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What one family in the 2022 Church Music Festival learned about the power of lyrics

Annual concert features original compositions, lyrics and arrangements submitted by members worldwide

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The Chacon family performs “I Will Say a Prayer” at the 2022 Church Music Festival in the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News


When Sayuri Chacon prays, she knows Heavenly Father will hear her — it’s a simple testimony the 15-year-old gained while singing with her family in the 2022 Church Music Festival

“Sometimes you feel like in the world people don’t hear you, but when you say a prayer, He’s always there to hear you,” she said. 

Sayuri, along with her parents and five siblings ages 8 to 16, performed the song “I Will Say a Prayer” during the concert on Saturday, Aug. 6.

“I Will Say a Prayer” — words and music by Janice Kapp Perry — was one of the 17 original award-winning works featured in the 2022 Church Music Festival “Rejoice!” The live concert originated from the Conference Center Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and was streamed online on the Church’s broadcast page

Tsukie Chacon, Sayuri’s mother, said as her family has rehearsed the song over the last several weeks, she has seen how repeating the lyrics has strengthened them.

“I now understand the purpose of learning or memorizing hymns and scriptures,” said Tsukie, who was born in Mexico and lives in Highland, Utah. “I see the importance of that in our daily living.”

The annual Church Music Festival features original Church music and lyrics submitted by members throughout the world through the Church Music Submission. The Church Music Submission encourages the development of musical talent and brings new musical works to light by inviting Latter-day Saints to submit original music for consideration, including hymns and children songs, hymn arrangements for choirs, soloists and instrumentalists, and choir anthems.

Katie Bastian, music manager in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department, said: “Though we all have different experiences, trials and cultures, music is a universal language that we can all benefit from whether we are creators, performers or listeners. Our hope is that all who participate feel the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

One thing that makes the Church Music Festival unique, she added, is that many of the original composers and lyricists attend in person to hear their creations come to life — some for the first time. 

The concert opened with “The Day Dawn Is Breaking,” an arrangement by Suzanne Ostler Shippen performed by a mixed choir. Young performer Elle Hirst sang “Along the Covenant Path,” words and music by Jocelyn Parker Parmer. Joshua Yordy performed his original song “Follow Me,” and a men’s double quartet sang “Touch Thou My Eye,” words by Jan Pinborough and music by Michael Finlinson Moody.

Other songs included a cello and piano performance of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” arranged by Heather G. Badger, and a music video of “It is Glorious,” words and music by Marie Pearson Tarbet and Larry Pearson. The mixed choir closed the concert with “Come, Rejoice!” arranged by Tami N. Petersen. 

Only a handful of the 70-plus award-winning songs were featured during the concert. Award winners came from Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, England, Canada and several U.S. states.

Emma Lounsbury and Maleia Robinson were both first-time award-winners who submitted contemporary songs. 

Originally from Oregon, Lounsbury began arranging and composing music on the piano by the time she was 8 years old. She wrote her song “I Have You” when she was a teenager. The song communicates her relationship with God and how she has relied on Him to get through difficult hardships, loneliness and despair. 

“Music for me is just a way to communicate my experiences, to tell stories and to express the things of my heart,” she said. 

Lounsbury added that she feels honored to share a song with others that is meaningful to her. “My hope is that my song will just be able to connect and resonate with them,” she said of those who listen. 

Robinson, who grew up in Orange County, California, wrote the song “Remember,” while reflecting on what matters most to her — family. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share her testimony through music. 

“I served a mission in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a proselyting missionary, and then I came home as a service missionary. And I’ve always felt like my mission needs to continue,” Robinson told the Church News. “I feel like music is my way to fulfill that mission and to share my testimony of Jesus with others.”

Sheet music from this concert will be made available to download for free at ChurchofJesusChrist.org/music/library/submitted-music-2012-present. A recording of the festival will be archived on Gospel Library, the Sacred Music app, and Gospel Media for on-demand viewing.

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