Though my melodic inclinations are limited, I live among many who are gifted musicians and adeptly familiar with song and musical scores and the importance of being in tune. Harmony brings great joy and peace into our home and calms difficult storms that inevitably come into our lives.
My son plays the guitar, the piano and various other instruments. He has led a band, produced several CDs, and performed in various concerts. My daughters play the piano, sing, and spread harmony and accord. Many others carry tunes with fabulous voices and stunning beauty. Verse, melody, and song make hymns some of the most beautiful prayers and anthems to honor and praise our Father in Heaven and thank him for the gift of his Son.
We sing thought-provoking hymns about the Lord Jesus Christ frequently at church meetings, which carry powerful messages that lift the heart and stir the soul. Sacrament hymns in particular remind us of the great blessings available to us made possible through Jesus Christ and his atonement with the Father in our behalf. Like a great orator can inspire and motivate us to be better, endure longer, and appreciate more, music and song can move and heal us in incredible ways.
For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart;
yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.
In recent years, popular television programs have inspired melody and singing all over the nation: The Voice and American Idol are two different shows that demonstrate and promote the phenomenal vocal talents of the young and old alike. These gifts have been nurtured and developed until they bless literally millions of others. Allow me to share a related experience regarding the powerful influence of music that happened to me when I was a young man in high school.
There was an occasion that confined me in the hospital for two-and-a-half months. Needless to say that is a substantial time, especially for a 17-year-old boy. This was long before iPods and cell phones during the time that we listened to our music on cassette tapes. I happened to have a number of albums on cassette tapes and the empathetic nurses allowed me to play them quietly in my room. For me, the music was comforting and healing.
Though my choice of music was relatively mild and calm in comparison to what was available in those days, I soon found the melody and lyrics were inconsistent with therapeutic measures implemented to help me heal. That’s the grown-up explanation of what happened in the hospital. What I remember at the time was certain tapes fell into disuse and others were repeated much more frequently. Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I did not have radical music that blasted from the playing device.
On the contrary, in comparison to what was popular in that time frame, my music was definitely on the calm side. I hesitate to mention the artists, because each person has likes and dislikes and preferences. The point is the songs we choose often reflect more about us and our circumstances than we might first realize. But it’s no surprise that certain music promotes harmony, healing, and invites the Spirit into our lives. That’s what I found out even at that young age, which has remained true for many years. The song of the heart plays out in life in many ways every day of our lives.
The Tabernacle Choir is world renown and adored by many. The 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square make a glorious collaboration and perform regularly while delivering Music and the Spoken Word, which has been on the air for over eighty-seven years and 4,500 weekly broadcasts, making it the longest-running uninterrupted network broadcast in the world.
Its audience continues to grow as more people tune-in to its half hour of uplifting music and inspiring prose. Recently the tabernacle choir performed the Messiah with a virtual choir singing Handle’s Messiah. It continues to tour the world and sing in dozens of countries on every quarter of the world. A full-length movie premiered at the LDS film festival entitled Singing With Angels.
In the recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Robert D. Hales said “The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over.” I have found that to be true in my life. Pondering the messages seems to answer my questions and lift my spirit. Approximately ten hour’s instruction was provided over many topics and by numerous speakers.
Certainly, the beautiful conference music inspired us as well. Did you know that like the talks that are captured online for our review, the General Conference music is also recorded and available for our benefit? We can again revel in the inspiration and beauty of the music sung by conference choirs. This little secret has become one of my favorite finds.
The Internet is a lot like the real world in which we live. It includes both good and bad. There is both wickedness and hope depending on which voice you are listening to. I have found a wealth of good online…perspectives and opinions and evidence of the gospel and ideas of great value. There are music, speeches, videos, and podcasts that lift and build and inspire. Some of these resources are sponsored by the Church. Many of these sites are initiated by other organizations, people, and movements. No one congregation or institution has a corner on the market of good. We can learn and be uplifted by many who promote their ideas, values, and insights.
Two years before the Prophet Joseph Smith died, he wrote the Articles of Faith in a letter to a newspaper editor, John Wentworth, who had asked for information about the Church. The Articles of Faith have inspired and directed us in the basic principles of our gospel. They enhance our understanding of certain doctrines and help us commit to living them. They invite further thought, and they are a good tool for explaining our beliefs to people unfamiliar with them.
The last and longest of these thirteen statements that summarize our fundamental beliefs is perhaps a favorite:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
The final line of Article of Faith 13 states that if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. I love that. We encourage, support, and pursue all things with these virtuous characteristics.
We don’t want to build towers of superiority to exclude others and promote exclusivity among all men. Like prophets now and in the past have extolled, we need not perpetuate the idea that all good comes from within the bounds of the Church. The evidence is ubiquitous. One writer describes it this way:
However, we risk becoming as the Zoramites if we think that being a member of the “true church” makes us the “true people” and others the untrue. With a little reflection, it becomes obvious that one of the foundational teachings of the Church is that mere membership in it does not make one better than anyone else. – James L. Ferrell
What’s more, we all rub shoulders with people who are in tune with the most important aspects of life. Brother Ferrell also shares with his readers this beautiful concept and cautions us to avoid spiritual superiority. He acknowledges with gratitude the priesthood keys that enable the performance of all the necessary ordinances of salvation, which were restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Then he concludes with the following observation:
Baptism and all the other saving ordinances of the gospel are essential, and the members of the Church in these latter days have been chosen for—that is, charged with—the responsibility of taking those ordinances to the world. But to be chosen for responsibility is not at all to be designated as superior. We have been given an obligation, not a stamp of approval.”
When I was just a boy, Elder LeGrand Richards seemed to speak to me. He addressed topics important to my thinking, and I admired his oratory and wisdom. More than 100 years ago, President Wilford Woodruff, then 91 years of age, delivered what may have been his last sermon from this pulpit. In the audience was 12-year-old LeGrand Richards. His father, George F. Richards (later ordained an Apostle), brought his boys to the Tabernacle to hear the Brethren. LeGrand never forgot that experience.
Elder Boyd K. Packer recounts “For more than 20 years, I was very close to Elder LeGrand Richards. When he was 96 years old, that message still lingered in his heart. He could not remember the words President Woodruff said, but he could never forget how he felt when they were said.”
We declare without equivocation that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith to usher in the restoration of this inspired work. From a small gathering of six saints who met to organize this church in 1830, the organization has grown into a worldwide church furthering the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men. In nearly every country on earth, their people enjoy and are blessed by the principles of the gospel.
The Church congregations fill meeting houses on every continent of the world. One-hundred-and-fifty operating temples enable our people to participate in the work on both sides of the veil for every generation of people on earth. Living prophets and apostles, missionaries, ordinances, revealed scripture, truth, and eternal principles bless the people of the world today like no other era of time on earth. Former President Gordon B Hinckley states:
As if (the First Vision) were not enough to certify to the personality and the reality of the Redeemer of mankind, there followed the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Here is something that a man could hold in his hands, could “heft,” as it were. He could read it. He could pray about it, for it contained a promise that the Holy Ghost would declare its truth if that witness were sought in prayer.
This remarkable book stands as a testimonial to the living reality of the Son of God. The Bible declares that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matt. 18:16). The Bible, the testament of the Old World, is one witness. The Book of Mormon, the testament of the New World, is another witness.
I cannot understand why the Christian world does not accept this book. I would think they would be looking for anything and everything that would establish without question the reality and the divinity of the Savior of the world.
When President Hinckley was interviewed by Mike Wallace on the 60 Minutes program, he was asked if he actually believed that. He replied, “Yes, sir. That’s the miracle of it.” He continues:
Our whole strength rests on the validity of that vision. It either occurred or it did not occur. If it did not, then this work is a fraud. If it did, then it is the most important and wonderful work under the heavens.
To these we say in a spirit of love, bring with you all that you have of good … and come and let us see if we may add to it.
God be thanked for His marvelous bestowal of
testimony, authority, and doctrine associated with
this, the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.