Singing Hymns Through Tears

As soon as Sunday School was over, I'd gather my things together and scurry upstairs.  I would slide in the pew and settle in beside my Mama.

The service would begin.

I would sit there, impatiently waiting to sing a hymn.  Singing was always my favorite part of the service. The song leader would announce the hymn number and I would quickly grab my hymnal and stand, always being one of the first ones up. As soon as the hymn would start, my Dad’s voice could plainly be heard above the rest of the congregation. When he would start singing, I would stand a little taller. I was so proud of my Dad’s singing voice, his ability to harmonize easily and his knowledge of virtually every verse of every hymn.

As I got older, my love of this Sunday morning moment never changed. If there was a Sunday my Dad had to work, I would still stand tall and proud, doing my part. My Dad had taught me how to harmonize, how to pull the melodies from the music and how to hear the piano over everyone’s voices. 

I also took piano lessons for many years when I was young. I was lucky enough to have a piano teacher that was not only a Christian but attended the same church I did.  Many of my weekly lessons were learning to play hymns. I can assure you there were many a night spent around the piano (not always willingly on my part), playing hymns with my Dad singing melody and me singing harmony. I can remember the neighbors saying how they enjoyed sitting on their porches in the summer listening to us. And Sunday mornings when the song leader would call out a hymn that I knew we had practiced at home, I would do a little victory dance inside. I would stand up and sing beside my Dad as loud as I could.

My Dad has aged over the years, not having the best hearing and vision anymore.  There were quite a few years where he didn't attend church because of his health issues.  This had never really affected me until Easter a few years ago. The song leader announced the hymn, He Arose. I stood to sing and suddenly was overwhelmed with sadness. 

I sang every hymn that Easter Sunday through tears. My husband saw me crying and asked what was wrong (which just makes me cry harder and turns it into an ugly cry). I couldn't even really explain it to him without it coming out all jumbled. I was basically, in that single moment, overwhelmed with the reality that my life is changing. The “old days” were just that, the old days. They weren't my reality anymore. I thought I would never again stand beside my Dad in church and harmonize.  And that broke my heart into a million pieces.

But then, something happened.  Something amazing happened.  I walked into church one Sunday, and saw my Dad sitting there!  The smile on my face couldn't be hidden.  My Dad felt confident, even though he can't see or hear well, to again attend Sunday morning service.  And my heart leaped with joy!  That first Sunday when the song leader announced the hymn, I nearly fell over.  It was the same hymn that, all those years ago, I played on the piano while my Dad and I harmonized.  I stood as quickly as I could, turned to the page, and then I heard that familiar sound.  My Dads voice rising above the rest.  I could feel the tears welling up, but I had to hold them back.  I fell right into my harmony spot.  For the remainder of that song, I was just a 10 year old girl standing beside her Dad singing her heart out.

Nearly every Sunday, whether my Dad is beside me or not, I can be found singing a hymn through my tears.  In fact, just yesterday I cried off every drop of my makeup (including my false lashes).