The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Former cancer patient Chase Burch Marmolejo and her husband, Tristin

A Child’s Prayer Is Answered: Former Cancer Patient Thanks Choir for Strength 

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The night before the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performed their final concert in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007, something truly extraordinary happened—a young girl who was being treated at St. Jude Children’s Hospital for medulloblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, was given a private surprise concert for one in the hotel lobby by the entire Choir, Orchestra, and guests, who filled the lobby and balcony. Because of the cancer treatment, which made it difficult for her to be in crowds, Chase Burch and her family walked into the hotel thinking they would introduce themselves to a few members of the Choir. What happened next was an amazing experience, never to be forgotten by all in attendance.

“This beautiful girl and her parents came in, … and I think we had close to 500 people—the Choir, the Orchestra, the staff, the guests that we had with us—and then they sang to this beautiful [girl], and there wasn’t a dry eye. It was probably one of the most spiritual times I’ve ever [been a part of], in all your life,” said former Choir president Mac Christensen in a 2007 KSL TV documentary titled The Choir Comes Home (watch the video above).

The Burch family watches the Choir sing at a Memphis hotel

On Sunday, August 6, 2017, Chase Burch Marmolejo, along with her parents and her new husband (she married a day before the visit in the Salt Lake Temple), came to the Conference Center and thanked the Choir for being there at a time when she needed them. At the time of the 2007 hotel concert, Marmolejo, who was 10 years old at the time, was about to start her second round of chemotherapy, her father needed to return to California (where the family resided) for work, and the family had recently lost a dear friend and was in desperate need of strength. “You were that strength,” Marmolejo told the Choir and thanked the Choir for that moment in time and expressed how much it meant to her and her family.

In a 2012 KSL TV follow-up story to the surprise concert, Marmolejo recalled, “I was pretty much in shock, I was really surprised, and I just was overwhelmed, and tears was the only thing that can describe it.” Orchestra member Barry Hillam, who was at the Memphis concert, said, “It was one of the great musical experiences of my life and one of the great religious experiences of my life, truly. Tears were streaming down everyone’s face, including mine; I’ve never been so moved.” 

Choir and Orchestra members fill the lobby and balcony to sing to Chase Burch

Chase’s parents recalled a time when she was sick and recovering from a surgery, her father sang “A Child’s Prayer” to her at her bedside, and then they heard Chase singing along. “And we hear this little voice singing ‘Heavenly Father, are you really there?’” said her mother, Season Burch. The Choir had no idea about this back story when they sang “A Child’s Prayer” for her in Memphis. “We were just going through a rough time there and that kind of helped a lot,” said Chase. “So when they sang that to us we all three just immediately felt like Heavenly Father knows us, and He knows our situation, and it’s going to be OK,” cried Season. Of the Burch family’s experience with the Choir, Chase’s father, Jared, said, “It gave us hope, it gave us comfort, and it was a real answer to our prayers to have the Choir come.” Chase added, “That was such an amazing experience, and I want to tell them that I love them.”

For the 2007 concert at the hotel, the Choir and Orchestra members sang “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, “I Am a Child of God,” “The Battle of Jericho,” “A Child’s Prayer,” and “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” They did meet again, and it was joyous.