The New Testament’s parable of the talents teaches us that God gives us everything we need to accomplish the work He has asked us to do, including the special skills and talents to grow and share our testimony with others. This episode of the Church News podcast features a member musician of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dr. Wayne Burton. The podcast also includes a small sampling of his music. The medical doctor has chosen to grow his musical talents by writing and producing Latter-day Saint music as part of his discipleship.
Selections of Wayne Burton’s music are played within this podcast as follows:
- “A Light to the World,” written by Wayne Burton and Tyler Castleton, performed by Claire Quigley on the album “Hear Him — By the Voice of My Servants, Vol. 2.”
- “In Heaven’s Light,” written and performed by Wayne Burton. Currently released on YouTube and to be featured on an upcoming album.
- “All I Need To Know,” written by Wayne Burton and Tyler Castleton. Performed by Wayne Burton on the album “All I Need To Know.”
- “God of All,” written by Wayne Burton, performed by Hanna Eyre, and to be featured on an upcoming album.
- “For Me,” written by Wayne Burton and Tyler Castleton, performed by Hanna Eyre, and featured on the album, “Hear Him — By the Voice of My Servants, Vol. 2.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with leaders, members and others on the Church News team. We end each Church News podcast by giving our guests the last word and the opportunity to answer the very important question, “What do you know now?” We hope each of you will also be able to answer the same question and say, “I have just been listening to the Church News podcast and this is what I know now.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: The parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25, teaches us that God gives us everything we need to accomplish the work He has asked us to do. This episode of the Church News podcast features Wayne Burton. Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, and a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wayne began pursuing musical interests early in his life. Today, he shares his musical talent and other talents as part of his discipleship. Wayne, welcome to the Church News podcast.
Wayne Burton: Thank you, glad to be with you.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Why don’t we start today and have you just tell us a little bit about yourself? Certainly, we want to take this opportunity to talk about talents and how we each find the path in life the Lord has set out for us, and how we share our discipleship.
Wayne Burton: Well, as you mentioned, talents are so important, and I started developing my musical abilities early in life. My mom said I was picking out melodies when I was 3, and so it started early, but I really felt like I had something inside that I needed to share when I was a young teenager, and I grew up in southern Alberta, Canada, and just really started pursuing songwriting, and along with that singing, early in my life, and it’s been a real blessing here and as I’ve traveled different parts of the world and in the States to be able to share my talent of music and to develop it. You know, it’s something that might be inborn, but it always takes a lot of work and effort and persistence, no matter what that talent might be, and I really feel like the Lord has blessed me to be able to further what I started with and reach more people.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I’m totally interested in your life story, because music is not your career. It’s something you share because you can. But you and your family live in southern Alberta, where you are a practicing family doctor.
Wayne Burton: I’ve done medical school, in the University of Utah, actually, and came back home and settled down where we had four grandparents nearby, and raised our family with five kids now. I came to a point when I was going to university where I really was quite torn: “Do I do medicine? Do I do music?” And in my mind, it was kind of like, “I have to choose.” And then I thought: “You know what? I can do both.” I really kind of committed to seeing both of those pursuits that I felt worked for me and were good — seeing them through. And so I’ve continued to do a lot of music — I guess you wouldn’t, in one way, might not call it a career, but in one way you might, because I do a lot of it. I love it.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And that’s why we started this podcast talking about the parable of the talents, because you didn’t bury either one. You chose to pursue both paths. Certainly, that was not easy, has not always been easy, but let’s first talk about your love of music. How does music amplify or represent your testimony of Jesus Christ?
Wayne Burton: You know, I’ve been involved in what we’ve traditionally called LDS music for a long time, and there’s a lot of variety of musicians. Some are members of the Church but do other styles, and, you know, there’s not one right and wrong answer. But for me, I’ve always — at least since my late teenage years — felt inspired to primarily share church music, music that is about faith and about the Savior. And it’s been a great strength to me. The first song that I wrote that was of this nature was for my friend that was leaving as a missionary. We were 19 years old. And after that, I just continued through on my mission, writing songs for baptisms and things, and 10 albums later, I’m still going. It has really been an anchor for me. There’s so many components to what strengthens my testimony and what gives me a foundation, but music is one of the big ones. And if I’m feeling like I’m a little off-focus, with what I should be in my life spiritually, or just need to kind of reset where my mind is, getting to the piano and either just singing or writing really kind of puts me back where I need to be. So there’s a bit of selfishness in the music I do, because it does so much for me, but I’ve been fortunate that it’s been able to reach other people, and it seems like it can do the same thing for a lot of them as well.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I love that music was something that you were able to share early in your life, because today so much of what you write and share is intended to help and strengthen the youth of the Church. Certainly, each year you write music based on the Mutual theme for the coming year. Why is this audience so important to you?
Wayne Burton: It’s always felt that way, but especially now that I have teenagers of my own, it’s just clear that there are a lot of distractions out there. There’s certainly evil that’s in the world, but even short of that there’s so many things that can just be unnecessarily distracting away from more important things of the gospel, and so the youth are showered with that more than anybody. One song that I have written among many for youth that stands out is called “A Light to the World,” and this song was actually inspired by President [Russell M.] Nelson‘s words when he had his worldwide broadcast for the youth in 2018, and he really emphatically called to the youth to not just be passive participants in the gospel and enjoying all the blessings, but to be active, and to be out there as part of the youth battalion. And so, this song works around some of his words and just encourages the youth to recognize who they are, and that they are called to be a light to the world, and the darker that the world can get, the more the light stands out. If they’re willing to shine the sacred light through their lives, it can be pretty unmistakable for those around them that feel that influence. So, “A Light to the World” is one of the youth songs that really has felt like it’s timely and needed for the youth right now.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I remember that devotional. I remember as he enlisted the youth in the battalion, and let’s hear just a portion of that song here.
“A Light to the World,” written by Tyler Castleton and Wayne Burton:
There has never been a time like this,
The truth is spreading all across the earth,
So many souls are thirsting for His gift,
And now we stand to join Him in the work.
We have heard the words of a prophet of the Lord,
And we can testify that nothing matters more.
We are chosen for these final days, a promise from within,
Ready now to take our place and gather all to Him,
Born to raise our voices high, with hearts prepared to sacrifice,
Called upon to be a light, a light to the world.
Wayne Burton: Yeah, I just maybe found a little niche there where the songs were resonating with the youth, and it seemed that it was really making a difference, and so I have written a song, for several years, each year about the youth theme that the Church puts out. It’s not the official sanctioned one, but it’s one that has been used by a lot of groups around the world. And one fun thing that has been a lot of work, but a labor of love, has been releasing the music in other languages, probably a total of about 15 languages, now, we’ve released the youth songs in, usually 10 or 11 each year, and it’s just been neat to work with youth that sing the songs around the world in their language for me, and how it reaches them. It’s rewarding, and, I think, pretty critical today to have new ways and a variety of ways to reach the youth.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And we just did a recent podcast on what it takes to translate Church News content. Certainly, when you use the term “labor of love,” it has to be a labor of love. I cannot imagine this is any small undertaking.
Episode 49: The unifying language of the gospel, with Church News translation coordinator Vanessa Fitzgibbon
Wayne Burton: Yeah, it definitely is, and you could say, “Well, how many people did I reach in any one country?” It’s hard to put a number on it, but you reach one, and it feels pretty good. What we’ve done is reached out to members in those countries and tracked down who would be the right person to translate the song. Just a translator isn’t necessarily the right person, because they may not have a musical sensitivity that way. Lyrics are different than just straight old verbatim words, and so it’s just been neat to connect with people. And in so many countries, they’ve been just so eager to help. I tell them, “This isn’t an official Church thing. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea,” but they just say: “How can I help? What can I do?” And it’s been pretty amazing to see these faithful people around the world.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And then after you translate the songs, you find local members to sing those songs and record those as well?
Wayne Burton: Yeah. No pretense that I’m the singer, and we usually have a youth from that country that records it. Even getting it recorded, whether it’s Taiwan or Russia, it’s tricky to find a studio, to arrange for payment from Canada, stuff like that. We had, last year, a girl that was from Europe, serving in France, that did the German on her mission. Her mission president said that would be great service and said it was fine, and so she, actually, on P-day, went and recorded the song. And so, there’s just lots of talents out there and lots of ways to get it done. But, yeah, it’s not an easy task.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I love that your journey not only includes developing your talents, but the talents of other people who you come in contact with.
Wayne Burton: Yeah, it certainly expands and involves a lot of people being a part of that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: It is wonderful that so much of your music is inspired by the words of senior Church leaders, especially things that have been shared during general conference. Talk about how general conference has actually been an inspiration to you.
Wayne Burton: Boy, it’s always been an inspiration to me; but musically, over the last four or five years, I’ve really focused on the opportunity to take the message from some of the general conference talks, and share that again through a song. And so I had recorded an album a few years back called “By the Voice of My Servants” with Tyler Castleton. We wrote all the songs on there. And we did a new one just this year, called “Hear Him – By the Voice of My Servants.” And with all these songs — about 25 songs in total — they’ve each been inspired by a specific general conference quote, or talk that was given. And, you know, I felt it, and I’m sure your listeners can relate that you hear certain things in talks, kind of like reading the scriptures, where you hear a thing, and you say, “Wow, that’s so true,” or, “That really is what I need to know and what needed to hear.” And sometimes those show up on Facebook and Instagram as little memes and stuff with a short quote. I could just see that people are excited to remember those things, and so, likewise, myself, I thought, “You know, I’m gonna make these into songs.” And so it really has allowed me to keep the message in my mind, and in sharing this with others, we’ve been able to have one additional way to keep those messages on people’s minds, months and years after those talks are given.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Of all the things that you have done, my favorite is “In Heaven’s Light,” and I haven’t heard the story behind that. I’m really interested in it. I assumed that that was something you did in response to President Nelson’s invitation to ask all of us how we hear Him.
Wayne Burton: That song is interesting, in a sense that it’s a song that I released just kind of on its own, not really part of an album or anything, along with the video. And this song is about the revelation that we can receive. And, really, it’s tied in with recognizing the experience of the Prophet Joseph Smith and remembering the First Vision. When we had the — a little while back — centennial celebration when it would have been 200 years, I just thought, “You know, this is going to be a special focus of the upcoming general conference, and it is such a memorable time to look back, you know, then that much time since the beginning of this Restoration.” And so I wrote the song just with that in mind. You know, it’s, of course, tied in with Joseph Smith, but also relates to how we can be showered with light and understanding, as we trust in Him the same way that Joseph did. I was just excited and inspired by the event that we had; and then, of course, tied it into just the reminder that we are entitled to receiving revelation ourselves.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And you know, the timing of that was so interesting, because not only was the Church celebrating the 200th anniversary of the First Vision during that special general conference, but that also became the first general conference after the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic [began], when so many people were isolated and looking for hope. And so from that conference, and also from your music, which was connected to that, people could actually get a roadmap for how to receive heaven’s light.
Wayne Burton: Yeah, it’s amazing in so many ways where things come together when we serve. With me, it’s my music; with someone else, it’s their talent. When you’re doing it in behalf of the Lord’s work, things come together so well. And I just think you don’t have to be doing something in your life that is specifically Church-related to be doing the Lord’s work. If whatever you do is tied into, “I’m going to honor Him through what I’m doing,” things come together, and certainly I did feel that way with that song.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And are you comfortable if we share with our listeners some of the lyrics from that song?
Wayne Burton: Certainly.
“In Heaven’s Light,” written by Wayne Burton:
In the light of the dawn,
Radiant beams ‘round him shone.
In the grove kneeling there,
An answer to a fervent prayer.
Humble heart, crying out,
Choosing faith over doubt,
Heaven’s hope, darkness fled,
The glory of God on earth once again.
All who come before Him and believe,
Waiting on the Father to provide,
True to His promise, Ask and you’ll receive
Seek and you shall find there in heaven’s light.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And, you know, since we were talking about the worldwide pandemic, I want to just talk with you a little bit about your career as a medical doctor. Certainly, there has never been a time in history when we have talked so much about medicine, we’ve thought so much about health, as during the last — almost coming up on two years.
Wayne Burton: Yeah, as you’ve mentioned, I’m a family doctor. I also work in the hospital as a hospitalist on a certain rotation as well, and I also deliver babies. So I’ve got lots of things I do, some of that in the middle of the night when I least expect it. But, you know, being a doctor during the pandemic has been a challenge, and people ask me that, and I say, “Yeah, it’s been hard, but I recognize just how hard it’s been for everybody.” So in some ways, I’m just in with the rest of everybody, but it’s certainly been an interesting couple of years, and I’ve been able to still practice very consistently, and luckily, I haven’t brought any sickness home to my family. And it’s hopefully coming to an end, but don’t have me make any predictions, because I’ll probably be wrong.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, since the beginning of time, certainly, humans have suffered with all kinds of physical ailments. What made you pursue a career in medicine?
Wayne Burton: You know, initially, at the start, even in my late teenage years was more an interest in biology and some of those things that just kind of steered me a bit in that direction, and then eventually went into pre-medicine. And I just started seeing a little bit more of what, specifically, it involves to be a doctor; and luckily, the invested years didn’t scare me away. Because once I was getting through that process, I was just discovering more and more, really, the great thing about being able to connect with patients on a pretty intimate level about things that are difficult for them and do cause suffering and being able to help with that. So I just, I’ve loved it more as I’ve gone along, and started out as a biology thing, but it’s really become more of a people thing at this point.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And we’re grateful that you were able to find a path that helped you help people physically, and that could strengthen them spiritually through your music. What advice do you have for other people who are seeking and looking for their own path in life?
Wayne Burton: I think it does come back down to revelations, and not everyone’s going to see answers come the same way. But we’ve been taught over and over that there are individual ways to receive revelation. and I think that, first of all, you know, be ready to expand your talents. Because if the Lord has given them to you, you should be willing to do something with them; but also to really be open to where the Lord sends you. There’s so many ways that we start down one path, and if we’re still keeping an open mind, the Lord often moves us over to another path that’s more where we’re meant to be. So just, keeping your heart open to what the Lord wants and not hiding from your talents.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And how do you manage it all? Does it feel overwhelming sometimes?
Wayne Burton: It does, sometimes. People ask me that all the time, because they’re just kind of looking at the number of big things I’ve got on my plate, but most of the time, I’ve kind of just got a system and things are working OK. You know, sometimes I just have to shift what gets the focus. I try and make sure that family and Church are the priority, but among all the things, sometimes you have to set something aside for a few weeks or whatever time, and tackle what needs to be taken care of. It’s worthwhile. If I didn’t love it, I’d be sitting here complaining, but I love it, and it’s rewarding, and I’m happy that I can do what I’m doing.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And, certainly, so much of your work as an artist and a composer have inspired others. What hymns, what work inspires you?
Wayne Burton: I have considered that a lot over the years, and I don’t have so much one that just stands out. But certainly in my own recordings, I’ve generated my own music, but I thought it was time to record a hymn, and I looked through and the one that I recorded was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” and it’s actually the only hymn that I’ve recorded on my albums, other than Christmas songs. And that one stands out to me because I think the knowing of the Savior and knowing Him is so foundational to everything. I love hymns that are get-up-and-go hymns — you know, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and all those kind of things. But when it comes down to it, just the foundation is the knowledge of the Savior and the relationship with the Savior. And so, that one, out of all the years of music, that’s the one, I guess, that I have taken the steps of recording and just kind of putting my own interpretation on.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve been involved with, a favorite song that you’ve recorded?
Wayne Burton: I guess one that would stand out to me is called “All I Need To Know,” and it’s a song I wrote with Tyler Castleton. And, originally, we wrote it for EFY, and so it was on one of the earlier Especially For Youth albums. And then I ended up recording it myself later, as the title song of an album called “All I Need To Know.” And over the years, that’s just been one that, probably, one that I’ve shared the most in fireside devotionals that I do and the one that people have contacted me about, that just seems to have really connected the most. And the message of that song is there are things that we need to know, and I guess the unspoken message is there’s things that we don’t really need to know. But the things that we do need to know are those Primary answers, the ones that sometimes we snicker in a Primary class, if a kid says, “Well, the answer is ‘say your prayers,’ or the answer is ‘God loves me.’” You know, it’s like, well, it’s not a complicated answer. It’s simple. And I think knowing that you’re a child of God and the Savior is there for you is before anything else what we need to know, and so that’s one that I keep coming back to.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And that’s one that we’ll also share right now with our listeners, so they can hear just a segment of that music.
“All I Need To Know,” written by Wayne Burton and Tyler Castleton:
I have wandered, and I have struggled,
I have wrestled and I’ve spent time on my knees.
I wandered and I have questioned
‘cause there’s so much just beyond what I can see.
But I know He understands, and He loves me as I am
Even through the storms and trials He is there
And lives to to bring me home, and that’s all I need to know
When I’ve trusted in His promise
And I know that I’ve done all that I can do,
I have tasted the sweet assurance
That no matter what it is I’m going through
I will know He understands and He loves me as I am
Even through the storms and trials He is there
And lives to to bring me home, and that’s all I need to know
Sarah Jane Weaver: Tell me what kind of feedback you’ve gotten from people who may have been influenced by your music.
Wayne Burton: You know, I get messages from people in a variety of ways: Sometimes online, sometimes I’m doing a fireside and they come up afterwards and tell me — and there’s always a mix, some people haven’t heard any Wayne Burton music, others have been listening for years. And I’ve just had, certainly, a number of times, where individuals have usually expressed that they’ve kind of come to a point in their life where they were really stuck, you know, spiritually stuck or down on themselves, and the music has given them a chance to re-reflect at what’s important and reconnect with spiritual things; and there’s a lot of different specifics, but in general, it’s just been a reconnecting with God, and I’m glad that it can do that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And for you, music has become a way that you can express your testimony and share the gospel.
Wayne Burton: It has been, and you know, I’ve mentioned before that there’s certainly a component here of what it does for me. When I write music, it can come out different ways. You know, it’s not like every song has the same kind of story about how it came about, or the impact of it. But there have been some where just working through writing, I come up into a line, and it just overcomes me and I’m crying and emotional. Luckily, that’s usually me alone in my living room, but just times where I just had to stop and take a breath and say, “Man, this is just such a powerful experience,” and it keeps me, keeps me charged, charges my battery. And there are certain songs among each of the collections that I just know, there’s a special personal experience tied to that song for me.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, can you give us a specific example of one song and the experience for us?
Wayne Burton: So, one of the songs that really is an example of that is one called “God of All”, and it’s actually one that hasn’t been released publicly yet. So it’s in the Wayne Burton personal collection, but this is one where one day I just had a really powerful feeling overcome me. And it was like one of those things where you have a lightbulb moment, and then you say, “Well, I already knew that,” but somehow it just hit me hard that God is the Father of — I’m gonna get emotional here — but He’s a Father of everyone. And we say that, but it just hit me that in the most intimate ways, He is involved and concerned for everybody. We can easily look around us and judge someone or say, “That person is not like me,” and stuff like that; but in reality, that same degree of love is there. And so, I just felt that one Sunday. I thought, “I’m going to write a song called “God of All.” And it really emphasizes that even before we’ve fallen and hurt ourselves, or even before the tear comes down our cheek, that He already is running to our rescue. And, you know, that’s one that just — well, even talking about it, it gets me in. And it was really a personal experience being a part of writing that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I know this hasn’t been released yet, but we’d sure love to give our listeners a glimpse of that music, and we’ll share just a few lines from that song right here.
“God of All,” written by Wayne Burton:
I have always known His name,
And I knew He was waiting there every time I prayed.
When I needed comfort, He was there to take my pain
And make it right, cause He was mine.
I felt like I was the only one,
But somewhere down my path I learned I didn’t walk alone,
And He loves all His children just as much as He loves me,
And there’s room enough for all His love.
He shows light into our darkness, He breathes hope into our shame,
He brings healing to the wounded heart that never knew His name
And He rushes to our rescue to dry our tears before we even call
He is true, He is faithful, He is our Father, God of all.
Wayne Burton: One other song that I would mention is one called “For Me,” and it’s on the newest “By the Voice of My Servants” album, and it was inspired by the words of Bishop [Gérald] Caussé — I’m not sure if I’m saying it right — but he said, in a conference, words that I have been thinking of for years, and I write these projects about conference with Tyler Castleton, and I’ve been telling Tyler for years: I want to write a song that is about, if I was the only person out there, that Jesus would have died for me — wouldn’t have had to be billions of people, it could be just me, and I believe that; and yet, there was a, we were just, you know, talking about it for a number of years, and then Bishop Caussé came out and said those very words in his conference talk, and so I said, “Tyler, this is the time.” And so we wrote the song called “For Me,” and we were really blessed to have Hanna Eyre sing the song. She’s currently serving as a missionary in Washington state, and she was on “The Voice” some years ago, and she just so beautifully expressed the words in the music that we’d written. And it is a very tender message that it’s beyond our comprehension how much love He has not only for the whole world, but for each of us individually. So that’s one that is a very tender song in my heart, called “For Me.”
“For Me,” written by Wayne Burton and Tyler Castleton:
What kind of love would humbly make the choice to bear that burden so willingly,
And leave His glory to descend below all things so He could rescue the least of these?
For me, with my bruised and broken heart,
He wrapped me in His arms, and whispered peace
For me, He took away my shame, swallowed up my pain and set me free
How sweet is my joy, I stand all amazed, how endless the love, the gift of His grace for me.
Sarah Jane Weaver: As we conclude today, we have a tradition at the Church News podcast where we always give our guests the last word and we have them answer the same question and give them the opportunity to bear their testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so today, the question that I have for you is, “What do you know now?” What do you know now after doing so much that shares your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and sharing that with others through music?
Wayne Burton: You know, as far as what I know now from the experience with my music, I know that the Lord connects with us individually, and often through music. I know that part. I’ve seen that firsthand so many times, but whether through music or other means He provides inspiration to us and revelation, and that personal connection of His love — I know that that’s true. And I’ve certainly seen that bear out more and more as I’ve continued down this path with my music, and I hope that in all of my music I’m sharing that knowledge that God loves us, that He’s our Father and that the Savior is so intimately involved in our lives, way beyond what we could imagine or recognize on a daily basis. But He’s there and we just need to reach out and let Him be a part of our life, and I know that He lives. I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News Editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on thechurchnews.com.