Power and Importance of Sincere Singing
President George Albert Smith
I am grateful for a Church that teaches the joy and encourages the sweet influence that comes from music. So important are the hymns of the Church that our Heavenly Father appointed the Prophet’s wife, Emma, to select hymns that were appropriate for sacred services. We do have excellent hymns in this Church. And our children, beginning in their tender years, are taught not only to sing the songs of the world, but they are also taught to sing the praises of our heavenly Father and to give thanksgiving in song as well as in other ways. What a comforting, uplifting influence there is in sincere music!
We had here a number of years ago a young man who came from Wales. He did not have the opportunity of much schooling, but he was a Welshman, full of Welsh music. When he came here, he became the leader of our great Tabernacle Choir. He it was who had joy, along with those who preceded him and those who followed, in building a choir, not merely to sing, but to sing praises to our Heavenly Father.
I want to retell an incident concerning Evan Stephens. Some prominent people were coming here. In that day we did not have as many visitors of prominence as we do today. We were too far out in the wilderness. One of our good bishops came to Evan Stephens and said: “Brother Stephens, I have some important company coming next Sunday, and I hope you are going to have some good music.”
Brother Stephens said: “All right, Bishop, we will have good music.”
The bishop did not think that was sufficient assurance so he pressed the point. he said: “These are not ordinary people. They are men of influence and wealth, and I would like them to see what a fine choir we have. Won’t you give us something just a little special?”
Brother Stephens said: “Bishop, we have already had our practice. The music has all been prepared. I don’t see how we can make a change. I think it will be good enough for your friends.”
the bishop, still unsatisfied, pressed the point further, and then Brother Stephens’ “Welsh” got up, and he said: ‘Now see here, Bishop, we have prepared the music for next Sunday to sing to the Lord, and I suppose if it is good enough for the Lord, it is good enough for your company.”
I am grateful for the great Tabernacle Organ and Choir that broadcast each Sabbath day. For years they have been delighting the world with hymns of praise that our Heavenly Father has blessed us to enjoy, and along with it have gone sermonettes that have touched many hearts.
Many years ago, two humble elders laboring in the Southern States Mission were walking through the woods and finally came out into a clearing where there was a humble cottage, the home of friends who were not members of the Church. Overlooking this clearing was a hill covered by large trees. It had been a warm day, and when the elders arrived, instead of going into the house, they took their chairs out on the shady porch to visit with the family.
They didn’t know that they were being watched or that danger threatened. They had come through a section of the country that was unfriendly, and having found a home where the family was friendly, they were grateful to the Lord for it.
They were asked to sing, and they selected the hymn, “Do What Is Right.” And as they started to sing, there arrived on the brow of the hill above them a mob of armed horsemen. One of those men had previously threatened the missionaries and had kept watch for them on the road.
These armed men had come there with the determination to drive those missionaries out, but as they arrived at the top of the hill, they heard these missionaries singing. The leader of the mob dismounted and looked down among the trees and saw the roof of the house, but he could not see the elders. They continued to sing.
One by one the men got off their horses. One by one they removed their hats, and when the last note had died away and the elders had finished their singing, the men remounted their horses and rode away, and the leader said to his companions, “Men who sing like that are not the kind of men we have been told they are. These are good men.”
The result was that the leader of the mob became converted to the Church and later was baptized. I never heard that hymn sung, but I think of that very unusual experience when two missionaries, under the influence of the Spirit of God, turned the arms of the adversary away from them and brought repentance into the minds of those who had come to destroy them.