A Choir in Every Ward
Music can touch the hearts and minds in ways that words cannot. In 1893 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir traveled to Chicago to participate in a choral competition at Chicago’s World Fair. It was the Choir’s first trip outside Utah and the group was accompanied by Joseph F. Smith, who at the time was a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of the impact of the Choir’s presence in Chicago on the perception of the Church, President Smith wrote, “It has done more good than five thousand sermons would have done in an ordinary or even in an extraordinary way."
Music plays an important role in Church worship services across the globe, from large gatherings like general conference to small services like a ward sacrament meeting. An article from a 1998 issue of the Ensign magazine describes the growth of one ward’s choir as it worked to touch the hearts and minds of people in the congregation. An excerpt is below:
One week as I listened with my ear tuned to our rendition of “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” (Hymns, no. 141), I realized that the choir’s sound—tentative and unbalanced a few months earlier—was now rich and beautiful. I cheered inwardly at our progress. Our choir was not merely singing words but communicating a powerful message of reverence and love for the Savior. “Jesus, the very thought of thee / With sweetness fills my breast; / But sweeter far thy face to see / And in thy presence rest.” I knew we were worshiping the Savior in one of humanity’s oldest and purest forms.
As we sang the final verse, choir and congregation alike wiped tears from their eyes. “Jesus, our only joy be thou, / As thou our prize wilt be.” No longer did I see over scheduled and stressed college students; I saw 15 people whose lives had been touched by the spirituality inherent in song. They personified words the Savior gave to Emma Smith over 150 years ago: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12). Somehow, despite our limited resources and occasional blundering, we had succeeded in softening the prickly edges of our souls and reaching into the dark, forgotten corners of our spiritual selves to sing praises to our Lord.