Culture

Dec 10, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

"An Honor Beyond Words": George H. W. Bush Asked Michael W. Smith To Sing "Friends" At His Funeral

Along with moving eulogies and the beautiful singing of a choir, attendees of 41st President George H. W. Bush’s funeral last Wednesday were treated to an emotional performance by Grammy Award-winning Christian singer-songwriter and friend of the Bush family Michael W. Smith at the late president’s request.

Smith also performed at Billy Graham’s funeral in North Carolina and the late evangelist’s memorial service at the U.S. Capitol earlier in 2018.

The last time Smith saw President Bush, Sr., around three months ago, the 94-year-old asked him if he would sing his 1982 hit “Friends” at his funeral service when he passed away.

"As we were leaving, we just gave him a hug and said 'We love you. We love you.  So good to see you,’” Smith shared with CBN News in a recent interview. "And about the time we leaving, he put his finger in the air and had that sparkle in his eyes and said: 'Friends are friends forever.' Deb and I walked out of there thinking this might be the last time that we see him."

“[It] means something because I have been friends with him for 29 years,” Smith said, describing Bush's request as "an honor beyond words.”

Smith was accompanied for the song by the Armed Forces Chorus, the U.S. Marine Orchestra, and the National Cathedral Choir.

Smith shared an incredible rehearsal video of the song to his Instagram page last Tuesday.

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A farewell tribute!!!!!! (Rehearsal)

A post shared by Michael W. Smith (@mwsmithofficial) on

Smith explained in an op-ed published in 2003 how his friendship with Bush began in 1989 when he performed in NBC’s “Christmas in Washington” special.

“After the performance, the president asked some of us to come over to the White House. As we passed a piano, President Bush asked me if I’d like to play something. Without thinking, I blurted out, ‘Is it in tune?’ He responded, ‘Well, I hope so!’ And our friendship began,” Smith recalled. “I’ll never forget: I was playing Christmas carols ... in the White House ... for the First Family ... with Olivia Newton-John ... and the whole time I’m thinking, ‘How did I get from Kenova, W.V., to here?’”

“I spent more time with the younger George when I performed at his brother Jeb’s inauguration as governor of Florida,” Smith explained in the article.  “One of the biggest honors of my career came when George W. Bush asked me to perform at the prayer service honoring his own [presidential] inauguration. It was the first time I ever played the song ‘Above All.’ I was nervous, of course, and I think that I actually sang a few wrong words but I kept playing anyway. I appreciate so much what the Bush family has meant to our country.”



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