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We welcome your ideas.  If you are currently involved in music in the LDS Church, or have been in the past, please send your experiences, thoughts, and suggestions using the comment box below.

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32 Responses to “Comments”

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I like the information that you have here. I think it’s great to have so much information all in one place. I like the clean, easy to navigate format that you have.
I am a ward organist and am starting a ‘getting acquainted’ series on my website: Pedal Points-an online forum for lds organists (ldsorganist.wordpress.com).
I will be featuring various lds organists throughout the country and would like to add you to the series. If you are interested, please let me know via email: wardorganist@gmail.com and I will send you a list of questions to get started.
thanks,
Florence

I appreciate having my oratorio listed with these other great works. However most of these are not oratorios. Even Roberts was a string of songs he later fashioned into his work. Perhaps you could separate them properly. “The Messiah, Another Testament” (available at http://www.LDSMusicAndBooks.com – not a great recording though great music), is the only one that is a Book of Mormon oratorio. The others are in some part oratorios or other great works but not a Book of Mormon Oratorio. Just thought you would like to know.

Thanks Peter. The definition of an oratorio is…a lengthy choral work usually of a religious nature consisting chiefly of recitatives, arias, and choruses without action or scenery. This broad definition allows us to include all of the LDS major works, however unconventional, that are listed as oratorios on this site. https://musiccallings.com/2011/06/06/lds-oratorios/

Oratorios have indeed evolved throughout the ages. The baroque oratorios of Bach and Handel are so very different from the 20th century oratorios of Elgar and Stravinsky. Some oratorios tell the story of a biblical person’s life such as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, and Liszt’s Christus. Some tell of an event or series of events such as Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives, Handel’s Creation, or Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ. We have multiple LDS oratorios inspired by the Book of Mormon. Robertson’s Oratorio from the Book of Mormon and Stewart’s Messiah in America depict Christ’s visit to the Americas. Jensen’s Come Unto Christ is the story of Alma the Younger. I cannot comment on Jensen’s work as I haven’t listened to it, but these other two are definitely oratorios. Both include all elements of an oratorio. Stewart’s is unlike many other LDS oratorios because it is actually composed in the style of the masters.

Sandra Thomas
I invented “Organ slippers” for those that do not like organ shoes. I would like to share those ideas with you and others. Please conatact me at SandraDeeSilva@yahoo.com or see my ideas on facebook at “Organ Slippers”
I have other ideas and observations as well

That sounds like a great idea. Ar the bottoms hard enough? Would you like a link at my site and would you reciprocate?
Sincerely,
Peter
http://www.LDSMusicAndBooks.com

I haven’t found anything on this topic. But I was wondering if it is appropriate to have a special musical number as an opening hymn? I’ve always been taught only for intermediate, but my music advisor has one prepared for the opening Song.

LDS.org sheds some light on this topic. In the Music for Ward Meetings section it states “Opening and closing hymns in sacrament meetings are usually sung by the congregation….Special musical selections or a congregational hymn may be scheduled after the sacrament or between speakers.”

In my opinion it is better to reserve a special musical number for after the sacrament as stated on the Church website. A musical selection may also be performed as prelude.

How do you handle someone coming to you and wanting to sing a song in Sacrament meeting that they think is beautiful but just doesn’t seem appropriate for Sacrament meeting? I’m new in this calling and am very strict on sacrament music and this song seems to be more fireside material. How is the best way to handle the situation?

I would say this…I would love to hear you sing in Sacrament Meeting but let’s choose a different song for you to sing. Although this is a beautiful song and it may be inspiring for a fireside, it sounds a little too….(pop, operatic, etc.). I am supposed to follow the Church Handbook Guidelines when choosing music for Sacrament Meeting. (Give the person a copy of these exact words from the handbook) “The hymns are the basic music for worship services and are standard for all congregational singing. In addition, other appropriate selections may be used for prelude and postlude music, choir music, and special musical presentations. If musical selections other than the hymns are used, they should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns. Texts should be doctrinally correct. Secular music should not replace sacred music in Sunday meetings. Some religiously oriented music presented in a popular style is not appropriate for sacrament meetings. Also, much sacred music that is suitable for concerts and recitals is not appropriate for a Latter-day Saint worship service. Music in Church meetings should not draw attention to itself or be for demonstration. This music is for worship, not performance.”

If the person is insistent or becomes upset then it is time to go to the Bishop, explain your reasoning, showing him the handbook, and let him deal with the situation. I have never experienced a time as a Stake or Ward Music Chair when a Priesthood leader disagreed with my decision on music appropriateness.

Yeah I’d just tell them the truth (“I’d love to hear you sing that, but the rules are this, maybe we can get together and find another song, or maybe you could sing that for a youth fireside some time?”) maybe? Tough one, though 🙂

I teach braille music notation and have the chance to mentor a blind 17-year-old pianist/organist who wants to serve with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. What kind of formal training/musical skills does he need to have in order to be considered for this e.g., does he need to have a music degree from BYU? Please contact me with any information, so I can provide him with the appropriate support.

Will he need to have a music degree? Absolutely, a doctorate in music to be exact. Does it need to be from BYU? No. BYU is okay for undergraduate work but the masters/doctorate needs to be from a first-rate music school (which BYU does not have) and where he decides to do his graduate work will be one of the most important factors in landing a job especially one as prestigious as a Mormon Tabernacle Organist. Richard Elliott, current tabernacle organist, has a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music (the second best music school in the entire country) and was a former BYU music professor. And Andrew Unsworth, the newest/youngest Tabernacle organist has his doctorate from Duke University. My advice to an LDS 17-year-old considering music as a career is to attend the BYU summer music camp in June (registration fills fast and begins in January). For a week he will get to study with BYU organ professors and will find out if he truly has what it takes to become a professional musician. Obviously he already has an uphill battle due to his handicap and he would have to work twice as hard as any other organist to succeed, but I suppose nothing is impossible.

This is a fabulous site! Thank you. I would share that I was at a training session a few years back where we were taught that part of the correct terminology that we should use like Music director (not chorister) and hymn number (not song on page) should include the words “offered by” or “presented by” instead of “perform” when referring to the special musical numbers in sacrament meetings by choirs or other musicians. Just a thought…

Linda

Thanks for the suggestions. There are several commonly misused terms in church music. “Music Director” and “hymn number” are two such terms. Another one is “musical number”. A number is a song that is a part of a larger work of musical theater, an oratorio, or an opera. So the correct term to use is “musical selection”.

As far as announcing a musical selection this is simply someone’s opinion, a matter of preference, not something listed as such in the Church Handbook. Personally, I agree the term “presents” accurately describes what a musician does in church but I think it’s is a little awkward to say “offered by” when referring to a musical presentation. People offer prayers but not talks or musical performances. I don’t see anything wrong with using “performed by” when referring to a musical presentation. That is exactly what the musician is doing after all, performing a song.

I just saw your suggestion of having people stand for the rest hymn. I felt compelled to write you that the comment may be erroneous. The handbook clearly states that the Presiding Authority is the only one who can do that. No chorister should take it upon themselves and they should not make the gesture to do so either.
Our Bishop has said that he feels that Sacrament is short enough to not warrant it at any time, but there may be some who feel it sometimes is. I’ll take a good look at this site later, as I’m over the Ward and may find this useful. I was just doing a search to figure out what else we could call the rest hymn…..intermediate?……

It is my opinion that the congregation should stand for intermediate hymns, especially if it is a rousing hymn like “Let Us All Press On” or “Now Let Us Rejoice”, maybe not for something like “Sweet Hour of Prayer”.

The hymnbook states “An intermediate hymn provides an opportunity for congregational participation and may relate to the subject of the talks presented in the meeting. The congregation may stand during this hymn as appropriate” (Hymns, 380)

The handbook states” As appropriate, a priesthood leader may ask a congregation to stand for an intermediate hymn or a national anthem”.

They might seem to contradict each other a bit, but here’s how I see it. It is the music director who actually stands the congregation but he/she should talk to the Bishop or the bishopric member who is conducting ahead of time and make sure he agrees with this line of action and that while conducting the meeting it is announced “the congregation will stand and sing Hymn #__”.

Some priesthood leaders don’t like the congregation to stand. Why, I will never understand. It takes no more time to stand and sing a hymn than it does to stay seated (the standing can occur during the hymn introduction). People sing better while standing and usually there is greater participation in the singing of a hymn when the congregation stands. This topic is something to be discussed with your bishopric. If you or they feel strongly one way or another then you need to present those ideas, concerns, or reasons.

One exception to this is that there should never be a question of whether or not to stand for the National Anthem. Whether or not a priesthood leader announces for the congregation to stand it is always inappropriate and disrespectful to sit during the National Anthem whether you are singing or not.

Most Christian churches I have visited stand to sing every hymn. Frankly, I think they have it right and we are doing it wrong. We sit lazily on our cushioned benches while half of the congregation doesn’t even bother to open the hymnals. In General Conference we stand for every congregational hymn. I think that’s the right way to do it. Well, all we get is the opportunity to stand for intermediate hymns, so what is stopping us?

As far as the terminology goes, “intermediate hymn” is the official term but Mormons frequently say “rest hymn”. Maybe we should change the term altogether to a “wake-up hymn”.

I encourage the Ward Music Directors to check with the Bishop in advance. The attention span of humans is 20 minutes and people begin to squirm between 20-30 min. Our Bishops are more frequently asking the congregation to stand during the intermediate hymns as the sound is amazing and members seem invigorated.

Members in my Ward have asked me if hymns in our song book should be referred to as “page number” or ‘hymn number?”

The pages in our LDS hymnal are not numbered but the hynms are, so the correct term to use is hymn humber.

they are hymn numbers, there are no page numbers in the hymn book.

Hi there. I just thought I’d advertise a project I’m starting.

The project is about LDS hymns during sacrament meeting. In a nutshell, what hymns do we sing the most and least, and why those ones? I’m also looking at geographic trends, and other variables as well. My goal is to have a database of about a year’s worth of hymns that were sung in a couple hundred different wards across the country. I figure music chairs and people with other music related callings may have a list on their computer somewhere, which would really help me out. Go to hymnstats.blogspot.com if you want to read more about it.

The project isn’t for school or anything—it’s just pure curiosity. However, if I do come up with some interesting results, I would for sure want to distribute them in some form or another.

If anyone has a spreadsheet or something for their ward or stake’s hymns, it would be great if you could go to hymnstats.blogspot.com and get that information to me.

Also, if anyone knows of forums or other websites like this where I can spread the word to others with music callings, please let me know (you can email me at “hymnstats at gmail dot com”). I really hope this project turns out to be as interesting as I think it will be! Thanks!

Here in the York 2nd ward of York England Stake, we tend to use all of the Sacrament hymns in the hymn book, in rotation. We rarely use Abide with me, tis eventide but we often sing “Abide with Me.” We actually have a very good Ward Music leader who insists on not having the same hymn more than once in any quarter. When I was the chorister, I came to understand the wisdom of this rule. I might love certain hymns but having them over and over and over can become boring and take away the reverence.
In general, we have probably sung every hymn in the hymn book at least once, this year, except for the Christmas and New Year hymns which will have their place in December and January. There are some we know less well than others or that people don’t like because they go very high ( at least in the opinion of the congregation) but we still sing them regularly because our Ward Music Leader makes sure we have a great variety.

I have had many experiences in music callings and Primary Music leader was by far the best I ever had. The Gospel is simple and in primary we have to keep it simple. That’s all it really is about. If you have to teach 4 year olds why the fall of Adam and Eve was important and necessary, you really have to go back to basics. As a Music leader, I frequently had to find songs which the children could learn to help them understand the lesson. That was a challenge and I wish I could say I achieved that every time but I didn’t sometimes, there wasn’t an “ideal” song to use. However, “I am a child of God” was frequently used because whatever else the children learnt this was the greatest lesson they needed. Once they know that, even if they don’t understand everything, they are set for life. After half my life in the Church ( I was an adult convert) there are times when I don’t understand every lesson or how it applies to me but in those times, I decided that knowing I was child of a Heavenly Father was enough and he knew what he was doing. Teaching that to a child is easy because it’s a leap of faith they take every day without even realising it, in their homes. Parents know what they are doing (at least our children believe we do until they become teenager and then we know nothing.)

We had our Presentation today as we had to reschedule our Stake Conference for November. We chose to simplify how it was done. We can have no visual aids now which is always hard on the little ones so we allocated talks to senior primary and a few of Junior who are very good readers and wanted to “work with the big girls” as one of them told me. Sometimes these junior primary children learn the songs more easily because their reading is not as good and so they just have to learn to remember. Maybe we should teach all the songs by memory and never let them have words? Just a thought as often the senior primary seem to rely on the words and say they do not know the songs without words, even when we know they know the songs so well. Does anyone else have this situation?

I have recently been searching for a poem we used in one ward back in the late 90s/early 2000s. We all know the song “I wonder when he comes again” but we came across some extra words all about Christmas and it was a dialogue between a child and his mother when they were trimming the Christmas Tree. The mother was explaining the First Christmas meaning of the various ornaments etc.
I have never been able to find those words again and I would desperately love to find them in the next month as It will soon be time to organise the Nativity and we tend to do a short play, rather than have the children simply read from the scriptures. Last year we did a contrast between Victorians and modern-day children at Christmas, finishing on the Nativity scene as all the children whether Victorian or Modern-Day discovered the true meaning of Christmas. I would love to use the extra Christmas words from “I wonder when he comes again” as the basis for the nativity this year and I wondered if anyone has them or could direct me to someone who has? I know they are out of copyright, thankfully.I just can’t find them. Does anyone know where I might find them?

Anyway, we have had some amazing times in primary and I am looking forward to the theme for the new year already.

Holly, I very thoroughly enjoyed reading your Sacrement meeting talk on music. You made many excellent points that I’d like to use in my next Sacrament talk. May I ask permission to quote rather extensively from it? My ward seriously needs this!

You are welcome to use anything from this site. Hope it helps.

When a missionary, either preparing to leave, or recently returned, is speaking in Sacrament meeting, isn’t this an opportune time for their family, if they are musical, to present a musical selection? This is the only time the extended family is in the same Sacrament meeting and able to perform together. (For example: older siblings that are married or away at school, aunts and uncles, cousins, a divorced parent.) The church guidelines state that when a missionary is speaking, their family is “not invited to speak”, but it doesn’t say anything about them not being invited to present a musical selection. I have experienced some beautiful and inspiring musical performances in Sacrament meeting that were presented by family of the missionary – these presentations wouldn’t have been possible at any other time, because of conflicts with other church meetings, or distance. Now my bishopric is saying no to family members of missionaries providing musical selections because it looks too much like a family planned meeting. I fear we are sacrificing the opportunity for beautiful musical numbers (not possible at any other time), at the risk of appearing like a family planned meeting. We need a musical selection anyway, and often struggle to find willing people – why would I turn away a family (a father and his sons, most of which are married, wanting to sing a Hymn) willing and capable of providing beautiful music? Is it appropriate to try to convince the bishopric otherwise? How would you approach this?

When a missionary is asked to speak in sacrament meeting, whether departing for a mission or returning, that missionary is typically the only one from his/her family on the program. In the old days we basically turned over the sacrament meeting to the family. Parents spoke, siblings did a musical number, and the meeting was a homage to that family. That all changed many years ago. We are not supposed to have family members of the missionary present the music, speak, etc. They don’t even want us to have open houses for the departing/returning missionary. Some bishops are pretty lenient regarding family members participating with a musical selection, others are not. It really depends on the specific instructions they are getting from the Stake President and Area Authority Seventy. My stake president holds annual firesides for the parents of all the youth in the stake. Every year, he reiterates the church guidelines regarding missionary farewells and homecomings. So when bishops ask a departing missionary to speak, there aren’t parents questioning why their family can’t present a musical selection because they have been told by the stake president that this is against the guidelines.

I love the idea. I know my bishop would go along with it. Does the family know they have the option? Who tells them?

Please let your LDS musically inclined in your circle of influence know about the following app that will help them organize the hymns they play throughout the year.

Entitled: ‘LDS Hymnal Scheduler’

Ideal for ward choristers, organists, music leaders, and executive secretaries.

Singing a beautiful hymn not often sung during Church one Sunday, prompted LDS tech entrepreneur Courtney Larsen to develop a weekly hymnal organizer app that allows congregation music leaders to delve deeper into other sacred music gems–easily documenting what’s been played, see what hasn’t, filter by genre, hymn title and number of times played, and more!

Now available on all iApple (iOS 7 and up) and Android (4.0.3) phone and tablet products at iTunes Store and Google Play, respectively.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lds

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lds-hymnal-scheduler/id1071804264?mt=8

Other hymnal scheduler apps that may debut in the future include for meetings conducted in Relief Society and Primary; and in other common foreign languages such as French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Sincerely, Courtney–fellow organist and app developer.

I just want to thank you for sharing your musical gifts so freely. Our ward choir sang “Feed My Sheep” in sacrament meeting today. It is a beautiful and touching arrangement that we all love practicing and performing. I would recommend it to any choir director looking for a memorable piece. I highlighted the bass parts on copies the basses used and tenor parts for the tenors’ music . This made it easier for them, since many of them don’t have a lot of background in reading notes. You are building the kingdom in a unique way. Thanks again.

I have the music chairperson calling right now and run into a situation I haven’t seen addressed anywhere.
Our primary music director just emailed me a list of 7 dates that she wants the primary to sing for sacrament meeting this year (April, May, June, July, October, November, December). This seems excessive to me. The kiddies are cute but they do shout their songs and some make faces, etc.
Anyone with an opinion?

Does your ward sing a lot of intermediate hymns? If you do, then you might as well let the primary sing often. In my ward this year, the primary is going to sing for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a pioneer song in July, a Christmas number in December, and they will present their primary program in October. They are going to put together a musical number involving just the Activity Days girls and one involving a group of darling 5-year-olds with the cutest voices you’ve ever heard. If you don’t want or need the entire primary singing that often, you could suggest some musical numbers involving smaller groups of children to add a little variety.


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