It was Jan. 21 and Chief Musician Antje A. Farmer was in the Washington National Cathedral feeling a little nervous, but also confident.
As an active-duty vocalist in the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus, Farmer had experience performing in front of large audiences.
But she never performed a solo for President Donald Trump at the National Prayer Service. That was something new, despite her long history of music performance and study.
Farmer joined the U.S. Navy Band in 2005 and graduated from BYU with a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance.
From there, she obtained a master's of music degree from the University of Washington and studied music for a year in Austria at Musik Hochschule.
When she received a text from the Sea Chanter music director asking if she would sing a solo of the first verse of "America the Beautiful" at the National Prayer Service, she put all her training and experience into practice.
"From the moment two weeks ago that I agreed to perform the solo, I sang it probably 50 times through whenever I got a chance—sometimes at 10 p.m. just before going to bed, in the few scheduled rehearsals that we sang through it at work, and at 4 in the morning the day of the performance before I left to head to the cathedral," she says.
And her hard work paid off. Looking calm, collected, and confident, Farmer sang beautifully.
"I was nervous—but with the support and confidence offered from my shipmates and friends, and some key people at church, I felt like, despite the nerves, there was every reason for it to be a successful performance," she says.
And her performance was a success.
Once Farmer finished her impressive performance, the Sea Chanters and the Cathedral Choir sang the second and third verses.
And Farmer says the entire service was beautiful from start to finish and was a "clear unifying petition to God to guide the citizens and leaders of this nation."
"To have had a small part as a member of the United States Navy Band Sea Chanters Chorus, in such a unifying prayer service for our country was certainly an honor," she says. "I felt like each participant was tapping into the best parts of themselves and who they were representing in recognizing God's hand in the success of this nation in blessing the lives of its citizens and the whole world."