Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Songs sung and unsung

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In his Saturday afternoon talk, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles directed his words to those whose lives seem to elude the “peaceful happy moments” celebrated in the hymn “There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today.”

“If for a time you are unable to echo the joyous melodies you hear coming from others, I ask you to hold tenaciously to the line in this hymn that reassures ‘Jesus listening can hear The songs [you] cannot sing.’ ”

Among the realities of living in a fallen world is that some days are difficult. There are days when faith and fortitude are tested.

“These challenges may come from a lack in us, a lack in others, or just a lack in life, but whatever the reasons we find they can rob us of songs we so much want to sing, and darken the promise of ‘springtime in [the] soul’ that Eliza Hewitt celebrates in one of her verses.”

So, asked Elder Holland, what can people do in such times?

“For one thing, we embrace the Apostle Paul’s counsel and ‘hope for that [which] we see not, … [and] with patience wait for it’ “ (Romans 8:25).

In those moments when the melody of joy falters, “we may have to stand silent for a time and simply listen to others, drawing strength from the splendor of the music around us.”

Many, he added, who are “musically challenged” have had their confidence bolstered by positioning themselves next to someone with a stronger, more certain voice.

“Surely it follows that in singing the anthems of eternity, we should stand as close as humanly possible to the Savior and Redeemer of the world — who has absolutely perfect pitch,” he said. “We then take courage from His ability to hear our silence and take hope from His melodious Messianic intercession in our behalf.”

Elder Holland said on those days “when we feel a little out of tune” it is important, especially for the youth of the Church, to remember it is by divine design that not all voices in God’s choir are the same. Various voices are needed to make rich music.

“When we disparage our uniqueness or try to conform to fictitious stereotypes — stereotypes driven by an insatiable consumer culture and idealized beyond any possible realization by social media — we lose the richness of tone and timbre that God intended when He created a world of diversity.”

Members, added Elder Holland, must never demean their worth or denigrate their contributions. Never abandon the choir.

“You are unique and irreplaceable,” he said. “The loss of even one voice diminishes every other singer in this great mortal choir of ours, including the loss of those who feel they are on the margins of society or the margins of the Church.”

Elder Holland said he sometimes feels guilty singing of “blessings which [God] gives me now” amidst the world’s staggering economic inequality. “That chorus cannot be fully, faithfully sung until we have honorably cared for the poor.”

Many suffer from mental and emotional illness and other debilitating health limitations. They must not suffer in silence.

“And someday I hope a great global chorus will harmonize across all racial and ethnic lines, declaring that guns, slurs and vitriol are not the way to deal with human conflict,” he said.

Elder Holland pleaded with his listeners to stay permanently and faithfully in the choir. The seats are limitless, he noted.

“There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures and live in a host of locations. There is room for the single, the married, for large families and for the childless. There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions.

“In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments as the inviolable measuring rod for personal behavior, for if love of God is the melody of our shared song, surely our common quest to obey Him is the indispensable harmony in it.”

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