What Is the Role of Music in the Gospel?

In his description of church meetings, Moroni listed a number of activities which leaders were inspired to include: “As the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done” (Moroni 6:9).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has urged leaders to be seated on the stand well before the beginning of sacrament meeting, “listening to the prelude music and reverently setting the example the rest of us ought to follow” (“Behold the Lamb of God,” General Conference, April 2019). Prelude music isn’t just background music! It isn’t just the soundtrack for our pre-meeting conversations. It is intended to help us transition to the appropriate state of heart and mind for the meeting.

The sessions of general conference always include both music and talks. Some hymns are provided by choirs, others include the full congregation. President Russell M. Nelson has called the music at conference edifying and uplifting (“Closing Remarks,” General Conference, October 2019 and “Let Us All Press On,” General Conference, April 2018). President Henry B. Eyring has said that the music sung and the words spoken in a session of conference “have been carried to our hearts by the Holy Ghost” (“Try, Try, Try,” General Conference, October 2018).

The Book of Mormon opens with a vision in which Lehi sees “God sitting on His throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1:8). Alma the Younger saw the same thing after being called to repentance by an angel, and he added, “my soul did long to be there” (Alma 36:22). King Benjamin looked forward to the time when his “immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God” (Mosiah 2:28). Mormon also characterized exaltation with God in terms of singing (Mormon 7:7).

And sublime music is not limited to the celestial world. Alma said that when people are converted to the gospel, their hearts are changed and they “sing redeeming love” (Alma 5:9, 26). I interpret this to mean that the feelings associated with conversion are similar to the feelings we experience as we participate in uplifting music.

Isaiah used singing as a metaphor for unity. In a passage which is quoted four times in the Book of Mormon, he says, “Thy watchmen shall lift up their voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye” (Isaiah 52:8, Mosiah 12:22, Mosiah 15:29, 3 Nephi 16:18, 3 Nephi 20:32).

This week, I will enjoy and participate in uplifting music. I will remember its ability to edify and inspire me and others. I will recognize music as a symbol of unity, of conversion to the gospel, and ultimately of exaltation in the presence of God.

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