Behind the Music: I Am Ready
It is difficult for me to put into words what this song means to me. It is one of those songs that’s been on a journey. It’s a song that brings up deep emotions that can only be expressed through tears. It’s been a song that has provided countless moments for me to feel the spirit so strongly I thought I might burst! If you’re interested in its story…you must read it all!
About 13 years ago, I was serving as the Primary President for my ward. As part of my calling, I was able to attend many baptisms throughout the year for those children turning eight years old. At most of the baptisms, the same two familiar primary songs were typically sung. I started to feel that there needed to be another song that could be sung at these baptisms that focused purely on the fact that these children were being baptized because they were choosing to follow the Savior. This thought wouldn’t leave my mind or my heart! I looked at my little boy and it struck me that if anything, I needed to write a song for him that he could sing at his baptism one day. I can still remember the day I decided that I would sit at the piano and see if any ideas came to my mind. Even though he was still several years from getting baptized, I felt like I should at least get started because who knows how long it would actually take! I knelt at my piano bench, and offered up a short, but sincere prayer (as I often do before writing). There wasn’t any burst of light or angels singing, but as I began creating the music and words to this simple song, the spirit was overwhelmingly strong. After only a couple of hours, the song was written. Tears were flowing, and I knew it was from God…I was only the instrument. My oldest son, Brogan, was only four at the time. I brought him over to the piano to learn “his” song. He picked it up quickly and over the next several years he was singing it in sacrament meetings and other baptisms. Each time it was sung, the response was the same. People were overcome with emotion as the spirit penetrated their hearts with the message of the song. Finally, the day came for Brogan’s own baptism! I had waited for this moment for a long time. As he stood there and sang his beautiful song as a newly baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ, I was once again overwhelmed by the strong spirit of this song.
Little did I know, this simple song had so much more in store for it! In 2015 I was called to be the Music Director for the Ogden Temple Cultural Celebration. As I began finding and preparing music for the program, I wasn’t even thinking about the song “I Am Ready.” In my mind, it was a primary song for children to sing about baptism. Not really anything to do about the temple and the youth that would be participating. One day as I was driving in my car to one of our committee meetings, I began humming the song. I started thinking about being “dressed in white” in the temple. All of the sudden, the words flowed into my mind…”in through the door, holy and pure.” At that very moment, my mind was changed! The Holy Ghost opened my eyes to see that this simple song could be so much more! I testify that the Spirit can speak to us even when we have a prayer in our heart driving in a car!! I started crying and I couldn’t even express the gratitude I felt. As I shifted my focus to the temple, the verses flowed quickly and the song evolved. As I was able to rehearse with thousands of youth participating in the choir, I couldn’t hold back the tears every time we would rehearse this song. The spirit was palpable…we all felt it. Too many young men and young women to count would come up to me after each rehearsal in tears from the spirit which they had felt. I was extremely humbled and grateful to have experienced it all!
And yet…the song evolved even more! Just a few weeks before the Cultural Celebration took place, there was a tragedy that happened in the community involving one of the young women who had been participating in the practices for the celebration. It was widely covered in the media, and a huge portion of the youth participating were deeply affected by it. Having happened only a few days prior to our Sunday rehearsal, I knew I would be meeting with over 3000 of the youth in the area where this tragedy took place (in two separate rehearsals.) I was overcome with worry, anxiety and concern as to what to say to these young men and young women who were heartbroken! I wanted to say the right things to them, comfort them, and tell them that everything would be okay. They were looking to me as their leader during this time as we had regularly met together for several weeks. I felt very inadequate!! That morning, I knelt in humble prayer and pleaded to know what to say. Once again, the Holy Ghost impressed upon my mind that words would not be enough…they needed the music. They also needed hope and a surety that their Father in Heaven was aware of them. Once again through emotion and tears, the words came into my mind of an additional fourth verse for this beautiful song. It would be about being “dressed in white” and returning back home to their Heavenly Father. I quickly wrote the verse down, and made copies to pass out at the rehearsal that evening. I was unsure of how many young people would even be there because of the terrible grief they were experiencing. As I walked into the first rehearsal and saw the entire chapel and all overflows filled, my heart was bursting with the purest form of love you can experience! That true Christ-like love! As we prepared to sing “I Am Ready” as the final song of the rehearsal, I expressed my love for them, and the love I felt for them from their Father in Heaven. I then explained that I was aware of their sadness, and knew I didn’t have the perfect words to say…but that their Father in Heaven did. I told them that the spirit had impressed on my mind a fourth verse to the song that we needed to sing that night. This wasn’t going to be part of the Cultural Celebration… everything was already set in stone for that. This was purely for them at that moment! My two sweet little children sang the 1st verse, and then the almost 1500 youth sang the verses they had been practicing. As we began to sing the words of the fourth verse, the whole feeling in the room changed. It’s hard to put into words how it felt that night, but it became a very holy and sacred place. To quote one of the youth: “It felt like angels were surrounding us.” Many couldn’t even sing because the emotion was too strong!! It was a healing moment for all of us there. Something that will bind us together forever, never to be forgotten. We hugged and cried after the rehearsal ended…but we all felt a little bit better. Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers!! Especially when those prayers are for the benefit of others.
To conclude, you can see this song has been on quite the journey. It has now been almost seven years since the Cultural Celebration ended. I can’t even count how many primary programs, youth choirs, baptisms, funerals or sacrament meetings this song has been sung at. It’s traveled to other parts of the world and places I’m not even aware of! I never thought when I sat at my piano writing it many years ago that it would have amounted to all of this. But I can testify that it has helped my testimony grow in the reality of a Father in Heaven who loves us all more than we can comprehend. Its message hit even closer to home in January 2020 as my own sweet 12 year old nephew passed away from brain cancer. My entire family was able to record the song together in his honor to be played at his funeral (the temple version audio recording on this website.) I am so grateful I wrote that final 4th verse years ago as it now resonates with our family in a very personal way. It brings me peace and reminds me of the whole eternal perspective and plan! As you listen to the words and the flowing score, my hope and prayer is that you too will feel the spirit and the pure love that Heavenly Father has for you personally. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can have in this life!
- Brita Miles