“Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words… they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.” (Mosiah 15:11, Book of Mormon)
James Lee Dunne, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is a man of many talents. Not only is he a family man, but he is also a composer, multi-instrument musician, marathoner, mountain climber, lover of ancient text, backpacker, storyteller, Olympic torch bearer, audio engineer, music producer, writer, scouter, and photographer, among other things. He is also the founder of Treble Clef Music, which has uplifting songs ranging from humor to deeply spiritual, bringing positive music to positive-thinking people. In short, James describes himself as an “explorer of all good things for the mind, spirit, and soul.”
James is also an avid student of the scriptures and is on a spiritual quest to bring to life the stories of persons from the Book of Mormon. After 25 years in the making, he has completed a colossal music project, which “distills lyrics from the Book of Mormon and sets them to music.” The project is called Words of the Prophets. He recounts how the project, which became a labor of love, came about:
In 1994, I became intrigued that “Nephi’s Psalm,” (2 Nephi 4:15-31), did not have any music I could locate. So, I determined to do it, and ultimately concluded that the magic is in his words, not me writing new words about it. That led me to other personal testimonies and passionate outpourings in the Book of Mormon… and the aptly named project, “Words of the Prophets,” was born.
James says when he began the project a quarter century ago, his goal was to get it out to the world, but not until, as he says, “the finished quality was worthy of the source material.” He completed his mission and thanks to advances in connectivity in the last 25 years, the two CDs (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2), released September 2018 and May 2019, respectively, are now available worldwide.
James now has a new mission to share his soundtrack to the Book of Mormon, “dedicated to those who love the spirit of the living scriptures and might enjoy them enlivened further with music” as noted on each CD. Speaking about the project, he said, “As I have a strong testimony of the different voices of the Book of Mormon, there are 17 different vocalists involved. Tim Gates (The Nashville Tribute Band) is my Lehi, Jason Bromley (Vocal Point) is my Nephi, and all the other vocalists are fine local LDS singers I’ve mostly known for many years.”
The depth and intricacies of the project over the past 25 years have resulted in some interesting insights and perspectives inspired by Hugh Nibley to John Welch to F.A.R.M.S to the Maxwell Institute. The Words of the Prophets project has garnered positive reviews ranging from a General Authority of the Church to a vocalist in Nashville, Tennessee, who is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not know the source of the lyrics.
This vocalist’s feedback was the most inspirational to James in that context. She wrote:
I will try to describe what I heard and felt: the immediate effect on me was of being soothed and uplifted, being embalmed and surrounded with a sense of acceptance, encouragement, and strength. I listened with my eyes shut and I felt so “hugged” by your music and the lyrics. You are teaching me, reminding me of what is the truth of the world and is so reassuring to my inner spirit. It was exquisite to shut off the world and listen to such melodious singing and the delightful harmony. What a lovely treat to my ear, my heart, and my spirit!
James said he finally felt fully comfortable releasing the project publicly when he received this review from a member of another church, who was clearly touched by the Book of Mormon messages he had apparently conveyed appropriately with music.
In 2 Timothy 2:15, in the New Testament of the Bible, we are taught, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Being true to what is taught, James Dunne spent 25 years reading, studying, researching, and pondering the scriptures to create a masterpiece, a legacy that will be cherished by all who listen for many years to come.
Some of the songs on the two CDs include:
- “I Have Dreamed a Dream” (Lehi)
- “Nephi’s Psalm” & “Nephi’s Farewell”
- “How is it Done?” (Enos)
- “Know the Name” (Benjamin)
- “How Beautiful Upon the Mountains” (Isaiah via Abinadi)
- “Can You Feel So Now?” “O That I Were an Angel” “Nourish the Word” (Alma)
- “Amulek’s Psalm (Cry Unto Him)”
- Four 3rd Nephi moments
- “Mormon’s Lament”
- “Moroni’s Farewell”
You can listen to four-minute samples of each volume by going to Treble Clef Music and clicking on “Go To Music Overview.”
As music is an inherent part of every society, it is no wonder that the Apostle Paul would teach in his epistle to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16, KJV). James Dunne has captured the full meaning of this scripture with his timeless project, Words of The Prophets.