Saturday, February 21, 2009

TSMSS - A Tribute in Memory

Probably my all-time favorite instrument is the piano. My iPod contains quite a few piano hymns and other songs. I enjoy lively piano music, and when I don't feel good nothing relaxes me like quiet piano music. I beg your indulgence as I've posted several songs below in memory of a wonderfully gifted pianist who blessed so many and, thanks to technology, still touches lives today.

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the homegoing of Anthony Burger. If you are familiar with any of the Gaither Homecoming or Gaither Vocal Band recordings, many of which I've featured here for TSMSS, you've seen him accompanying the musicians. Born on June 5, 1961 (just a couple of months before I was!), he died suddenly on February 22, 2006 at the age of 44 while performing with the Gaithers on a cruise in the Caribbean.

His giftedness at the piano would be laudable under any circumstances. However, when you consider what happened to him as a baby, it is a miracle and an amazing testimony to the grace and power of God working in his life.

When Anthony was just eight months old as he was learning to walk in a walker, one of the wheels of the walker got caught on the furnace grate and the walker turned over, throwing him down on the heater. He sustained third degree burns throughout his legs, face and hands. He had to be carried on a pillow for an entire year, during which time he received three medicated baths a day for the burns. Doctors who treated him said he would never be able to move his hands. But God had a plan for his life and his hands. At age 3, Anthony played his first song, The Old Rugged Cross, and was just five years old when he became the youngest student ever to be accepted by the Chattanooga Cadek Conservatory.

Anthony died suddenly during a piano performance, on Wednesday evening, February 22 [2006] aboard a Caribbean cruise, as it sailed in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the official medical examiner's report, Burger's heart simply burst. He was on board the ms Zuiderdam with his wife LuAnn, Bill & Gloria Gaither, many of his Homecoming friends and more than 1500 passengers, doing exactly what he loved best, playing the piano.

His life could easily be summed up with a quote that he himself once stated, "I am a simple man, with a majestic instrument and the power of God behind me." That's the life he lived. That's the life he loved, and that's the legacy he leaves.


He talks about the accident and how he would like to be remembered here in an interview interspersed with some of his playing:

In another interview, regarding the fact that he wasn't supposed to be able to use his hands, he says "I still can't move them. He does." He won numerous awards and his CDs are still available, both on Amazon and his website. Now he's playing the piano in glory.

I love this video of his last Christmas Homecoming performance, filmed in South Africa just two months before he died. Of course, there's no song like the Hallelujah Chorus and he absolutely tears up the piano! I love the absolute joy on his face as he's playing.

Finally, here is an unbelievable medley of Great is Thy Faithfulness, How Big is God, and How Great Thou Art. He starts out simply and by the end he raises the roof!

He truly worshipped God with his playing. As I am stirred by these videos and yet realizes that it pales in comparison to what he's experiencing now, it boggles my mind. But my heart also aches for his wife, daughter, and 2 sons that he left behind, for I can imagine how difficult these past 3 years have been.

Find more songs for your Saturday at Amy's!


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A Stone Gatherer said...

Oh Linda I hope you don't mind me saying this but you and I are so much alike! Piano is my favorite instument as well! I have always told my kids one of you has to play it because "music sooths the savage beast!!!" Bekah is now playing it!!! These video's were wonderful! What a testimony! I choked up on the Hallejah Chorus!!!! Have a great day, and thanks for sharing!

Mel said...

thank you for sharing an amazing story along with heart reaching songs.

Angela said...

What a powerful goodness...Thank you so much for sharing this with us today..

I've played piano since I was 5 years old,,I'm going to be 45...Like you, I just love listening to piano instrumental music...

blessings sweet one this weekend.

Darlene said...

I love piano music also. Thanks for sharing such a powerful testimony and great tribute to an awesome man. What great talent God gave him and he used it for God's Glory! I am sure he heard the words "well done thy good and faithful son...well done".
I plan to check more into his music.

Tammy said...

What beautiful powerful songs! It is always wonderful to hear how someone is using (has used) their talent for the Lord.

Cathy said...

I enjoyed those videos so much, Linda. He really used those hand to glorify God, didn't he! Thank you so much for this post.

Karen said...

All of this was so good! His testimony was amazing and the anointed playing was unbelievable! What a legacy he left behind for his family...

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Not even in my wildest dreams do I imgaine myself playing like that!!! Wow! I love that he couldn't even stay in his seat he was so excited!


Grace said...

It is so nice to be in a blog that glorifies God's name. :)

Peggy said...

Blessings Linda..."He was a good guy"...that's what he said he wanted to hear...and I truly am blessed by his gift of his wonderful miraculous ability of his hands & His hands on Anthony Burger
as he delights us through playing the piano! Just glorious fingers &
ability to move over the keyboards!

I marveled at this music & such a complete tribute you've shared with us! Definitely our loss and heaven's gain! So powerful & moving! I cried because of how much feeling he expressed through his gift & talent! I did not even know him, I'm ashamed to say and what an artist I missed. Though I've listened to you sharing Gaither's songs, these choices today certainly exhibit his amazing display of how he flowed! The medley was so beautiful as well as
the Halleluiah Chorus! I'm in awe!

This is WORSHIP at it's highest! I can only imagine!!! I, too ache for his family & his wife, what a shock, what a great loss...I pray the Holy Spirit that anointed these hands gives them great comfort as people remember him for his outstanding contribution to music!

Thank you so much for highlighting him & his life! Bless you for your
visit & words for me!

Carole said...

Music is the language of praise and Anthony Burger was one of the best. As much as I enjoy listening to him, watching is even more inspiring.

I didn't know about his childhood accident, which makes God's touch on his life even more awesome. Thank you for a lovely tribute in your post, Linda.

Carole said...

Music is the language of praise and Anthony Burger was one of the best. As much as I enjoy listening to him, watching is even more inspiring.

I didn't know about his childhood accident, which makes God's touch on his life even more awesome. Thank you for a lovely tribute in your post, Linda.