Osmonds Share Family Night
Have you ever had a family home evening that was 5 weeks in its planning, with over 800 guests, including more than 30 VIPs and the Osmond brothers?
‘Home’ for the night was Liverpool chapel, the ‘family’ came from far and wide – South Wales, London, Tyne & Wear, York, Denmark and Finland, to name just a few – the evening was 9th April.
Why did they come?
What did they expect?
Some were members of the Church hoping for spiritual experiences, some were fans just wanting to see their idols, while others were seeking – wanting to know what made the brothers tick – what did they believe?
Linda Docherty, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, had been introduced to the Church by Merrill Osmond. She was expecting a special spiritual experience as she listened to her missionary.
One lady, not a member, had been to their concerts and had queued for 2 hours because she wanted to feel a spiritual experience.
Another lady wanted to hear Merrill speak as he was the one she was most inspired by.
A group of ladies from Staffordshire didn’t know what to expect. They had come for the Osmonds, knowing that their faith had been so much a part of their life. The brothers had been part of their lives for such a long time and their music had helped them to deal with troubled times; they wanted to see them in a different light. “Why is their faith so strong? What is it about their faith that keeps them together?” said one. While another felt that their influence had helped to mould them into the people they were.
Merrill, Jay and Jimmy Osmond were part of the way through their final UK tour together – 54 years after the first appearance of the older brothers on television in US – and the ‘long-haired lover from Liverpool’ wanted to come home for a special family night.
Liberally sprinkled with humour and interspersed with acapella versions of their favourite songs, they shared their faith and why they were different.
Merrill explained that part of the reason for their happiness and strong family bonds was the discipline that their father, an army sergeant, had created in their home. He shared his testimony, declaring that he knew that our Heavenly Father loves each of us. In disclosing his lifelong battle with depression he helped a number of people realise that they were not alone and helped them come to terms with their illness.
Jay explained that singing as a group started in their own family home evenings as children. It was there that they learned to play instruments and harmonise, but more importantly it was there that they were taught the gospel truths that created the foundation that provided the strength to deal with life. Their mother was a significant influence in their lives in helping them to understand gospel principles. He expressed his gratitude for the opportunities his sons had had to serve full-time missions for the Church and explained how much they had matured while serving.
Jimmy also praised his mother. She set a wonderful example of caring and compassion; the light of Christ shone from her. As the youngest of the 9 children he was grateful for the example of his older siblings – “none of them has ever disappointed me”, he said. He encouraged everyone, regardless of which church we belong to, to be the best we can be, standing up for correct principles. He shared the story of the time he was offered the leading role in the musical ‘Chicago’ but explained to the producers that he was grateful for the invitation but he had to decline the offer because of aspects of the show and “he could never take the Lord’s name in vain”. A telephone call a couple of days later invited him to take the leading role with a revised script. His mother had taught him, ‘If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.’ The experience with the producers was testament to her teaching. He explained that he remained strong in his faith by reading his scriptures everyday – it had moulded his character and given him confidence in a living God – it had helped him develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He concluded by testifying of the restoration of Christ’s original church, of the blessings of being sealed to his family in the temple and expressed his gratitude for being in a church that gave him answers to all his questions.
While responding to comments and questions, they explained:
· We will be reunited with our loved ones who have died.
· We choose to have faith – each of us decides whether we have faith and then makes a decision to live it.
· The Saviour is a personal friend who helps us through troubled times.
· If we fear failure we will never have the strength to achieve.
· We have the Book of Mormon as a companion volume to the Bible – each testifies of Christ – the Book of Mormon answers questions posed by, but not answered in the Bible.
Did they have any regrets that their lives had been different?
No! There were no regrets. Their achievements and blessings outweighed anything they might have missed through their way of life. They were just grateful that they had had the opportunity to help others throughout their lives.
“I can remember Jimmy as a boy singing “Long-haired lover from Liverpool” and watching them on stage at the Liverpool Empire. Tonight was different – it was almost like they were being the missionaries that they couldn’t be as young men because of the limelight”, said one gentleman visitor afterwards.
“Even though I am not of your faith, I was made to feel very welcome, especially by the Osmonds”, commented a young university student.
We were left feeling that Merrill, Jay and Jimmy were humble human beings despite their fame. We genuinely felt that we were their family experiencing a very special family night.