Epistle of the Twelve to the Church
In nearly all cities or towns of an extensive population there are certain vices, or crimes, not exactly tolerated by law, but yet, borne with by the people as a kind of unavoidable or necessary evil; such, for instance, as gambling, drunkenness, vain and wicked amusements and allurements, directly calculated to corrupt the morals of the people and lead them from the paths of virtue and truth. Among the most conspicuous and fashionable of these we might mention, balls, dances, corrupt and immodest theatrical exhibitions, magical performances, etc., all of which are apt not only to have an evil tendency in themselves, but to mingle the virtuous and the vicious in each others society; not for the improvement of the vicious but rather to corrupt the virtuous.
Nauvoo is now becoming one of the largest towns of the west, and as it was founded, and is still in a great measure managed by the saints, we greatly desire the united influence of all well- wishers to our society, and to good order and morality, to cooperate with us in preserving the general peace and quiet, and in suppressing these and all other vices and evils.
. . .
If the people were all righteous, it would do to dance, and to have music, feasting and merriment. But what fellowship has Christ with Belial? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? or what union have the sons and daughters of God with the children of this world, who fear not God nor regard man. All amusement in which saints and sinners are mingled tends to corruption, and has a baneful influence in religious society.
There are amusements which are at once both innocent, instructive, and entertaining; and which the saints can enjoy, in honor to themselves, and without mingling with the world. . . . These, together with our religious devotions, and the increase of light, knowledge and intelligence which flows like a flood of glory from the upper world, are quite sufficient to exercise all our powers of enjoyment. 1
President Brigham Young knew that true happiness comes only through righteous living, but he also knew that much enjoyment in life can come through wholesome recreation and entertainment. He was fond of the theater, dancing and other social amusements and provided opportunities for the Saints to enjoy these pastimes, believing that they were important to the people’s well-being. In SLC, he supervised the building of the Social Hall, in which were held dances and theatrical performances. 2
I do not know any other way for the Latter-day Saints than for every breath to be virtually a prayer for God to guide and direct his people, and that he will never suffer us to possess anything that will be an injury to us. I am satisfied that this should be the feeling of every Latter-day Saint in the world. If you are making a bargain, if you are talking in the house, visiting in the social party, going forth in the dance, every breath should virtually be a prayer that God will preserve us from sin and from the effects of sin.3
The blessings of food, sleep, and social enjoyment are ordained of God for his glory and our benefit, and it is for us to learn to use them and not abuse them, that his Kingdom may advance on the earth, and we advance in it.4
The Latter-day Saints who hearken to the words of the Lord, given to them touching their political, social, and financial concerns, I say, and say it boldly, that they will have wisdom which is altogether superior to the wisdom of the children of darkness, or the children of this world. I know this by the revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the results of my own actions. They who have hearkened to the counsels given to them in temporal matters, have invariably bettered their condition temporally and spiritually.5
There is no true enjoyment in life—nothing that can be a blessing to an individual or to a community, but what is ordained of God to bless his people.6
A gathering and social spirit seems to be the order of heaven-of the spirit that is in the Gospel we have embraced. Though it may be esteemed as a fault—as an unwarrantable act to separate ourselves from those who do not believe as we believe, yet such is the nature of a portion of our religion pertaining to the performance of outward duties. If the Latter-day Saints can associate together, free from the contaminating influences that are in the world, it is a blessing and a great privilege. What would induce a child to grow up in the wickedness of the wicked world, if it never saw or heard any of it?7
Is there anything immoral in recreation? If I see my sons and daughters enjoying themselves, chatting, visiting, riding, going to a party or a dance, is there anything immoral in that? I watch very closely, and if I hear a word, see a look, or a sneer at divine things or anything derogatory to a good moral character, I feel it in a moment, and I say, “If you follow that it will not lead to good, it is evil; it will not lead to the fountain of life and intelligence; follow, only, the path that leads to life everlasting.”8
It is the privilege of the Saints to enjoy every good thing, for the earth and its fulness belong to the Lord, and he has promised all to his faithful Saints; but it must be enjoyed without spirit of covetousness and selfishness—without the spirit of lust, and in the spirit of the Gospel; then the sun will shine sweetly upon us; each day will be filled with delight, and all things will be filled with beauty, giving joy, pleasure, and rest to the Saints.9
We are to learn how to enjoy the things of life—how to pass our mortal existence here. There is no enjoyment, no comfort, no pleasure, nothing that the human heart can imagine, with all the spirit of revelation we can get, that tends to beautify, happify, make comfortable and peaceful, and exalt the feelings of mortals, but what the Lord has in store for his people. He never objected to their taking comfort. He never revealed any doctrine, that I have any knowledge of, but what in its nature is calculated to fill with peace and glory, and lift every sentiment and impulse of the heart above every low, sad, deathly, false and groveling feeling. The Lord wishes us to live that we may enjoy the fulness of the glory that pertains to the upper world, and bid farewell to all that gloomy, dark, deathly feeling that is spread over the inhabitants of the earth.10
Recreation and diversion are as necessary to our well-being as the more serious pursuits of life. There is not a man in the world but what, if kept at any one branch of business or study, will become like a machine. Our pursuits should be so diversified as to develop every trait of character and diversity of talent. If you would develop every power and faculty possessed by your children, they must have the privilege of engaging in and enjoying a diversity of amusements and studies; to attain great excellence, however, they cannot all be kept to any one individual branch of study.11
But when blessings and privileges are to be used by the Saints, it should be so as not to bring condemnation. Upon what principle, when, and where may we use them? I have the privilege of associating myself with my brethren and sisters in the dance. When can I do this without abusing this privilege, and thereby bringing condemnation upon myself? I answer, it is when I have performed every act, every duty that is incumbent upon me, when every necessary labor and requirement is accomplished, when I have served my God and my brethren, when I have performed every act required of me, until nothing remains to be done, but to lie down and rest, to seek recreation, then it becomes my lawful privilege, and not before. I fear this is quite different from the practice of many. I also, as well as others, could act upon unrighteous principles, if I would, and neglect my duties pertaining to life and salvation.
Suppose you go into some of the wards and say, “we have obtained some music, let us go into the schoolhouse and have a dance.” “O yes!” is the ready response, and they will immediately prepare, get ready their sons and their daughters, and, leaving all important duties pertaining to their welfare here and hereafter, unattended to, fill the house to overflowing. Brethren, you will use these privileges to your own destruction, if you are not careful. Yes, you could have a full house, dancing attendance to the sounds of revelry and music; but, on the other hand, suppose your invitation is to your neighbor, “Come, brethren, sisters, we are going to have a prayer meeting over at the schoolhouse. Will you go? Will you come? Not to dance, but to pray!” “Well, really, I do not see how I can; my work is not done; I have a few chores [trifling domestic affairs] to do yet; I have agreed to go to a neighbor’s on business; a neighbor promised to call on me tonight, and I cannot well leave. I should like very much to go, but I really do not see that I can tonight.” In short, excuses are not wanting. I say to you, my brethren, and to myself, if we take this course, condemnation is our doom, we will ruin, condemn ourselves, and the Lord Almighty will judge us out of our own mouths. This is the tale told as it is. It is not for any of us to enjoy the privilege of the dance, or any other recreation, until every duty that is enjoined upon us is performed.
I cannot, legally, have the privilege of exercising myself perfectly independent of my brethren, until I have performed every requirement that they have placed upon me; the same applies to you and all Saints.
I ask the brethren, do you pray before you go to these dances? When you return, are you not tired, fatigued, and is not your mind filled with nonsense, so that you do not want to pray; and finally, do you not conclude to wait, to put it off until morning? This abuse of this privilege, of this blessing, will bring condemnation to thousands; and not this alone, but all the privileges of this life, if they are not wisely used.
When you go to amuse, or recreate yourselves in any manner whatever, if you cannot enjoy the Spirit of the Lord then and there, as you would at a prayer meeting, leave that place; and return not to such amusements or recreation, until you have obtained the mastery over yourself, until you can command the influences around you, that you may have the Spirit of the Lord in any situation in which you may be placed. Then, and not until then, does it become the privilege of you, of me, or of any of the Saints, to join in the festivities designed by our Creator for our recreation. I wish that you would remember it; and that you may, I repeat that it is not your lawful privilege to yield to anything in the shape of amusement, until you have performed every duty, and obtained the power of God to enable you to withstand and resist all foul spirits that might attack you, and lead you astray; until you have command over them, and by your faith, obtained, through prayer and supplication, the blessings of the Holy Spirit, and it rests upon, and abides continually with you.
You can never obtain my consent to engage in amusements and recreations, until you are in this situation, until you are exercised and influenced by the Spirit of the Lord our God. Hear it, all ye Latter-day Saints! Will you spend the time of your probation for naught, and fool away your existence and being? You were organized, and brought into being, for the purpose of enduring forever, if you fulfil the measure of your creation, pursue the right path, observe the requirements of the Celestial law, and obey the commandments of our God. It is then, and then only, you may expect that the blessing of eternal lives will be conferred upon you. It can be obtained upon no other principle. Do you understand that you will cease to be, that you come to a full end, by pursuing the opposite course?12
I have frequently told the people at our places of recreation, if they cannot go there with the Spirit of the Lord, they had better stay at home.13
We are now enjoying our pastimes. We often meet together and worship the Lord by singing, praying, and preaching, fasting, and communing with each other in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Now we are met in the capacity of a social community—for what? That our minds may rest, and our bodies receive that recreation which is proper and necessary to keep up an equilibrium, to promote healthy action to the whole system. . . . to rest their minds, to convene in a social capacity, and enjoy the society of each other, with their families, and to give renewed activity and energy, which will invigorate and strengthen them in the discharge of the arduous duties devolving upon them.14
Our present situation, and the enjoyments of this evening, will become subjects of pleasant and agreeable reflection, when we shall be separated from this community, and go to the right and to the left; then these moments of festive joy will be remembered with pleasing emotions, and cherished in fond memory in after years.15
Those that have kept the covenants and served their God, if they wish to exercise themselves in any way to rest their minds and tire their bodies, go and enjoy yourselves in the dance, and let God be in all your thoughts in this as in all other things, and he will bless you.16
My mind labors like a man logging, all the time; and this is the reason why I am fond of these pastimes—they give me a privilege to throw everything off . . . that my body may exercise, and my mind rest. What for? To get strength, and be renewed and quickened, and enlivened, and animated, so that my mind may not wear out. . . . But when men are brought to labor entirely in the field of intelligence, there are few minds to be found possessing strength enough to bear all things; the mind becomes overcharged, and when this is the case, it begins to wear upon the body, which will sink for want of the proper exercises. This is the reason why I believe in and practice what I do.17
If you want to dance, run a foot race, pitch quoits, or play at ball, do it, and exercise your bodies, and let your minds rest.18
If you wish to dance, dance; and you are just as much prepared for a prayer meeting after dancing as ever you were, if you are Saints. If you desire to ask God for anything, you are as well prepared to do so in the dance as in any other place, if you are Saints.19
The party opened at 2, and closed at 10 o’clock. I can assure, we all enjoyed ourselves. A spirit of peace, good feeling and fellowship was there which all felt, but some did not comprehend the cause, that it was because they were acting in obedience to the word of the Lord through his duly appointed servant, that blessings follow obedience in the business and pleasures of life as well as in the direct service of the Lord’s house. This is a fact that many do not realize, but it is none the less true. There is nothing, no matter how small, that Latter-day Saints should set their hands to do that they cannot ask the blessing of the Lord upon or wherein they would be unwilling to obey his word. 20 This statement was made after Brigham Young offered counsel to the Saints to move the time of the dances to afternoon if possible, and return to the wholesome dance forms, rather than some that were currently popular and filtering into the state.]
Some people object to music. Why, music prevails in the heavens, and among the birds! God has filled them with it. There is nothing more pleasing and delightful than it is to go into the woods or among the bushes early in the morning and listen to the warbling and rich melody of the birds, and it is strictly in accordance with the sympathies of our nature. We have no idea of the excellence of the music we shall have in heaven. It may be said of that, as the apostle Paul has said in relation to something else—”Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
We have no idea of the excellency, beauty, harmony and symphony of the music in the heavens.
Our object is to get and to cleave to everything that is good, and to reject everything that is bad. One reason why religious people in the world are opposed to music and theaters is because of the corruption that is mixed up with them. Wicked and corrupt men associate themselves with these things, and degrade them; but is this any reason that the saints should not enjoy the gifts of God? Is that a correct principle? Certainly not. It is for them to grasp at everything that is good, and calculated to promote the happiness of the human family.21
In the Primary Association, the Sunday schools and the Mutual Improvement Associations, singing should receive a large share of attention. Singing exercises can be made a great attraction and also a valuable addition to the education of the young. The interest that is now taken among us in vocal and instrumental music is a marked feature of the times, and this taste finds increasing opportunities for its development in the facilities which are now being furnished to all who desire its cultivation. Instead of having a select few act as choirs in these institutions to do the singing for the whole, the voices of all should be united in harmonious melody in giving utterance to the feelings of their hearts in hymns and songs. This will increase the pleasure of the meetings, and make all feel that they have an equal interest in worship and rejoicing.22
Joseph F. Smith
The character and variety of our amusements have so much to do with the welfare and character of our young people that they should be guarded with the utmost jealousy for the preservation of the morals and stamina of the youth of Zion. . . .
They should be trained to appreciate more and more amusements of a social and intellectual character. Home parties, concerts that develop the talents of youth, and public amusements that bring together both young and old, are preferable . . . our amusements should be consistent with our religious spirit of fraternity and religious devotion. In too many instances the ball room is devoid of our supplication for Divine protection. Our dancing should be, as far as possible, under the supervision of some Church organization, and we should be scrupulously careful to open the dance by prayer. The question of amusements is one of such far-reaching importance to the welfare of the Saints that the presiding authorities of every ward should give it their most careful attention and consideration.
. . .
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.
it is to be feared that in many homes, parents abandon all regulation respecting the amusement of their children, and set them adrift to find their fun wherever and whenever they can. Parents should never lose control of the amusements of their children during their tender years, and should be scrupulously careful about the companionship of their young people in places of amusements.23
A certain incident was brought forcibly to my mind while Brother McMurrin was talking to us. Not long ago President Snow and his party attended a Stake conference, and I noticed that the choir was made up almost entirely of young ladies. There were perhaps two young men. One young man led the choir, and I do not remember clearly whether there was one young man in the choir or not besides the leader; but all the rest were young ladies. It was a beautiful choir, and they sang beautifully, but the absence of male voices was very conspicuous, notwithstanding. I believe during one of the services the leader of the choir was absent, and one of the young ladies had to step forward and lead it. I inquired why it was that the young men were not more numerous in that company of singers, and was told that the young men considered it was too effeminate, too womanly, for them to engage in the occupation of singing. I presume they might have felt more at home shaking the quilts, sweeping the floors, and helping to wash the dishes. 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 liable 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 worshipping God. And those who sing in this 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. Now, I would like to encourage the young men of Israel to learn to sing, and especially those young men of whom I have been speaking. I would not like to tell you just where they live, because it might be considered a little personal, but it was down south; it was not very far down south either. It was somewhere near Sanpete Valley. I want the young men of Sanpete Valley to learn how to sing, so that when we go down to hold conference there again we can have the young men joining with the young women in the choir, and not leave the young women to do all the singing. This might apply also to all the other counties; especially should it apply to those counties or Stakes of Zion where the young men think it is beneath their dignity and their manhood to learn how to sing. I hope they will rise above such a foolish notion as this.24
Observing this choir of children, it would not appear that Zion is growing less, and it would seem to me, too, that so long as we can preserve with us Brother Stephens and a few others of his associates who are engaged in this glorious work of teaching music, both to the adults and to the children a desire and love for the musical will also increase in the midst of our people. I feel that the parents of these little children owe much to the effort of Brother Stephens in his labor of love, in teaching them how to sing and developing the talent for music which lies dormant within them and needs but the instruction, the teaching, the guiding hand and voice of Brother Stephens to develop the talent that they have.
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.25
I have been looking at these young men and these boys in the choir. I am proud of you boys. I look around here at these young ladies, and I hear them sing, and I am pleased with them. From the depths of my soul I bless them, and I bless these boys. They come here to give their voices, their time, to be in submission to those who teach them to sing. Music is a part of the worship of God, and it is essential to our happiness and joy; and I bless you, boys and girls. I remember, one time, being in a great conference in Sanpete when there was not a boy in the choir. I asked: “Where are the boys?” The whole choir was composed of young ladies, and even the leader was a young lady. I was very pleased with the ladies to be not only singing but leading the choir; so I asked the bishop about it. “O,” he said, “the boys would rather go fishing or hunting than sing.” I pity them; they have my pity if not my contempt. Singing! Why, thought they, that is a girl’s business; and to sing in a choir, above all things, is the most insignificant thing to a man who could go fishing and hunting on Sunday, and riding wild horses. Now, what would that condition of mind bring us to? If a boy can sing, it is more honorable, it is more manly, and saint-like, to come here and sing than to go anywhere he pleases without regard to the wishes of anybody else on the Sabbath day. Yet there are some boys who feel humiliated if they sing in the choir. What a depraved condition of mind a boy must have who feels that way. I am happy you do not feel that way, and I bless you, because you are on the right track. Keep it up. Learn to sing, and by and by some of you good singers, with rare voices, can have them trained so you will stand at the head of the choir and sing before the hosts of angels. But if you go riding horses on Sunday, and fishing and hunting, and neglect your duties in life, you will not even get inside, when you go there, let alone being in the choir. You will not know how to sing, unless you try, while you are here, to do the best you can. [September 13, 1917]26
Heber J. Grant
We find on the 137th page in the D&C, the following: “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.”
I have, all the days of my life, enjoyed singing very much. When I was a little boy ten years of age I joined a singing class, and the professor told me that I could never learn to sing. Some years ago I had my character read by a phrenologist and he told me that I could sing, but he said he would like to be forty miles away while I was doing it. (Laughter) I was practicing singing a few weeks ago in the Templeton building, and the room where I was doing so was next to that of a dentist. The people in the hall decided that some one was having his teeth extracted. (Laughter.) When I was a little boy Sister Eliza R. Snow exercised the gift of tongues, and the interpretation was given by Sister Zina D. Young; and therein I was promised that I should be chosen to be one of the leaders of the Church, and I stand here tonight in fulfillment of that prediction. All the days of my life I have tried to sing “O My Father,” written by Sister Eliza R. Snow. When I was a child, next to my own mother, no woman that ever lived took as much interest in me, gave me as much motherly advice or seemed to love me more than did Sister Snow. I loved her with all my heart, and loved her hymn, “O My Father.” I remarked some four months ago to Brother Horace S. Ensign that I would be willing to spend four or five months of my spare time if I could only learn to sing that one hymn. He told me that any one could learn to sing that had perseverance. I said to him if there was anything that I had it was perseverance. So I suggested that we sit down and I would take my first lesson of two hours on that song. I have been continuing the lessons on it ever since. (Laughter.) I have sung it as high as 115 times in one day. I have practiced on the “Doxology” between three and four hundred times, and there are only four lines, and I cannot sing it yet. (Laughter.) I traveled from Holbrook, Arizona, to St. John, with Brothers Clawson and Kimball, some months ago, and I sang one hundred times that day and gave them nervous prostration. (Laughter.) Now I tried to sing “O My Father” at Snowflake, Arizona, and I only got as far as the “O,” and I did not get that right. (Laughter.) I have been delighted tonight with the songs of these little children, and I am delighted with the singing that we have in our Sunday schools. A few months before Brother Goddard died I asked him to let me copy the songs contained in his song book, and I told him that, though I could not sing, yet I would read them to the children and would perpetuate his memory by reading these songs. He made some excuse at the time, but shortly before he died he presented me with a copy of his song book, written in his own hand-writing. I prize it more highly than money. I would not exchange it for its weight in gold. I intended to fulfil my promise, but when I learned, after five or six weeks of hard study, and after singing one hymn thousands of times, to sing a little I decided not to read these songs to the children, but to learn to sing them in the Sabbath schools. Professor Heber S. Goddard is now teaching me to sing, “Who’s on the Lord’s side, Who?” I do not know how many months it will take him, but I propose to learn it some day, whether it takes six months or six years. (Laughter.) When I do, if I get the opportunity, I will sing it here. I make these remarks because I feel that we ought to encourage our young people to learn to sing. From the standpoint of a singer, I have lost thirty-three years of my life. I was told when ten years old that I could never learn to sing. I did not learn until forty-three years of age, and I have spent four or five months trying to learn to sing the hymns, “God moves in a mysterious way,” and “O My Father.” I have learned one because of the sentiments and my love for the author, and the other because the late President Wilford Woodruff loved it better than any other hymn in the hymn book. Now all singers say it is a mistake to speak before you sing, and therefore if I do not sing very well it is because I spoke first. (Laughter.)
Brother Grant here sang two stanzas of “O My Father.”
Now, when Brother Goddard used to sing, when he got off he would try again. I have sung this two or three times with Brother Ensign, and I know that I am not singing it right; I have not pitched it right. Brother Goddard would try sometimes half a dozen times to pitch a song. I think I had better try and get this in a different key. (Laughter).
Brother Grant then sang the concluding stanzas. (In the same key.)
Now I expect many of you would like to take a trip of thirty or forty miles when you leave here. (Laughter). Now some people will say Brother Grant has made an exhibition of himself by singing here. I have but one object tonight in speaking and singing, and that is to encourage the young men and young ladies not to waste thirty or forty years of their lives before undertaking to sing. If I had told the congregation that I had learned to sing and had not tried they would not have believed it; and many do not believe it now. (Laughter.) But the fact remains that by continued effort one can learn to sing that has no knowledge of music whatever, as was the case with me. I did not know one note from another, and could barely distinguish one tune from another. When I first began to learn to sing this song (“O My Father”) I would get off on nearly every line, and did not know it. I have learned to know when I am off. I have been off two or three times tonight. (Laughter). I have been troubled this evening with stage fright and have been very nervous. I have sung this song at least twenty times in this building. Brother Ensign has been behind me to help me tonight. Probably next time I will not have this stage fright.
I want to repeat to the superintendents and teachers that the Lord says “the song of the heart” is a prayer to Him and that it shall be answered with a blessing upon our heads. I have a song in my home every morning, since I learned to sing, and I feel that it is a nice part of the family worship, and I feel that we can increase the capacity of our children to sing and to praise the Lord in the songs of Zion, if we will only teach them to sing over and over again. May the Lord bless you, I ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.27
David O. McKay
I think it is almost a tragedy to have young girls and young boys grow up without opportunity of social activity under the proper environment, and recreational halls will be dedicated as fitting places for these young folk to come and meet one another, to meet the older ones, to participate in literature, in the art of dancing, in the drama, in music, and all other features that offer opportunity for development to our young boys and girls. I am sorry that the latest custom among young people is to have a young man and his young sweetheart dance together all evening. I should rather see them exchange partners as was formerly the practice. Some of our girls come, properly chaperoned, but they do not get the opportunity to participate in the dances. The recreation hall should be a place for cordiality where all young people may have an opportunity to mingle and to meet their mates. That means something in this day of divorces due to hasty marriages where they do not understand each other, where they marry not for ideal homes and the rearing of children, but for reasons lower than those which should actuate the idealism of proper marriage.28
Later they built the Social Hall. Perhaps there are those in the audience today who, after listening to the opening prayer, joined hands in the cotillion, dancing in a spirit best understood by the remarks of President Brigham Young, who once said, in substance: “The atmosphere of the dance should be such that if any elder be called from the party to go to administer to a sick person, he could leave with the same spirit that he would go from his elders’ quorum meeting.”29
Harold B. Lee
In our social conduct, in our dancing, in our play, we must never forget that we are witnessing also that we are His special witnesses of the divinity of the organizations who sponsor our play. Every person in military service, and every person in his social conduct, every businessman in his dealings with his neighbor, is a witness as to whether or not this work in which he believes is divine. The Church rises or falls on the tide of these personal witnesses.30
Spencer W. Kimball
The properly conducted dancing party can be a blessing. It provides opportunity to spend a pleasant evening with many people to the accompaniment of music. It can create and develop friendships which will be treasured in later years. Alternatively it can become a restricting experience. Well-ordered dances provide favorable places, pleasing times, and auspicious circumstances in which to meet new people and to enlarge circles of friends. They can be an open door to happiness. In an evening of pleasurable dancing and conversation, one can become acquainted with many splendid young folk, every one of whom has admirable traits and may be superior to any one companion in at least some qualities. Here partners can begin to appraise and evaluate, noting qualities, attainments, and superiorities by comparison and contrast. Such perceptive friendships can be the basis for wise, selective, occasional dating for those of sufficient age and maturity, this to be followed later in proper timing by steady dating, and later by proper courtship which culminates in a happy, never-ending marriage. On the other hand, for a youth to dance all evening with one partner, which we might call “monopolistic” dancing, is not only anti-social but it circumscribes one’s legitimate pleasures and opportunities. Also it can encourage improper intimacies by its exclusiveness. Dancing with dates, single or steady, should presuppose the exchange of partners, which we could call “multiple” dancing.31
Ezra Taft Benson
We attach to most of our chapels a cultural hall so that our youth may have a place to dance, to perform their talents in musicals and other uplifting entertainment, and we hope our youth leaders as trustees of the building will see to it that only wholesome, uplifting activities are performed in this building. Should you have any reservations whether or not an activity, a style of dancing or tempo of music is in accord with Church standards, may I suggest this guide: Does it uplift and inspire one to higher ideals? Does it develop wholesome relationships between young men and women, or appeal to and arouse their baser instincts? Will it cause one to be a better Latter-day Saint and lead one closer to the Savior? Avoid all activities and dances which bring the world’s demoralizing standards into this sacred meeting place. If you adult leaders will counsel the youth, they can understand the inconsistency of opening our meetings with prayer asking that the Lord’s Spirit be with us, and then engaging in an activity which repels His Spirit. We ask you to be very mindful of this.32
Our young people must lead clean lives-clean in their actions, clean in their thoughts. This means that they cannot indulge promiscuously in so-called petting and necking. My advice to them would be not to engage in these promiscuous relationships, these close and intimate contacts including cheek-to-cheek dancing on the ballroom floor, whether it be at a Church dance, a public dance, or wherever it might be. I urge that they never do anything, on the dance floor or off the dance floor, that they would be ashamed to have their own fathers and mothers witness. 33
Music is one of the best arts; the notes give life to the text; it expels melancholy, as we see in king Saul. Kings and princes ought to maintain music, for great potentates and rulers should protect good and liberal arts and laws; though private people have desire thereunto and love it, yet their ability is not adequate. We read in the Bible, that the good and godly kings maintained and paid singers. Music is the best solace for a sad and sorrowful mind; by it the heart is refreshed and settled again in peace. 34
Parley P. Pratt
“Meeting opened by prayer and singing, and a few remarks from myself and others, after which the entire day and evening was spent in feasting, dancing and speaking.
“Every variety almost which the earth produced, or skill could prepare, was spread out in profusion and partaken of by all–citizens, strangers, Spaniards or Indians–with that freedom and good order which is characteristic of the Saints.
“The dances were conducted with decorum and propriety. Old and young, married and single, grandsire and child, all mingling in the dance so far as they chose, without a jarring spirit to mar their peace.” 35
- Epistle of the Twelve to the Church, Moral and Spiritual Guidance, History of the Church, Vol. 7, p. 282
- Teachings of Brigham Young manual, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, p. 183
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 43; Journal of Discourses 10:31
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 182 Journal of Discourses 6:149
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 219 Journal of Discourses 12:118
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 236; Journal of Discourses 6:143
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:267
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 237
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 237; Journal of Discourses 8:82
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:128-129
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 238
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 239; Journal of Discourses 1:112-14
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 240; Journal of Discourses 11:283
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 240
- Brigham Young Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 240; Journal of Discourses 1:30
- Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 242
- Brigham Young Discourses of Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:30
- Brigham Young Discourses of Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:149
- Brigham Young Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 243
- Brigham Young, Letters of Brigham Young to His Sons, p. 229
- John Taylor, Gospel Kingdom, p. 62
- Wilford Woodruff, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 3, pp. 139-140
- Joseph F. Smith, Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 39, March 1, 1904, pp. 144, 145; Gospel Doctrine, p. 321
- Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1899, pp. 68-69
- Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, April 1904, p. 81
- Joseph F. Smith, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol. 5, pp. 85-86
- Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, April 1900, p. 62
- David O. McKay, DNCS, April 30, 1952, p. 3
- David O. McKay, Pathways to Happiness, p. 72
- Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 591
- Spencer W. Kimball, Teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 290
- Ezra Taft Benson, Finglas Ireland Branch Dedication, 10 September 1980; Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 153
- Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 323
- Martin Luther Table Talk, OF UNIVERSITIES, ARTS, ETC.
- Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, pg. 454, Read online