How music is an unlikely tool that could help ease the burden of refugees in Europe

Editor’s note: The full version of this article is available at

An international group of men and women trying to make a difference sat in the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle choir seats last week and listened raptly as Elder L. Whitney Clayton, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, shared a relevant story.

William Clayton, Elder Clayton’s great-great-grandfather, was camped in muddy 1840s Iowa when he received the good news that his wife had delivered a “fine, fat boy” back in Nauvoo, Illinois. Feeling inspired, William sat down on a log and penned the words to the famous pioneer hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

The group sang a verse, then listened in awe as Richard Elliott, principal organist for the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, performed a rousing solo arrangement of the hymn that rang and soared through the famed building. The heartfelt singing combined with the invigorating sound of the Tabernacle organ moved some to tears.

“It sounded so wonderfully that it hits the heights of the heavens,” said Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, chairman of the AMAR Foundation.

The Latter-day Saint hymn of faith, resilience and hope related directly to why the multi-continental, multinational group had gathered for a two-day conference in Salt Lake City — to explore how music therapy that might improve the mental health of refugees who are under incredible stress and duress.

As part of their conference, the group also met with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.


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