CES fireside: Power, protection

Elder Nelson touts sweetness, sanctifying influence of music


Power and protection are provided by worthy music, Elder Russell M. Nelson told young adults during a Church Educational System fireside Sunday, May 4. High school seniors were also invited to the fireside and Elder Nelson encouraged them to enroll in institute classes as they move on to institutions of higher learning.

The fireside originated in the BYU Marriott Center and was broadcast via satellite throughout North America and to many other parts of the world.

Elder Nelson explained the power of worthy music.

"It has power to make us humble, prayerful and grateful," he said. "Prophets through all generations have taught the importance of worthy music in our expressions of worship."

He validated his comment by reading scriptures from the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as the First Presidency preface to the current Church hymnal.

"Worthy music also has the power to persuade," Elder Nelson said. He gave the example of John Jaques, an early convert to the Church whose parents tried to convince him that the Church was fiction. Before he was 20 years old, he wrote a letter of testimony to his father.

"Three years later, at age 23," Elder Nelson said, "John Jaques wrote the words to this hymn that we know and love." He then read the words to "Oh Say, What Is Truth?" (Hymns, no. 272), adding, "John stood firm in his conviction of the truth."

Next, Elder Nelson said, "Music has a sweet power to promote unity and love in the family." He used examples from his own family to demonstrate how that can go beyond the singing in family home evening. As a gift to his family last Christmas, he said, he sat at the piano and recorded a CD of a variety of music he had sung or played to his children over the years. He gave the gift and "they liked it," he said. "Some of the grandchildren told me that the CD was 'cool."'

He named his nine daughters and daughter-in-law and said that since their childhood, his daughters have enjoyed singing together. His eight surviving daughters, accompanied by two of his granddaughters, then sang "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee."

Elder Nelson told members of the congregation that when they have the opportunity in the future to influence music selected for Church services that they remember that music has power to provide spiritual nourishment, healing power and the power to facilitate worship "as we comprehend the significance of the Savior's Atonement. Music has power to remind us of the restoration of the gospel, with its saving principles and exalting ordinances. Music provides power for us to express prayerful thoughts and bear testimony of sacred truths."

He stated, "The purpose of music in our Church services is not for performance, but for worship. Prayerfully selected compositions and excellent performances are appropriate in worship services when and if members feel a spirit of worship and of revelation. Church music should be supportive of the Lord and His work and not attract attention to itself."

Then Elder Nelson turned his remarks to the protection that can be provided by worthy music.

"Brethren and sisters, wherever we are, we should carefully choose what we see and hear. Some of you would not knowingly tolerate pornography in your homes, yet would allow music into your lives which can be just as devastating."

He cautioned listeners to beware music that agitates rather than pacifies, that excites more than calms. He said loud music can not only damage physical hearing, but can also cause spiritual deafness. "You may not be able to hear the still small voice....

"Do not degrade yourself with the numbing shabbiness and irreverence of music that is not worthy of you," he said. "Delete the rubbish from your minds and your iPods. Protect your own personal standards. Be selective. Be wise.

"Do not allow unworthy, raucous music to enter your lives. It is not harmless. It can weaken your defense and allow unworthy thoughts into your mind and pave the way to unworthy acts. Please remember: 'That which (does) not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light' (Doctrine and Covenants 50:23-24).

"Dear brother and sisters, please fill your minds with worthy sights and sounds. Cultivate your precious gift of the Holy Ghost. Protect it as the priceless gift that it is. Carefully listen for its quiet communication. You will be spiritually stronger if you do. You know the Proverb, 'As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he' (Proverbs 23:7). As you control your thoughts, you control your actions. Indeed, worthy music can provide power and protection for your soul."

To close the fireside, the Ogden LDS Institute choir sang a hymn written by Elder Nelson — "Our Prayer to Thee" — the words expressing, as part of his testimony, "my prayerful feelings for our Father in Heaven," he said.

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