Thursday, September 25, 2008

Music as Worship

Over at LDS blogs, there’s a blog entry about music as a form of worship. I’m on board with this. I wish everyone would sing and drown out the organ. Instead we often get the “Mormon Mumble”.

This article sparks two memories in my mind.

The first happened as I came into the MTC. Every night, all of us that were on a single floor of the dorm at the MTC would gather for what we called “Floor Prayer”. We would sing a hymn (in Spanish, ‘cause that’s what we were all studying), and all kneel in prayer. We were all enthused and eager to learn. For many of us, being focused on the Gospel all day was a very new thing, so spirits were high.

So, when we sang, it rang through the halls. I had never before heard hymns sung that way. It grabbed me and lifted me up in a way that I’d never known hymns could do. It was truly the first time I’d ever experienced music AS WORSHIP, rather than just another phase of a meeting. It was an ear-opening experience.

Another experience happened many years later. We had been invited to attend a non-denominational Christian Sunday worship service with some friends. We did, and on the surface, we had a great time. It’s interesting, but at the time, that meeting served to strengthen my own testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Priesthood, but that’s a topic for another blog day.

One thing I noticed, however, is that everyone sang. When I say that, I mean EVERYONE sang, and sang with gusto. When the time came in the service to open up their songbooks, everyone stood and sang out. Nobody seemed to care how well they sang, they just all raised their voices. I was suddenly jealous. I wished that we could muster that kind of enthusiasm while we’re corralling the kids and reading our lesson manuals.

I’ve noticed, over the years, that the more involved the congregation is in the singing, the more they are involved in the meeting. If more ward music directors and bishops understood that, sacrament meeting would start really making a difference in people’s lives.

Mark Hansen


  1. I'm not entirely sure how much the ward music director and Bishop can do about this. Participating in the music must be an individual decision. I does make a huge difference though.

    I have often complained about the lack of participation in singing hymns, but when I moved to my new ward I was amazed to discover that virtually everyone sings, not just in sacrament meeting, but in all the other meetings as well.

  2. I think the ward chorister can be very influential. We lived in a ward for five years that had the same chorister who sang very loudly and with a lot of emotion. Because of her non-traditional approach some were critical, others sang with more energy (perhaps just to spare the poor woman from further embarrassment as she was often off key), and others followed her good example in singing in heartfelt worship.

    I'm not saying hers was the best approach, but I do believe in the power of one, whether in front of the congregation or just a member of it. I also believe that testifying of the power of music in worship can be appropriate during a testimony meeting.



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