Whenever I hear our ward choir sing, I am vividly reminded of an old couple in the ward where I grew up. In recent years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them.
Clyde was a short, robust man with silver hair whose usual dress was a work shirt and bib overalls. Maude had long, dark hair that she braided on each side of her head and wound in a crown on top. She wore plain cotton dresses on her ample figure and walked in sturdy black shoes. They had no children and a very meager cache of worldly goods. But they had the gospel—and each other.
I never thought much about them when I was young. But their presence in my life has had a great effect on me. Maude and Clyde loved the Lord. The Lord had commanded us to go to church, so Maude and Clyde were always there. When the bishop asked for help on the stake farm or for volunteers at the temple, Maude and Clyde were there. And when the bishop announced that the ward choir needed more members, they joined.
Clyde must have had some musical ability because I don’t remember how he sounded. But Maude had a unique voice. It was loud and shrill and always just a fraction off-key. But she sang with enthusiasm in spite of her rather obvious lack of natural talent. She memorized the words to every hymn in the book—all the verses—and went to every practice.
Long after I left home, I would remember Maude and try to figure out why that situation was inspiring to me. I knew that there was a lesson to be learned.
At first I thought it was in the patience and understanding shown by the others who worked with Maude and didn’t allow her weaknesses to dampen their enthusiasm and support of good music. Then one day it came to me clearly.
Maude and Clyde loved the Lord. They served him with all their hearts. Anything that was asked of them, they willingly did. They did not use any excuse for not accomplishing what was asked. They paid their tithing, though they had very little money. They went to all their meetings with the rest of the families in the ward, though they had not been blessed with children. They worked on the Church farm, though they were aged and far from spry. And Maude worshipped God in song, though it was not one of her talents. She sang the same way she loved the Lord—with all of her heart.
We would all do well to live the gospel as Maude and Clyde did, happily doing whatever is asked of us. We may not do it as well as someone else could do it. We may not get through each day perfectly in tune with the Spirit. But we would keep trying and refuse to make excuses for not giving our best—even when our best falls short of perfection.
Maude and Clyde have been dead for a long time now. I wouldn’t be surprised if on the other side of the veil, they have joined the heavenly choir. But there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Maude has been given the voice of an angel. She may even be a lead singer. In my mind, she has earned it.