Tag Archives: Death

Aunt Virginia’s Favorite Hymns

-by Elaine@hymnserve.com  photo

Aunt Virginia–so stylish and cool.

When I saw her shoes, I sure wanted some just like hers with the white straps coming up around the ankles.  When we managed to find a pair of shoes as much like hers as possible, Mother went along with it and got them for me.   Virginia had a refined sense of humor.  Very funny.  She used words that fired the imagination and the funny bone like when we were in a tiny town in Nebraska and couldn’t find the family reunion.  “We come all the way from Oregon, and now here we are ‘hurtling’ up and down Main Street trying to find it,” was the way she described it.

After I grew up, we would go by Portland any time we were close and would visit with her and Uncle Warren.  First we would peruse her exquisite antique shop attached to the house.  Her taste and knowledge was notable.  Uncle would work on the antiques in the room at the back of the elongated shop.  He could be a bit gruff with the customers–kind of the John Wayne type only much more handsome.  Therefore, Aunt Virginia stated that he is President of the Back Room and she is President of the Front.

One day when I was there with her, I saw a darling curved leg writing desk in the shop.   They were getting older, I mused.  How much longer would they have the shop?  Maybe I should buy a piece that Warren had worked on and Virginia had selected herself.  It would be memorable for me.  So, now as I write, I can look at the small desk and still love it as much as when I first saw it as I think of her.

It had always concerned me down through the years that Virginia didn’t declare that she knew the Lord.  They didn’t attend church, didn’t speak about the Christian life.  I knew she idolized her older brother, Elmond, a dedicated minister and servant of Jesus.  She was raised by an alcoholic father, who at age 50 had a miraculous turnaround when he accepted Jesus and served as a minister until in his 80’s.  That was my Granddad Clark.

When our families would get together, we would always sing around the piano, and I noticed in those later years it became a habit that Aunt Virginia would request us to sing two songs.  The Wonder of It All, sung so well by George Beverly Shea, and I Believe in Miracles.  Cousin Loren had sung both of them many times in the past as solos.  So we would always sing those for her.  Now that I am writing this, I notice that the theme of both of them is the saving grace of Jesus.  This speaks to me even now.

When I heard that she was diagnosed with a life threatening illness, I hated it.  I didn’t want to face it, so I waited months without contacting her.  Then one day I knew I must call her and tell her how much she had meant to me.  I explained that why I didn’t call sooner was that I didn’t want to confront the fact that her life was threatened.  It was a good conversation.

After the two of them moved into assisted living, I flew out once again to Portland.   What a happy surprise when it turned out to be a mini-reunion with a little group of us cousins coming together to see her.  Very shortly after I got there, Aunt Virginia asked me something about being ready to go…regarding her last journey.  We had a short conversation.   Did she ask God for forgiveness for the wrongs she had committed in her life?  “Oh hundreds of times!” she responded.  Then I assured her that was all she needed to do.   It is so comforting to me now that we talked about this.

We had a wonderful time all of us together.  We had to go down to the large reception area by the piano and have our group sing.  Other residents gathered around and began to request hymns or other songs they would like to sing.  One more time we sang Aunt Virginia’s favorites for her.

Hymns That Help

The Wonder of It All   

There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.

Refrain
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.

There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest,
The sky, the stars, the sun;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is a wonder that’s only begun.

I Believe in Miracles

Creation shows the power of God
There’s glory all around
And those who see Him stand in awe
For miracles abound

Refrain
I believe in miracles
I’ve seen a soul set free
Miraculous the change in one
Redeemed through Calvary
I’ve seen the lily push its way
Up through the stubborn sod
I believe in miracles
For I believe in God.

I cannot doubt the work of God
It’s plain for all to see
The miracles that He has wrought
Should lead to Calvary

The love of God, oh power divine
‘Tis wonderful to see
The miracle of grace performed
Within the heart of me

At the funeral, we sang them again. . . for her and for ourselves, as we celebrated Aunt Virginia’s life.   I am reassured that Aunt Virginia made her last journey well, and we will see her again in our heavenly home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSYzJZml_jA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHHbzPS6Hb8

– Elaine@hymnserve.com Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com.  Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniments for congregations, small groups and individuals.

Advertisements

HymnServe.com – That Day, 9-11

That day, 9-11, we drove to Columbus for one of Dan’s meetings.

As President of University of Toledo, he had to go to Columbus periodically to meet with the other state presidents in Ohio.  I was to drop him off and then do my own thing.  I was out at the parking meter, preparing to get in the car and drive away from the building he had entered for his meeting when the cell phone rang.  It was our son who called and said, “Have you heard?”  No, because we had traveled from Toledo to Columbus without the radio on.

He said, “We are at war!”

So I just walked to the nearest place where I could see a TV–a hotel lobby where a little group of people were gathered to watch.  It wasn’t long before Dan and all the others came back down without continuing the meeting and headed back to Toledo to deal with any campus issues that might threaten.

The 2nd morning after 9-11, there was an all campus memorial gathering outdoors for students and any and everyone who wanted to come.  As I parked and walked toward the large quad in the middle of the campus, I began to hear choral music wafting out over the sunshiny air.

A Hymn to Help

The music was breathtaking, and as I got closer the scene became surreal.  So many people had quietly gathered, but the University’s male chorus was truly inspired in singing an ancient modal hymn that had been selected by the director.  I thought I knew almost any hymn they could have sung, but not this one.

God be in my head…and in my understanding,

God be in mine eyes…and in my looking,

God be in my mouth…and in my speaking,

God be in my heart…and in my thinking,

God be at mine end…and in my departing.

If ever there was a moment when God’s Spirit settled down on a place, this was one of them.  I will never forget it.

Since that time, I have gone back periodically to listen to this hymn and learn it myself.  If you want to hear it as sung by Kings College, Cambridge, you can use this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qif2rfBmcTA

As a postscript to this story, it was the students of the University that held the day.  Administrators and faculty spoke during the convocation.  Then, the student body president and vice president came to the podium together to represent the students of the University.  They who had never experienced an attack by a foreign power on our homeland were crushed and frightened.

So the student body president, a devout young Catholic student, began his remarks.  Half way through he broke down so that he couldn’t continue.  The lovely young woman vice president began without a break to read his script for him.  Then when he regained his composure he began again.

He said, “I asked her beforehand to take over for me if I couldn’t finish.”  So he ended his speech.

Toledo has a high Arab population as does Detroit which is only over the border into Michigan from us.  When it came time for the Muslim student association president to make remarks, I could feel the tension rise in my own heart.  What would he say?  Would it be right?  He was a wonderfully handsome young student, and by the time he finished, he had said exactly all the things that I would have wanted him to say.

But here is the heart stopper.  Halfway through his speaking, the student body president stepped up beside him, put his hands on each of his shoulders and stood there until he finished the speech.  It signaled to all of us such an eloquent moment,. . . we are united, and we are standing together in this time of crisis.

Image

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.

 

HymnServe.com – When Dad Died

100_0804by Elaine@hymnserve.com

The songs we sang around his bed helped us to see him off.

We were there, Mom, my husband Dan and I, my brother Vern and his wife Connie, and Betty, our hospice minister, an long time friend of ours.  I had spent the night in the room keeping watch for Dad.  The nurse would come in periodically during the night and hoist him up on her shoulder and turn him over.  He couldn’t help, just lay limp over her.  This was a man of 98 leaving behind many years of faithful giving of his life to Christian ministry and to God to use in any way possible.  Vernon and Connie went down the hall to run an errand around 11 am.

It was then that I saw what the hospice people had alerted us to, Dad missing some breaths, a kind of apnea.  I told Betty.  She glanced at him and darted out of the room calling loudly for Vernon and Connie to come back.  I had been very brave all along, keeping my hand on Dad’s shoulder, telling him he would soon be seeing his Mom, Dad, Sister, old friends.  But then as we all stood around the bed I crumbled and cried out in such a way I had not heard before, such heavy weeping clutching my Mom and my husband.  Then in a moment of clarity, I stopped and said to my brother, “We can’t do it this way can we?  He shook his head, no. I said, “Let’s sing.”

A HYMN TO HELP

So through tears we sang the first thing that came to mind.  It was for Dad’s sake to comfort him and give him courage, this old, old song:

     Won’t it be wonderful there! Having no burdens to bear, Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing, Oh won’t it be wonderful there!

Then for our own sake and Dad’s too, we sang:

‘Tis So Sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at his word, Just to rest upon his promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

     Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er, Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust Him more.

And the second verse.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior Friend, And I know that Thou art with me, Will be with me to the end.

Not realizing how fitting that last line would be now, we had started the song just because it came to mind.  How poignant those words were in that sacred moment when Dad was getting ready to go away from us!

Then Vern said, “Do you suppose we could remember the words to The King is Coming?”  This is the song that Dad sang with such anointing and authority until he became known all around for singing it.  People would say, “Oh, could Brother Clark sing The King is Coming?”  And Mother always played the piano.

We started off,

The King is Coming in Glory to catch His bride away, It may be in the morning, it may be at midday, At the even, or midnight the trump will sound so clear, The dead in Christ and we who live His voice shall hear!

     The King is coming, hallelujah, He’s coming in the air, The fig tree is budding, the signs are everywhere, The saints are looking, ever upward, as they journey on their way, He’s coming, hallelujah! to catch his bride away.

It was during this song that so many times people would ask him to sing, that he went away from us.

I  never really had to grieve like that again.  He was ready to go, his life spoke so eloquently to everyone, it was a celebration of a life well lived.  And the last song we sang put everything in proper order and served a reminder to us.  We will see him again.

I love you, Dad.

– Elaine@hymnserve.com

Elaine is the founder of hymnserve.com. Her website provides downloadable hymn accompaniment for congregations, small groups and individuals.