The church music travesty

The following is an email response to a comment on a different blog about music in the church. The commenter recalled being “frustrated as a vocal performer and a choir director in 1993 when the word came down from the First Presidency that the only songs allowed in Sacrament Meeting were to be from the hymn book, the children’s songbook, and the choir book (except for the Christmas and Easter programs). But then I found beautifully arranged hymns, and my Bishop approved.”

Dear Commenter,

FYI, The First Presidency never said that only hymns would be allowed in sacrament meeting. That’s an interpretation of what they did say that I don’t agree with, and greatly frustrates me. You can read the instructions here. As you can see, it’s a sore spot. I know many people who think the music should be limited to hymns because of what they think was said, but if you read clearly, it says, “if other musical selections are used…” and later it says, “hymns and other appropriate selections may be used.” It does not mention the Children’s Songbook or the Choirbook, but again, it’s a matter of interpretation.

The thing that frustrates me the most is that I received training in music from BYU, and yet that almost makes bishops less likely to believe I can select appropriate music, like I’m some kind of rebel or something. There’s so much beautiful, inspiring, enlightening, worshipful music out there. I wish people would trust those of us who are trained in music to be able to find it. But instead, I’m supposed to bow to the tastes of non-musical people who probably secretly wish they could still sing “I heard Him come” in sacrament meeting, or would rather hear a breathy, tone-challenged YW warble around “I know that my Redeemer Lives” than an accomplished organist playing a prelude from Bach’s Orgelbüchlein. Not that I have anything against the young women, I just wish people would learn how do do something before they undertake to perform in public.

As a side note, once, when I was 12 or 13, I performed “The Rose” in a fast and testimony meeting in Germany, with some other young women. Even now, many years later, I cringe at the thought. I wish the parents of the girl I was visiting had prevented that disaster. This was at the same time in my life that I first heard “I heard Him come” and loved it, and purchased a piano arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Give me some slack, I was only 13.

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~ by woundedhart on September 7, 2007.

2 Responses to “The church music travesty”

  1. I just wish people would learn how do do something before they undertake to perform in public.

    I second that motion.

  2. I believe the most sacred piece of music I ever heard in Sacrament meeting was a man performing “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” the Sunday after 9/11.

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