Truly, I believe that children today hunger for truth. When lessons are watered down, generic, or void of the Spirit, the kids lose interest. There were kids in my son's class who (according to my son) normally disrupt and struggle to focus or participate - who happened to be the most participating kids in the class that day. They were eager to learn and feel the Spirit. They smiled, shared thoughts, asked questions and didn't want the lesson to come to an end. When I realized time had run out, they begged me to go five minutes over so they could hear the rest of the lesson. There was a wonderful Spirit in the class that day and we had an incredible discussion about the power of music!
The lesson had such an impact on the children, that one of the boys volunteered to sing a solo during music time in front of the entire primary. His father was quite surprised, as I guess he normally doesn't do that sort of thing. He sang with the sweetest voice, the most beautiful song, and he tried his best. I really felt that the lesson made an impact in his life.
The lesson was about the Hymn Book and how Emma Smith was commissioned to create a book of hymns for the early saints. I felt impressed to take it a step further, and talk with the kids about why music is so important. They told me they had no idea! So, I thought I would share the material we talked about here on my blog.
Why do we sing at church?
We sing at the opening of the sacrament meeting, then we sing again prior to blessing the sacrament, then we sing an intermission hymn, then we sing another hymn to close the meeting. So, why is music such a big part of our church meetings? Music is a language. It’s the language of the Spirit. Your Spirit speaks that language and that’s why you feel really good when you hear certain songs. The adversary also uses music as a language. Some songs make us feel down, anxious, negative, or depressed. Brigham Young once said: “There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven".
What difference do you think it would make if we didn't sing church meetings?
I once had a young bishop (who was the same age as me) in an old ward, who took music very seriously. On more than one occasion he would interrupt the hymns in sacrament meeting (mid singing) and ask the congregation to start over. He would give a quick sermon about the importance of "everyone" singing, and remind us that hymns are prayers. If he saw people not singing, or the congregation was singing too quietly he would do this every time. Eventually the ward got better at taking the hymns more seriously. They would sing with boldness, with passion, and with the Spirit. It truly improved our meetings and invited the Spirit in, and very much improved fast and testimony meetings.
Boyd K. Packer once said, “Music is of enormous importance in our worship services. I believe that those who choose, conduct, present, and accompany the music may influence the spirit of reverence in our meetings more than a speaker does”
I remember once while serving as first counselor in the primary presidency, being told to always let music time go longer if needed. Never cut it short to make time for the sharing time lesson, because the music was more important. At the time I didn't understand and I always felt sad when music time cut so much into my lesson that I was only left with 6 minutes to teach. Of course, I don't feel that way anymore.
The First Presidency of the Church has said, “Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives. Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment. Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, ‘and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads’”
1) Power of Worship
David was a son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah. He was a courageous youth who slew a lion, a bear, and the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17). David was chosen and anointed to be king of Israel. David was also a skilled musician and while king, he created a vast musical program in which four thousand Levites were selected as musicians and trained for the elaborate choral and instrumental music that was introduced by David into the religious services of Israel. The entire book of Psalms which translates in Hebrew as "praises", is in essence a book of songs and David is accredited as it's author. The Psalms were written not merely as poems, but as worship songs for singing.
More than a third of the psalms are addressed to the Director of Music. Some psalms exhort the worshiper to sing (e.g. Pss. 33:1-3; 92:1-3; 96:1-3; 98:1; 101:1; 150). Some Psalms were to be accompanied by stringed instruments (Neginah, Neginoth Ps. 4; 54–55; 61; 67; 76; and Hab. 3:19), others by wind instruments (Nehiloth Ps. 5); while such titles as “Set to Alamoth” (“maidens,” Ps. 46), or “Set to the Sheminith” (“the octave,” Ps. 6; 12), seem to imply that there was singing in parts. Some of the titles appear to be intended to indicate the character of the Psalm, as Maschil (“giving instruction,” Ps. 32; 42; 44–45; 52–55; 74; 78; and 88–89), Michtam, rendered by some Golden Psalm (Ps. 16; 56–60); while Shiggaion (Ps. 7) with Shigionoth (Hab. 3:1) may refer to the irregular erratic style of the compositions, and Gittith (“belonging to Gath,” Ps. 8; 81; 84) may relate either to the melody or to the instrument used in the performance. The other titles are all probably names of tunes, well known at the time, to which the Psalms were appointed to be sung. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalms https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/psalms
Masoretic cantillation, is the ritual chanting of readings from the Hebrew Bible in synagogue services. The chants are written and notated in accordance with the special signs or marks printed in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) to complement the letters and vowel points. David. C. Mitchell discovered that when applying Psalm 114 to the Masoretic cantillation, a melody can be found that is recognizable as the tonus peregrinus of church and synagogue. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalms
New Testament references show that the earliest Christians used the Psalms in worship, and the Psalms have remained an important part of worship in most Christian Churches. In fact, some Christian denominations only sing Psalms in their services, and no other non-Biblical hymns.
Many Near Death Experience encounters, testify of hearing music of praise and worship when they cross through the veil. In fact, many witnesses speak of angels, plants, flowers and even animals singing praises about them as they pass through the veil. Music appears to be a language that is widely used in the Heavenly spirit realm.
In a recent post, I shared a discovery of the sounds of crickets being slowed down to reveal a Heavenly chorus of worship and praise music. It is no wonder in the hymn, Sing Praise to Him we hear the words, "All creatures of our God and King,. Lift up your voice and with us sing" I believe the Lord created all creatures to sing praises unto Him. I can't help but notice that the word "create" is found in the word "creature". All of the Lord's creations were made with purpose, and made for praise, and to testify of the goodness of the Lord.
In Pslams 148, David exhorts all creatures, animals and people to:
7 Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
8 Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word:
9 Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
10 Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
11 Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth:
12 Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children:
2) Power of Healing
Music used for healing can be traced back to the creation of the Chinese characters because the word for medicine (yao) comes from the word for music (yue). Music purifies and uplifts the soul. https://www.andywasserman.com/arts-in-ed/holistic-music-healing
In some of the books I have written, and in my workshops and presentations, I teach about the healing power of music. One research study that I often speak about is that of John Hutchinson, an electro-magnetic energy expert from Vancouver, B.C. Canada, who has verified that a certain selection of “music” has helped purify poisoned water. Using the 528Hz frequency, known as the love/DNA repair frequency, he and his partner Nancy Lazaryan were able to heal water from the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. The frequencies they selected have been shown scientifically to reduce the oil and grease in polluted waters in the Gulf of Mexico from 7 ppm to less than 1 ppm, restoring the water's vitality as manifest by the return of fish, dolphins and even barnacles to a region of Perdido Bay in Lillian, Alabama, USA, where they conducted their first test. The area was treated with the frequencies for four hours the first day, and by the next morning, the waters were cleared.
Dr. Masaru Emoto is world renowned for his research with water. You may have heard of the rice jar experiments that children often do in science class. The student takes two jars filled with rice and water. For 30 days they speak kinds words and play beautiful music to one jar, and unkind words and unpleasant music to the other jar. After the 30 days the rice in "unkind" jar turns putrid and black. The rice in the "kind" jar stays white and clean.
Dr. Emoto can be credited for these experiments stemming from his research. Emoto's water crystal experiments consisted of exposing water in glasses to different words, pictures or music, and then freezing and examining the aesthetic properties of the resulting crystals with microscopic photography. Emoto made the claim that water exposed to positive speech and thoughts would result in visually "pleasing" crystals being formed when that water was frozen, and that negative intention would yield "ugly" frozen crystal formations.
I too, can vouch for music working as a tool for healing. There have been countless times I have played music with a 528 Hz frequency around my children when they have been injured or sick and we have experienced miracles. I believe that because God is love, when we are in tune with Him, we are aligned with His will and therefore sync ourselves to the 528 Hz frequency. Unconditional love heals and unconditional love is who God is.
Ancient civilizations understood the powerful benefit of sound and vibration. They composed music based on the perfect mathematical proportions that can be found in the construction of many sacred temples, space, and time. These tones are used in the Gregorian chants of the western Roman Catholic Church.
The original Solfeggio scale was developed by a Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo (c. 991 AD – c. 1050 AD). It was used by singers to learn chants and songs more easily. Today we know the Solfeggio scale as seven ascending notes assigned to the syllables Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti. The original scale was six ascending notes assigned to Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La. The syllables for the scale were taken from a hymn to St. John the Baptist, Ut Queant Laxis, written by Paulus Diaconus.
Guido d’Arezzo. In the mid-1970’s Dr. Joseph Puleo, a physician and America’s leading herbalist, found six electro-magnetic sound frequencies that corresponded to the syllables from the hymn to St. John the Baptist. https://attunedvibrations.com/solfeggio/
In many cultures today, notes on the scale and music written in certain keys, are used as medicine to heal specific areas of the body. Best Selling Deseret Book authors Karol Truman and Carol Tuttle both have written about this topic. I've had the privilege to meet with Karol Truman and interview her about music and healing. She shared with me that her husband Delmont, has the gift of healing through his singing voice. His voice is perfectly pitched in such a way that when he sings, he heals people. Karol herself has also written music that she feels was Divinely inspired, that heals the mind, body, and soul.
Karol says, "Each of us has every note of the musical scale in our body and speaking voice. Every note corresponds to an energy center in our body. Many of us however, are lacking the note of B,Sadly, this is our Spiritual energy center. By listening to music in the Key of B, you can help restore the B note in your body/voice."
She shared with me a special story about a friend of hers who had the gift of recognizing notes that were missing in a person's voice. If someone was sick, she could detect the missing note/frequency and be able to sing that frequency/note back into their being. Her friend's son was one day very ill in the hospital. She called him on the phone and detected the missing note in his voice. When she got to the hospital she was able to sing him back to wellness!
I believe that our sacred hymns not only heal because of their words (there is power in the Word) but because of the music itself. There is Divine power in the notes themselves. It is the language of the Spirit the language of Heaven. We can cast out darkness through prayer and we can cast out darkness when we sing or play a hymn. When we cast out darkness, powerful healing can take place.
3) Power of Warfare
Music has been used in warfare all throughout the ages of man. Chapter 6 of the Old Testament’s book of Joshua, contains an exceptionally detailed description of the deployment of ram’s horns used in warfare against Jericho, the oldest fortified human settlement known to archaeology. Although ram’s horns do indeed make a powerful blast of sound. Priests blowing their horns in unison, fired up his warriors and weakened the Canaanites’ will to resist, and the entire city wall came crumbling to the ground.
Bagpipes, drums, horns, and flutes, have all been used on the battlefield. Music is a language and code in battle. I believe the same to be true with spiritual warfare. We can fight off the powers of darkness with praise and worship music - especially hymns.
Though music is used in battle, it has often been used on the battlefield to establish peace. Here are four examples:
1) During the American Civil War, musical duels between the two sides were common, as they heard each other as the music traveled across the countryside. The night before the Battle of Stones River, bands from both sides dueled with separate songs, until both sides started playing Home! Sweet Home!, at which time soldiers on both sides started singing together as one. A similar situation occurred in Fredericksburg,Virginia in the winter of 1862–3. On a cold afternoon a Union band started playing Northern patriotic tunes; a Southern band responded by playing Southern patriotic tunes. This back and forth continued into the night, until at the end both sides played Home! Sweet Home! simultaneously, to the cheers of both sides' forces. In a third instance, in the spring of 1863, the opposing armies were on the opposite sides of the Rappahannock River in Virginia, when the different sides played their patriotic tunes, and at taps one side played Home! Sweet Home!, and the other joined in, creating "cheers" from both sides that echoed throughout the hilly countryside.
2) During World War I, one morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, "a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere", as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled.
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”
The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading "You no shoot, we no shoot." Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on "no man's land," the ground between opposing trenches.http://time.com/3643889/christmas-truce-1914/
3) Years ago, two Church members in Salt Lake City were having a serious argument about some business matters. They came to President Taylor and asked him if he would listen to their story and make a decision for them. President Taylor agreed to listen. But he said, “Brethren, before I hear your case, I would like very much to sing one of the songs of Zion for you.”
President Taylor was a good singer. He enthusiastically sang a hymn to the two men. Then he sang a second and then a third hymn. Then he said, “Now, brethren, I do not want to wear you out, but if you will forgive me, and listen to one more hymn, I promise to stop singing, and will hear your case.” When President Taylor had finished the fourth song, the brethren were so touched by the hymns that they had tears in their eyes. They shook hands, apologized to President Taylor for taking up his time, and left without telling President Taylor what their problem was.
4) A group of Latter-day Saint pioneers, led by Brigham Young, were near the Rocky Mountains. One night they camped in a small valley. After supper they built a big bonfire. They sang and danced around the bonfire to help them forget their fears and worries.Before they went to bed in their wagons, leaving a single guard on duty, they sang “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a song they used to encourage each other and show their dedication to the Lord.
That night there were a thousand unfriendly Indians hiding around the camp, ready to attack the pioneers. But after the Indians heard the pioneers sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” they were unable to attack. They knew the Great Spirit (their name for Heavenly Father) was watching over the pioneers, so they got on their horses and rode away, leaving the pioneers alone.
Some time later, the man who had been chief over the group of Indians told this story to some Latter-day Saint missionaries. When he finished the story, he took out a violin and began to play “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” He explained to the missionaries, “This is your song, but it is my song, too. I play it every night before I go to bed. It brings the Great Spirit here to me and makes me and my people calm and happy.” (See Lucile C. Reading, “Song of the Pioneers,")
Scientists have measured the frequencies of words and music. They have proven that words and music with certain frequencies attract like frequencies. We can attract darkness or light into our lives from the music that we listen to!
Whenever I experience contention in my home, I turn on hymns or worship music in a back bedroom or sometimes full volume throughout the house, and the contention dissipates every time. Music is powerful against the enemy!
The Spirit of God is one of my most favorite hymns. When I hear it and sing it, I feel a Divine power surge through me every time. It evokes the Spirit in a very powerful way. When I heard President Nelson say that, I felt prompted to begin to study the hymns. It was then that I realized many deep mysteries and sacred doctrines are only taught in the hymns. A perfect example of this is in the hymn Oh My Father, we sing,
"In the heav'ns are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal, Tells me I've a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence, When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you, In your royal courts on high?"
From this hymn, we learn that we have a Heavenly Mother.
In the hymn, If You Could High to Kolob we learn about a place called "Kolob" that is the nearest star to our Heavenly Father's throne. A hymn written by William W. Phelps about the doctrine received in the Book of Abraham. We sing,
"If you could hie to Kolob
In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward
With that same speed to fly,"
"Do you think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where Gods began to be?"
I encourage you to study the hymns in the hymn book. Some of the writers of the earliest hymns were close to the prophet Joseph Smith. I can only imagine some of the glorious and wonderful things they learned that were too sacred to share in public. And I can't help but wonder if they subtly wrote about them in the hymns. I myself have been taught beautiful things by the Spirit through the hymns. I testify that if you study the hymns and learn about the writers of the hymns, you too will be taught beautiful truths through the Spirit.
What are your favorite hymns and why? I'd love for you to share below.
Lastly, I just want to share a brief history of the timeline of the LDS hymn book. Did you know each collection had a special theme? In fact, the 1908 collection is what inspired President Taylor in the story above, to sing to the two business men. They were new songs themed on Zion, and he was very much a fan. I also want to include a link to the very first hymn book. Many of these hymns are not in our current hymn book. I encourage you to study them as well, and you will love what the Spirit shares with you!
Emma Smith’s Hymn Collection, 1835
Israel,” “How Firm a Foundation,” and “The Spirit of God,” are found in the 1985 edition of the hymnbook Emma’s hymnbook, entitled A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints, appeared in print in August 1835. The vest-pocket edition. 26 of the original ninety texts, including “Redeemer of .) 90 hymns
The Manchester Hymnal, 1840
One of the most important hymnals of the Church was first published in Manchester, England, in March of 1840 by Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor. Entitled A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe, it contained 271 hymn texts.
The Psalmody, 1889
The new Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody, published in Salt Lake City, was the first large collection of hymns to include musical settings with the texts. According to the preface, dated 27 May 1889, this hymnal was designed “to present a suitable and acceptable tune to every hymn in the Latter-day Saints’ Hymn Book.” It included many “choir hymns”—such as “Behold the Great Redeemer Die” and “As the Dew from Heaven Distilling”—created by Latter-day Saint composers for the Tabernacle Choir’s weekly performances.
Songs of Zion, 1908
Songs of Zion was compiled by nine mission presidents in the United States and was published in 1908 by the Northern States Mission in Chicago. Included about one hundred gospel hymns, among them “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,” “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,” and “Do What Is Right.”
Deseret Sunday School Songs, 1909
Published by the Deseret Sunday School Union in 1909, Deseret Sunday School Songs was patterned after Songs of Zion, which had been well received by the Church membership. It contained favorite songs of members and choristers throughout the Church, including “In Our Lovely Deseret,” “Who’s On the Lord’s Side?” and “Count Your Blessings.” Intended for use in “Sunday School, Primary, Religion Classes, and Home Socials,” this book quickly became the most popular hymnbook in the Church.
The General Music Committee, organized in 1920, was assigned the task of compiling a new hymnal that would combine the best of the Manchester hymnal, the Psalmody of 1889, and Songs of Zion. Although new works were secured through a hymn contest, the works of Evan Stephens and others of the older generation were the bulk of the collection. The new hymnal was entitled Latter-day Saint Hymns but was commonly referred to as the “green hymnbook.” It was used along with Deseret Sunday School Songs until 1948, when Hymns merged the two.
In October 1943, work began on a new hymnbook. Plans were also made for a recreational songbook for youth and for a children’s songbook.
When it was published in 1948, Hymns, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consisted of 387 hymns. The book had four general classifications: congregation, choir, men’s voices, and women’s voices. Nearly half of the tunes in the 1948 edition of Hymns were borrowed from non-LDS sources.
This hymnal was congregation-centered. But it also contained choir selections that were generally more elaborate than those intended for congregational use.
Two years after the 1948 edition of Hymns was published, a revision was made. This edition replaced some of the hymns in the 1948 edition with hymns from earlier LDS hymnbooks.
Through the decades, a diverse Latter-day Saint hymnody has developed. It includes simple American hymns, appealing gospel songs, noble hymns sung by the early English Saints, hymns borrowed from other religious traditions, unique LDS choir hymns of the late 1800s, and other hymns created by Latter-day Saints.
With the 1985 edition, new hymns from this generation have been added to a balanced selection of old and borrowed hymns.