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Commentary

Prophetic Statements

First Presidency

First Presidency Preface to the LDS Hymn Book

In addition to blessing us as a Church and family members, the hymns can greatly benefit us as individuals.

Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action.

They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.

Hymns can also help us withstand the temptations of the adversary. We encourage you to memorize your favorite hymns and study the scriptures that relate to them. Then, if unworthy thoughts enter your mind, sing a hymn to yourself, crowding out the evil with the good. Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives.

Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment.

Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer utno our Father in Heaven, “and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads.” [1]

Music is an important and powerful part of life. It can be an influence for good that helps you draw closer to Heavenly Father. However, it can also be used for wicked purposes. Unworthy music may seem harmless, but it can have evil effects on your mind and spirit. [2]

Heber J. Grant

The singing of our sacred hymns, written by the servants of God, has a powerful effect in converting people to the principles of the gospel and in promoting peace and spiritual growth. Singing is a prayer to the Lord, as He has said: “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 [3]

Let us not forget our hymns when we go to the house of worship. Let the congregation sing; and by all means let the choir members become familiar with the beautiful sentiments that are contained in our hymns. And so shall our Father in heaven delight in the songs of our hearts, which shall become prayers unto Him, and which He will graciously answer with blessings upon our heads [4]

David O. McKay

There are things in every human mind that cannot be expressed in words, but they can be in music, and we have had that message this morning sung in the music by the Choir. [5]

The LDS life is an abundant life as it embraces all that is beautiful and worthwhile. Music, often referred to as the divine art, is a part of this abundance, bringing joy to all. [6]

Joseph Fielding Smith

In one of the darkest hours in the history of the Church, when the weary members were crossing the plains having been driven from their homes, the Lord through President Brigham Young said to them: “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful.” [7]

Since singing is pleasing to the Lord and a prayer unto him when it is “sacred” and a song of the heart, Latter-day Saints should endeavor always to sing in harmony with the Spirit and with understanding. Frequently the spirit of a meeting is hampered by improper music and singing . . . Our songs should be always in keeping with the Gospel truth. False doctrine is discovered frequently in sectarian hymns. Beautiful melody cannot compensate for false sentiment, yet we have this to contend with constantly in the services of the Church . . . Choir leaders should endeavor to be prepared with songs which will harmonize perfectly with the theme of the meeting. [8]

Joseph F. Smith

It delights my heart to see our little children learning to sing, and to see the people, our people everywhere, improving their talents as good singers. Everywhere we go among our people, we find sweet voices and talent for music. I believe that this is a manifestation to us of the purpose of the Lord in this direction toward our people, that they will excel in these things, as they should excel in every other good thing.  Apr. C. R., Sunday School, 1904, p. 81.

I can remember when I was a little boy, hearing my father sing. I do not know how much of a singer he was, for at that time I was not capable of judging as to the quality of his singing, but the hymns he sang became familiar to me, even in the days of my childhood. I believe that I can sing them still, although I am not much of a singer. When young men go out into the world to preach the gospel they will find it very beneficial for them to know how to sing the songs of Zion. I repeat the admonition and request made by Brother McMurrin, who has recently returned from a lengthy mission to Europe, that the young men who are eligible to preach the gospel, and who are likely to be called into the missionary field, begin at once to improve their talent to sing, and do not think it is beneath their dignity to join the choirs of the wards in which they live and learn how to sing. When we listen to this choir, under the leadership of Brother Stephens, we listen to music, and music is truth. Good music is gracious praise of God. It is delightsome to the ear, and it is one of our most acceptable methods of worshiping God. And those who sing in the choir and in all the choirs of the Saints, should sing with the spirit and with the understanding. They should not sing merely because it is a profession, or because they have a good voice; but they should sing also because they have the spirit of it, and can enter into the spirit of prayer and praise to God who gave them their sweet voices. My soul is always lifted up, and my spirit cheered and comforted, when I hear good music. I rejoice in it very much indeed.  Oct. C. R., 1899, PP- 68, 69.

Harold B. Lee

My experience of a lifetime, and particularly the last thirty-two years as a General Authority, convinces me that the most effective preaching of the gospel is when it is accompanied by beautiful, appropriate music. [9]

Spencer W. Kimball

The Sabbath is . . . a day for . . . finding uplift in music and song [10]

Ezra Taft Benson

What fits the purpose of the Sabbath? Here are a few suggestions:

f. Singing the songs of Zion and listening to inspiring music [11]

Their will is swallowed up in His will [12]. They do always those things that please the Lord [13]. Not only would they die for the Lord, but more important they want to live for Him.

Enter their homes . . . the music in the air, their words and acts reveal them as Christians. [14]

Teach correct principles to missionaries and you will bless their lives forever. A missionary should never permit himself to . . . hear music that tends to interfere with or which dampens the spirit of missionary work. There is ample evidence that rock music is offensive to the Spirit and affects adversely the spirituality of the missionaries and thus the success of the proselyting work. [15] [16]

Scriptures

Rock Artists

Supporting Statements

J. Reuben Clark

A man can get nearer to God by music than any other method except prayer. 1

William F. Gladstone

Music is one of the most forceful instruments for governing the mind and spirit of man. [17]

Improvement Era

Many a missionary robs himself of strength and power and ability to accomplish good, and to make friends, by not knowing how to sing . . . The singing of the songs of Zion, though imperfectly, with the inspiration of God, will touch the hearts of the honest more effectively than if sung well without the Spirit of God. Sing with the Spirit of God. Love the words that you sing.” [18]

Johann Sebastian Bach

For the glory of the most high God alone, And for my neighbour to learn from. [19]

Ludwig van Beethoven

Speaking of Handel, Beethoven said: He is the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel before his tomb. [20]


  1. The First Presidency
  2. For The Strength of Youth
  3. Heber J. Grant, Era, 43:522; Doctrine and Covenants, 25:12
  4. Heber J. Grant, Era, 43:522
  5. David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1964, p. 64
  6. David O. McKay, Church News, 28 August 1983
  7. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 307
  8. Joseph Fielding Smith, CHMR, Vol. 1, p. 119
  9. Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1973, p. 181
  10. Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 269.
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 104.
  12. John 5:30
  13. John 8:29
  14. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 79.
  15. Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975.
  16. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 202.
  17. William F. Gladstone
  18. Improvement Era, 4:686; also compiled by G. Homer Durham in Gospel Standards, Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Heber J. Grant, p. 170
  19. Johann Sebastian Bach, epigraph to Little Organ Book, 1717
  20. Ludwig van Beethoven, quoted in Percy M Young, Handel (1947)
  1. “Cemetery Dedication a Fulfillment of Dreams,” LDS Church News (10 August 1991).

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