At the close of the 2021 Youth Music Festival on Wednesday evening, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund introduced a special guest — President Russell M. Nelson, who played the hymn “Hope of Israel” on the piano.
“I love that hymn, ‘Hope of Israel,’ because my dear young friends, you are the hope of Israel, the children of the promised day,” President Nelson told the global youth audience.
Listening to uplifting music is one of the best ways to feel the Spirit and hear the voice of the Lord, President Nelson said, expressing his hope that the event helped youth strengthen their love of the Savior and feel connected to others like them.
“Many of you are already doing good things to help gather Israel. Keep going. If you have not yet become part of this great cause, start today,” he said. “You may have felt a prompting during this festival to reach out to someone who is lonely or to help a friend come back. Maybe that person is you. Act on those impressions. This is how you — the hope of Israel — will rise in might.”
President Nelson concluded, “I love you and pray for you. And I testify that the Lord knows you by name and sees who you can become.”
Following the Prophet’s message and musical number, a virtual choir of youth around the world sang “Hope of Israel” in multiple languages.
The second annual Youth Music Festival on March 17 — a “worldwide musical tour,” as one youth host described it — was streamed in 11 languages. The prerecorded concert included youth hosts from New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, South Africa and the Philippines.
The event kicked off with a performance of “He is Risen” in English and Maori by Nicole Winters and Myshaan Komene. Tyla Tuala, a host in New Zealand, introduced the theme “A Great Work” found in Doctrine and Covenants 64:33.
During Yahosh Bonner’s performance of “Your Voice” from the 2021 youth music album, Dallin Woodbury in the United States shared how he found strength after his leg was crushed by a falling rock.
“When the amputation happened, I was surrounded by this dark mist,” Dallin explained. “But even at our darkest moments when we feel alone, we can always turn toward God.”
Nicholas Shigekiyo, a host in Brazil, took viewers to the grounds of the Campinas Brazil Temple and talked about the hope found in keeping covenants. Gabrielly Lourenço then performed “A Fonte” (“Come to the Well”) on the island of Fernando de Noronha.
Other performances during the event included “Si Tú Lo Crees” (“If You Believe”) by Ysaac Martínez Marrero in the Dominican Republic; South African Zulu hymn “Etendeni Lami” by and Nompumelelo Ramasimong; and “Never That Bad” sung by Aitana Alapa and accompanied by a virtual band of performers from the Philippines, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
The 2021 youth theme video for “A Great Work” by Nik Day was also released.
During a segment filmed in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, President Lund said, “The events of this past year have been challenging and have changed the way many of us do our part in the Lord’s work. But they haven’t stopped or slowed the work down.”
President Cordon added, “You are amazing. Our Heavenly Father has given you gifts and talents that are needed to bless others right now. Even during this pandemic, you have brought joy and light wherever you are.”
The general youth leaders introduced a video montage of youth sharing experiences of how they are participating in the Lord’s work.
One young women said, “Once a week, I like to share my testimony on Instagram about something I’ve learned from this week in ‘Come, Follow Me,’ seminary or Sunday School.”
Sitting inside the chapel of the first Church meetinghouse built in the Philippines, host Keon Serrano offered words of encouragement to those who may struggle with depression or anxiety. “If you feel like you don’t have anyone to turn to, please know you are not alone,” he told his fellow youth.
“Heavenly Father loves you and help is available. He has given us Church leaders, family, friends and professionals who can help you cope with your pain. And most importantly, He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ. He suffered all things and understands you even when others don’t. When you have Him in your life, things just look brighter.”
Joseph Moore, a solo artist and vocal coach in Utah who sang “Free My Soul” during the concert, told the Church News he hopes the song resonates with the youth audience as much as it did with him.
“I think the biggest message is that God has the ability and the reach — no matter where you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are — to not only help us in our time of need, but also free us from the things that are holding us back. …
“He can bring us out of those depths and truly help us to be free. … He is the guiding light and the beacon in a dark world.”
The Youth Music Festival is available for on-demand viewing on YouTube.com/StrivetoBe, the Church’s Live Broadcasts page and in Gospel Library music collection (online and app). BYUtv will rebroadcast the event on Sunday, March 21.
Since mid-February, the Church’s Strive To Be YouTube and other channels have been publishing weekly music videos from the 2021 youth music album as part of the Youth Music Festival. The final video “A Great Work” will be released Sunday, April 25.