Unfortunate LDS Music Stories

Posted on July 30, 2011. Filed under: Music in Sacrament Meeting, Organ Music, Primary Music, Ward Choir, Ward Music Chairman |

sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes embarrassing, always 100% TRUE

  • Arizona: a man sings Michael Jackson’s, “Man in the Mirror” for a Sacrament Meeting musical number
  • Idaho: Sacrament Meeting on the 4th of July, Opening Hymn, “God Save the King”
  • California: for a musical number in Sacrament Meeting a member of the bishopric puts a boombox on the podium and pushes the play button so the congregation can listen to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American”
  • California: a girl accompanies herself on the piano while singing into a boom mic a pop-style version of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”
  • Utah: in a 2006 Primary Program Presentation in Sacrament Meeting the children go retro singing a Mormon pop favorite from the 80’s
  • New York: the dress rehearsal for a Stake Christmas Fireside revealed one of the musical selections as “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (The Stake Pres. caught wind and canceled that song in the nick of time)
  • Utah: a girl sings an emotional “His Hands” by Kenneth Cope (a capella), using dramatic hand gestures, as a part of her testimony during a BYU ward fast and testimony meeting.
  • Pennsylvania: A woman has the congregation join in with her, swaying and holding their pointer fingers up as they all sing “This Little Light of Mine”
  • California: a congregation is confused when they can’t reach the notes of a hymn. The organist failed to see that the transposition knob had been turned to sound a 5th higher.
  • Utah: an over-zealous choir director convinces a struggling ward choir of 12 that they can perform Wilhousky’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. The performance left the congregation wishing for ear plugs.
  • Arizona: an over-populated ward fails to provide hymn books or print hymn text in the programs leaving 50% of it’s members (all those packed in the cultural hall) unable to sing the Sacrament Meeting Hymns each Sunday.
  • California: an organist leaves town with the key to the organ leaving a congregation without accompaniment for Sacrament Meeting.
  • Arizona: a woman sings the solo “The Wind Beneath My Wings” in Sacrament Meeting
  • Utah: July 24th (Pioneer Day), sacrament meeting opening hymn: “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”

Each of these little errors really happened, although I don’t think it’s appropriate to embarrass the wards/stakes so I’ve chosen to keep the exact location/date confidential.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED MUSIC TRAINING.


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8 Responses to “Unfortunate LDS Music Stories”

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Wow! I completely agree about music training. Before I moved back to my home ward/stake (in Oregon), I was told that someone sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings” in Sacrament Meeting. The stake president was present, and the song took up half his speaking time, as well as being oh! so inappropriate. When I returned to the stake, it was in a period of some years when we were only allowed to use hymns in Sacrament Meeting. I thought that was overkill, but I could certainly understand the impulse! (PS – I’m the ward music chairman, was just sustained today as the choir director, and my best friend in the ward is the Sac. Mtg. director. I’m forwarding this link to her. She’ll get a kick out of it.)

I believe that some of the unfortunate LDS music stories ought to include those that DON’T happen. I know you’ve covered this topic in another post, but my comments seem to apply to this area, as well. Our ward is often a victim of under-educated music decision-makers who don’t allow many of the hymns to be sung because they aren’t “familiar”. That seems very unfortunate to me, as there are many beautiful hymns with sacred words whose messages aren’t being received into the hearts of our members. I love your 80/20 rule and look forward to a day we can apply it in my ward. Meantime, I do the best I can at the organ with the hymns that are selected over and over and over and over….I’ve always been grateful for my music training but I sometimes feel that ignorance would be bliss. If I didn’t know to expect more, I wouldn’t be frustrated.

Ha Ha! My husband and I were there at the BYU “His Hands” performance!

In my home ward in Utah, a girl who was leaving on a mission sang at her own farewell. She set a boombox next to the podium and sang to a karaoke version of “From a Distance” by Bette Midler.
I understand bishops getting a little paranoid and making the “only hymns” rule, but honestly, it does spoil it for others. There is some really grand and very appropriate music out there for sacrament meetings.

Okay, that one made me laugh out loud.

While visiting family in Australia, we were happy to be invited to choir practice. We were then astonished to see the accompanist sit at the piano and take out her knitting! We understood, as time passed. In the 45 minute choir practice, we sang one hymn twice. The rest of the time the director talked.

On my mission in Argentina a bishop asked me to sing the Schubert setting of “Ave María” as a special number for Sacrament meeting. I politely made an alternate suggestion.

I love Schubert’s Ave Maria ~ the Tabernacle Choir’s lovely and moving recording has the title and words changed to Heavenly Father.
That could work in a Church setting.


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