Guest Post: Church Music – What Does "In Keeping With the Spirit of the Hymns" Really Mean?

Thanks to Debbie Mayhew Zufall for this post.

Appropriate music for church meetings: What does “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the church”really mean?

I am sure I am not the only one who has puzzled over this. The music section in the Church Handbook of Instructions (and posted on LDS.org) suggests hymns as the basis for all music in our meetings, or music “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the church.”

I have a master’s degree in church music, and have held music callings or assignments in wards/stakes in five different states. I love hymns as well as anyone, but as a classical musician I have always been partial to the classics, or what some people call “the music of genius.”A couple years ago, while living in Atlanta Georgia, I was asked to play for a stake conference. My instructions were to “play something besides hymns. We are tired of just hymns.” Another time, as stake organist in Greenville Stake South Carolina, I was asked to play a solo for a Saturday evening stake conference session, something “based on a hymn.” I suggested something from the classical repertoire.They said that was fine, so I played “Prelude” from the “Prelude, Fugue, and Variation” by Cesar Franck.

The classical repertoire is the music of genius.“Music of genius” implies that the composer was inspired by a higher power. Also, classics are classics because they have lasted for generations or even centuries. It seems to me that we should be thinking about using this music more in our meetings. Does not the Lord deserve the best we have to offer?

I have long suspected that our church’s emphasis on hymns and music “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the church” is a way of keeping pop music out of our meetings. The ban on percussion instruments in sacrament meetings supports this idea. One of the differences between classical and pop music is that classical music has an intrinsic beat, and in pop music the beat is extrinsic. In other words, in pop music the beat is added to the music, rather than being implied. Of course, the piano is technically a percussion instrument, and so can carry the rhythm section on its own, along with melody and harmony. In this way, sometimes EFY music shows up now and then in sacrament meetings. In the music instructions in the Church Handbook of Instructions it reads, “some religiously oriented music in a popular style is not appropriate for sacrament meetings.” In my experience, this opens the door for something soft and gentle like EFY, but precludes gospel music and Christian rock.

As a life-long member of the church, I have noticed that there seems to be a canon of classical music appropriate for sacrament meeting, and that this is primarily based on familiarity. Handel’s Messiah is a good example of a work that is widely accepted, but is not “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the church.” Although the words are rooted in scripture, the music is secular in style. It is similar to the style of Handel’s Italian operas, written to display the virtuosity of the singers. The music is wonderful,and we have heard it so many times, that we have become conditioned to accept the better-known choruses and solos as the ultimate worship music for Christmas and Easter. We have come to love the music, not because anything about it is intrinsically sacred or hymn-like, but because it is a beloved tradition, with all the happy memories that implies.

I worry about the future of LDS church music. Of the centuries of church music available, very little of it is used in our church meetings. In The Choir bookpublished by the church in 1980, W.A. Mozart’s Ave Verum rubs shoulders with contemporary LDS composers. Of the twenty-four anthems only five are classic anthems. There is nothing wrong with using quality anthems and hymn arrangements by contemporary composers. They are quite appealing, and easier to learn and sing than many of the classics. But I think that we owe it to ourselves as church musicians, and to our wards and stakes, to not forget about the hundreds of years of church music that is at our disposal, much of it free and in the public domain. If we are co-eternal with Heavenly Father, as we believe, then shouldn’t we be thinking about using more significant music in our church?

What does “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns of the church” mean to you? I would love to hear from you. Also, I would love for you to visit or join mychurch music blog. http://www.churchmusic.sampasite.com/

About Debbie:
I live in Michigan, in the Detroit metro area, and amthe stake organist for Bloomfield Hills stake. I am alife-long member of the LDS church. After earning a MMdegree in Church Music from Westminster Choir Collge,I embarked on a twenty-year career as a churchorganist, choir director (vocal and handbell), andorgan recitalist. Since 2001 I have primarily focusedon writing and composition, and have been deeplyinvolved in LDS music in various music callings.

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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26 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Amen, Debbie. I would LOVE to see the Church broaden its music repertoire. I get pretty bored hearing the same songs, in the same dirge like pace, over and over again.

    I think you’re right that the “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns” phrase is meant to keep out more popular sorts of music. And this makes me sad.

    I feel so spiritually touched by certain spirituals and gospel music, and even some popular modern Christiany songs too. Every few months, I actually attend the United Church of Christ so that I can hear some awesome music. Some of it is sophisticated choral church stuff, and some are modern hymns/songs. They have actually moved me in ways I have never been moved by Sacrament Meeting music.

    I was recently really sad because our bishop nixed a musical number of a hymn – Amazing Grace – being sung with a guitar. I think that would have been so lovely, but I guess guitars are just too modern for S.M. A shame.

  2. Jungle Faced Jake says:

    ‘The classical repertoire is the music of genius. “Music of genius” implies that the composer was inspired by a higher power.’

    This seems to me to be incredibly culturally biased and based on unsupported assumptions.

    But I agree with you in a more general sense. The purpose of church music should be to bring the Spirit into the meeting more strongly, and a wide variety of music can do that. Of course, there are cultural prejudices regarding music that can obstruct that, and they should not be ignored, regardless of our opinion of them. While I really like jazz improvisations, I can see that some would not feel the spirit during that kind of thing in church. (One that removes the spirit for me: FT missionaries performing in English in non-English speaking countries.) Likewise, church music should not be a tool for widening people’s musical tastes and experiences.

    BTW, WTF is EFY music?

  3. Michelle says:

    I have been a ward organist in all of my wards on and off for many years since I left BYU. I have thought about these questions often as I have tried to select music for postlude and prelude.

    When I was young and had been playing the organ for only a short time, I played a Bach Prelude and Fugue for postlude. And young man, essentially my same age, who was clearing the sacrament came up to me and said, “This isn’t church music.”

    This was my first experience with this kind of thinking. And of course, the words of Elder Packer, repeated through Elder Bateman, really do reinforce this idea. In one stake where I played at stake conference, I was asked to use only the hymns for postlude and prelude. In another ward, I heard that the organist was asked to only play the hymns from the sacrament section of the hymnbook for prelude. (Talk about a narrow repertoire–I think I would have had to decline this request!)

    But, as Jake alludes to above, classical music played for an audience with no knowledge and familiarity with classical selections will probably not resonate with them. Is it partially our job to educate and broaden awareness? Yes, I think so to a small extent, but this is very hard to do in the prelude/postlude period. Additionally, it is our job to help contribute to main the purpose of the meeting–preparing for the sacrament, and as times those objectives are not mutually reinforcing.

    Part of the problem, with a lay ministry with volunteers for church work, is that most organists who play in the church do not have any training on the organ, but are converted pianists. The classical organ repertoire is unknown to them. Furthermore, even for someone like me with several years training, it takes a great deal of time to master a new classical piece. It is much simpler to pick up a collection of easy hymn adaptations (or as many do, just use the hymn book) to play postlude and prelude. Do you train organists in your stake? What kind of guidance do you give them? And do you have any specific recommendations for prelude and postlude?

    I can empathize to a degree with the concern about playing classical selections (too often). Familiarity with the texts of the hymns can help the prelude period to be a time of reflection before sacrament meeting starts (although I often wonder if anyone listens to anything that is played during prelude or postlude). I have tried to find interesting arrangements of hymns to use, especially for prelude. I was asked to play an organ solo a few weeks ago and found a magnificent arrangement of If You Could Hie to Kolob. It was my compromise between giving the audience something familiar that they could relate to and preforming something with some artistic merit.

    On a different topic, I was absolutely thrilled when a member of our ward who is professional musician played his french horn in church. It was a simple arrangment of A Poor Wayfaring Man, and it was beautiful and sublime. I have always thought that a brass quartet should be included in Easter worship, but have yet to see it happen.

  4. amelia says:

    actually, i think the handbook specifically states that brass instruments are inappropriate for sacrament. but i’m glad your ward looked past that, michelle.

    i often find myself longing for classical church music in mormon meetings. i’m not an organist; i’m a pianist. but i had the good fortune to be the organist in my singles ward for a couple of years. we have a beautiful pipe organ in that building. my favorite hymns to play were ‘a mighty fortress is our god’ (#68) and ‘o savior thou who wearest’ (#197). both by bach (or at least arranged by bach). i wish more of our music–not only prelude and postlude, but also hymns sung–were more musically interesting.

    unfortunately i think the vast majority of the people who come to church are probably unfamiliar with classical church music and familiarity is half of the battle. the other half is the fact that most of the musicians who play or conduct in the church are amateurs, and not always competent ones (thus the dirge-like pace caroline refers to). in my mind training musicians should be more of a priority, but not much is done in that regard. in fact, i’ve been told a lot of the new ward buildings are being equipped with organs that can play by themselves because there are so few organists being trained. a sad thing, in my opinion.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would venture to guess that the “in the spirit of the hymns” clause is interpreted widely. I would bet that in areas where there was a lot of ethnic diversity in the ward, there is a wider range of music. Since we are on the subject of music, I would like to see this in a sacrament meeting special number:

  6. Michelle says:

    There is a page of FAQ on the church’s web site about music, with large chunks of the handbook quoted. I’d always heard about the prohibition of brass instruments in sac meeting, but this is the exact wording:

    13. May brass instruments be used in sacrament meeting?
    “Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting” (“Music,” 289). “Careful selection and proper performance of music can greatly enhance the spirit of worship” (“Music,” 289).

    The phrase “most brass” suggests that there is some wiggle room. I think that depending of the circumstances (Christmas and Easter come to mind) and the performer, brass can be a jubilant and joyful part of worship. I certainly use the brass stops on the organ like trumpet during these times of the year.

  7. janeannechovy says:

    There is definitely a TON of wiggle room in the handbook, so basically it’s entirely up to your bishop (subject to the whims of the Stake Pres, who might have his own ideas that he wishes to impose, and your bishop’s degree of obeisance to said whims–our stake president operates under the misconception that a saxophone is a brass instrument!) what will be allowed in SacMtg. Don’t forget that a piano is technically a percussion instrument.

    Once when I was visiting NYC (where I used to live), the special musical number in SacMtg of the young singles ward was a trombone quartet playing an arrangement of Come, Come Ye Saints. All the players were Juilliard students, and it was awesome.

    I am a singer, and I also believe that the quality of music performed in church could use some improving. When I sing, I try to find challenging arrangements of nominally familiar songs (the Sabbath Song books, edited by Clayne Robison, are really good for this, as are a couple of the Oxford collections). I do think it’s possible to go overboard, though–it’s SacMtg, not a recital. I try to make sure it’s always more about the song and its message than about my performance of it.

  8. mraynes says:

    This is a subject that comes up frequently in my household. My husband is a classical pianist, pursuing a doctorate in orchestral conducting, and I originally went to university to become an opera singer. We are often asked to perform in church and have found that the furthest we can push the envelope is ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘O Divine Redeemer.’ And even these two pieces make people uncomfortable.

    I think Elder Packer’s talk on appropriate music has done a great disservice to the members of the church. This tradition of “appropriate” church music is symptomatic of other rhetoric we encounter, such as the “one true church”, and it severely limits the beauty we can find in other cultural or religious paradigms.

    We as Latter-Day Saints are not forced, not even asked, to look beyond our own horizons to find the Lord’s Spirit in unexpected places. If we only look for the Spirit in things we are comfortable with, we are missing some of the richest blessings from our Heavenly Parents.

    Music, and by extension the Church, should be a conduit to help us feel God’s love. I think any muic that does this should be appropriate.

  9. Ana says:

    I was sort of brought up to be a music snob – to eschew Mormon pop along with things like drums and guitars in church meetings. I still prefer a more classical sound in church, but I recognize it’s probably a cultural preference rather than a real sense of what’s right.

    While I can’t claim the extensive musical training some of you have, I have a little and I’ve been a choir director a couple of times. For music outside the LDS canon, I’ve been most successful when I’ve chosen familiar, religious works – “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” or selections from “Messiah,” for example.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Can someone recommend some classical church music resources (like books) for an intermediate level organist and pianist?
    I would really like to incorporate more classical music into the music I play at church, but I don’t exactly know where to go to find material that will be beautiful, uplifting, and won’t require a ton of practice.
    Thanks for any suggestions!
    Heidi

  11. Deborah Mayhew Zufall says:

    Answers to your questions

    Michelle, yes, as stake organist I do help other organists in my stake, especially with registration. Also, I established a church music blog where I post suggestions for music, among other things. I compose a great deal of the music I play, and have some of that published online so that other people can use it.

    Heidi, I find that there is a great deal of easy Baroque music—Bach, Handel, Telemann—that is for manuals only. You can find many quiet, worshipful preludes that are easy to play. I’ll publish a list of collections and publishers on my blog soon.

    Debbie
    http://www.churchmusic.sampasite.com/

  12. Dora says:

    One of the most memorable choir performances was when our director had us sing, “Go Tell It On the Mountain.” It was marvelous! He also did a lot of arranging to mix different songs together and/or bring the key down a notch to bette accomodate the singers in the choir.

    My currennt choir director has a PhD in music. She’s written some amazing pieces that we’ve been able to perform. She does have a few really gifted singers, but most of us are there more because we love to sing, as opposed to being very talented singers. A opposed to other churches where it’s an honor to sing in the choir.

  13. JC says:

    I’d like to apologize in advance for maybe getting a little off topic here, but this thread really resonated with me and I just had to chime in.

    I agree there’s lots of wiggle room in the Handbook. In a lifetime of playing music in Church I’ve also found that virtually every bishop and stake president thinks there isn’t. I know of one stake where everything but the hymns—exactly as printed in the book—were prohibited in any stake or ward meeting. Yet in another stake a more enlightened bishop welcomed one member’s arrangement of one of the sacrament hymns for piano and French horn (which some bishops would have banned without further consideration because brass instruments are “forbidden”). It was a huge hit, ward members loved it. So interpretations of what’s “appropriate” and what local leaders are willing to allow really are all over the map.

    If there are any constants in LDS music at local levels, they seem to be: (1) an ongoing decline in the number of members who can stumble through anything more than basic hymns on piano, particularly among the men; (2) fewer than six people per stake who know anything about the organ and aren’t just co-opted pianists, (3) local leadership reluctance to allow any Sacrament meeting music unfamiliar to them or outside their comfort zone; (4) almost total ignorance among local leadership of any church music (any church, any tradition, any music) outside the LDS hymnbook, and therefore (5) a prejudice against anything not originating in our hymnbook or a Deseret Book music rack as by definition not “in the spirit of the hymns” or capable of contributing to the spirit of the meeting. Of course there are always exceptions (as shown by this thread), but these are the general trends I’ve seen. I agree with Elder Packer that music for our services should be inspirational and “appropriate” and that Sacrament meetings should not be turned into secular concerts or recitals. But often it seems that local leaders, in their innocent lack of any musical training, try to implement this suggestion by simply defaulting to the hymns and a few familiar exceptions, and rule out everything else ipso facto.

    To make matters worse, I believe there was a recent First Presidency letter which discussed with disapproval a perceptibly growing pattern in Church meetings of members just not singing the hymns. I have noticed this as well, again, particularly among the men, especially in Priesthood meeting opening exercises, where the almost universal musical ignorance produces a standard repertoire of maybe half a dozen hymns repeated over and over each week—one verse only, to “get it out of the way”—and with very half-hearted singing at that.

    Brigham Young said “There is no music in hell” and “Our art must be the kind which edifies man, which takes into account his immortal nature, and which prepares us for heaven.” In the 19th Century the Church actually called missionaries to go to Europe and study art so they could return to paint the Salt Lake Temple murals. The Tabernacle Choir is world-famous. The Church sponsors musical events and training all the time. The Church has a tradition of music that should be valued and inspiring to new generations. Yet we have the First Presidency telling us too many members are not even bothering to sing the hymns in church anymore, and fewer and fewer Saints seem capable of doing anything more musical than turning on a CD or MP3 player. I think this shift among the general Church membership is largely responsible for a lot of what this thread talks about.

    I would enjoy hearing others’ thoughts in response, whether you agree or not, and if you do, why you think we’ve moved in this unfortunate direction.

  14. sarah k. says:

    What a great discussion. I have such a hard time with this subject, as an organist with a music degree. I have just moved out of a Provo ward where I could play anything I wanted, and everyone always loved it, to an Ohio ward where they seem to think that “in keeping with the spirit of the hymns” means ONLY hymns. I so strongly disagree, and I’m not one to let it go.

    While I am glad that there are church members out there that understand and love classical, baroque, etc, I am dishearteded that they seem to be only the ones with degrees in music, and the presiding authorities never seem to trust us to find beautiful, uplifting music. I just don’t see why it isn’t uplifting just because you’ve never heard it before.

    I have so much to say, but I will spare you. I do think I will link to this post, though. It’s such an important part of my identity, and I’m never going to sit back and settle for just hymns, especially when most of our hymns are borrowed from other traditions, yet we get in trouble if we use other hymns for musical numbers, even if the words are LDS-doctrinally correct.

    One more thing, I really take issue with the notion that some instruments have a less-worshipful sound. Any instrument can be played poorly, or loudly, or in a non-worshipful way. And I believe any instrument can be played in a worshipful way. The idea that just because it’s brass, it’s unacceptable is infuriating to me. I wish they could understand that at the top. I was in a BYU ward where, every so often there was a trombone quartet (and I would venture to say that the instigator was one of the participants in the Juilliard quartet mentioned above), and there was always a wonderful, spiritual sound and feeling. And if it were so bad, why the devil do they let the organs have the brass stops? Just because it’s traditional? Well, brass in church is traditional, too. And on a good organ, they sound close enough to the real thing. Argh!

    I’m sorry, am I ranting?

  15. Sue says:

    Oh, this is such a GIGANTIC peeve of mine. More than a peeve really, more like – it hurts my heart. There is so much music that is so spiritually uplifting that we are not allowed to utilize in our meetings because it wasn’t in vogue in the 1800s and that just seems insane. The spirit can only communicate through that one specific musical style?

    I love gospel music – the praise, the jubilance, the worship – but it isn’t allowed. I realize that some of it could be too rowdy, but there is so much that is wonderful. But we can’t have even an inkling of it.

    In our stake we are only permitted to sing or play hymns – for prelude, postlude, or musical numbers. No mormon pop, nothing. Just hymns and primary songs. We were even told not to use poppy sounding rythms or inflections when singing hymns for a musical number.

    Oh man, I need to move.

  16. Howard says:

    This is a very important topic. I know next to nothing about music but I was once a member of a large Christian church. They had overhead projectors even for simple lyrics and nearly everyone sang. The music ranged from worship to Christian rock. I ALWAYS felt the Spirit! It was a great experience.

    Mormons are still singing with their faces turned down into Hymn Books as they drag through four verses.

    What can be done?

  17. Shannon says:

    I have great appreciation for the Stake I live in. The Leadership has encouraged the youth musically by reaching them in ways that are actually effective. Rather than assigning a 17 year old boy to participate in a choir(something my boys, I have 5 of them, would laugh at), the pattern has been to discover THEIR interest, and go with that. We have had a lot of acoustic and classical guitar solos in Sacrament Meeting. At other activities,such as dances and Mutual parties, bands have been assembled to perform classic rock. Encouraging our youth in music has been achieved successfully in Holladay Utah.

  18. JKC says:

    I would love to have some gospel music in our meetings. I suppose it’s just the result of being (at least in the US) a mostly white, suburban, church, but we are woefully low on soul.

    On the other hand, I do appreciate the fact that the handbook keeps out the sentimental emotionally manipulative pulp music so popular among some church members.

    I sympathize with the idea of having more of the classical repertoire, but one of the costs associated with it is that it has more of a potential to turn special musical numbers into performer-centered performances instead of Christ-centered worship experiences. I was in a ward where one sister who was very proud the fact that her children were taking piano lessons would constantly petition the bishop for opportunities for her boys to showcase their talents. I have no problem with that, but Sacrament Meeting is for worship, not for showcasing. Her sons would pick beautiful, but completely secular music. It wasn’t worshipful.

    Having said that, though, I think it is possible to do it the right way, remaining or even increasing worshipfulness.

  19. LRC says:

    Sarah K –

    If you’re the organist in your ward, you could always just play something spiritual for prelude/postlude some time. Chances are, the ‘powers that be’ won’t stand up and turn the organ off in the middle of the song, and if they get a chance to hear some non-hymns that set a reverent and worshipful tone, they might start to soften their views (especially if others in the ward hear the music and comment positively on it – something very likely to happen, I suspect).

    If someone feels the need to speak to you about it after the meeting, you can always fall back on, “well, it was okay in my previous ward in Utah”, and if they continue to press, ask them to look in the CHI and read where it says ‘only hymns’.

  20. JC says:

    There’s never going to be consensus on this issue within the Church. Members who lack musical training (a description, not a pejorative) will tend to lean to the easier, less demanding simplicity of soft pop styles they’re familiar with. Potential issue there is that many will do so at the risk of confusing sentiment with inspiration, and most of that music has the depth, profundity and lasting quality of used bubble gum.

    On the other hand, trained LDS musicians often look with longing at the outstanding musical traditions of other churches like the Anglicans, and find real inspiration in the more rigorous classical repertoire, not the simplistic popular mush. Potential issue there is the suspicion amongst Church leaders (not completely unfounded) that such musicians may be more interested in showing off in Sacrament Meeting than in helping bring the Spirit in.

    Local leadership discretion also means there will never be uniformity in the Church on this either. The best that can be hoped for is an enlightened SP and bishop with some musical knowledge themselves and the ability to trust the musicians in their stake. For their part, those musicians must not only be trained in their discipline but sensitive enough to make good judgment calls as to inspirational content. Allowing for some variety in styles and instruments, but always with the goal of edification. And if they can educate and expand the members’ musical experience at the same time, so much the better.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “Local leadership discretion also means there will never be uniformity in the Church on this either. The best that can be hoped for is an enlightened SP and bishop with some musical knowledge themselves and the ability to trust the musicians in their stake. For their part, those musicians must not only be trained in their discipline but sensitive enough to make good judgment calls as to inspirational content. Allowing for some variety in styles and instruments, but always with the goal of edification. And if they can educate and expand the members’ musical experience at the same time, so much the better.”(qouted from JC’s post”)

    Well said and so entirely true. I am in a ward where the Bishop has nixed anything but church hymns in English for Sacrament meeting. He cites handbook language to support his decision.
    This has saddened me greatly as I had hoped in my calling to begin approaching some of the great sacred music in our, admittedly, western repertoire including Bach fugues. Much of this music would already be familiar to some church goers as they are often on holiday CDs. I am however heartened to hear about wards where there are more expansive interpretations of music suitable for sacrament meeting.

  22. Reuben Collins says:

    3 items:
    1. When I was about 10 years old and had been taking violin lessons for the past 5 years, my mother arranged for my non-member music teacher and I to perform a number together in sacrament meeting. During the sacrament hymn, my teacher (who was sitting on the stand near the organ) stood up and looked over the shoulder of the organist at the music and began playing along. He was a very skilled musician and it sounded beautiful, but the bishop stood up in the middle of the hymn and asked him to stop playing. It broke his heart…and i’ve been embarrassed of church music ever since. Handbook or no handbook, I can’t understand how an old man playing a violin could be a bad thing.
    2. Did anyone see the recent PBS special on the church? One of the clips showed an African American woman singing a gospel-sounding musical number in what appeared to be a sacrament meeting. I thought to myself, “I’ve never seen anything like that in a sacrament meeting. I’m surprised the bishop is allowing it. I want to go to THAT ward!”
    3. What if on special occasions, sacrament meeting was ended 3 minutes early, and everyone was STRONGLY encouraged to stay in their seats another 5 minutes to listen to a piece of music that wouldn’t be appropriate during a sacrament, but would be just fine AFTER a sacrament?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Reuben, your anecdote brought up an interesting point. I am reminded of the story of a member who hailed from an African nation who used to sing portions of her native hymns as part of her talks and testimony and then interpret them in English. Many members of her ward expressed the deep spirit they felt during these occassions. Sadly, she was expressly told by her Bishop to cease and desist as this was not “our”(LDS?) tradition.
    My personal opinion, as a faithful member and a musician, is that an understanding and incorporation of the diversity of musical traditions that exist, as our church expands through the zealous endeavours of our missionaries, will only enhance and deepen our worship experience. I am not however sure as to what there might be in handbook language to support such an approach.

  24. stacer says:

    My ward is pretty good about this. One way that I add those other styles of worshipful music to my life, though, is by listening to them as I get ready for church. For example, right now I’m listening to the Blind Boys of Alabama singing “You and Your Folks/23rd Psalm,” a very guitar-and-drum laden gospel song. The Blind Boys of Alabama are an amazing gospel group who have been around for 25 years or so. And then it’ll shuffle to an organ performance of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, then on to some Chopin, etc. I find it makes my Sunday mornings better, gets me excited to go to church, even if the music at church isn’t always the greatest.

  25. Ina says:

    Debbie,
    I don’t know if this is the place to ask, but I am the Primary Chorister in my Ward in Northern California. I want to use a piece you wrote called Jesus Is My Friend. It is so sweet and in keeping with the theme for this year. I’m downloading all the songs for the program and am hoping to see if you can provide me with an audio copy of the song so I can addit to the CD for the primary children.

  1. February 27, 2016

    […] Church Music – What Does “In Keeping With the Spirit of the Hymns” Really Mean? by Guest Debbie Mayhew Zufall […]

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