God Himself has planted in the souls of all His children an affinity for music.
Thus, worshipful music is an integral part of the Lord's efforts to perfect His children and spiritualize them.Likewise, it is no wonder that the forces of evil have striven hard to corrupt music and use it as a means to promulgate messages of sin and degradation.
The Prophet Brigham Young recognized this when he said in 1852:
"In the first place, some wise being organized my system, and gave me my capacity, put into my heart and brain something that delights, charms, and fills me with rapture at the sound of sweet music. I did not put it there; it was some other being. As one of the modern writers has said, `Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.' It has been proved that sweet music will actually tame the most malicious and venomous beasts. . . . Who gave the lower animals a love for those sweet sounds, which with magic power fill the air with harmony, and cheer and comfort the hearts of men, and so wonderfully affect the brute creation? It was the Lord, our Heavenly Father, who gave the capacity to enjoy these sounds, and which we ought to do in His name, and to His glory." (Journal of Discourses, 1:48.)
Only a month after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, it was this same Brigham Young who had a choir organized to sing at meetings of the saints in the old bowery on what is now Temple Square. Since that time this early choir has grown into the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
As a musical ambassador of the Church, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has epitomized the best of "sweet music," and has done untold good for millions of people, in and out of the Church.
No one will likely ever know on this earth the extensive impact of the Choir through its weekly broadcasts, concerts, world tours and recordings.
One such previously unwritten incident may represent the influence of the Choir.
A lonely Mormon serviceman found himself in Inchon, Korea, during the conflict of the 1950s. Far away from everything that was familiar and secure to him, he found himself pressured by the war and the evil influences around him. Temptation presented itself on every hand as he wandered the streets of that war-torn city on a Sunday away from his unit.
Aimlessly looking in and out of the dingy shops, trying not to succumb to loneliness and sin, he suddenly heard singing. It was not the singing he had become accustomed to hearing on Korean radio, but it was singing he recognized and loved. It was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
A shopkeeper, who spoke no English, had his radio tuned to a broadcast of the Choir. The wonderful, uplifting music of the Choir and its magnificent organ filled the young man's heart and soul as he stood drinking it in. For a few minutes he was lifted from the world around him and received a new resolve to do what was right while he remained in that struggling country.
Such an influence was surely what President Joseph F. Smith had in mind when he referred to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in his remarks at the October 1899, general conference of the Church.
"When we listen to this Choir 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 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." (Conference Report, October 1899, p. 69.)
With such thoughts as these in mind, the Church News wishes a hearty bon voyage to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as it begins another extensive concert tour.
On June 14 the Choir leaves Salt Lake City for three weeks in the Pacific. Crossing many time zones, the international dateline, and experiencing a reversal of seasons, the Choir will sing 17 concerts in 21 days in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia.
May the blessings of heaven attend the Choir members as they continue to influence lives, lift hearts, and bring sweet music to the souls of mankind, a mission surely given them from a loving Heavenly Father, whose Spirit we pray will attend all they do.