I’m a Mormon, So…

I’m a Mormon, so I sing. I sing hymns with other members of the Church or Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during our Sacrament Meeting, if it’s part of the lesson during the second hour of Sunday worship services, in the Primary during their singing time, or as part of the ward choir or a special choir that may form for other meetings.

Sacred music increases faith in Jesus Christ. It invites the Spirit and teaches doctrine. It also creates a feeling of reverence, unifies members, and provides a way to worship Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

LDS General Handbook, “Music

We use music in many places:

Sacrament Meeting begins with an opening hymn, has a sacramental hymn before the sacrament service, and ends with a closing hymn. There is often an intermediary, or rest, hymn midway through the hour. These hymns are taken from the official LDS Hymnbook.

The children who attend Primary sing songs pertaining to the theme of the year, ones they will be performing as part of the Primary Program held annually (more on that, later), a special birthday tune if the leaders wish to celebrate those, or welcome songs for visitors or new members. This singing time ran for at least half an hour when members spent three hours at church; now, this time is truncated to fifteen minutes.

Likewise, the other meetings (Sunday Schools, Young Men’s, Young Women’s, Relief Society, and Elder’s Quorum) had opening and closing hymns when the meeting block was longer. Now, these groups do not sing during their second-hour meeting.

Every ward or branch is encouraged to have a choir. Ward choirs tend to sing during the rest hymn time of Sacrament Meeting or for the Sundays near to a holiday.

When wards or branches plan Stake, Regional, or General Conference (more on that, later); a choir is organized to sing at those.

Besides these official, scheduled, uniform moments of song; the music coordinator of a ward or branch might also organize special musical numbers by those playing an instrument or those who wish to sing a special (bishop-approved) musical number.

The LDS Church also owns and operates the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square (formerly the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) -and the Orchestra at Temple Square -and the Bells at Temple Square. These are made up of volunteers who must audition for positions and commit to a certain level of attendance and performance in order to participate. They sing for General Conference, special concerts, on tour, and each Sunday for Music and the Spoken Word.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, singing “Amazing Grace”

©2023 Chel Owens

……

We Mormons are officially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are to drop any name but that. Since many recognize the nickname of ‘Mormon’ and it works with the alliteration so well, however, I will use the term.

My other note is that I will keep to official doctrinal practices. I will add my own application of them, especially in response to comments.

My final note is that I LOVE discussing anything I write. Don’t be rude, obviously, but any and all queries or responses are welcome.

My final note beyond the final note is that I do not seek to convert anyone. I am motivated by forming connections, answering curiosity, and straightening pictures. So, you’re safe.

One Country

“Over hill, over dale, as we hit the dusty trail…”

I can’t remember a time when my husband didn’t like discussing politics. Even at 16, he and his best friend would incessantly “converse” about an issue, its counterpoint, its counter-counterpoint; ad naseum.

“Stand navy, out to sea; fight our battle cry…”

Driving in the car together at 19 years young, we would occasionally listen to AM Talk Radio. Callers to the program voiced something, anything; and inevitably got cut off by Rush Limbaugh yelling. I had never seen the man; yet saw his red face, smelt his heated breath, and felt his spewing spittle.

“From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli; we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea”

The introduction of social media, overall, lent a paper-thin mask to that same sort of angry vitriol I heard over a decade before. In our 30s, now, I see good people typing political observations they’d never say to their own mothers.

“From north and south and east and west, the coast guard’s in the fight…”

My own “news”feed is often split down the middle. One man literally wrote that anyone approving the separation of children from parents is a piece of shit; a relative, meanwhile, pointed out that children are being used as free tickets into the U. S. of A. I get the feeling my “friends” would start a nuclear meltdown if accidentally mixed in the same chamber.

“Off we go, into the wild blue yonder -climbing high into the sun!”

A person in the military standing next to their boots and backpack on a sidewalk

This past Sunday morning our family watched the live feed of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing from their tour in California. Theirs was a patriotic program to honor our nation’s birthday, today. Anthems played, singers sung. I typed, using it all as pleasant background music. Then, the choir began singing each song of the various armed forces. I looked up.

“Then its Hi! Hi! Hee! in the field artillery, shout out your numbers loud and strong!”

Apparently, representatives of the various armed forces were attending the concert. The front rows of folding chairs held uniformed members -but they weren’t sitting. As was standard, each was standing in respect. Each man or woman in smart, white shirt and tie was at the appropriate attention.

“…First we fight for rights and freedom, and to keep our honor clean…”

Most were smiling broadly. All were singing. The camera panned over the crowd and I saw happy, proud people raising their voices together with the choir and band. I was struck by exactly what it meant to dress a certain way and take a certain oath and stand when expected and mouth the same words: Unison.

“Sail on to victory and sing their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!”

Uniformity is often said like it’s a bad word, a disgusting one. A That’s it, young lady, we’re washing your mouth out! word. Instead, I saw it for the word it really wants to be: teamwork, unity, cooperation, selflessness, union, LOVE.

“We live in fame or go down in flame…”

Thank you, Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Thank you more, proud members of the fighting forces in attendance. Thank you all for feeling so strongly that I couldn’t help but cry in response.

One nation. That’s what we are, and the goal we always need.