Many years ago, when I was about 15, my mother "strongly encouraged" me to sing in the ward choir for an Easter program. I didn't have the right spirit about it as we began practice in January for an April program. However, I went diligently with my mother and listened as an awesome "music man" listed the numbers we would learn and bore testimony to us of the beauty and inspiration that" only music can lend to a soul". His name was Rendall Gibbons, and his plan was to describe and tell of the life of Christ using the music that has been written over various years. The program would open with many Christmas hymns that portrayed the story of His birth. Far, Far Away On Judeah's Plains, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Joy to the World, were among the numbers expected of us to learn. Then he wanted us to tackle, songs like O Divine Redeemer, How Great Thou Art, and even The Messiah, to testify of Christ's life, death, and resurrection. We set out to work, and it was just that...WORK. He expected perfection out of our small, meager choir. We sang and resang, harmonized and reharmonized. There were many choir members that had experience singing, like Sister Esther Davis among several others. I remember thinking it made perfect sense for her to be there with her beautiful voice to lend to the Lord, but for those of us, me in particular, who had been recruited, well we had a real challenge before us. But, somehow, this beautiful man Brother Gibbons, convinced us that we could perform these numbers as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! He carried an amazing spirit of music. And he was contagious! So with joy (and a slight bit of fear) in our hearts, I distinctly remember praying together as a choir that our performance would please the Lord, and testify of him. What an awesome spirit filled that loft, both during that prayer and the performance. We truly sang our testimonies for and to God, and it was amazing! I seriously believe that angels were amongst us, lending their spirits and voices of this truth! I'm not sure how we sounded exactly, but I remember Brother Gibbons, as well as others being moved to tears. Funny how the Spirit can work through even some of the most unassuming instruments.
I guess my point in recounting this is that over the course of those months, I gained a testimony of my Savior. Spending time with music that praised him and taught of his mercy and love gave me the basis of a testimony that will always burn in me. I know He lives! I know he loves us all. I know He provides a way back for all of us through repentance, forgiveness, mercy, and above all His love for us!
I woke up this morning with the tune of O Divine Redeemer in my mind. In particular the words,
Hear my cry, hear my cry
Save me, Lord in Thy mercy; Hear my cry, hear my cry! Come and save me, O Lord!
O divine Redeemer! O divine Redeemer! I pray Thee, grant me pardon, and remember not Remember not, O Lord, my sins!
Save in the day of retribution From death shield Thou me, O my God! O divine Redeemer, have mercy! Help me Savior!
The good news for any whose souls are "crying out", those filled with various types of anguish, but also for those who have found peace… the good news is that He lives! And all things are possible through him. Believe Him and find peace and love. Then pay it forward...
I will always be grateful for Easter Sundays, and ever grateful to my Savior and His love.