figure out a registration plan that I could have relative confidence in. I made the appropriate marks, said a quick prayer, then sat down.
When the time came to play, no one there would have ever known it was my first run through of the hymn in months, if not years, and my first run through on that organ. I was blessed with an outpouring of the Spirit, and played almost flawlessly, chose perfect registrations to highlight the text of the verses, and even added in a few running bass line notes and a pedal point on the last verse to better highlight the message of the hymn. How blessed I was, to be able to turn a last-minute hymn addition into a glorious musical experience for the congregation! The Spirit was there in abundance, and I felt honored to be able to bring more to the meeting.
Following the closing hymn, while I was playing postlude, I was thanked by several members with tear-filled eyes.
Tonight's offering on the organ was a culmination of many, many years of hard work and dedication: Countless hours of practice let me to this point. I've been "good enough" to play a good, spirit-filled service for years, yet I continue to practice, to persevere, to sacrifice, all in the name of the organ. Why? Many times I do not have an answer. I do it because I can't imagine NOT doing it. It's who I am: It's part of me, and has been my entire life.
Why do I continue to spend the long, tiring hours, slaving away at the organ? Why do I feel the need to continually improve myself? Why is playing the organ such a huge part of my life?
Tonight my purpose became very clear, once again, to my soul:
Tonight I touched lives. Tonight I did a good work. Tonight, I helped others feel the Spirit through song as many have never felt it before. Tonight I helped others glorify God.
That is why I play the organ.