Attendees of President George H. W. Bush's funeral on Wednesday were serenaded by Grammy Award-winning Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith at the late president's request.
On the day before Bush's memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, Smith sat down with the Christian Broadcasting Network to talk about his decades-long relationship with the one-term president and former vice president.
Smith, who is known for his career as both a mainstream and contemporary Christian artist, explained that the last time he saw 41st president was about three months ago. During their meeting, Smith said, he was asked by the 94-year-old if he would sing his 1982 song "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 told CBN News. "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."
To Smith, there aren't enough words to describe the honor of being asked to sing at Bush's funeral.
"[It] means something because I have been friends with him for 29 years," Smith said. "And so, the fact that he wanted me to sing at his funeral is just an honor beyond words."
Smith was accompanied in performing the song by the Armed Forces Chorus, the U.S. Marine Orchestra and the National Cathedral Choir. He also posted a rehearsal video of the performance to his Instagram page on Tuesday.
In a 2003 op-ed published by Crosswalk.com, Smith explained how his friendship with Bush began in 1989 when he performed in NBC's "Christmas in Washington" special.
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