Music is the universal language. A person need not understand the language in which a song is sung to appreciate the message that the song intends to convey. During the darkest nights, in times of adversity and distress, music can sooth the aching soul and bring the calm and peace that a person yearns for. During moments of quiet and reflection, music speaks to our souls, and at times brings to remembrance even some of the little things of life that may have long since been forgotten, but for which we should forever be grateful. It is through the venue of music that we also express our jubilation, praise, and thanksgiving to Him from whom all blessings flow. However, like in all things, we must use discernment in deciding which type of music we wish to listen to. There is music that is uplifting, but there is also music that can bring us down.
The Power of Music in Our Lives
President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, has taught, “Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father. It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite. However, music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity. You cannot afford to fill your minds with unworthy music.” In December 1970, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ stated:
Through music, man’s ability to express himself extends beyond the limits of the spoken language in both subtlety and power. Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves (Priesthood Bulletin, December 1970, p.10).
Music has played a part in the events of man’s everyday life since his earliest days. For example, in Exodus 15 we learn of the musical festivals after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. At times music has also accompanied men into battle and has been used to celebrate victories in war. Songs and dance were used to honor kings at their coronation. Throughout history, music has been used to soothe troubled minds, accompany prophesying, and to express personal sorrow. In the Psalms David used music to describe personal emotions as well as praise to God.
We each have different tastes in music. Some people like classical or jazz, where others may prefer country or contemporary. Some people like nice quiet, soothing music, where others may prefer their music as loud as possible. Regardless of our individual tastes, music plays an important part in each of our lives and can influence us in many ways.
As Christians, we represent Christ at all times – wherever we go, whatever we say. The music that we listen to, like every other area of our lives, should honor God. We should focus on what our Heavenly Father has done for us and express praise to Him out of gratefulness.
LDS Music Resources
The following is a list of helpful resources that can enrich your life musically at church or at home:
Music.lds.org – the main music site of The Church of Jesus Christ. Answers for many frequently asked questions by those who have a music calling can be found here. An interactive music player is provided for listening to and downloading hymns and children’s songs. And sheet music for practically any Church occasion can be found in the music library.
Youth.lds.org – the youth website of the Church that has free, uplifting music that teens can listen to and download. A treasure trove of MP3 files from Especially for Youth and other popular albums can be found by clicking on “Music” in the right-hand menu.
Friend.lds.org – if you want sheet music and audio files of simplified Primary songs, click “Music in the Friend” and look for the “I Can Play It!” series. Beginning in 2015, the site also features music videos with beautiful pictures and captions for the sharing time songs.
Primary.lds.org – a section on music callings can be found on the “Leader Resources” page. Videos from recent leadership training broadcasts are also provided as a resource for ideas for teaching music to children.
Store.lds.org – the place to order CDs of hymns and children’s songs that can be used when no accompanist is available. This can be accomplished by clicking the “Music, Media, and Art” category at the top of the page. Under “Serving in the Church,” select “Specialists and Committees” and then scroll down to the music section to find kits that can help you learn to play the keyboard or conduct music.
As we carefully and prayerfully select the music that we listen to, may we “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] 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. And whatsoever [we] do in word or deed, [may we] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:16, 17).