Margaret Farnaus had sung soprano in her church choir since she was a young girl. "My favorites were the traditional hymns like 'Blessed Assurance' and 'Fairest Lord Jesus'," she says. "When I sang, all my feelings seemed to pour out. It was my absolutely favorite things to do."
Recently, however, her once crystal voice had become gravelly and hoarse. Lozenges and sprays had no effect. Margaret could no longer hit the high notes. "It was a painful thing to face," she says, "but my singing days were apparently over."
Margaret had a friend, Myrtle, who had no family, and was battling cancer. Margaret visited her friend regularly in the hospital oncology ward, even after Myrtle fell into a coma. On Myrtle's birthday, Margaret slipped into the room and gazed at her unconscious friend. Myrtle was hooked up to tubes now, and Margaret sensed her life slipping away. If only they could communicate! She put her hand on Myrtle's arm. "God," she prayed, "help me to help her."
Unbidden, the words to "God Will Take Care of You" came to Margaret's mind. She hadn't sung that song in years--she didn't remember all the lyrics anymore, and her voice was so terrible now... But if Myrtle could still hear, maybe the words would bring her comfort. Bending over the bed, Margaret began to sing. Quietly at first, then with growing confidence because...in astonishment, she heard her own voice as high and sweet as it had been so long ago.
All afternoon, with only one woman as her audience, Margaret gave a very special concert. At least forty of her favorite hymns with all the words to all the verses, came to her mind, and she sang every one. And her voice! It was as clear as crystal, true and lovelier than ever before. A stranger glancing into the room might have seen a patient unresponsive and asleep, but Margaret sensed she was indeed making contact, that somehow Myrtle knew she was not alone, that a friend had brought her a special gift for her final birthday.
Margaret was still singing several hours later, when one of Myrtle's bedside machines buzzed. Myrtle took one breath, then relaxed. Nurses came running, but there was nothing more to be done.
Margaret left the hospital in sorrow, yet strangely exalted as well. "I felt as if I had experienced some connection with heaven," she says. And there was also the wonder of her vocal recovery to ponder.
But later, when Margaret attempted to sing at home, her voice had returned to its former hoarse state. Nor could she remember the titles, much less the lyrics, of even a few of the songs she had sung so effortlessly on this blessed day.
Eventually Margaret went to a specialist and discovered that she had Sjogren's syndrome, an immune system disorder that takes moisture out of the body, rendering eyes and mouth dry, and throat hoarse and gravelly. There were treatments Margaret could take, but no cure. Nor did the condition spontaneously improve, even for a few hours. There was no way Margaret's voice could have reverted to its past perfection in the hospital, the doctor told her, not even temporarily. No way at all...
...Unless the heavenly hosts were busy that day, and pressed an earthly angel into service, to send a soul into Paradise on wings of song.