Christine Petrolati, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lost her hearing from scarlet fever when she was 12 years old. She attends the Vista 8th Ward in California where Garth W. Smith, an LDS musician/pianist who specializes in original arrangements of LDS hymns on the piano, serves as a member of the Bishopric.
Christine read the words of the hymn “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” for the first time 11 years ago. She has since memorized the words to all four verses. She has also developed the ability to “hear” music through vibrations, and one Sunday before Sacrament meeting, she asked Garth if he would play “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” on the piano for her.
After the meeting, Garth played the hymn while Christine placed both hands on the piano. Garth said, “As I played tears streamed down her face and when I finished, tears were streaming down my face. We embraced, and Christine just cried and cried.”
Afterward, Christine expressed her gratitude and later sent Garth a heartfelt letter which he shared in a post on his Facebook page with her permission. The letter reads thus:
You have no idea what a profound impact you made on my life today playing that song for me; allowing me to hear it MY way… It has taken me much of my life to accept no longer being able to hear music. I have learned over time; that just because I can no longer hear it; doesn’t mean that the music is no longer there…
I have learned to bring a balloon with me to concerts, blow it up before the concert starts and hold onto it throughout the concert. The vibrations you can feel from the music is incredible!!
In the last 40+ years, I haven’t been able to enjoy a piece of piano music again; UNTIL today… I never learned how to read music, I taught myself how to play by ear. I fell in love with “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” when I first read it about 10 or 11 years ago; but had no idea what the piece of music sounded like. So beautiful… Even more than I imagined!! Thank you so much…
Garth said, “There are musical moments that you treasure all your life. This was one I will remember and cherish always.”