As we approach the officially sanctioned season of thanks (all seasons really should be seasons of thanks), it becomes natural to ponder the things in our life that we are truly thankful for. One of these things, for me at least, is the great gift we have been given in music. It is a gift that, thanks to modern technology, touches us in our daily lives almost as much as the gifts of companionship, shelter and food.
Music has become so pervasive in our society that it is easy to take it for granted. It’s easy to forget that all of the music we enjoy on a daily basis, both sacred and secular, has come to us because there are musicians out there (who often aren’t paid very well) that have dedicated their time and energy to perfecting their talents for the edification and pleasure of their fellow human beings.
It’s also easy to forget that the music we enjoy today is the product of hundreds of years of tradition and developments by composers and musicians of the past. We are blessed with the choices of types of music that we can take in at any given time is staggering when you stop and think about it. Music has been gathered from every corner of the globe. You may not search it out, but you are definitely exposed to it (just think about modern-day movie scores).
I have often pondered the place and role of music in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mormons know all things testify of Christ (Moses 6:63), but sometimes it is really difficult to pin down in words just how that is accomplished. The scriptures and modern-day prophets have emphasized the importance of good music in our homes and have spoken about the effects of music on our lives (for good and ill). They have encouraged us to seek out and embrace the best of music.
In the scriptures we find:
D&C 136:28: If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Psalms 69:30: I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
D&C 25:12: For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
“I learned too what power there can be in music. When music is reverently presented, it can be akin to revelation. At times, I think, it cannot be separated from the voice of the Lord, the quiet, still voice of the Spirit.
In the secular world, music continues to be studied by scientists who attempt to figure out and explain why and how music is able to influence us in the way it does: it can calm or excite, it has been shown to relieve pain, it has been linked to higher test scores in schools, etc. Try as we might though, the mystery that is music may never be fully explained to us in our lifetime.
Maybe music can’t be explained in words; maybe that’s why God gave us music in the first place. Perhaps there are certain truths that lose their power when converted to words? Music does seem to have the ability to speak directly to our soul as several leaders of the church have pointed out.
Personally, I think music may be one of those gifts God has given us just because he loves us. I can’t deny that it has other uses (some of which I may write on in the future), but it seems to me that the main use of music is to bring us joy and to lift our spirits. So, as we gear up to give thanks in prayer for the many blessings in our lives, don’t forget the gift God has given us in music.