Thursday, June 10, 2010

Role of Music in Testimony



In an article entitled “Praise to the Man” in the August 1983 issue of the Ensign magazine, President Gordon B. Hinckley described how music played a role in his gaining a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He states:

“Many years ago when at the age of twelve I was ordained a deacon, my father, who was president of our stake, took me to my first stake priesthood meeting. . . .Together these men lifted their strong voices, some with the accents of the European lands from which they had come as converts, all singing these words with a great spirit of conviction and testimony: “Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.” (“Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27) They were singing of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and as they did so there came into my heart a great surge of love for and belief in the mighty Prophet of this dispensation. In my childhood I had been taught much of him in meetings and classes in our ward as well as in our home; but my experience in that stake priesthood meeting was different. I knew then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God.”

I have experienced the same thing with a number of hymns and Primary songs. This great surge of love and belief that President Hinckley described has swelled my heart also. I know that the Spirit is close by when we sing, to testify of the truth of spiritual things. It is such a responsibility to foster the situation that can bring this about. It is such a responsibility to learn how to balance fun and sacred time, to be careful that our activities don’t divert attention away from what might be a sacred experience. I don’t have to wonder that President Hinckley would not have had the same experience if they had been playing a noisy game with the song.

I’m not against games in singing time, really I'm not. In fact, I’m always on the lookout for a good review game. Primary ought to be fun and is about the only place at church that you can play a game. But the fact remains that the Spirit is very sensitive. I think it doesn’t hurt for us to be reminded that our responsibility might include, but certainly extends beyond finding a great game.

The Outline for Sharing Time strengthens the Primary Handbook when it restates: “Music in Primary should establish a reverent atmosphere, teach the gospel, and help children feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and the joy that comes through singing.” If you give this more than a casual glance, the charge is weighty.

I want our Primary children to have fun in singing time, but more than that, I want to create an atmosphere where the Spirit will be there to testify. I need to carve out time and space for the sacred - for the Spirit. It seems that it is not always an easy thing to balance. How do you all handle this?

2 comments:

Parley and Anna and family! said...

I love reading your blog because you remind me of what it is we're doing. We're not only teaching music; we are building testimonies. Whenever we play a game, I try to make sure it only adds to the learning and that is it not taking up most of the time. And if I have any question about reverence when it comes to a certain activity, I skip/replace it. I have found that simple really is better! If we are prepared spiritually to share our testimonies and to be guided by the Spirit, the children just soak it in! Now, I just have to work on that spiritual preparation!
Thanks again for the inspiring messages!

The Children Sing said...

Anna, you are so welcome! Thank you for the comment. I also think simple is best and thankfully, the children, our primary children at least, like simple. Of all the callings I've had, I feel the Spirit more in this one. I think because the music so naturally promotes this, if we allow it. I can always feel the Spirit close, when I tune in. And I love it when the children seem to feel it too.

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