I ran across a beautiful story about the power of music the other day. I was looking for something appropriate to post on Memorial Day, because one of the best ways I know of to express strong emotions and bring peace is through music. With this account, I read the truth of my thoughts.
The writer speaks of being a young man during a period of war and political unrest in his homeland of El Salvador. Shortly after his family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the tensions and conflict became serious enough that many, including the LDS missionaries, were leaving the country. To the Saints left in the area, this marked a great loss. The missionaries and the gospel of Jesus Christ were a source of peace and joy in an otherwise very sad world.
Rather than giving into the grief and anger surrounding them, many of the young people in the area began to form small groups to sing the songs of the gospel. Their hope was to invite back some of the spirit of goodness and hope that had left their homeland. They came together and sang on the street corners and they introduced many others to the power of gospel peace through their music.
As things got even worse for these people, the writer recalls the fear of huddling with a mattress over them as bombs fell around. Again, they turned to the hymns of the Church to carry them through these moments of ultimate fear. They sang and poured out their hearts in prayers of song as they waited for the violence to end.
They sang hymns such as:
Come, Come, Ye Saints (Hymns, no. 30)
How Firm a Foundation (no. 85)
Joseph Smith’s First Prayer (no. 26)
High on the Mountain Top (no. 5)
O My Father (no. 292)
I Stand All Amazed (no. 193)
Why these hymns? Because of the message they carry. There was a message of God’s love, a message of the Savior’s love, and a message of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These hymns contained messages of hope and faith, letting everyone who believed that God was ignoring their pain know that He was still among them, sharing in their suffering and holding them up.
It’s a message of hope for all of us. Even in the darkest times, music and songs with a theme of hope and faith can do more than we know to lift and succor us.
This post was originally published in May 2008. Minor changes have been made.