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.