Sep 27, 2009

music and LDS sacrament meetings

A discussion on what is appropriate in LDS sacrament meetings.

As you can probably imagine, I have some passionate views on this topic. I found this discussion to be very interesting... and I know a lot of you who read this are interested in this topic as well, so I thought I'd put this link out there.


merrilykaroly said...

interesting. I found nothing inappropriate about her voice. there wasn't even too much style added in. it sounded very simple. I wonder if people really did tell her that... it's hard not to feel like she's exaggerating about what happened!

it's funny what people say to other people, it really is. Even if I thought something like that were inappropriate, I don't think I would ever go and tell them that because that would probably really hurt their feelings. I'd let the bishop do it. And if the bishop thought that was necessary, then maybe it really was inappropriate.

Again, I enjoyed her beautiful voice. I read a few of the comments on her post as well, and I really agreed with the ones saying that if you are trying to draw attention and glory to yourself, you're on the wrong track; but if you are doing things for the right reason, the congregation should be able to feel the spirit if you're doing it right.

also very interesting to think about what would it would be like if the church had been restored in a different country, and the music went along with their religious traditions.... hmmm...

Camilla said...

I just got called as the music chairperson for our ward and was given the church handbook (#2) to study. All it says is that hymns are "usually" the most appropriate for sacrament special musical numbers, or arrangements of hymns, but that the music chairperson and their bishopric member counterpart should make decisions on all other selections. It does not say that hymns are the "only" appropriate material, just that other stuff needs to be evaluated first before it's used. The appropriateness of ALL music in sacrament meeting depends on its purpose. The handbook says to try to make sure a musical selection, as a few commenters on the post suggested, doesn't try to draw attention to anything other than the Spirit and the message of the song. So, not to use instruments or styles that draw particular attention to themselves (such as loud horns, or super stylistic arrangements or vamping). I agree wholeheartedly with this direction.

I have heard a lot of special musical numbers that were not necessarily technically beautiful, but were so simple and sincere that the message went straight to my heart. I have also heard a lot of very attractive stylistically pleasing arrangements that made me think nothing more than "ooh, what a nice voice" whether classical in style or popical. I think to err on the side of humility when dealing with presenting the Spirit is probably a good idea.

I agree with merrily that it's a little hard to take what the poster says at complete face value. After all, no matter how many times one assures others that they will not be offended if people are frank in their judgments (as she did, more than a few times), most people are at least subconsciously defensive about criticism to their voices. She sounds a bit like that as she talks about negative feedback she's received. After all, there really wasn't anything abnormal about her recording. She sounded like your average sacrament meeting singer to me.

I'm curious what you thought nosurf.

NoSurfGirl said...

I think that I would be open to more types of media in sacrament meetings. For instance, I would love a nice, beautiful trumpet solo rendition of something like "where shall I turn for peace" or a nice, classical guitar arrangement of a hymn. I also would love it if we had more "black spiritual" type music every once in a while in our sacrament meetings. There's this group that meets in SLC that is a support group for Black members of the church, and they have a couple of inserts into their hymnbook-- singing hymns in that style is a very different experience from singing a sacrament hymn in the standard way.

I stand outside the polynesian ward's sacrament meeting and hear the harmony and amazing, soulfoul singing and wish we could have more of that... I feel like singing is a losing battle in some congregations and we could use a little of Gladys Knight, yes, in our sacrament meetings.

I think it's a hard boundary to find... the difference between singing out, singing soulfully, and not singing for your own glory. I think there is a difference... and there have been plenty of classical sopranos who have done a by-the-book version of a hymn that has made me cringe because it's ALL about the "performance" and skill of the performer and not the spirit of the hymn. At the same time I think some are inclined to call a certain sound or type of performance "innappropriate" because it's more pop-y or soul-y sounding.

Honestly I feel like it's sad, how unenthusiastic we are in our sacrament meetings about music. It seems to me half the people don't even sing. And in primary, it's like pulling teeth, I feel sorry for the poor primary chorister. Compare that to the polynesian primary... holy cow! It's hilarious. The primary chorister has to yell to get them to stop for a second!

I have so many confusing, conflicted thoughts about this... I guess in summary I feel that our current definition of what is "spiritual" in sacrament meeting is too narrow... but I also agree that the rule should be to provide music that provides the spirit, and not for the glory of the performer.... maybe?

Putz said...

ya, i am interested in this as a am in a one eyed monkey lost on the streets of new york

Amyjo said...

interesting... I think it all boils down to:
1.Are you doing this for personal gain(look at me) or the spirit can be felt in the most important meeting of our week?

I agree with you, I've heard some operatic versions of the Hymns that make me shudder, and heard a small child with no vocal training, absolutey flood me with the Spirt.