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"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

RIP Anthony Burger

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Anthony Burger was an amazing piano player who lived and loved to glorify God with his talents. He will be missed but heaven has a new member to their heavenly orchestra. Plus, just think of the reunion up there right now with the other members of the Gaither Homecoming family that have already gone on before! I can just see it now...The Gaither Heavenly Homecoming!
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From Gaithernet:

Remembering Anthony

As an artist, Anthony Burger was brilliant. Bill(Gaither) often said he had never worked with an artist who performed so consistently and at such a high level. Night after night, week after week, year after year... when Anthony sat down at the piano you knew whatever happened next would be great. He commanded the stage when he was there and yet knew how to become "invisible" when it was time for someone else to step up.

He was quiet but not silent. He was a loyal friend and never became too busy or too successful to make time for reaching out to others. He had a way of knowing what someone needed before they asked, and for that reason he helped people in ways that will never be known by anyone but those people.

He was trusting. Some might say he was too trusting in the world we live in, but he always, always believed the best in people. Perhaps that trusting spirit stemmed from his unwavering confidence in Almighty hands to guide, protect and provide as he had seen evidenced in his own life countless times.

If you look back at the 25 years Anthony Burger devoted to reaching the world through gospel music you will see a discography filled with some of the finest piano artistry the world of gospel music has ever known. You will most likely be impressed by his many accomplishments, too. But what Anthony would want you to remember, first and foremost, is how God used this Tennessee boy - a boy who was once told he would never have full use of his hands - to soothe a hurting world through music. He would want you to know that if God used him, he can use you, too.

He can't tell us that now in his own words, but the music of his life is still being heard loud and clear.

From Mark Lowry's Website

I'm numb and in shock. Anthony was only 44 years old. That's young. 44 years seems like a lifetime when you're a kid. But now that I'm 47, it looks like only half.

I wasn't on the cruise when Anthony died but I've been thinking...

In my mind's eye, I can just see it: Anthony isn't feeling good but he is still at the piano. Bill is leading everyone in the evening concert... putting different singers together to form trios, spur-of-the-moment-quartets and, now, it's time for Anthony to play a song. I'm not sure but I don't think Bill ever told Anthony what to play. I could be wrong but I never saw it. In all my years of traveling with the Vocal Band, I never heard Bill tell Anthony what to play. He told everybody else what to sing. Sometimes he wouldn't even tell us... we would find out when we heard the intro to the song.

Anthony always knew what to play. When he played, you not only heard it... you felt it. Anthony played with passion. And he rarely failed to get the audience on their feet with a thunderous ovation at the end. Yet, he could fall into the background and cause a singer to rise high... never knowing they were standing on Anthony's shoulders.

I've been thinking... They tell me Anthony was playing Hear My Song Lord when he suffered a heart attack or whatever it was that made him pass. But, can you imagine for Anthony what that must've been like? To be playing for Gaither one minute and God the next? To be listening to the Homecoming singers - blink - and hear angels singing? Was Jesus standing in the crook of the piano where Anthony finished the song?

Who knows? I've just been thinking.
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Excerpt from email from Tori Taff (Russ Taff's wife) from Mark's site

Last night during the evening concert, about two songs after Anthony's solo, a woman on the front row began gesturing to the artists onstage and pointing at Anthony. He appeared to have frozen in position, his hands curled into fists and poised above the keyboard, sitting stock still. Immediately, the guys closest to him on stage - Ernie Haase, Roy from SSQ, Reggie Smith and John Bowman - sprang into action and literally picked him up in the seated position and whisked him off stage before he fell from the piano bench. Those who were with him at this point feel that he was already gone by the time they laid him down backstage. Russ told me last night that he looked Anthony full in the face as he passed by and that he "now knew what a body looked like after the soul had left. Anthony wasn't in there anymore." The ship's emergency medical crew and the Inspiration Cruise people were right there and they worked feverishly for the next 45 minutes with CPR and shock paddles but there was never any response. LuAnn got to him very quickly but he never spoke. Many artists had stayed on the stage, praying with the crowd and leading choruses while all of this was going on. It was horrific; no one knew what they should be doing but the artists were so unbelievably calm and comforting that they kept everyone from just freaking out. At some point, it became apparent what they were dealing with and someone (it may have been Russ) addressed the audience and told them that Anthony had passed away. One of the emergency people said later that the sense of hearing is the last to go, so we all have taken great comfort in the fact that the last sound in Anthony's ears as he rushed into the arms of Jesus were the voices of his friends, singing him Home.

(Nic's Note: Now doesn't that last sentence just make you want to grin from ear to ear in the midst of this incredibly sad loss?)
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"When I was eight months old I was learning to walk in a walker. Like many homes of our era, we had an old floor furnace in our house. As I was going through the hallway, one of the wheels got caught on the furnace grate and the walker turned over, throwing me down on the heater and burning my legs my face, and both my hands. " The burns Anthony describes were not light - they were third degree. "I was carried on a pillow for a year, during which time I received three medicated baths a day for my burns. The doctors said I'd never be able to move my hands after that. But gradually, the Lord healed my hands because He had a job for me to do. I thank God every day that the doctors were wrong, and that I stayed with it and play for Him."

In honor of the passing of such a great, remarkable man I hope you enjoy listening to his talent provided below. (For those of you unaware, this song is entitled "He Is Risen". Appropriate, no? Sandi Patti sings the heck out of this song but this particular version was just Anthony)


3 comments:

no_average_girl said...

aww, i had no idea! thanks for sharing what a man of God mr. burger was and how his life impacted so many.

Mike J. said...

Very sad and bittersweet. It's hard to throw off the human reaction of sadness at the loss, but to know that he had the hope of Christ is wonderful.

"The Easter Song" is one of the very first songs I performed in church, way back after seeing 2nd Chapter of Acts in concert circa (ok, I'm dating myself badly) 1976.

God bless and God speed to him.

Kristi said...

I really loved him and his music. He was an inspiration to me.