Today’s article by Sister KarenJo Pandone is a reflection on a previous article titled, “Thank You for the Music,” published on Nov. 21, 2019.
As I read today’s blog, it immediately took me back to when my family lived in London, Ontario, and my father oversaw the Muncey Mission. I had been taking piano lessons for a couple years, and my current teacher was a Christian. Since we didn’t have a pianist at the mission, Dad asked if I could learn one hymn per week out of our “Saints’ Hymnal.” (Back then, I’m dating myself, we didn’t have “The Country & Western” or “The Songs of Zion” books.)
So began my pianist days in church. Every Sunday, Dad would add to “the list” of hymns that I was learning. “Wonderful Words of Life” was the very first hymn that I learned. I remember practicing diligently all week those hymns so I wouldn’t make a mistake on Sunday.
Did I happen to mention that I was 9 years old when I started playing in church?
Our family visited our home branch, Detroit Branch 2, one Sunday, and Brother Dominic Thomas was in charge of the afternoon meeting. Dad had shared with him that I was learning hymns to play for the mission. So, Brother Dominic, wanting to encourage my participation, called a hymn that was on “the list” and asked me to play.
Now, you have to remember that I’m 9 years old, visiting “my branch,” where there were other piano players who knew all the hymns, and I’m scared to death! But, if you knew Brother Dominic, you’d never, ever say no to him! So, I walked up to the piano, the parlor grand that was so big, sat down, and dutifully played, “I’m a Child of the King.” (Yes, I remember.) I was praying the whole time that I wouldn’t make a mistake. When you’re with your brothers and sisters, they envelop you with love, and it was very evident that day.
I went back to my seat next to my mother and laid my head on her lap. (I had a plan!) I don’t remember who preached that afternoon, but when they were finished and Brother Dominic called another hymn from “the list,” I pretended to be asleep so I wouldn’t have to play again. It worked!
Fast forward to now, and if I’m in Muncey, I still play the piano. Thankfully “the list” has grown from when I was 9! You’ll never find me at the piano for a conference — there’s way too many talented pianists to accompany the saints. My name is no longer on the pianist schedule at the branch, and I’m the backup when no one else is there — and I’m fine with that. I still get nervous when I play for a service. I only had three years of piano lessons, and I don’t know all the beautiful accompaniment that so many others do, but if I’m the only pianist in the room, I’m happy to do my part.
Psalms 98:4, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord …” runs through my mind when I’m called on to play. I just envision the Lord being pleased hearing the saints sing praises unto Him – even if I’m playing for them.
Editor’s Note: Did you ever have anyone in your branch encourage you in your development, either spiritual or natural?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
I love this! I had a “list” too – and I so often felt the same way (and still do!) about playing. Thank you for sharing 🙂
At the Fort Worth Branch in Texas I am encouraged more spiritually than anything else and I loved your blog because I recently decided I wanted to learn how to play the piano 🙂