This organ meditation was composed in memory of Doris Schmidt (1949-2021), a beloved wife, mother, and lifelong member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Grafton, Wisconsin, who also served as school secretary and church organist over the years. The piece was premiered by Valerie Bremer, music director at St. Paul, at Doris’s homegoing service on April 17, 2021.
Inspired by one of Doris’s favorite hymns, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, the piece is not something that one can sing along with, but rather become enveloped by. The lush chords underlaying pristine glimpses of the hymn melody provide rich warmth and tear-evoking beauty, portraying both the beautiful soul that Doris was and the beauty of heaven. People who have had near-death experiences often report that in heaven, the love of God is so intense that it overwhelms them and causes them to become completely undone. Although we can’t fully grasp what that means on this side of heaven, the intent was to create a piece of music that would give us a taste of this all-encompassing love of God, as well as the peace that passes all understanding.
“There is no shadow…” is a phrase from the first verse of Great Is Thy Faithfulness, but it takes on a second meaning as it points us to what Doris now experiences in heaven: there is no shadow there – no darkness, sadness, or pain – only light, love, and joy eternal.
According to Valerie Bremer, “It's a modern take on a well-loved hymn that gives space to the deep emotions that often are in play with this song. But the melody floats throughout as a reminder that God is always there and faithful. By the end there is no doubt of the joy we have in store for us in heaven.”