Thanks For the Music Larry Hall Memorial
THANKS FOR THE MUSIC
LARRY HALL MEMORIAL SERVICE
In our lives there are songs that linger long after the band stops playing. Songs that get stuck in our heads. Songs to express our joy. Songs to express our sorrow. Songs to express our love. Songs to express our grief. Good music brings meaning into our lives. The best music lingers in our hearts and minds long after the musician has left this life. And though we grieve our lives are better for the music they gave us. Our hearts well up with gratitude and we say to the musicians in our lives, “thanks for the music.”
Psalm 150 is a psalm of David. David was not only a King and a warrior, he was a musician at heart. He was a man after God’s own heart, he was beloved of God, because he was a man who praised God through the ups and the downs. A man who sought God in his triumphs and his trials. We see David’s heart for music and praising the LORD in Psalm 150. “Praise him with the trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”
David lived a life of praise even when others preferred to live a life of criticism and complaining. In 2 Samuel the people of Israel were able to defeat the Philistines and recapture the Ark of the Covenant, which the Philistines had stolen from the Israelites in a previous battle. When the Ark of the Covenant, the place of God’s presence and blessing, was returned to Jerusalem, the city of David, King David, stripped off his royal clothing, and danced for joy before the Ark and before his people. Michal, one of David’s wives criticized David, declaring that this was not the proper way for a King to be acting. David responded by declaring, “ I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself even more undignified than this.” (2 Samuel 6: 20-23). David’s heart was the heart of a musician. His was a heart of praise. And he would not allow a critical and complaining world get in the way of his praise of God.
Praise the LORD! Praise Him all his people! Praise him with trumpets, praise him with the lute and harp. Praise him with tambourines and dance! Praise him with strings and pipes! Praise him with sounding cymbals! I am sure if King David knew what a piano was he would have brought that instrument into the LORD’s house as well. And I am sure if King David had a piano, Larry Hall would fit in well in those royal courts of praise.
Larry Bowen Hall, 87, passed away on March 6, 2019. Larry trained as an electrical engineer. He served his country in the US Navy during the Korean conflict. He worked as a research engineer at NASA for 30 years. He was also was a consultant engineer for Lockheed Martin.
Larry loved music and began playing piano at three years old. He played with dance bands in the Norfolk area for over 50 years. He played by ear and was especially talented at picking up a tune after hearing just a few notes. Larry also had a green thumb and loved gardening. Everything he planted seemed to grow and grow. He also enjoyed carpentry and working with stained glass. To relax Larry liked to work crossword puzzles. Larry was a walking dictionary and thesaurus. He loved learning knew words with their definitions and spellings. Larry was active in Calvin Presbyterian Church for many years. HE served as a Deacon and an Elder. He was also a pianist for children’s Sunday school and other church events.
Larry was a loving husband, father, and grandfather to his wife of 59 years, Bettyann Hall, son Charles Hall and his wife Amy, daughter, Elizabeth Housianitis and her husband Odyseas; grandchildren Amanda Hall, Tyler Hall, Cynthia Johnston and Jason Housianitis; and great grand child Eleni Johnston.
Several people have said to me that they wish I could have met Larry when he was well. And I do too. But in life as in music sometimes the song of a person’s life lingers, even when they can’t say anything, even when they have moved on to the next life. Their life is reflected in those they loved. And as I have gotten to know Betty Ann during my two years here at Calvin, and particularly during a recent Wednesday night Bible study she participated in, I got a sense of who Larry was because I saw how his song, his love, blessed Betty Ann’s life, even when he could no longer play a note.
I sat down with Betty Ann and Amy before the funeral and they shared some their fondest memories of Larry. As Betty Ann’s Pastor it has a blessing to get to know her. I have seen her desire to have a closer walk with Jesus. And that desire has inspired me to have a closer walk with Jesus as a minister. Betty Ann’s desire to have a closer walk with Jesus extended into her desire for a husband. Betty Ann genuinely prayed to the LORD that he would pick her husband. And when a cousin set her up on a blind date with Larry, Betty Ann didn’t fall head over heels immediately. Even as they went out to listen and dance to a swing band, Betty Ann kept her close walk with Jesus. After two months of dating Larry asked Betty Ann if she would marry him. Betty Ann gave him a firm no. She simply didn’t know Larry well enough. She wanted to keep walking closely with Jesus. And Larry walked with her in that walk. And after a year or so of walking together with Jesus Betty Ann knew that the LORD had answered her prayers. The LORD had chosen her husband.
Many families have a traditional card game that binds them together. For the Hall family it is pinochle, which is a card game played in pairs. In our discussion Betty Ann mentioned to me that she wasn’t all that good at pinochle. To paraphrase Betty Ann she was unlucky in cards but lucky in love. Everyone who knew Larry would no doubt agree with the last part of that statement. Larry had a way of bringing others into his song of his life, into his circle of love. When Charles married Amy of course that meant Amy had to learn pinocle as well. But Larry took Amy under his wing, he came along side her, to teach her pinochle. She relayed to me that they became quit a pair, often winning at the pinochle table.
Despite helping launching rockets into space and designing military fighter jets and bombers, Larry never let the heights of his accomplishments get to his head. He never used his talents, accomplishments, and abilities, to stand over people. Instead he used his talents to come alongside people. One story that Amy relayed to me was how Charles would often have trouble with his studies growing up. His father would come along side him as a child, sitting with him for hours at a time, and help him work through things. Larry would come alongside people with patience, sweetness, and gentleness. Larry reminds me a lot of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of John describes the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. The Greek is the word Paraclete. The word roughly translates as one who comes alongside or walks alongside someone to comfort and strengthen them in times of trouble
I would imagine that Larry reminds me of the Holy Spirit because he was full of the Holy Spirit. And as Larry came alongside his family and friends in his life, the Holy Spirit has come alongside us now to walk with us, and comfort us in our grief. Jesus has not left us as orphans. Instead, he sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us and remind us that we have a Father in heaven who has a house with many rooms. Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us. Larry has gone ahead of us and taken his place with a big brass band of the LORD to welcome us when we get to the heavenly courts of praise. Being a swing dancer myself I regret not being able to dance at ocean view when Larry was playing over there. But I look forward to meeting him for the first time when the Kingdom comes. I look forward to dancing to his wonderful music forever as we proclaim the praises of the Lord Jesus, our Lord and our God, the one who is worthy of all glory, laud, and honor.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew together; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes certainly speaks eternal truths to us today. Though Larry going home to be with the LORD after such a long illness is a cause to celebrate, we who are left behind can’t help but weep. And there is a time for that. That times is different for each of us. No one can tell us the right way to grieve or how long we should grieve. The deeper the love the deeper the grief. And thus our grief is deep today. Yet, as I was reading over this classic verse in Ecclesiastes it struck me that the writer’s words do not apply to Larry’s life in one sense. I never met Larry when he was well. But from what I have heard from the testimonies of those who loved him I don’t think in his life he ever felt like there was a time to hate, a time to be bitter, a time to be angry. Betty Ann mentioned to me that she remembered one time that Larry was about to get a little angry. And before he did he politely warned Betty Ann that he was losing his temper. I never knew Larry when he was well. But I would suspect that even when Larry Hall lost his temper he was still more joyful than many of us on our happiest days. Larry Hall didn’t really believe there was a time to hate. That is a miracle. That should be music to our ears.
The time has come to weep. The time has come to mourn. And we must take that time. But after that time has passed I think Larry would want us to sing to the LORD a new song. I think he would want us to carry on where he left off and overcome this complaining and cynical world with prayer and joyful praise. Though that day may seem far off to us now I think Larry would say it is closer than we think. Till that day all we have to say is thank you Lord. Thanks for Larry’s life, thanks for Larry’s love, thanks for the music.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.