Barbara Glover lifts the hymnal and runs her finger down the index.
She finds her favorite, “He Lives,” but continues to read the names of other songs that have touched her heart: “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “At the Cross.”
“I know most all of them,” she said.
And what’s more, she’s played them, too.
After six decades, the 85-year-old Clermont resident is being celebrated for her expansive career as the organist at Trinity United Methodist Church. Despite it being her 60th year playing for her church family, the grandmother to six and great-grandmother to 12 says it feels like just yesterday that the organ arrived and she played her first tentative notes.
“Time passes so fast,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.”
Glover never planned on being an organist. In fact, she sort of stumbled into the position by accident.
In 1955, a church patron donated the instrument to the church in memory of a relative. The pastor at the time put out word he needed an organist.
“Well, no one in the church played the organ,” Glover said, “but there were four of us who rotated playing the piano for Sunday services, and we said we’d try.”
Together, the group practiced making music. One of the women brought a coffee pot, and the rest brought sandwiches. They’d spend an entire evening attempting to make the instrument sing.
“I thought I’d never learn to play,” she said. “But I just kept trying to get my hands and feet to work together, and eventually, I learned. Although it took me quite awhile.”
Despite having no formal training, she continued to improve. Then before she knew it, a couple of decades had passed with her behind the organ.
“And there was this moment when I realized that I actually preferred the organ,” Glover said.
About that time, she realized the church preferred her on the organ, as well.
“She plays so very well,” Trinity United Methodist Church pastor John Moore said. “She just makes Sunday services so special.”
In fact, Moore said he cannot imagine a sermon without her musical assistance.
“It’s one of those things where it’s something that’s a favorite of yours, and it’s come to be a mainstay that you depend on,” he said. “You look at the organ, and you expect to see her behind it, playing, and you just know that it wouldn’t be the same without her. Everybody likes that she’s there, and we all hope that she continues to play it ... you know ... forever.”
While Glover appreciates the praise, she said she’s ready to relinquish her bench.
“I tried to retire once, for about a year, but (the church) talked me into playing again,” she said. “I said, ‘Only until you find someone else,’ and here I still am.”
While she wants to step down, she knows she will miss the hobby-turned-calling that afforded so many unique opportunities, such as being able to play for her great-grandson’s christening.
“To me, playing the organ really does mean serving our Lord,” she said. “And it means family. I come to church with my family, and we get to spend our Sundays together.”
Glover includes her fellow church-goers as part of her family.
“They’re special people,” she said.
And the feeling is returned. Recently, the entire church hosted a surprise party during a service to honor Glover’s time as the church’s longest-serving organist. They gave her a music box that plays “Amazing Grace,” and presented her with a plaque that will be put next to the organ.
“Really, we just want her to know that we think she’s just been an overall great person for the church,” Moore said. “She’s a kind of matriarch in the church, and I think people see her as a person who’s always going to be there, loving the church, loving God and loving them.”