The Caymanian Songtress

By Edi Seals

September 30, 2022

When I was 12 years old, our family walked into Bethel Baptist Church in Spot Bay, Cayman Brac for the

first time; it was February, 1969. We had just arrived on the island to which God had led my parents to

begin their missionary ministry. As we drove up to the church, we heard singing; no musical

instruments—just singing. Beautiful choruses with a distinct Caribbean flavor rang out in praise to God.

And one voice rose above all the rest—a strong, mezzo soprano that led the congregation from one

chorus to the next.

As I entered the church, it was easy to spot the owner of that glorious voice. I didn’t know her name, but

there she sat, fanning herself in the tropical heat with a wide sea grape leaf, wearing a floral dress and a

white hat. Her beautiful chocolate brown eyes shone with the love of her Savior. Her name was Lurley


As I grew to know Mrs. Lurley, I learned that she had suffered hardships in her life, but that did not

diminish her joy, her optimism, or her service to God. At a time when most of the Brac men went to sea

for months at a time, she was the worship leader—not standing in front of the church but seated in her

particular spot halfway back from the front of the church.

Before the beginning of each service, Mrs. Lurley was in her seat, leading the congregation through a

series of choruses. She knew so many!

I loved the rhythm and the words of the choruses she led; within a few weeks, I had picked out the

melody and chords on the piano. Mrs. Lurley welcomed this 12 year old girl as an accompanist for

their pre-service singing.

How I loved accompanying the congregation as they sang, “I Have Peace Like A River,” “Jesus Is the Way Maker,” “Born, Born, Born Again,” “Oh, I Want to See Him,” “I Want to Go to Heaven and Rest,” and “Is There Not a Cause” among many others.

But Mrs. Lurley was more than a singer to me—she was a great cook. How I loved her Caribbean rice

and peas and coconut drops! Back in those days, we had no phone but quite often, Mrs. Lurley would

send word by someone to “tell Edi to come look for rice and peas.” I needed no second bidding!

My mother is my greatest role model, and Mrs. Lurley is a close second. How pleased I was when my

first daughter was born on her birthday! Neither my mother nor Mrs. Lurley seek self-praise, but “their

children rise up and call them blessed.” I am so thankful that she is a part of my life and for her

wonderful example of faithfulness and integrity. Now at age 95, she is no longer able to attend church. But just as her voice in years gone by, her testimony rings far and wide throughout the island of Cayman Brac.