Monday, January 23, 2006

Moms Sound Effects For Prayers

On a Sunday morning, back in the late 1950's, my Mom was sitting at the old Hammond organ that adorned the northeast corner of the sanctuary in our old building. Mom tried to do everything exactly right, musically speaking. She would go in on saturdays and practice. Mom would go over every hymn, postlude, prelude, the offertory and on and on. When someone was moving, Mom would play until they got done moving. She would practice the chimes. The chimes had been added to the keyboard, underneath the bottom rank of keys, and off to the far right. They were loud, or at least she usually had them turned up.
Dr Harbaugh, our Minister, was a short, old, gentle man yet a fiery speaker. He awoke me many times by his slapping of the pulpit, to enforce a point he was making. He was known for one other thing. Long, pastoral, prayers. Ten minute long pastoral prayers. He would start with our relationship with God and on into all of the church boards and committees and then the local, state, and national leaders. We knew when he mentioned the President and his cabinet, it was almost time to sing the Doxology.
One particular sleepy summer Sunday, my Mom apparently opened her eyes while at the organ, (I'm sure in a reverent manner) shifted some music on the organ and closed her eyes again. Not knowing that she had pushed her hymnal near the right edge of her music stand. So as we reached the middle of the prayer, the Governor of our state, I believe, the hymnal fell on to the top keys of the organ. And then they fell onto the bottom rank. An organ that was Full Great, and ready to play the Doxology I might add. Did I mention the octave and a half long chime keyboard? It's volume was wide open. To this day I'll never understand how one book could hit that many keys on it's way to the pedals. It had to have hit every one of the keys on the chimes also. Because of their volume, the chimes started to reverberate as only chimes can do. I can't really describe what that sounded like. The book came to rest on the foot pedals which emitted a smooth even tone like a loud set of bagpipes. This continued for what seemed like an eternity until Mom could shut them off and retrieve the book.
Nothing said by a minister or evangelist or sung by a soloist, in the history of that church, ever moved the congregation like my Mom's solo that Sunday.
I was in the choir loft and felt so sorry for Mom. I knew that she would have been so mortified that she wouldn't be able to breath. I looked over expecting to see someone bright red and embarrassed. What I saw instead, was a woman with her hand over her mouth, trying to hold back the laughter, and shaking like jello. Let's say she took it well.
My daughter has hit a few errant notes whilst in the non-playing mode, as our Church organist. That stuff happens. But I doubt seriously she will ever equal her Grandma's splendor of that Sunday morn so long ago.

18 comments:

Jerry said...

Cliff,
My sister has played the organ at church since she was in the 7th grade circa 1967. There have been many tales from the choir loft over the years. Most of the congregation have no idea of all the excitement that goes on up there.

Great story.

Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

Cliff
I was setting here, reading, feeling sorry for your mom until I got to the part that said,"a woman with her hand over her mouth, trying to hold back the laughter, and shaking like jello."
That is a great story.
Ralph

Jim said...

"Laughter is the best medicine." Laughing is a reaction one would not expect when a problem confronts us, but it sure eases the situation.
I remember Dr Harbaugh. And your mom and dad very well, of course.
..

Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

That was a woderful story, Cliff. I felt like I was was there. It seems we all have memories of laughter in church as being some of our heartiest.

Peter said...

Hi Cliff, just proves the old saying, "you can't help bad luck."

Just Help Me said...

great story, sometimes only laughter will get you thru the embarassement.

poopie said...

I LOVE it! I sure can relate too. Our organist who was my piano teacher when I was a child was just convinced that I could accompany her in church. I tried, and ended up playing the melody with one hand. I was mortified, but I'm sure God just smiled at my joyful noise ;)

JUST A MOM said...

YES I LOVE IT THAT IS JUST TOOO GOOD TO DO AGAIN I BET!!!

Rachel said...

Great story Cliff! I'm glad your Mom was able to laugh instead of getting all embarrassed as a lot of folks would have done! I'm sure she was a wonderful lady!

Jamie Dawn said...

I love church humor. Some of the best stories happen in church or at church picnics, etc.
I bet that morning some hearts skipped a few beats!

Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Fantastic family story! Having a good sense of humor is in your genes, Cliff.

Paul said...

Good one, Cliff! Baptismal tank stories are also good for a few laughs. You could tell some of those, too, couldn't you?

Hmmmm.....Maybe I'll...

Triplet Dads said...

thanks for that story Cliff. It took me immediately back to childhood sitting in that old Baptist church watching grandma play the organ. Methodists don't sing many of the songs I remember singing in that church... "I walk through the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses..."

Triplet Dads said...

for some reason, my "hit rate" on word verication the last few months has been about 20% accuracy... You probably don't have that problem.

Cliff Morrow said...

Oh but I do Marty. I got to thinking that if Picaso was alive now, and was a blogger, he wouldn't have any problems with word verification.

Miki said...

The ability to laugh in times of high stress, with all eyes upon you is a great asset. Your Mom sounds as if she was able to do that. Thanks for the story, I love these kind of "family" stories, I feel as if I am reading a short story collection, peeking into the author's life, through a small window. You are a good storyteller, Cliff.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

well I bet your poor moms mishap woke up a few sleeping parshinors..haha

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