The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Overcoming the Language Barrier Through Music

In the sixth concert of the 2016 European tour, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performed on July 11, 2016 at the Bozar Centre for the Fine Arts, the principal concert venue in Brussels, Belgium. In this city where healing has been needed, the Choir and Orchestra offered expressions of love, support, and encouragement for the citizens of Belgium through the inspiring music performed.

President Russell M. Nelson of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Music has the power to overcome language barriers.’” In Belgium where two languages are spoken, Flemish and French, and many others understood, the music of the Choir can be a universal language to overcome language and other barriers.

“We may not be able to speak to each other face to face and understand each other,” said Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “But the great thing about music is that it goes well beyond that. It’s more of a spiritual connection that you experience when you listen to music and it transcends all of those boundaries.

“You may not be able to understand the words of the song but you can certainly feel the emotion and experience the same things without understanding the words. Music really is a great bridge-builder and it tends to cross all those boundaries. Music connects with our hearts in a way that other things don’t and that’s what’s so great about it.”

At the end of the concert, the Choir and Orchestra sang Mack Wilberg’s reassuring arrangement of church hymn “How Firm a Foundation,” as one of the concluding pieces. Though the hymn was sung in English, there was no language barrier. Everyone was aware this special message was meant for the people in this beautiful country of Belgium.  

Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed.
For I am thy God and will still give the aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.