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Farewell Symphony


by Doug Bing, Washington Conference president

The practice for the rich before electronics and iPhones was that you took your music with you by taking all the musicians with you.

This was the case in 1772 when Hungarian Prince Esterhazy went to his summer palace and took along resident composer/conductor Joseph Haydn and all his musicians.

The musicians were paid by the prince to stay at the summer residence, and the stay went longer than expected. The musicians were eager to go home to their families, and enlisted Haydn to talk to the prince to convince him to let them go home.

Joseph Haydn, being more diplomatic, decided to compose Symphony No 45 also known as the Farewell Symphony. As this beautiful composition comes to the end, the musicians one by one discontinued playing, blew out their candle that lit up their music, and walked off the stage.

In the end, the only two playing were Joseph Haydn and his concert master. It seems that the prince got the message because the very next day the entire contingent packed up and went home. They wanted to go to their loved ones and they were able to do that the very next day.

This week is the 175th anniversary of the Great Disappointment of 1844. The Millerite movement found dedicated Christians who through their Bible study were convinced that Jesus was coming in 1844. Of course they were incorrect.

I do, however, admire how they went all in on what they believed and what they wanted to do. They wanted to go home to be with Jesus. They wanted to be with their heavenly family and leave this earth behind. They were tired of being in this home away from their real home. Their farewell symphony was to leave their jobs, give away things to others, leave crops unharvested.

Today we say they should not have done that and they were wrong. Maybe instead we should learn from them in their dedication and desire to be with Jesus so much that it is the only thing that we want in the world: To go and be home with Jesus.

I pray that we haven’t lost the desire to be home with Jesus. Of course, we are not able to quit our jobs or walk away from the responsibilities of life. However, we can make Jesus the complete center of our life each day and live with the assurance that He also wants to be with us as well.

I am looking forward to hearing the farewell symphony when the last trumpet rings out throughout the earth that signals that Jesus is coming in the clouds.

Let us live each day looking forward to going home to be with our heavenly family.