When a singer goes to an organist’s funeral, it is a trip with the Ghosts of Church Music past. To the far left is the organist I’ve known for decades. To the right is a lady I sang with from my kids’ choir. Beside me is another singer from a former choir. The pianist and I worked together decades ago on other projects. There was a time our lives were intertwined.
Sometimes we struggled through music for this performance or the drama of the rehearsal where nothing worked.
We’ve come together to honor the memory of a friend, for whom his music was his life. Here, in this congregation joined to celebrate the memory of a friend, are the strands of his life and our own.
As our voices blend at the funeral, I don’t remember the bad rehearsals. I do remember the joy we had when we sang together and things worked – the Hallelujah Chorus. The a capella “Panis Angelicus.”
Our singing is our final tribute, our final farewell to a musician friend. Every line of every song has new purpose.
It feels like The Sound of Music, when the Trapp family sings “So Long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Good-bye.”
At the funeral, we each sing our own final personal tribute. When the music ends, we wish each other a final good-bye in the parking lot. Our lives, once joined together, have ventured on different paths.
This good-bye is no more final than the one we said to our friend who died. Our worlds will touch again in the future. We will sing together again. Hopefully not just at funerals.
Perhaps when I sing my Alleluia and you sing your Amazing Grace, in our separate lives, we can remember each other and sing them together in our hearts.
The So Long Farewell isn’t final. It’s just awhile -
Till we meet again.