Singing in this World and the Next (aka Memories of my sister 3)

Katherine Eileen Burkett Fagen (March 3, 1947 – July 11, 2009) went to be with the Lord yesterday morning.  She breathed her last with, Randy, her husband of 28 years by her side in their home.  Randy was singing the Doxology when Katherine’s life ended.

In an e-mail Randy sent late yesterday, he mentioned Katherine’s lovely singing voice–he said she sang like a canary.  This brought back memories of singing with all my sisters in the kitchen of the old house I grew up in while we did the dishes.  Katherine was grown and away from home, but she came home several times a year, and when she did, on many of those visits we all did the dishes together.  I am the youngest of all the children, and the sisters between me and Katherine are 6 and 12 years older than me.  So I really learned to sing from them.

We sang what are now known as “gospel songs.”  My older, more “sophisticated” sensibilities might keep me from singing these same songs now, but I remember the words to most of them because they were drilled into my head–not only in the kitchen, but also while driving in the car and cleaning the house.  While these songs may not be “theologically astute,” they did put me on a solid footing for receiving biblical truths for the rest of  my life. Here are just a few of the songs I remember singing with Katherine and my other 2 sisters:

“There’s Within My Heart a Melody,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “WhenWe All Get to Heaven,” “His Name is Wonderful,” “Blessed Redeemer.”

This morning, as I was worshiping at our church, I thought about what Randy said.  I envisioned all the Saints in this world and the next singing together, and now Katherine is on the other side.  Our service ended with the hymn, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.”  Verse 3 goes like this:

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

Katherine is in Canaan now, offering her songs of praises to the King.  Praise God for her faithful life.  May her example encourage others (and me) to keep on living and singing faithfully until we are on the verge of the Jordan.

10 thoughts on “Singing in this World and the Next (aka Memories of my sister 3)”

  1. This is a beautiful remembrance to your sister, and reminder to us all of the saints who sing God’s praises now in Heaven, even as we sing here on earth.

    I had not noticed your sister’s birth date earlier…but now I realize she was exactly one month younger than my mother, who was born on Feb. 18 of the same year.

    We continue to pray for your family at this time.

  2. Tricia,

    Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Your comment made me realize I made a mistake on Katherine’s birthday. I have a brother who shares his birthday with your mom, and I think I merged his birthday with Katherine’s in my mind. She was actually born on March 3, which I have now changed in my post. So she was actually only about 2 weeks younger than your mom.

  3. Jennifer, I always think of “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” when we sing that last part of “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Reading this now, I think particularly of “sickness, sorrow, pain, and death are felt and feared no more.” I am so glad your sister is no longer suffering. But I am so sorry for her husband and for your mother and for all of you who love her. You will all be in my prayers.

  4. Abby,

    I know the song you mention, too. It’s another one with great lyrics that I think sometimes gets put aside because of the tune being too
    . . . something.

    Thanks for your prayers and friendship.

  5. Those are sweet memories and a sweet encouragement about the hope that awaits us all. Will be praying for you and your family as you celebrate her life and grieve the closing of it here.

  6. Such precious memories and words, Jennifer. Kathryn had a wonderful sister in you. I’m sure you felt the same way about her. Love and prayers.

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