Tag Archives: music

Mormons, Music, and “Callings”

Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks

I think that there are more Mormons that play piano or are musically trained than the general population. I can’t prove it, but I have a hunch that it’s true. Why would I think that? It might be that I just grew up in a neighborhood where people could afford pianos and lessons and most of these people happened to be Mormon (I did grow up in Utah after all). Maybe the piano thing was just a function of the economic demographics and has nothing at all to do with religion.

I’m using piano here as just one example of the many skills and talents that we develop through being members of the LDS Church. There are a whole host of others which include leadership skills, language capabilities, public speaking, and so forth. I may hit on those a little later.

But take my story as an example. My mom always wished she had learned piano and it was her dream to be able to accompany the church hymns someday. In our church, singing hymns is a big deal. On average, we sing at least four times in our main church meeting, and probably at least 6-10 times throughout each service. Juliana talked about our hymns earlier on this very blog. Not only that, but most congregations have amateur choirs (with matching amateur accompanists). Well, all of this singing had a big impact on my mom, so she made sure I had the chance to learn to play piano, even when it meant a significant amount of financial sacrifice (and a fair bit of motherly nagging) to allow me the opportunity.

But the story doesn’t end there. Continue reading

Free to Choose

During our sacrament service this past Sunday, our Bishop opened up the last 10 minutes for those who wanted to come share a favorite hymn which had strengthened their testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the individual shared their testimony of the hymn, we all sang the first verse together. I didn’t take the opportunity to share one of my favorite hymns, so I would like to do so here.

Know This, That Every Soul is Free
Know this, that ev’ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is giv’n:

That God will force no man to heav’n.

He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav’n or hell.

May we no more our pow’rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

I love that this hymn explains that we have the freedom “to choose [our] life and what [we’ll] be”. “God will force no man to heav’n”. He guides, directs and blesses us, but ultimately leaves the choice to us.  We can recommit ourselves each day to follow him and let him direct our lives. I love the line that says, “In nameless ways be good and kind, But never force the human mind.”

I believe that God is good and kind. He always has our best interest at heart and wants nothing more that our safe return to him. I also love the end of the hymn where it says, “Our God is pleased when we improve, His grace and seek his perfect love” I know that God is pleased and overjoyed each time we triumph over evil.

Keeping Anger in Check

President Thomas S. Monson has served as the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since February 3, 2008.

I’m not usually an angry person.  But sometimes a lack of sleep weakens my will for patience and forbearance. This usually results in some auditory condemnation of my fellow 1-93/ 1-95 commuters whom I perhaps judge too quickly. I sometimes have to remind myself to not get so worked up. Here’s a great talk from our current prophet Thomas S. Monson addressed to the men in our church on controlling the emotion of anger – school thy feelings.

In his remarks, President Monson references a hymn written by Charles W. Penrose, a Mormon church leader from the early 20th century.

School thy feelings, O my brother;
Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings; there is power
In the cool, collected mind.
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind.

When I remember to keep my anger in check, I feel more inward peace and love toward others. Have you found specific things that help you with this emotion? What difference has it made in your life?

Songs of my Heart

One of my favorite things about Sunday church meetings is listening to and singing songs of praise to God. Singing is a great way of worshiping because the hymns are inspiring and they always invite the Holy Ghost. We Mormons love singing hymns – during our three-hour Sunday services we sing an average of two songs per hour. Even though in some congregations there may be quite a few musically talented people, everyone is welcome to participate no matter how well they can sing. It’s not about how well you can sing but rather how you want to worship. Some may not be comfortable singing at all and prefer listening instead; some may be talented and brave enough to go up and play an instrument or sing a solo or be a part of the choir.

There is a great selection of topics for many occasions in our hymn book. There are songs about hope, charity, love, peace, praise, scriptures, service, church history, Christmas, and Easter among others. Some of my favorites about the Savior are I Know That my Redeemer Lives and I Need Thee Every Hour. Others such as I Am a Child of God and A Child’s Prayer, found in the children’s songbook, are also inspiring.

I always have some hymns with me so that I can listen to them while driving or when riding on the subway. Listening to inspiring music helps me to get through the week and it reminds me of the love that God has for me.