Before I tell this story, let me preface by saying I’m a terrible singer. I don’t feel bad about that, because I’ve never really liked to sing. I don’t listen to music often for that matter. When I was a teenager, we were asked to volunteer to sing as a stake youth choir for an upcoming Stake Conference. I fulfilled my duty by going. During practice they moved me to new seats a few times probably hoping to minimize the sounds that were coming from my direction. When the the first practice was over I asked what time the next practice was, and was told they had enough people and I really didn’t need to come back if I didn’t want to. They continued to ask for volunteers the following weeks. Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended in the slightest!
Now, to a mission experience. I had learned in MTC and Missionairy Training Manual that hymns were a great method of inviting the spirit. Some time within my first few months of my mission, were were visiting and investigator – Emily. She was visibly upset when we arrived. She had decided to be baptized but was not able to quit smoking. She said she wanted to give up and asked us not to come back anymore. We had dealt with previous episodes and went throught the usual routine of comforting here and giving her encouragement. This time, nothing we could say seemed to be of any use.
Feeling frustrated and exhausted and sat back on the couch. I thought for a moment, then said a quick prayer in my heart.
“Heavenly Father, I’ve said all I can think of. I don’t know what else to do now. Please help me know what to say or do.”
I then looked over at my scripture case which was sitting on the floor. I saw my mini hymnal sliding out of the front pocket. I picked it up and said another quick prayer.
“Okay Father, please let me know what song you would like us to sing.”
I just opened the hymn book and took the first song I saw: #140 Did You Think To Pray.
I nudged my companion who was ready to go blue in the face trying to pursuade Emily to let us continue to visit and teach her and to not give up on us or her baptismal goal. He turned and looked at me and I asked Emily if we could sing a hymn for her. Never before and never since have I had such a singing voice. My companion was an excellent singer. I was right in harmony with him the whole time.
Emily was in tears. She said it was exactly what she needed. Now I know that not all such stories have a happy ending, but Emily did quit smoking and I was able to baptize her before leaving that area. She was loved by all the missionaries that served in that area.
2 thoughts on “Did You Think To Sing”
That’s a great experience, Dustin.
I can certainly testify of the power of music. Being a musician, many of these experiences have come when I have been performing. It can be difficult to sing through a song when the Spirit is touching you so strongly. (It’s a little easier on the piano). But I have also been touched while listening to music as well. Even congregational singing brings me closer to the Spirit on a regular basis.
So many people in the world use music only for entertainment. While I think there is certainly a place for entertainment, it’s sad to me that so many people miss the power that music can have to bring us closer to the Spirit. In fact, so much of the popular music of today actually drives away the Spirit, in my opinion. I’m not saying we should restrict our music listening strictly to hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (because other types of music are also uplifting), but that we should listen to the music that would be most uplifting, and limit or eliminate music that is not so uplifting. As the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet says, “Music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity.” And, “[Music] can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite.” Which do you listen to?
Some great quotes about music:
“Music is given of God to further his purposes. Sweet melodies mellow the souls of men and help prepare them for the gospel. After men receive the truth, songs of praise to Deity help to sanctify and cleanse their souls.”
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), 521
“We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.”
— President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 111
Read more quotes about music from LDS.org
I am not musically talented, but music played a big part in my return to church activity and continues to be the one thing I can rely on to help me feel the spirit in sacrament meeting. Right now I live in a ward that is blessed with several young women who play the harp, along with many other very gifted musicians. This ward has the best musical numbers…It’s awesome!
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