In Defense of Janice Kapp Perry

I have often heard or read conversations that go something like this:

Mormon 1*: I wish we didn’t have to confine ourselves to the green hymnbook in sacrament meeting, but at least we won’t have to hear anything by Janice Kapp Perry!
Mormon 2: Yeah, I hate Janice Kapp Perry!

In this post I will attempt to defend Sister Perry from these insulting and unfair attacks.

Now, I don’t claim to be a musical expert. I play a few instruments, but none especially well, and my singing range is limited. Except for BYU, I haven’t lived in the “Mormon corridor,” so I have mostly escaped exposure to the sacrament meeting pop ballad. I’m not familiar with most of JKPs extensive oeuvre, and I’m not even going to try to defend her slightly disturbing collaborations with Orin Hatch. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that she has gotten a bad rap. I will make three points:

1. She’s actually a talented song writer.
At least, in my opinion. I have myself directed two songs by JKP in sacrament meetings during the last year. You see, I’m the primary chorister, and those two songs were “A Child’s Prayer,” and “Army of Heleman.” People seem to forget that she has written several of the best of the recent primary songs. She also wrote “Love is Spoken Here,” (which is fancy without being showy), “I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ” (which works much better than you’d ever expect), and others including “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” and “I Love to See the Temple.” These are not hymns, but I did not find them inappropriate for worship service. The church leaders seem to agree, since her pieces have been included in several recent sessions of general conference. These are the JKP songs that are sung in our wards more than any others.

But even beyond her primary songs, my limited experience with her pieces is that they have excellent melodies, very nice piano arrangements, and singable words. It’s not J.S. Bach or Vaughn Williams, but it’s no mean feat either.

2. Over-the-top performances are not her fault
One concern that both church leaders and intellectual types seem to share is that musical performances in church should not over-emphasize the performer at the expense of the message. I entirely agree. But I don’t think that JKPs songs require, or necessarily even invite, such performances. For example, if someone chooses to sing “In the Hollow of Thy Hand” at a missionary farewell, I think they are singing it because of the message, not to show off. I don’t have any problem with that, and I see no reason why it should drive away “the spirit.” It’s quite possible for someone to go over-the-top playing a Bach postlude, too, but I don’t want to banish Bach from our church.

3. My personal tastes ≠ Eternal Truth
Like some of you, my personal tastes tend towards traditional high-church style hymns for worship service (e.g. “All Creatures of Our God and King”) or similar hymns from the Mormon tradition (“Redeemer of Israel”), preferably played nice and loud on a pipe organ. Outside of church my tastes range from Karen Carpenter to My Bloody Valentine. But I recognize that my tastes may differ from others, and I’m not willing to say that what I like or what I find spiritual should be what everybody likes or what everybody finds spiritual. Styles and tastes always change over time and space, and what one person finds beautiful and moving another person might find bland or even offensive. Saying that people who like JKP are somehow deficient just strikes me as snobbery. I am not arguing that nobody should ever criticize music—there are many hymns and primary songs that I find lacking because of their clumsy words or forgettable melodies. But JKP songs are not bad, they are actually very good examples of their style, that’s why people respond to them. Besides, what’s important in this context is not merely aesthetic standards, but finding things that work for the community.

In short, I think it’s unfair to Sister Perry that her name is used as a symbol for whatever we don’t like about middlebrow church culture. Maybe I’ll change my mind after listening to the Orin Hatch collaboration, but I doubt it.

[* Post was edited to remove reference to Mormon “intellectual snobs,” which touched a nerve I hadn’t intended to touch. Please know that I didn’t have anybody particular in mind. I consider myself as much of a pseudo-intellectual snob as anyone, and I intended the designation to be essentially toungue-in-cheek. ]

123 comments for “In Defense of Janice Kapp Perry

  1. Anonymous
    April 18, 2006 at 3:08 pm
  2. JKS
    April 18, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    There is a Janice Kapp Perry in the hymnbook (music only, apparently)- As Sisters in Zion. I really like the song.
    I spent a couple of my YW years in Utah in the mid 80’s. I sang way too many of her songs, way more than I would have liked. (I can’t stress this enough). But I think that she has quite a few very good songs. I didn’t realize so many good primary songs were by her.
    As a former, (and now again current) primary pianist, there are definitely song that are more enjoyable for me to play with the primary kids. “I’m Trying to be like Jesus” was one of my favorites when it was being sung a few years ago.
    My kids loved “A Child’s Prayer” that they learned last year. My son actually sang that one…….(quite a rare occurance).
    She definitely has contributed to church music in a positive way.
    I completely agree that just because some performances are really cheesy, doesn’t mean it is always the song’s fault.

  3. Camille
    April 18, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    It’s about time someone spoke up against the music snobs of the church. I agree that though her melodies are somewhat simplistic the message and spirit of her songs can be very powerful. As a child I sang in a childrens choir and we often sang her songs. I feel like she had a part in my developing testimony.

  4. Mike Parker
    April 18, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    In his last General Conference address, Neal A. Maxwell (I miss you, Elder Maxwell!) said:

    “In my Primary days, we sang “Give,” Said the Little Stream — certainly sweet and motivating but not exactly theologically drenched. Today’s children, as you know, sing the more spiritually focused I’m Trying to Be like Jesus.

    I don’t recall hearing that JKP song before — or perhaps it just didn’t have as much significance to me — but now I can’t sing it without crying. It’s a beautiful piece.

  5. Kevin Barney
    April 18, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    Wow, that prior thread garnered 209 comments!

  6. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    D’oh, I somehow missed Kaimi’s earlier post. I guess I’m not the bloggernacle all-seeing-eye after all. Oh well, I hope my post is not entirely redundant. At least not as redundant as those darn correlated manuals, or those preachers in Mosiah!

  7. April 18, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    My family once discovered that one of JKP’s songs “Mother Tell Me The Story” (I’m pretty sure) was a rip off of the verse from “It’s A Small World After All.” Seriously. Try it some time. It’s pretty freaky.

  8. Eric Russell
    April 18, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    The person who wrote the letter near the bottom of this link applauds.

  9. Tom
    April 18, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    Okay, we shouldn’t make fun of sis. Perry’s music anymore. We can still make fun of Michael McLean’s music, though, right? We need somebody.

  10. Mathew
    April 18, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Does one have to be a Mormon Intellectual Snob to dislike JKP? Can you just be a Mormon Snob? An Intellectual Snob? A Mormon Intellectual? My point is (1) you don’t have to be an intellectual to dislike JKP and (2) I dislike the tendency among Mormons to apply the term “intellectual” to those who are critical of some aspect of the church or things associated with the church. It strikes me as very inexact–even wildly inaccurate.

  11. April 18, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    Amen, Brother Johnson. The kids in my ward like singing the JKP stuff and do so enthusiastically and beautifully; that’s enough for me.

  12. Elisabeth
    April 18, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Mathew – the precise term is “so-called” intellectuals.

  13. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 5:36 pm

    I think I said all I needed to say on our last thread on this subject. Janice Kapp Perry doesn’t need defending, since plenty of people like her work. I do wish our music in Sacrament Meeting had more rigorous standards, but if it is uplifting, comforting or touching to someone, it’s done its job.

  14. Mathew
    April 18, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Actually I have less of a problem with “so-called intellectuals.” So-called intellectuals, as I understand it, add little to the discussion. In fact, my comment in number 10 might be exactly the kind of criticism that a so-called intellectual would make, which makes sense–I have sometimes applied the “so-called intellectual” to myself.

    I should have restrained myself as my #10 is the sort of comment that could easily result in a threadjack. On the other hand, Ed might consider editing his post so that the conversation occurs between two so-called snobs. I just don’t see where intellectualism fits into the equation.

  15. C Jones
    April 18, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    Ed- I’m probably not the only one who wasn’t around for that previous post and to who? whom? (where are the “so-called intellectuals” when I really need them?) this is a new topic.

  16. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Mathew, in using the terms “intellectual snobs” I was not being entirely serious. I kid the intellectual snobs because I love them. Anyway, I’m as much in danger of being a pseudo-intellectual snob as anyone. So I hope you don’t take it personally! Please go ahead and dislike JKP as much as you want, I just hope you don’t make fun of those who don’t share your opinion.

  17. April 18, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    Janice who?

  18. Nathan
    April 18, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    I sang a song in my mission that JKP created for the dedication of the Hong Kong Temple. It was similar to her other works with a chinese twist. More importantly I found the message more endearing than many of the songs I sang in the mission (I did quite a few numbers with other missionaries at zone conference, sacrament meetings, etc). Mormon pop? Perhaps, but the message was just as good as many in the hymnal.

    With that said, all my infant children have fallen asleep to “Love is Spoken Here”, “I Love to See the Temple”, and my all-time favorite, “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus”.

    If you ask me, Bach may have some good introspective-thinking melodies which is good, but JKP has better gospel messages in her music.

  19. Mathew
    April 18, 2006 at 6:21 pm


    Exactly my point. “Intellectual” is just a form of shorthand used to refer to someone whose criticism or discussion of the church (or church related things in this case) you don’t like. I believe that shorthand serves as a powerful tool for dismissing and marginalizing both ideas and people. Rather than engage a discussion on its own merits, we can simply lump it into the “intellectual” category and dispatch it to the dustbin. It’s a pretty effective means of control, but to me it seems the antithesis of what ought to be happening with a people who are aspiring to become gods. Also it bothers me that some of the people I admire most are looked on with suspicion because they are intellectuals.

    BTW, I don’t take what you write personally–I’m not an intellectual snob. I vote Democratic often enough to be mistaken for one though. Which is sad but true.

    As far as JKP goes–my tastes in music get mocked all the time, mostly by my wife. If JKP floats someone’s boat, they should listen to her to his/her heart’s content. As for me and my house, we will get the Led out.

  20. Erika Haglund
    April 18, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    You all must be joking. “It’s about time someone spoke up…”? Please. I heard people whining about intellectual music snobs in the hallways of my ward before I was old enough to be a musical snob or even know what that would entail. The intellectual/musical/literary snob is a typical Mormon bogeyman. There is speaking up agains snobbery aplenty, in fact I’d say there’s more complaining about snobs than there is actual snobbery going on in most Mormon wards. This sort of discussion goes right along with “faith-promoting rumor” as a Mormon archetype. Call it “fear-promoting” rumor. It has little purpose other than to promote contention, and allow ignorance and mediocrity to be worn as a badge of righteousness. When I see Ensign articles about horrible organists who have the gall to play Bach preludes in church, but none about teenage girls who get taught that if it tugs at your heartstrings and allows you to look spiritual by crying in church, then no amount of musical (or even doctrinal) absurdity should get in the way of singing and promoting music that is at best mediocre, I can’t say I fear any sort of snobbish takeover of the Mormon church, or some such dire consequence of not speaking out against those awful people who can’t see God in I-IV-V-I.

    By all means, listen to whatever you want, and if you sincerely like JKP, great. To me, she seems like more of a talented manipulator of tried-and-true formulae for tear-jerking, than a talented song-writer, and I find most of her music not just aesthetically, but spiritually desiccating. If you really think her work stands on its own, then maybe you should let your defense stand on its own, without an imaginary snob to be its punching bag. In any case, I seriously doubt that she has any need of it. There aren’t enough snobs in the world to make a dent in her career or reputation within the church. Plus, proud middlebrows are doing such a fine job of making anyone who feels the way I do about music unwelcome, pretty soon, I’m sure the Church will be entirely purged of snobs.

  21. Mark IV
    April 18, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    …Ensign articles about horrible organists who have the gall to play Bach preludes in church…

    Erika, I more or less agree with you, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an Ensign article like the one you describe. Perhaps that is also a bogeyman?

    Overall though, you’re right. I doubt very many people in my ward would mind if we sang barbershop harmonies for the sacrament hymn.

  22. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 7:35 pm

    Um, no, alas, Mark IV, there really was an article about music in church a few years ago (I think Merrill Bateman was the author) in which a meeting, somewhere in the wicked East, featured a Bach prelude. The music, it seemed, had loud passages which *required* members of the congregation to talk loudly so they could hear themselves over it. The presiding authority went over, interrupted the organist and asked him (or her? can’t remember) to play hymns instead. The organist complied, the Spirit came rushing back into the room, everyone remembered to whisper their should-have-taken-care-of-this-before-the-meeting-in-the-foyer conversations, and all was well.

    Erika, I hear there’s a pilot program of separate wards for music snobs in California :)

  23. Mark IV
    April 18, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    Well, I’ll be danged. Kristine, you are right, of course. From the Ensign, July 2001:

    The experience with the hymn at the concert reminds me of an earlier experience. Many years ago, while living in the East, I attended a stake conference that left an indelible impression with regard to the sacred role played by music in a Church setting. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the visiting authority. Fifteen minutes before the general session began, Elder Packer took his place on the stand along with the stake presidency. Many in the congregation had traveled 75 to 100 miles to attend and were engaged in conversation with friends from other wards and branches. Some were seated, while others were visiting with friends as they entered the chapel. The organist had chosen various Bach selections for the prelude and was absorbed in presenting a Bach concert. As the music crescendoed it forced the members visiting with each other to raise their voices. The louder the din, the more determined the organist, and the volume of voices and music rose higher and higher.

    Five minutes before the session was to begin, Elder Packer suddenly stood up and approached the podium. He asked the organist to stop. He asked the congregation to cease speaking and find their seats. He spoke clearly and firmly to the congregation, reminding them of their need to be reverent and prepare for the general session. He then turned toward the organ and told the organist that he had a special responsibility to bring the Spirit into the building and prepare the members for the meeting. Elder Packer continued, “This can be accomplished best by playing hymns.� He then suggested that hymns be a central part of the prelude for subsequent conferences in that stake.

  24. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    I’m not sure Bach is good for prelude, but can I just say? Oy. To Elder Packer. I hope that organist didn’t leave the church.

  25. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Yeah, if the Haglund girls agree on something, it’s best not to mess with us :)

    Fortunately, the two of us are usually good for at least three opinions on any given subject!

  26. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 8:19 pm


    I’m sorry you’ve had such a hard time with the hoi polloi. Fortunately for me, I haven’t experienced much of the whining you’re talking about. Maybe I’ve been in the pilot wards Kristine mentioned.

    I may have made an imaginary snob into my punching bag, although I didn’t intend this to be taken so seriously, since for most purposes I include myself in the category of intellectual snobs. But others are making Janice Kapp Perry, a real living breathing person, into their punching bag. As far as I can see, she has done nothing to deserve the personal attacks and vilification. I suppose she’ll get over it, but that doesn’t make it right.

    Tell me, do you hate all the primary songs, or just the JKP ones? Or is it only her non-primary songs you hate?

    Seriously, it’s likely that our tastes in music for worship services might not be all that different. I don’t want hymns to be replaced by JKP songs either, or worse, by pop songs. (As D. Fletcher has pointed out, JKP isn’t really pop.) But again, these are just my tastes and I don’t attribute a lot of cosmic significance to them.

  27. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Ed, I think people use Janice Kapp Perry’s name to stand in for a category, in much the same way you use the term “intellectual music snob.” It’s not her personally that anyone dislikes, or even her music–but she was the first to really popularize the almost-popsy-but-just-barely-this-side-of-the-Sacrament-Meeting-line style, and she’s had lots of imitators. And, let’s face it: she has churned out an astonishing amount of music and so-called music, so her stuff is ubiquitous enough that everyone knows several of her pieces and can have some concept of what you mean if you say “JKP-style music”. I also think that she has contributed to the fact of her own visibility (and thus her punching bag targethood) by clever and aggressive marketing. (I refrain, with difficulty, from comment on what I think about being on the church music committee while making one’s livelihood from Ward Budget money by writing songs for every Mormon cultural musical occasion). Nonetheless, I do think we ought to be careful to say “JKP-style music” rather than just JKP, on those rare occasions when we need to say something snotty about the Mormon semi-pop genre.

    And, while Erika’s perfectly capable of defending herself (having been well-trained by being beaten up by me as she was growing up!) I’ll just note that the “do you hate all Primary songs” bit is a little over-the-top.

  28. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    Kristine, I was entirely serious about the question about primary songs. In my judgement, the JKP selections are clearly a cut above most of the other newer primary songs. Therefore it’s hard for me to understand how someone could vociferously hate JKP and still like primary songs. I know you’re something of an expert in primary songs, so I’d be interested in what you have to say.

    And tell me more about the evil JKP marketing machine…perhaps my distance from Utah has sheltered me from this malign force. BTW, I don’t much agree with the idea of criticizing something good just because it spawned a lot of mediocre imitations. If people were to criticize “mediocre JKP imitations” instead of just “JKP,” I’d have no problem with that.

  29. April 18, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve not been a fan of some of JKP’s Young Women songs, mostly because they require a range that I don’t think very many people have– they go down to something like the G below middle C and up to something like the E above the C above middle C. But I love the Primary songs, and they are really great songs. My aunt, who is Catholic, arranged to have my sister and niece sing “A Child’s Prayer” at my cousin’s First Communion mass after hearing it on a CD my mom gave her.

  30. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Ed, I do have a lot to say about JKPs Primary songs. However, I’m loathe to engage in specific, public criticism. Perhaps it will suffice to say that I’m not criticizing the original because the imitations are bad. I’ll also say that many of her songs are quite catchy, and children like singing them. That’s worth something. And partner songs are not a bad first introduction to part singing, but I wish we followed up with more and better music. I think we could do worse than going back to the days when Handel, Mendelssohn, and Haydn were well-represented in our Primary songbooks. But it may be that the broader musical culture that made that possible is gone and it can’t be sustained as an anomalous feature of Mormon culture.

    As for marketing, I don’t live in Utah either (never have), but you don’t have to look very hard to find lots of JKP in a Deseret Book catalog. And there are, um, synergies, when one has one’s songs on every other page of the Primary book…

  31. Julie M. Smith
    April 18, 2006 at 9:23 pm

    KHH writes, “And there are, um, synergies, when one has one’s songs on every other page of the Primary book… ”

    This is interesting to compare with what ends up in the manuals which is, of course, anonymous. Probably a good thing, since otherwise it would give, say, Brother Jones, the author of SS Lesson #24, tremendous prestige (and, of course, marketability) to have his name in every SS manual. But the hymns and children’s songs come with names attached. Interesting that we are OK with anonymous lessons but not anonymous songs. . .

  32. Jeremy
    April 18, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    As the bloggernacle’s lurking music-snob-by-trade, I suppose I must speak for the snobs, since I devoted seven years of my life to earning a PhD in music snobbery. On the other hand, I’ve also spent the last two years in primary callings, one of them as primary chorister. So, I feel I’ve got a fairly well-triangulated perspective on this topic.

    First, there’s a distinction to be made here between primary songs and sacrament meeting pop. The former are melodically straightforward, easy to learn, and appealing, because they are designed to teach children gospel principles. The latter are similarly easy and appealing, but too often because they address the gospel in a simplistic way. So Ed, when you say you like “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” or “I Love to See the Temple,” I’m with you all the way. I like those songs–the contours of the lines, the harmonies, the text declamation. I like teaching them. I love hearing my three small children sing them (especially the 2-year-old). And, though it might make fellow “snobs” cringe and result in revocation of my musicologist’s license, I will say without apology that I am an absolute sucker for the ones where first verse is melody, second verse is countermelody, then you sing them together. (“A Child’s Prayer,” “Love is Spoken Here.”) But when you defend “In the Hollow of Thy Hand,” I must object. In a children’s song, sugary simplicity is endearing and innocent and often sublime. In a song for grownups its treacly and cloying. (And, in the particular case of “Hollow of Thy Hand,” it promotes a kind of evangelical-style familiality, not to mention a kind of missionary-worship, that has always given me the creeps — especially when I was a missionary.)

    Another point: I don’t have a problem with Mormon pop as entertainment. In fact, there are a few Mormon pop songs that I’ve come across that I like pretty well (usually for the pop part, not for the way they convey their Mormon content). But I don’t think it should be considered a “devotional act” on par with hymn singing or music used in a worship service. Mormon pop often draws on musical devices that have the effect of diminishing reflection and introspection, rather than increasing them. It’s entertainment that tries to pass itself of as ennobling. In some cases, the compositional styles used in Mormon pop convey a kind of cultural self-satisfaction that I find distasteful and incongruous with the ostensible message of the lyrics.

    So… I like JKP too. I like her primary songs. And I like some of her other songs. But for what they are. I love singing them in primary. And I love hearing primary kids (and, occasionally, others) sing them in sacrament meeting. And if my mom wants to listen to Mormon pop while she does the dishes, fine (unless it’s Orrin!). I might even sneak a listen every once in a while, like a closet tippler. But I don’t find Mormon pop ennobling or enlightening or reflection-inducing in the way that I think sacrament meeting fare should be.

  33. April 18, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    Hey, I just shelled out for a Kenneth Cope concert on May 12 at the Plano Stake Center for my wife and I.

    Is this a warning that I made a mistake? ;)

  34. Julie M. Smith
    April 18, 2006 at 9:30 pm

    “The former are melodically straightforward, easy to learn, and appealing, because they are designed to teach children gospel principles. The latter are similarly easy and appealing, but too often because they address the gospel in a simplistic way.”

    That’s it! Thank you for articulating that.

  35. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    The article by Elder Bateman is actually quite interesting, as I believe it illuminates clearly the source of disagreement.

    Packer and Batemen like church to feature music that makes them feel “the spirit.” For them this means music that they have come to associate with church. To quote Bateman:

    But the classical experience is qualitatively different than listening to one of my favorite hymns. The difference may be due partially to familiarity, it may be the poetic message of the hymn, it may be that the music and words open the door for Spirit to speak to spirit.*

    Now, for whatever reason, Packer and Bateman do not associate Bach organ works with church. Perhaps this is a failure of education—after all, Bach’s works were originally written to be played churches, and have for centuries been used to glorify God. Perhaps Packer and Bateman require religious-themed lyrics that they can sing along with in their heads in order to feel the music is spiritual. Whatever the reason, there are probably many many people who, like Packer and Bateman, do not have a “spiritual” reaction to these unfamiliar works.

    Perhaps the answer is to educate them, by playing more Bach and patiently explaining that it is actually church music. Or perhaps the answer is just not to play Bach at sacrament meeting. It’s not obvious to me that the former is the better solution, given that the main goal of the church is something other than cultural education. Or perhaps it would be best to leave it up to local congregations.

    *(Oddly, while Bateman admits that the effect may be due to familiarity, locating the cause within himself, he also talks about “feeling the spirit enter the room,” locating the cause outside of himself.)

  36. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    I mentioned something similar on the other thread; some people have expressed delight when the Tab Choir sings Primary Songs, but I feel dismay. Don’t we have adult music for the Choir to do instead? I guess not.

  37. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks, Jeremy. Ed, listen to him; he actually knows what he’s talking about. And I agree with him, mostly, though I enjoy the JKP songs less, as a matter of personal taste. My biggest objection to them is the one Jeremy was getting at–that we don’t make any distinction between them and other kinds of music, that we act as though it’s perfectly OK (even somehow virtuous) to be satisfied with those songs as devotional music well into adulthood and for all occasions. My second-biggest objection is related: they don’t teach kids anything musically or challenge them. Even as a kid, I could tell I was being musically stretched a little by, say “The Priesthood is Restored,” or “Baptism” with its slightly unusual chord progressions. JKP’s songs are and remain utterly predictable and undemanding, and I think it’s not too strong to say that feeding our children a steady diet of them is sinful. As long as we proclaim that “the glory of God is intelligence,” we are failing our children if we don’t do our very best to educate their musical intelligence as we do all of their other capabilities. If, as adults, we remain satisfied with aesthetic mediocrity, we are starving our spirits and ought to be ashamed.

  38. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    I don’t know if I dare post this here — very long speech given by me at Sunstone Symposium, 1995. Feel free to remove it, moderators.

    David Fletcher Paper for SUNSTONE — August 11, 1995

    I wanted to use this song (St. Ita’s Vision, by Samuel Barber) to give you an example of a possible performance in Sacrament meeting. Do you think it works, as communion? A friend of mine sang this several months ago in a ward back in New York. She received some harsh criticism from her bishop, but not for the Catholicism of the text. He didn’t like the word “breast.� I guess it alluded to something that made this particular bishop uncomfortable.
    This panel concerns the use of music in the church, specifically how music is used in Sacrament Meeting. I’d like to present some theoretical possibilities for the evolution of LDS music, as well as some practical applications of the theories. There are going to be a lot of opinions here; mine is only one; so, please understand at the start, I am not calling for the ultimate correction of the current tradition but perhaps the encouragement of a reevaluation. I’d like to quote freely and read liberally from two sources, “The Emblems of Mind,� by Edward Rothstein, and an article from the New York Times entitled “Facing Up, Finally, to Bach’s Dark Vision,� by Dr. Richard Taruskin.
    Today, music is ubiquitous, utterly entangled in our daily lives. Never before have so many different kinds of music been heard by so many people so often. It is unavoidable. Music bombards our ears in advertising jingles, popular hits, round-the-clock music stations. It spills out of concealed speakers in elevators and on trains, in airports and in shopping malls.
    So we cannot complain that our sense of music is thwarted by inadequate exposure. All kinds of music flow together today in an uncharted stream, currents hardly demarcated by goals or methods, swirling into a vast, undifferentiated pool. Notions of beauty and truth and knowledge dissolve into assertions of taste, social function, preference, and habit. There is, of course, a venerable tradition in which music is thought of as little more than pleasurable sensation; at the end of the twentieth century, that is generally all most people require of it.
    This pleasure is often rooted in the listener’s sense of “identification� with the music: feeling that Bruce Springsteen, say, or Hector Berlioz understands and precisely expresses the listener’s inner, unarticulated (but deeply felt) sentiments. For many people, music is most successful when it mirrors the listener’s state of mind, or when it manages convincingly to create one. The composer, in this view, tries to express in music emotions such as sadness and anger and happiness and fear; we in turn imagine we feel these sentiments when the music is played.
    But does music really represent feelings in this way, either by reflecting our own or by expressing the composers’? Is it emotion we feel when we listen—anger or sadness or envy or desire? When music brings tears to our eyes, is it because it makes us sad? Some music unquestionably does stir or inspire us; that is the purpose, after all, of national anthems and masses and even some folk songs. Some music also prompts unexpected emotion and thought. But this view of music is too limited. The Indian raga serves the function of neither pleasure nor expression, nor does most of the great music of our Western tradition—even the Romantic music that claims to be fundamentally self-expressive. Our task is to probe more deeply, to try to understand music’s methods and power while acknowledging that notions of identification and self-expression are inadequate.1
    Music may not be expressive in and of itself, but it is used as the great “intensifier� of expressive ideas. It does seem to have a certain power to open the senses, to block analysis, to calm, and to excite. Used with text, it can have political, sensual, and deeply religious significance. Music has always been used in the Mother Church to magnify communion. That is, music with text and sung by human voices has been used. Music without text was seen as severely secular and perhaps sinful in its sensuality; it was not approved for use in the Church for 1200 years. You may not know that our Church forbad any pure instrumental music until this century (this is from Michael Hick’s book). Though we do have instrumental numbers now, we are still in a period of censorship, maybe not of precise styles of music presentation but certainly instruments such as brass. What’s innately sinful about about brass instruments?
    I believe that the Church does not understand the true nature of music, that music is passive at best and purely UNexpressive at worst. The Church does understand however that music intensifies emotions that have bubbled previously. The Church will simplify music’s power into two crude axioms: If you are feeling worshipful, the proper music will serve to translate you. However, if you are prone to sin, some good loud brass music might just light your fire. I have found an interesting example.
    In 1991, Teldec produced a set of CDs containing recordings of all Bach’s cantatas, 200 of them. It took 18 years to record them all (13 years longer than it took to write them). Dr. Taruskin found the project essentially unreviewable, partly because of its volume and partly because of the “traditional instruments� approach to the performances, which he characterized as “clipped non-legato articulations, rhythmic alterations, dynamic bulges, brusquely punctuated recitatives, the green and sickly sounding boy soprano soloists, and above all the recalcitrant, sometimes ill-tuned “original instruments.� You’ll remember that Bach was the great champion of equal temperment tunings, and before and during his time we had instruments tuned all different ways, with often difficult tune clashes between different instruments, particularly as they modulated into different keys.
    Bach, of course, lived in the early part of the Eighteenth Century, historically referred to as The Enlightenment. The Enlightened, secularized view of Bach is the one advanced by most modern scholarship. The New Grove Dictionary of Music pays lip service to the composer’s “unfailing expressive profundity,� but the whole question of expression is assimilated to innocuous notions of beautiful form, as if to lure attention away from rhetoric and imagery and onto “the music itself.�2
    According to such a taste, all music stands or falls as dintinguished entertainment. “I don’t mind so much if a performance is unhistorical,� Roger Norrington told a reporter the previous summer, attempting to fumble through a question on authenticity, “but I do mind if it isn’t fun.�
    Dr. Taruskin pointed out in his article how utterly irrelevant this whole esthetic is to the Johann Bach of the cantatas. Out of the 200 existing cantatas, only about a half dozen are known to the modern concertgoing public. The remainder are nearly impossible to perform, but more to the point, impossible to enjoy.
    Anyone exposed to Bach’s full range (as now, thanks to these Teldec records, we can all be) knows that the hearty, genial, lyrical Bach of the concert hall is not the essential Bach. The essential Bach was an avatar of a pre-Enlightened temper. His music was a medium of truth, not beauty. And the truth he served was bitter. His works, these Cantatas, reveal to us that the world is filth and terror. He presented his revelations in the form of music, perhaps the ugliest ever composed on this profound a scale.
    The sounds Bach combined in church were anything but agreeable, for his purpose there was never just to please. When his sounds were agreeable, it was only to point out an escape from worldly woe in heavenly submission. Just as often his aim was to torture the ear as our daily lives torture us. When the world was his subject, he wrote music that for sheer deliberate ugliness has never been equalled, as Bach was perhaps the greatest intellectual humankind has produced. Such music cannot be prettified in performance, hence the fascinating but impossible set of Teldec recordings.
    For with Bach, —the essential Bach—there is no “music itself.� His concept of music derived from the Word, and in Bach’s case, the word was Luther’s.
    A young conductor named Carl Zelter wrote to Goethe in 1827 (somewhat after the Enlightenment) to complain about some of Bach’s music, which had recently been revived by Mendelsohn, stating that Bach’s music was a means “toward awe of the Truth,� but there was an obstacle: “the altogether contemptible German church texts, which suffer from the earnest polemic of the Reformation.�
    Luther’s God was a fearsome, punitive and vociferous God. Bach understood this characterization and represented it in the music, at once magnificent and unlistenable. The one hymn in our hymnbook by Luther, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God� conveys a small portion of this early Protestant sensibility.
    How can we characterize the Mormon God, and what kind of music would represent him? Without diminishing his power and authority, is our God a wise and friendly esthete who communes with His children through being the inspiration of their creativity? Is our God simply a lover of beautiful and reverent sounds produced by any instrument or voice without offensive or otherwise critical texts or perhaps, without any text at all? Does any and all beautiful music ennoble humanity and by so doing personify the voice of God, the Mormon?
    I don’t think so.
    As we have discussed, music is rarely truly expressive, and it is rarer still that is express any emotion without the use of text. Bach being the tremendous intellectual he was was able to perfectly illustrate in colors of sound Luther’s polemic. Other composers since, including such worthy and noted ones as Beethoven and Brahms, have fallen far short of the master’s theological understanding. Also recognize that the God who knew Beethoven was a far more benign being, having been fairly emasculated by the Enlightenment. These men were hardly of a religious order, and their artistic credo—one shared by every composer since—of achieving ever more glorious and sublime combinations of sounds for the pleasure and excitation of their listeners, would insist on characterizing them as sensuous, perhaps the extreme opposite of spiritual.
    I believe that much “classical music� as it is so ill-defined, but meaning, thoroughly composed music in the Western tradition, is unquestionably inappropriate for our modern Sacrament Meetings. I did not say ALL classical music, nor would I ever advocate any kind of censorship. I would like to see music given some emphasis in our learning sessions (particularly Family Home Evening) as a tool for expressing one’s personal witness of God or communion. I would like to see serious care taken with the choosing of such music, and its presentation given with textual clarity and humility.
    Two things to keep in mind when choosing music to perform for communion: context, and content. The first is easier to define. We have been told that the Hymns of the Church, having been dipped in lacquer by the pervasiveness of the Correlation Committee, are “Always appropriate.� How about performing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem� on the 24th of July? This hymn has a natural context as a Christmas song, and it probably would not invoke Communion any other time of the year. I might be wrong about this, perhaps it would be thoroughly delightful on Labor Day, but I think you understand “context.� Here’s a more oblique example: I think “The Star Spangled Banner� is pretty inappropriate for church any time. It’s context is purely political propoganda, and we associate it mostly with ballgames. It does not ennoble humanity nor bless its composer. It does not invoke the spirit.
    Now to content, a much more difficult area. If a piano piece is to be played, what is its content? What does a simple and sublime Mazurka by Chopin mean other than the pure aural genius of its author? Without text, all instrumental pieces suffer from content invisibility. They may be beautiful, but without spiritual connection (clarified by their author or performer), I believe they will take you away from your desired emotion, that of total supplication. I believe the careful performer must either choose pieces with traditionally defined content (read: spiritual text) or must supply it from their own testimony.
    Here’s the scary adjunct: Pieces may be found with the right context and content regardless of the style of the composition. We (collectively) are not Bach or Luther, and our God is not theirs; we witness our personal relationship with God, both in our deeds and words; why not in our music? Perhaps the voice of my strong and wise God is personified in the music of, Franz Schubert, and the voice of your loving and wise God is personified in the songs of, Janice Kapp Perry. Pop music is hard for me to appreciate in Church, because I associate it with the extreme sensuality of the airwaves, but I will not excoriate it if properly and reverently explicated. It moves many.
    Any music which intensifies faith and motivates good works cannot go unheralded. Any music which is presented as the abundant testimony of its performer or author, given in perfect humility, must be heard and responded to. Likewise, any music performed for its sheer aural ravishingness or complexity which can be shown off only by the supreme technical expertise of its performer, should be discouraged in our worship services. Sacrament Meeting is not a recital.
    I would hope that we could educate our various stylistic denizens, whether you are a classical snob or aging Deadhead that music is only a vessel, a ship carrying the voice of God to heaven and back. My final quote is from Johann Bach, responding to criticism of his sons as to his old-fashioned style of music (that is, Baroque), he said:

    “I don’t care if the music is old or new, as long as it is true.�

  39. Becky
    April 18, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    Let me first say that I think some of JKP songs are decent, mainly her primary songs. However, I have a problem with many of her other songs, particularly the ones that I sang in young women.

    I don’t think she thinks though the composition of many of her pieces. They are frought with tecnical problems. For instance, many of her songs are constantly changing the time signiture they key sigiture. This makes some of her compositions very awkward. Many times the ranges in her melodies are very extreme. They go very high and very low. Because of this her songs are often very hard to learn especially for those who have limited musical training. Accompanying and singing her songs can be a struggle because of her sloppy composition.

    Another complain I have about her music is that many of her songs tend to sound the same. If you have heard one JKP song, you have heard five of six of them. JKP is not without talent, but she would be much better if she would have made a serious study of composition.

  40. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    Interesting comment, Jeremy. A couple of questions:

    1. What do you think about the green hymnbook? It seems to me that much of it also falls short of what you would want from sacrament meeting fare.

    2. If you don’t find Mormon pop (or JKP) ennobling or enlightening or reflection-inducing, do you think it’s possible that others might find it to be so? If they do, do you object?

    3. What on earth would be musicologically incorrect about the melody-countermelody-together pattern? I mean, they’re just songs. Is there some musical norm that says you can’t do that in a song?

  41. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 9:50 pm

    My particular most hated big Mormon number is “His Hands.” Yecch. I hope He washed them.

  42. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Ed, you write that ” the main goal of the church is something other than cultural education.” And who would disagree? But until quite recently in our history, it was taken as a given that cultural education was, at least, a significant secondary goal, and something very closely related to the main goals of salvation and exaltation. Part of what distinguished (and hopefully still distinguishes) Mormonism from other sects is its insistence that there is no distinction between spiritual and temporal commandments, that spirit and matter are inseparably connected, and that therefore what we do with our human voices, ears, and brains is intimately and inseparably bound up with what our spirits are becoming. Brigham Young called missionaries to teach people to read music; learning to read and appreciate great literature and art and music were (until the spasm of correlation in the 60s) regarded as appropriate topics for Relief Society and Elders’ Quorum meetings; the Mormon Tabernacle choir used to regularly perform and record the great (Western) choral literature as well as hymn arrangements. I think I understand the motivations behind the pruning back of this part of church instruction, and the push towards finding what is absolutely essential to the core mission of the church. But I don’t believe that we have relinquished the high modernist project of “perfecting the Saints” in favor of a post-modern ethic that says, as you do, “styles and tastes always change over time and space, and what one person finds beautiful and moving another person might find bland or even offensive,” or that we should therefore give up the attempt to define and achieve aesthetic excellence. In short, I believe that our musical tastes, like all of our desires, are to be controlled and cultivated and trained, and that remaining content with what is easy to know and like is, in the end, not consonant with God’s “main goal” for His children.

  43. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 18, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    One last thing, and then I’ll get off the soapbox, I promise. One thing that’s really striking to me in these perennial discussions is how differently people respond when the discussion is focused on music and not, say, reading. I think most people would be perfectly comfortable saying to their teenager “yes, I know you like reading Jack Weyland novels and the Nephites in Tennis Shoes series, and it’s fine if you do that sometimes for entertainment, but NO, the time you spend reading them cannot be counted towards your scripture-reading goals, no matter how uplifting or spiritually enlightening they may be.” And, for themselves, most people would recognize a weakness for Shirley Sealy novels as, well, a weakness–maybe to be occasionally indulged, but generally to be militated against, and forcefully ameliorated by a program of trying to read more Penguin Classics or plowing through the Norton anthology or spending more time reading scriptures or whatever. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to translate this thinking into musical terms.

  44. meems
    April 18, 2006 at 10:39 pm

    I love JKP’s primary songs. I admit I’m not familiar with her other songs. If I’ve heard them in Sacrament meeting, I’m unaware of it, but anytime we get a musical number in Sacrament to break up the talks, it’s a welcome respite for me. In the meantime, I’ll feel free to criticize her mediocre sappy stuff, when I can write something of higher quality that’s spiritually uplifting for the congregation. (That’s me being kind of stuffy.)

  45. Jeremy
    April 18, 2006 at 10:55 pm


    I’ll respond to your questions (#40) by number.

    1. I like lots of hymns in the green book. I like hymns in general. There’s something about the craftsmanship of 4-part harmony writing that seems to me devotional on a fundamental level–there are profound metaphors, intuitively discerned, in the motion between dissonance and resolution and the coordination of the various voices’ motions. There are lots and lots of hymns that have good part writing. “Lead Kindly Light,” “They Spirit Lord Has Stirred Our Souls,” “Be Still My Soul” (which takes its melody from Jean Sibelius’s orchestral work “Finlandia”), three of my particular favorites, all employ carefully crafted part-writing to complement the devotional, reflective, and penitent messages in their texts. Likewise, the hymns I personally find most lacking are the ones with the least interesting part-writing. “Count Your Many Blessings,” for example: the poor bass’s (musical) blessings are few indeed, as he mostly jumps between two notes like an 18th-century kettledrummer, while the upper voices are so spastic, I half expect to hear a splash cymbal after the last note :Da da da da da da da da DUH DUH DUM! {PWISH!}. The green edition did a nice job of refining some of these hymns. “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” for example, used to have a chipper little tune that hardly lent itself to W.W. Phelps’s cosmic ruminations. By setting the text to Ralph Vaughn Williams’s haunting 4-part arrangement of the tune “Kingsfold” (if I call correctly), it lent it a much deeper sense of wonder. There are some hymns that eschew traditional 4-part writing in favor of a more “soft-pop” sort of style, and these sometimes seem to work and sometimes not. “Families Can Be Together Forever,” for example, has a nice enough melody and some interesting chords, but the melodic contour puts unusual emphases on non-empasized words and syllables (_I_ have a family _here_ on earth… _I_ want to share my life with them… marry in the temple _FOR_ eternity…),the shape of the melody just doesn’t seem to lend itself to unison congregational singing, and the accompaniment sounds clunky on an organ. Better with piano in primary or with a soloist.

    2. People find inspiration in all sorts of places. I don’t mind Mormon pop as a “gateway drug,” I suppose, but I fear that exclusive exposure could put one in danger of musical and mental atrophy. Once, when I was a zone leader helping a new missionary settle into his first apartment, I tactfully mentioned that the mission president had a pretty strict policy about music, and that if he chose to be compliant with the policy he’d have to send home his shoebox full of Mormon pop. Exasperated, he pulled out a Lex D’Azevedo tape and showed it to me and said, “I got my testimony listening to this tape!” (“Testimony of what?” I thought to myself, “Deseret Book?”). He simply couldn’t extricate his testimony of the gospel (which I don’t doubt he had in some measure) from the overhwhelmingly comfortable warm-fuzzies he felt when he listened to that music. What he didn’t realize was that the warm fuzzies in the music relied on tried-and-true emotional buttons–the song about missionary work that so moved him could just as easily have had lyrics about puppies and kitties, or could have been the soundtrack to a foggy-lens commercial for life insurance. Incidentally, I can’t extricate that conversation with him from my impression of him as a missionary: he struggled mightily to make the transition from pampered upper-middle-class seminary-goer to sweaty tracting missionary. At one point, he took me aside and said “Elder, do you LIKE being a missionary?” “I love it,” I responded. “But…,” he asked, “…how can you LIKE something that’s HARD?” At some point, simplistic music, like simplistic platitudes, become empty calories.

    3. I was self-caricaturizing when I imagined a violent response to my appreciation of the a, b, a+b song structure. The complaint some “music snobs” _might_ have is that such songs can be a little formulaic. You start to recognize certain melodic allowances, so that when you hear the first verse, you think “I bet this is going to be one of those first verse – second verse-both verses together songs!” I still love em, though–when they’re done well.

  46. Ed Johnson
    April 18, 2006 at 11:04 pm

    Well, I’ve managed to draw out several people who hopelessly outclass my in my musical expertise. And you all make some good points. But I can’t help notice that you disagree with each other a lot too: Jeremy loves the JKP primary songs, Kristine not so much. Erika can’t see God in I-IV-V, while D. Fletcher tends to use it almost exclusively in his sacred music. I guess even when you know a lot, some aesthetic judgements remain a matter of taste.

    One thing I don’t understand is the complaint that we “don’t make a distinction” between JKP and other types of music. I’ve never been in a ward anywhere, or even heard of one, that used JKP or similar in place of the congregational hymns. Have you? JKP shows up in the primary songs, and possibly occasionally in the musical numbers, that’s all. Sounds like a distinction to me.

    I guess my biggest complaint is that JKP seems to be so often villified, when the songs by her that are by far the best known and most sung (the primary songs) are at least ok, and possibly even quite good, depending on your tastes.

  47. D. Fletcher
    April 18, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    Welcome to Times and Seasons, Ed.


  48. April 18, 2006 at 11:18 pm

    Ed, I’m still trying to figure out how not liking JKP’s music amounts to vilifying her.

    As for the differences between D, Erika, Kristine, etc.: I bet that if you took a bunch of people who know music as well as Jeremy or Kristine or D and asked each, independently, to listen to JKP’s music, or any other, they would come to similiar conclusions about it. In other words, there is good reason to believe that there is some objectivity to such judgments.

    However, they might disagree about what they like, as you’ve pointed out those three do. But “Good music” isn’t necessarily the same as “what I like” just as “good art” isn’t necessarily “art I like,” “good books” isn’t the same category as “books I like,” and so on. The fact that tastes differ doesn’t show that there is no standard for good–unless taste is the only arbiter of what is good.

  49. Jeremy
    April 18, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    But “Good music� isn’t necessarily the same as “what I like� just as “good art� isn’t necessarily “art I like,� “good books� isn’t the same category as “books I like,� and so on.

    Excellent observation, Jim. As ashamed as I am (or should be) to admit it, the playlist on my iPod that most frequently finds its way into my ears contains a bunch of pop downloads from iTunes, while gigabyte after gigabyte of Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, etc. etc., languishes for months at a stretch.

    Reminds me of an embarrassing moment. I was in New York City, on my way to meet an important person whom I wanted to impress, and with whom I had been exchanging email correspondence for some time. On the subway from the airport, I had been listening to some Very Important Music. Namely, Bartok piano concertos. Heady, challenging stuff. When I finally met this person, the conversation turned early on to family, and he asked if I had pictures of my children. Yes, on my iPod, I replied. I realized that, the way we were seated, he would see the screen of the iPod when I pulled it out of my bag, and would thus see the last thing I had been listening to. I quickly thought back to what I’d been playing earlier, and indulged in a moment of self-satisfaction, anticipating how impressed he’d be when he saw that my recreational music of choice was _Bartok_. I turned on the iPod, and remembered, with a cringe, that after about 30 minutes of crunchy modernist dissonance, I’d opted for lighter fare. It was too late. He had already glanced at the screen and read “Sixpence None The Richer, ‘There She Goes.'” So much for my music snob cred.

  50. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 18, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    As long as we proclaim that “the glory of God is intelligence,� we are failing our children if we don’t do our very best to educate their musical intelligence as we do all of their other capabilities. If, as adults, we remain satisfied with aesthetic mediocrity, we are starving our spirits and ought to be ashamed.

    I understand the principle here that you are trying to uphold here, but I’m finding it hard not to giggle at the thought that we should be ashamed of not giving our children more challenging Primary music. I think this is a little (er…a lot) over the top. Not everyone needs their musical intelligence challenged (esp. children!) to feed their spirits. IMO, if we set such a high standard then we are possibly prohibiting the Spirit from touching us with more “simple” music. I can at times be a sort of unofficial musical snob, and yet I have had my spirit touched by incredibly simple songs (even JKP songs! — gasp!! and, in their own way (not at church, but at home) by poppy kinds of music — sure beats the stuff I can hear on the radio a good majority of the time!…and my kids love it!).

    I think David Fletcher’s comment sums it up well: Any music which intensifies faith and motivates good works cannot go unheralded.
    And, for each of us, what type of music that intensifies faith and motivates good works may be different. If what you hear in church doesn’t cut it for you, then enjoy what does in your own home. (That said, I do think it wise, however, for us to all find the Spirit in our hymns since they are the preferred fare at church (even for musical numbers).)

  51. Bill
    April 19, 2006 at 3:10 am


    A couple of little quibbles with your very interesting essay:

    I would say that the naïve spirituality of a Bruckner, who often reveled in sonic grandeur for its own sake, could be more accurately described as sensuous than the hyper-learned Brahms who was primarily interested in working out ideas in music, and who, although he was not a believer in traditional Christianity, had vast theological and scriptural knowledge.

    I also disagree that Bach’s instrumental music is without any content. This was an idea of Kant’s – that music absent text was “merely a play of sensations.� (Then again, Kant was not in favor of hymns either: “Those who have recommended the singing of hymns at family prayers have forgotten the amount of annoyance which they give to the general public by such noisy (and, as a rule, for that very reason, pharisaical) worship, for they compel their neighbors either to join in the singing or else abandon their meditations.� Critique of Judgment, section 53). As you pointed out, Bach the intellectual, was especially interested in the word. As a synthesizer of all past music styles, he was as comfortable with the more abstract and symbolic, mathematical conception of music in its traditional spot in the quadrivium, as well as the more recent developments in which rhetorical approaches had gained the ascendancy.

    Bach’s instrumental music is filled with both kinds of symbolism. Just to cite one example among many, consider the great E-flat major Prelude and Fugue. They enclose the other 25 pieces of the Klavierubung III. The prelude begins with a solemn and majestic section in the style of a French overture which had been developed to emphasize the dignity and grandeur of Louis XIV, but here is appropriated by Bach to signify God the Father. This is followed by a theme representing the Son, the musical material derived from the first theme, but transformed into a halting, uncertain melody representing humanity and suffering. When this theme reappears in a recapitulation, it is in the bass, representing a descent upon the earth. The third theme is of fast moving scalar passagework, reminding us of the Holy Ghost’s representation as a mighty rushing wind. The godhead is represented in the fugue in a more abstract and numerological symbolism: it’s a triple fugue, with three subjects, three sections, three flats, three staves, three systems per page, proportions between the sections, and measure numbers which are all factors of nine, (remember, the Klavierubung III has 27 pieces).

    In his capacity as Kantor of the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Bach had responsibility over the schoolboys and he had long been a teacher of his many talented children. Almost all his music has some kind of gospel message, even some of the overtly didactic works. But foreign to him was the type of infantilization that began in the Victorian period and continues apace, to the extent that we now have primary songs in the adult hymnbook.

    This Saturday I’m playing at Stake conference: I am a child of God, and Families can be Together Forever among others (although this is the third and maybe not last change of mind). Usually I would play these on the piano since they sound ridiculous on the organ as Jeremy says. But since this might be interpreted as drawing attention to myself, I might not.

    As for JKP, there are some nice tunes. There are also a lot of mediocre and formulaic ones, but this is the same for most composers. It’s difficult to write a beautiful and simple melody – there’s only one Schubert. I remember when “I love to see the temple� came out in 1980, I believe in the Friend. I was the 9-year old branch sacrament meeting pianist at the time and thought it was a beautiful song. I still do, although a certain nostalgia probably plays some part. “I’m trying to be like Jesus� probably doesn’t rank very high on the long list of artworks in the venerable tradition of Imitatio Christi, but then, it doesn’t really have any pretensions to high art.

    I agree that we ought to listen with generosity of spirit, whether we know too much or too little to appreciate a particular musical offering. This doesn’t mean we suspend our critical faculties (even if we could) but that we are indulgent of others’ weaknesses. I’ve seen lapses in judgment from time to time, but hardly ever did I attribute it to a desire for self-glorification. I think such criticisms are often a phenomenon of projection.

  52. Kaimi Wenger
    April 19, 2006 at 5:20 am

    Kristine (38),

    You’re a great co-blogger and friend and I have all sorts of respect for your musical knowledge. That said, I can’t agree that Baptism offers “slightly unusual chord progressions.” It’s a pretty melody, and it’s a nice 12/8 which is different, but at the end of the day it is just as umcomplicated as JKP. Sit down and map out the chords:

    I-V-I-V . . yawn.
    vi-iii — ooh, exciting. No, not really. And even if it were exciting, is it any more exciting than JKP? Nope. An almost identical progression appears in I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.

    Baptism: vi-iii-IV-I
    Trying to Be Like Jesus: vi-iii-IV-iii

    Finally, Baptism has a ii-I . Again, not all that exciting; JKP knows how to use a ii too. Baptism doesn’t stray at all from the standard set of chords for the scale. And seriously, how unusual can its chord progressions _be_ if the song includes not a single accidental?

    Don’t get me wrong — I love Baptism. It’s a great, catchy melody, wedded to an easy and intuitive chord progression, and playing all those arpeggios is fun. But I have to draw the line at characterization of it as including slightly unusual chord progressions. For better or worse, both I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus and I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ go far more off the reservation with their chord structure.

    I don’t think that that’s always a good thing. I tend to think that it often takes more skill to put together a good I-IV-V, since the composer can get no novelty points for adding chords outside of the tonic scale, and has to actually work on crafting a decent melody.

    (And I think the desire to break out of I-IV-V can lead to bad results. The jump to D in I Belong to the Church sounds awfully forced, for example. JKP songs _aren’t_ always predictable, but not in a good way.) (Of course, an awkward jump to a II chord is not at all confined to JKP; see hymn #38 for a good non-JKP example).

    This ends my lengthy nitpick of Kristine’s comment – clearly, I’m sick of prepping my lecture notes for tomorrow’s class . . .

  53. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 19, 2006 at 6:47 am

    Ah, Kaimi, I’ve always been open about the fact that I have no theory training–so nice to have someone call me on it at length and in detail :)

    In my defense: I was actually thinking of the chord progressions in “The Priesthood is Restored” and the rhythms in Baptism, but lost the distinction in my furious typing. In the old Primary book, Baptism is in the key of E, which, as we’ve noted before, is quite unusual in our hymns, so maybe that’s what made Baptism seem harmonically interesting to me. I’ll have to try transposing “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus” and see if it seems more profound :)

    m&m, do you also giggle if someone suggests that Sr. Primary should have a more sophisticated, nuanced presentation of gospel principles during Sharing Time than the Jr. Primary? I don’t think the notion of progress is over-the-top for Mormons; indeed, I think I’ve heard it mentioned as an eternal principle. I’ve been touched by simple songs, too (would now be the moment to confess that JKPs songs often elicit tears from me?); I just think we’re not supposed to *stop* at naive and nakedly sentimental, however good a starting place it may be.

  54. WillF
    April 19, 2006 at 9:08 am

    This discussion brings back memories of Dr. Bush’s history of civ. lectures at BYU, for example, the one where he criticized the well known Touch of the Master’s Hand and argued that it should not be considered a poem.
    I think that the problem is that people become complacent with the easy stuff and never push themselves to appreciate art that takes more work but is more rewarding.

  55. Jeremy
    April 19, 2006 at 10:05 am

    If our purpose is, as 2 Nephi says, to have joy, all undertakings that involve joy have a sacred component. We are constantly counseled to look for kinds of joy that aren’t shallow and fleeting, but deep and enduring. Devoted marriage instead of promiscuity; good health instead of overindulgence or addiction; thoughtful, personal prayers instead of vain repititions. The counsel constantly comes down: don’t settle for the temporary or the easy or the handily self-assuring–push on to attain the profound joy, even if profundity is harder-fought that the easy, fleeting joy. This is why insitence on artistic populism within the church seems so incongruous to me. The difference between “pretty” and “sublime” is analogous to the difference between “pleasurable” and “joyful.” The best music isn’t just the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down: it’s the medicine, too. It’s not just a vehicle for a message, but, when made well, contains a message all its own.

  56. Mark B.
    April 19, 2006 at 10:26 am

    I’m still with St. Paul (and Kristine Haglund Harris) on this one: ” . . . when I became a man, I put away childish things.” No matter how sweet the melody or true the words, I inwardly cringe when the Tabernacle Choir (or a local congregation in sacrament meeting) lauches into a Primary song.

    I fear that at times we substitute the treacly sentimental ballad or the pep-rally march for serious contemplation of the gospel of Christ. The disciples did not say “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” and abandon Jesus (“many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”) after an hour of unchallenging but uplifting music and a talk about enhancing self-esteem.

    And the old canard–“it’s ok for sacrament meeting, because it’s in the green book”–deserves speedy dispatch to the infernal regions. To suggest that everything in the book is a hymn denies the obvious: the church music committee produced a book that could be used for worship, for family home evenings, for patriotic gatherings, and for halftime at football games. (OK, I’ll admit that last one was a gratuitous jab.) Just because they cobbled together hymns and songs for all those purposes doesn’t mean that everything there has suddenly become a hymn.

    But, you better be careful criticizing Touch of the Master’s Hand. Next thing you know, we won’t be able to quote Edgar A. Guest or tell the story about the switchman, the child and the train in sacrament meeting talks anymore!

  57. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 19, 2006 at 10:37 am

    “But, you better be careful criticizing Touch of the Master’s Hand. Next thing you know, we won’t be able to quote Edgar A. Guest or tell the story about the switchman, the child and the train in sacrament meeting talks anymore!”

    Mark–maybe *that’s* the much-rumored pilot plan to shorten the three-hour block!!

  58. Mark B.
    April 19, 2006 at 10:43 am

    One more thing: I think it’s time to start a petition to restore the comma to its rightful place after the word “heirs” in the fourth verse of “Come, Follow Me.”

    If we can change that period into a comma, I’ll live with Scatter Sunshine remaining in the hymnbook.

  59. DavidH
    April 19, 2006 at 10:49 am

    My music training is pretty limited. I evaluate music in accordance with the principle enunciated by Duke Ellington and oft-quoted by Professor Peter Schickele: “If it sounds good, it is good.”

    I confess that some of JKP’s work (and the like) sounds good to me. But a lot of Christian soul, R&B, metal and alternative music (and Hasidic rap/reggae {e.g., Matisyahu}) sounds good to me too. Hopefully the next hymnal will include some of the latter to go along with the former.

  60. Kaimi Wenger
    April 19, 2006 at 10:50 am


    Come Follow Me’s verse four _does_ potentially operate as a stand-alone sentence, albeit an ugly one.

    That said, it’s much, much more elegant as a comma, leading to verse five.

  61. Mark B.
    April 19, 2006 at 11:32 am


    Yeah, I know.

    But, there was one printing of the old 1948 hymnbook that had the fourth verse ending with a comma.

    And the only way I’ll give it up is if you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

  62. D. Fletcher
    April 19, 2006 at 11:39 am

    “Come, Follow Me,” is a lovely hymn with a big problem, and any of you that are ambitious to write hymn texts, take note. Texts to songs must not follow rules of poetry, but rules of lyrics, particularly songs that have verses where the melody is repeated each time. The accents to the text must hit the accents in the melody on every verse, just as the “puncuation” must also work with the melody. Hence, don’t end some lines with a question and some with a statement (“Where Can I Turn For Peace?” has this problem in spades), since the melody will not work for both, and don’t continue some thoughts over to the next line (like much poetry) because that won’t work with the melody, either.

  63. Bill
    April 19, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    Our good friend from last week, Samuel Crossman failed similarly in his last stanza:

    Here might I stay and sing,
    No story so divine,
    Never was love, dear King,
    Never was grief like thine.
    This is my Friend
    In whose sweet praise
    I all my days
    Could gladly spend.

    (Samuel Crossman, 1624-1684)

    It’s always disappointing to sing this verse with the jarring “Nevers” stressing the wrong syllable

  64. Steve L
    April 19, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    As a musician who joined the discussion late, I have several things to say.

    First of all, I think most people’s problem with Janice Kapp Perry is with her style rather than craftsmanship. As far as her craftsmanship, she is far ahead of almost everybody in the genre and thus dominates it. Fine. I say this because this is basically the way I feel. Sister Perry is very talented, but the style of much of her work leaves so much to be desired. For adherents of this style, spirituality in music is only to be expressed in well-written melodies, not in beautiful words, impeccable counterpoint, insightful text-setting, brilliant color or logical and natural development (not to say those are the only or the best alternatives). It’s all aimed at a musically illiterate body who wouldn’t understand, appreciate or be moved by anything a little more worthy. If it satisfies them, give them what they want and not Bach or any Mormon composers of “art music” who have actually turned out quite a body of work they intended to be suitable for church, but of which very few Mormons (even serious Mormon musicians) are aware. How many of you could whistle a tune from a uniquely “Mormon” work by Merrill Bradshaw, Leroy Robertson, Crawford Gates, Murray Boren or Christian Asplund? Also as far as Perry’s style goes, I’m surprised nobody here has mentioned Vanya J. Watkins, whom I think is Perry deluxe. Watkins’ songs are so clever, simple, clear and beautiful–I simply adore the Articles of Faith songs, which are among the best text settings of prose I know.

    I’d like to say a few words about the Mormon hymn book. A primary cause for complaint has been the harder to sing but easier to play keys or many of the hymns (G, C, D in this edition; A flat, Eflat, D flat in editions past). While perhaps not the best decision, it does make sense for an international church in which musical talent or education is not evenly distributed. (I’d be interested to know what percentage of church units even have one decent keyboardist.) What troubles ME about the most recent edition of the hymnbook is its “de-mormonization” towards a mainstream protestant hegemony (e.g. How Great Thou Art, Rock of Ages, I Stand All Amazed as opposed to Joseph the Seer and oh, I’m too young to remember any of the others) This is funny as some protestants have drifted past religious “pop” even to religious punk, heavy metal and rap. I suppose the twenty-year lag in fashion ubiquitous in Napoleon Dynamite’s Preston also applies to Mormon church music: we’ve progressed about as far as the televangelists of the 80’s.

  65. D. Fletcher
    April 19, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    I don’t have anything to say about your Articles of Faith opinion, except that I don’t share it.

  66. Steve L
    April 19, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    Also, Kaimi, I don’t know what you think an interesting harmony would be. I suppose you think hymns should be full of chromatic mediants, neapolitans or maybe even 12-tone rows. If you look at most religious music from a Rameauist perspective I suppose it would all be quite dull.

  67. Steve L
    April 19, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Kaimi, I had only skimmed your comments when I wrote #67 and now having read what you were actually talking about I take it mostly back. Sorry

  68. Kimball Hunt
    April 19, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    It’s interesting how a founding generation’s, spontaneously provided “drinking songs turned into religious hymns” turn into subsequent generation’s “spirituality inducing” canon of the Established* Church.

    Smiles — In the absence of a Mormon vatican ii, perhaps there’ll form a “dissenting faction” of the Restorationist movement, the founding premise of which will be less orthodoxy in implementing less-essential elements of the Established body’s “Correlation” and within which maybe there’ll be congregations opting to worship through Classical brass ensembles or else through “popular” worship services featuring anything from Gospel-themed barbershop/ Mormonized Led?

  69. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 19, 2006 at 2:04 pm

    You said: “I just think we’re not supposed to *stop* at naive and nakedly sentimental, however good a starting place it may be.”

    I am not disagreeing with the principle. But, with differing levels of musical awareness and skill, I don’t think we can set a general standard for what is an appropriate level of “challenging the musical intelligence” of our children. Those who are called to lead Primary music are most generally not intensely aware of all the I-V-I stuff that everyone is talking about here. I think we are perhaps getting a little over the top on this because I don’t think Primary is meant to be a technical or intellectual musical experience. Leave that for private lessons or a special number that brings kids together who might have the aptitude or desire to be challenged.

    Besides, what is simplistic and childish to one might be inspirational and touching (and even possibly challenging?) to another. I always get uncomfortable when anyone tries to set standards for someone else on something as subjective as this. (Maybe this is, in part, because I have been on the “simple” end of enjoying music (and I am not inexperienced in music at all) and have been swiftly dismissed by someone else’s more sophisticated “knowledge” of why something so “naive and nakedly sentimental” should not be worth my attention. But if it is meaningful for ME, I think I should be allowed to feel and savor that meaning without some technical critique that falls outside the range of my knowledge, experience and taste. (This is not to say that I don’t challenge myself musically, either.))

  70. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 19, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    I’m not advocating any particular standard, nor would I ever think we should do music too complicated for everyone to participate. But there are plenty of ways our music could be better without being more difficult, and LOTS of things we could be teaching ALL children during Singing Time, instead of wasting it playing stupid choose-the-song-from-behind-the-cutesy-poo-clipart-poster games.

    Until pretty recently in church, we thought that expanding children’s and adults’ musical horizons was part and parcel of teaching the gospel. I still believe that.

  71. Steve L
    April 19, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    K Hunt, I suppose you think that because our Mormon musical legacy is something of a mongrel it is entirely undeserving of attention. The point I was making was that perhaps there’s some merit to holding onto some of the early or distinctively Mormon hymns rather than discarding them and replacing them with so much mainstream filler that is not any better anyways.

    And I think we should bring gospel rappers in for special musical numbers. Dry council Sunday could always use a little spice.

  72. Ed Johnson
    April 19, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Kristine, what are some simple ideas about how to teach children about music during singing time? I have been wanting to do that better, and not really knowing how.

  73. Mathew
    April 19, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    “Mormonized Led”–the very thought makes me shudder.

  74. Jeremy
    April 19, 2006 at 3:41 pm


    I’ll chime in on that question to Kristine. One thing I enjoyed doing was teaching kids about text-tone relationships. For the “I like to look for rainbows song,” for example, the first two lines (“I like to look for rainbows | whenever there is rain | and ponder on the beauty of | an Earth made clean again”) have a rainbow shaped contour, which the kids could follow with their arms. The refrain changes, leaping between high and low notes, on which the kids could follow the melody by standing and sitting, and then standing on tiptoes when the melody bumps on on “be the BEST I can…”. Also, the kids always seemed to enjoy having their attention drawn to metaphors in songs. “On A Golden Springtime” is a good one for this (regardless of what one might think of the song). The kids really got into the idea that the same repeated music served to tie together different ideas across different verses: nature in the first verse, the Resurrection in the second verse, and the Restoration in the third verse. In other words, our primary kids liked analyzing the songs they were singing!

    Here’s a little gimmick we got from somebody that some of you might like: one of our games was putting pictures of different birds around the room, and choosing children to go “birdwatching.” The kid with the binoculars finds a bird, and then you learn the song in a manner related to that bird. For the parrot, the leader says each line of the words, and the kids parrot the words back. For the song bird, they whistle the melody. For the owl, they “whooo” the melody. For the woodpecker, they tap out the rhythm on their chairs. And for the flamingo they try to sing the whole song standing on one leg. Corny, but it got them to stay on a single song long enough to learn it. There are a bunch of other little things kids can do to make practicing a song more interesting. Some of ours: the “see saw,” in which a kid stands at the front, and sticks out his/her arms and moves them up and down like a seesaw to make one side or the other sing louder; the “microphone,” in which a kid takes a microphone (a real but unplugged one is best), and whoever is closest to the mic has to sing louder; the wave, in which the chosen kid moves laterally in front of the group and whoever s/he’s directly in front of sings. And so on…

  75. Carol F.
    April 19, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    Brilliant, Jeremy. I have enjoyed each of your (Jeremy’s) comments on this excellent thread.

    A fellow musician…

  76. Mark
    April 19, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    In regard to comments 20-25 above and the Ensign article about the organist at the conference being dressed down in front of the entire congregation, I find Elder Packer’s behavior appalling. I read elsewhere about him once doing almost exactly the same thing at a student devotional at BYU. Even more appalling, however, was the way in which Elder Batemen chose to relate the story. It wasn’t enough for him to simply share the facts. Batemen chose to embellish the story with things he could not have known: specifically, the attitude and motives of the organist. Batemen said that the organist “was absorbed in presenting a Bach concert.” He then goes on to say, “The louder the din, the more determined the organist.”

    Packer mortified the poor organist one time in front of hundreds of conference attendees. Batemen mortified and vilified the poor organist and put it all in print for posterity.

  77. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 19, 2006 at 10:40 pm

    I knew Jeremy would have cool ideas! Some others: anything you can do to teach intervals–I rewrote a melody line for “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” so that “head” is higher than “shoulders” is higher than “knees”, etc. Then you can have the kids go up and down the arpeggio, or sing it out of order and have them point to the right body part for the note you’re singing, etc., and they start to get the concept of going “up and down” the scale. One time I borrowed step aerobics steps from my gym and arranged them from lowest to highest and had the kids practice “stepping” the melodies. Then you can represent tunes bar-graph style so they start to translate from what they’ve done with their bodies to a two-dimensional graphic. It’s not too many jumps from there to note-reading. Little kids can learn rhythm notation with suns as half notes, skinny moons as quarters, little stars as eighths, and pitter-patter raindrops as 16ths. They really like clapping out rhythms, and it gives them something to do while you sing a new song for them to hear the first few times.

    If you can get your hands on an octave of handbells, that’s a great way to enhance Primary songs musically and teach kids all kinds of ensemble-playing skills. If you don’t have bells, you can assign a child (or small group) a note of the scale to sing and have them only sing that note when it occurs (like a human bell choir). It’s great to do a Primary orchestra with the kids who are taking lessons on instruments (it’s a bit of a pain writing out parts for all the different clefs, but it’s worth it). Pitched percussion instruments of all kinds (glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone, etc. ) are fantastic and easy to learn in the space of a singing time or two.

    Also, there’s a lot you can do with giving kids listening practice–when you learn “If With All Your Hearts,” you can play bits of Elijah (“Ba’al, We Cry to Thee” is always a big hit.) When you do Ten Commandments or Exodus or Passover & Easter in Sharing Time, bits of “Israel in Egypt” can work. My senior primary really liked “Howl Ye” from Thompson’s _The Peaceable Kingdom_. There are parts of Messiah that work well at Christmas or Easter (“He Shall Feed His Flock” used to be in the Primary songbook). Always with enough explanation for context, and a chance to move around if at all possible . Playing along with rhythm instruments usually helps, too.

    Finally, as much part-singing as you can–rounds are the obvious first step, and JKPs partner songs are good, but it’s great to progress to adding an alto line to things–the older boys, especially, appreciate not having to sing so much in head voice.

  78. Jeremy
    April 19, 2006 at 11:02 pm

    I should add: someone gave us a supplement to the primary songs that I quite liked. And it’s not the sort of thing I would _ever_ purchase on my own — one of those cutesy “paraliturgical” things Deseret Book is so full of. But it’s quite good. Comes in two volumes, one devoted to ideas about teaching each song and one full of clip art for visual aids. I didn’t care much for the clip art (of the “when in doubt, MORE TUTTI DOTS! variety), but I used many of the teaching ideas. I think the “Rainbows” one came from there, and maybe the bird one. Unfortunately, I don’t have the books on hand, and can’t seem to find them on the Deseret Book website. (Probably a good thing, though; if I started shilling for music products from DB my street cred would totally tank.)

  79. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 19, 2006 at 11:33 pm

    Batemen said that the organist “was absorbed in presenting a Bach concert.� He then goes on to say, “The louder the din, the more determined the organist.�

    Uh, this could be a pretty objective observation. Have you never watched someone who is performing? Maybe that person really was. Maybe there was an obvious problem with escalating levels of noise. It may very well be that the rebuke was deserved. You weren’t there, so you can’t make a judgment about what happened. I admit it is a sobering story, and I would hate to have been the organist, but let’s not villify our leaders, either, eh?

  80. Bill
    April 20, 2006 at 12:29 am

    “Uh, this could be a pretty objective observation.”

    I doubt it. I was the organist in a similar circumstance a few years later, precipitated probably by someone influenced by those stories. Now, I’m not going to get my feelings hurt over trivial criticisms, justified or not, however widely publicized. But my thick skin might not be the best barometer for a careful leader not wishing to humiliate. I think it is especially egregious to scapegoat an organist for what could be a congregation’s many years of bad habits with respect to reverence. Interestingly, most other churches where I play the organ, the congregants enter quietly and are silent throughout the prelude and don’t leave their seats until the postlude is complete. They understand that the organ prelude and postlude are as much a part of the service as anything that comes in between, and that those periods can be profitably used for meditation on what is to come, and on what has gone before.

  81. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Of course the congregation is not faultness, and Pres. Packer addressed that. But the type of music being played, as well as how it is being played, can contribute to the atmosphere of reverence (or lack thereof). I think the fact that the stake was counseled to have hymns played is indicative of the need that both organist and congregation had to make improvements toward reverence.

    As for the specific situation, we can’t assume the organist was an less-thick-skinned than you, nor that Pres. Packer didn’t go up and speak to that person afterwards to show “an increase of love,” nor that the person felt the Spirit confirming the counsel and was grateful for the opportunity to change, nor who-knows-what-else. I just think we are not justified in judging or criticizing the leaders who were there and knew what really happened and what, perhaps, they might have even felt prompted to do. Just because it’s an uncomfortable story does not make them wrong in their actions. I understand the response, because I would be mortified if I was chastised publicly in such a manner, but I am also willing to give the benefit of the doubt because I wasn’t there and I don’t think we can condemn without knowing all the facts. (I don’t think we should condemn our leaders at all, but that discussion would obviously be a threadjack….)

  82. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 2:16 am

    75, 78, etc.
    These are fun ideas…I might want to try them with my kidlets at home. :) I might share them with my chorister friend as well.

    I still am a little concerned, however, about this idea that Primary should be an intellectual, technical, musical-skill-building experience. (It shouldn’t be all cutesie games that Kristine referenced, either.) The focus should be on the music, the doctrine it teaches, and the Spirit the children can feel. Too much focus on the technical without a significant focus on the spiritual would be missing the weightier matters. (I also get uncomfortable when anything distracting is used with the more sacred songs, if you know what I mean.)

    I’m assuming that you who are talented enough to come up with these fun and creative teaching methods don’t make that your whole focus. I also hope that you don’t expect others who don’t have your skills and aptitudes to teach technically. What you have suggested is nice, but it is by no means necessary. I do not believe we are somehow “failing our children” if we don’t teach music technique extensively in Primary; otherwise only musically and technically talented people would be able to have the callings, and that sure as anything isn’t always the case! Besides, there are plenty of other ways to stretch our children outside of the three-hour block. The main purpose of our Sunday meetings is not to grow intellectually, and I think that should always be kept in mind.

    Here’s an idea: Why not have some fun Primary activity that encorporates this idea of making music fun and teaching some technique along with it? (I think that’s an idea I will share with my Primary president friend!) :)

  83. Hans Hansen
    April 20, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Many years ago when I was a graduate music student at the University of Utah, I was called as the Stake Organist for the University First Stake. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, then a member of the Presiding Bishopric, came to our stake for Stake Conference. For the postlude to the Saturday afternoon Leadership session I played Handel’s “Largo” (“Holy Art Thou”, if you’re more familiar with the MoTab version). Bishop Feathersone came up to me at the conclusion and told me that the “Largo” was his favorite piece of music and he would listen to the MoTab recording when he prepared his talks for General Conference.

    The next day, Sunday, at the general session, a note was passed to me from Bishop Featherstone via the Stake President. He asked me if I had the music for the “Largo” and would I play it right before he spoke. So I played a classical music organ solo in Stake Conference in front of more than 2,000 people at the request of a GA.

  84. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 3:32 am

    Interesting story (84). But don’t you think it might be different when there are words that might be familiar (if the MoTab has sung it, it’s got words and it might be somewhat familiar to many) as opposed to just plain music? (I’m not implying that Bach is plain, but just that it usually doesn’t invoke some association with the sacred for the lay person.) We had a string trio play “O Divine Redeemer” a few weeks ago. I was moved to tears, because the words were playing in my head as they played. Had it just been a piece without words, or words unknown to me, it would have been nice but not spiritually inspiring. Personally, I think this is a huge difference between most classical music and the hymns or other sacred, familiar pieces. (Our organist played the Hallelujah chorus as postlude on Easter and I thought that was great.)

  85. Hans Hansen
    April 20, 2006 at 3:56 am

    You know the funny thing is, these are the original words to the “Largo”.

    It’s from Handel’s opera “Xerxes”. The title character Xerxes, the King of Persia, sings the following words standing under the branches of his favorite shade tree in his garden:

    Ombra mai fù di vegetabile cara
    ed amabile soave più

    Never was nature’s own shade more beloved
    or sweetly treasured than thine.

  86. WillF
    April 20, 2006 at 8:49 am

    I think Bach’s familiar Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring makes a nice sacred prelude (sans any infusion of pop harmonies or bird twittering), as does Sheep may safely graze. I doubt many of us can sing along with these in our heads, but I would be surprised if someone said they didn’t bring the Spirit to a meeting (when well played).
    On the other hand, playing Invention 13 might be a little inappropriate for the setting. Bach wrote quite a variety of stuff, so ruling him out based on one sample of his work is a mistake).

  87. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 20, 2006 at 8:52 am

    “The main purpose of our Sunday meetings is not to grow intellectually,”

    But it is to grow spiritually, and we can’t do that without also growing intellectually. If you’d had a Primary teacher who had taught you about music, you wouldn’t need words to approach the spiritual feast that is in music.

    To me, that’s what is most sad about Elder Bateman’s story: a spiritual feast was being laid for the congregation, and none of them recognized or appreciated it. That is not the fault of the organist, or of Bach. And being proud of the ignorance that keeps us from hearing God’s voice in music seems to me like being proud of being unable to read the scriptures and having to rely entirely on the whisperings of the Spirit. It’s true that God will still make efforts to speak your limited language, but it isn’t it better to try as hard as we can to speak His?

  88. Ed Johnson
    April 20, 2006 at 10:39 am

    I find myself mostly agreeing with Kristine and WIllF on this. M&M (and Elder Featherstone) seems to think “classical” sacred music is fine if they’re familiar. But this seems like a chicken and egg problem…it won’t be familiar if you don’t play it, and you can’t play it unless it’s familiar. I think a reasonable rule is to only play “classical” music that can be considered “sacred” (i.e. no Invention 13 or Revolutionary Etude).

    Jeremy and Kristine, thanks for the ideas.

  89. Frank McIntyre
    April 20, 2006 at 11:09 am


    I am all for the idea of people learning, but this is not costless. In an ideal world, everybody would come to sacrament meeting with a fabulous grasp of cell biology and quantum mechanics so that we could more fully appreciate what God has done and be able to draw upon the rich language of the world around us that He created. Alas, it is not costless to do that. Similarly, the things you point out are almost unambiguously good for people to know, but to what extent can we gain that knowledge without diverting the focus from what matters most?

    Surely some people can teach those things without losing much else, or even use such teaching to really enhance our understanding. But should primary chorister be restricted to just those people who can do that and how many wards have enough of those people available to shuffle through?

  90. Carol F.
    April 20, 2006 at 11:16 am

    “…I would hate to have been the organist, but let’s not villify our leaders, either, eh?”

    Why is it not okay to question the judgement of leaders in this setting, but it is okay for the leaders to vilify the organist…in public and then in print?

  91. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 20, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Frank, of course that kind of teaching can’t happen everywhere all the time. That doesn’t mean it should be disparaged or proscribed. The fact that we can’t all be molecular biologists or philosophy professors doesn’t mean that we should tell people who are that sharing their knowledge in an attempt to deepen everyone’s understanding is somehow sinful. Yes, we should try to keep it at a level people can understand, yes, we should draw the gospel parallels clearly and with enough context for people to follow, and no, we absolutely shouldn’t *demand* that people have those skills to be given callings or give Sacrament Meeting talks or whatever. But we should not ask anyone to keep his candle under a bushel because twilight is the most comfortable for the rest of us!

  92. Frank McIntyre
    April 20, 2006 at 11:58 am

    When you speak of sharing their talents, what do you have in mind? I thin you have in mind the organist playing Bach, but perhaps you are thinking of something else.

    If “sharing” is playing a deep and complex Bach piece then how is that different to the lay audience than a biologist going off in Sacrament meeting on gospel connections from cell theory when nobody has a clue what they are talking about? In neither case is the lay person edified by the deep theory. Sure, Bach is beautiful, but to the lay person it might not be any more appreciated (or even less so) than something out of the hymnal.

    On the other hand, we have musical numbers all the time that show musical talent and allow people to share their ability. Certainly more so than cell biologists do (for which I am profoundly grateful).

  93. D. Fletcher
    April 20, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    This is a hard topic, Janice Kapp Perry, aside. What is appropriate music for Sacrament Meeting? I tried to address this in my speech: I think plenty of music is appropriate if presented with the right spirit and intent. Do I think all music is appropriate? Obviously, no. One wouldn’t do an aria from Carmen in Sacrament Meeting, nor the New York Dolls, either, since the text of these isn’t religious. I don’t like The Star-Spangled Banner in SM, either.

    But a Chopin piano piece, or Bach piece, is more ambiguously appropriate or inappropriate.

    My rule of thumb is that any style of music is OK, as long as it is presented as a testimony, and not as a performance. I once made Jenny Oaks Baker, the daughter of Dallin Oaks, justify her violin solo, Meditation from Thais, and she spoke over the pulpit about how it reminded her of the resurrection, and it made all the difference.

    I also think that instrumental solos which are the melodies of hymns the congregation already knows, work well because the words are recalled in the minds of the listeners.

    Ultimately, I’d like to hear better music in SM, but I don’t think SM is just a recital hall. And yet, people make mistakes in their choices of music, and they shouldn’t be criticized for that. If musicians are like me, they learn by the response of the listening audience, and they know how to choose better, next time.

  94. Hans Hansen
    April 20, 2006 at 12:29 pm

    This past Sunday, Easter, presented a problem for prelude and postlude. The unbelievably small number of Easter hymns in the LDS green hymnal were going to be used either as congregational hymns or sung by the Ward Choir in hymn arrangements.

    Thus, I turned to my favorite green hymnal, “The Lutheran Book of Worship”, c.1978. For Prelude I played “Go to Dark Gethsemane”, and “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” (“Christ Lag in Todesbanden”, harmonized by J.S. Bach). Postlude featured “The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done” (music by Palestrina), and “Thine is The Glory” (Handel’s “See, the Conquering Hero Comes”, from “Judas Maccabeus”).

    Definitely refreshing when one is faced with “Do What is Right” (tune: “The Old Oaken Bucket”), or “Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing” (tune: “Go Tell Aunt Rhody, the Grey Goose is Dead”), or “Who’s On The Lord’s Side, Who?” (tune: “A Life On The Ocean Wave”, as popularized in “Popeye” cartoons).

  95. D. Fletcher
    April 20, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    For Easter, any of the Sacrament Hymns do well for prelude/postlude: such as Upon the Cross of Calvary or Behold! The Great Redeemer Died.

  96. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    The difference is twofold:
    1. The leaders were there and know what was happening. We were not there so cannot judge what happened. Maybe it was simply obnoxious music that made the noise worse. (Bach was a musical genius and incredibly gifted, but much of his music is not appropriate for Church, esp. if played as a performance, as someone has pointed out.) Let’s not forget he also reproved the whole congregation, so it wasn’t just the organist who was on the spot. EVERYONE was.

    2. The leaders sometimes have a responsibility to reprove when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. That is what I suspect happened. We get uncomfortable with something and so we think the leaders are to blame, when maybe the reproof was simply deserved. Besides, we don’t have the charge to reprove our leaders. We are supposed to support them.

  97. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 12:52 pm

    But it is to grow spiritually, and we can’t do that without also growing intellectually.

    I am not sure I agree with this comment in the context of Primary. Read the preface to the Primary music book. The whole purpose of the songs is to teach the gospel (the WORDS) and to help the children feel the Spirit. I would much rather my children be taught the words in Primary with the music as a supplement than the other way around. There are other times and places to learn the intellectual elements of music. That’s why we like to have our kids take piano, and why we put on some classical music once in a while. But I still submit that Church is not the place to explore too much of the intellectual side of things. The Spirit can teach best when doctrine is present. Bach or chord progressions are not the restored gospel. They are wonderful and light and part of truth, but they aren’t what we are supposed to be about at Church.

  98. Kaimi Wenger
    April 20, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    As Hans notes, the problem with Easter is the very limited number of exlusively Easter hymns in the book. There are three: He Is Risen; Christ the Lord is Risen Today; That Easter Morn.

    So, what is the organist to do? You can guarantee thattwo of the three will be on the slate for Sacrament meeting, as opening and closing hymns.

    There are a limited number of other hymns that also fit quite well into an Easter theme: I Stand All Amazed; I Know that My Redeemer Lives; I Believe in Christ; Jesus, Once of Humble Birth, and such. It’s likely as not that one of these is going to be the sacrament hymn.

    So what _is_ the right prelude music? Christ the Lord is Risen Today, four times in a row, followed by singing it once as the opening hymn, followed by hearing it again in Priesthood or RS? Completely unrelated fare, like Come, Come Ye Saints? Or possibly (gasp!) going outside the green book?

  99. Jeremy
    April 20, 2006 at 12:55 pm


    Your analogy seems askew to me. The sorts of music training ideas Kristine proposes for primary serve to give children a better sense of how the music works, true, but more importantly, it gives them a way to physically internalize part of the musical process, which in turn helps them internalize the principles that music is supposed to help them learn.

    You asked: If “sharing� is playing a deep and complex Bach piece then how is that different to the lay audience than a biologist going off in Sacrament meeting on gospel connections from cell theory when nobody has a clue what they are talking about?

    How is that different? Apples and oranges. Even when one knows lots of music theory, the experience of music is still a psychophysiological and emotional one, not merely an intellectual one. Bach knew this, and his audiences know this, and millions of people all over the world who find Bach’s (or Brahms’s, or whoever else’s) music spiritually moving know this (even if they have no music theory training). Appreciating music in a spiritual way requires primarily a willing and attentive ear, not technical training. Music theory serves to EXPLAIN our reactions to compositional devices, not FACILITATE them. In the case you’re describing, the equivalent to a biologist’s exegesis wouldn’t be a performance of Bach, but a theoretical analysis of Bach. And a closer parallel to hearing a musical performance wouldn’t be a biological explanation, but perhaps certain parts of the endowment ceremony related to Creation.

  100. D. Fletcher
    April 20, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Kaimi, I repeat, any of the Sacrament Hymns fits with Easter very well, and there are plenty of these. Jesus, Once of Humble Birth, I like to reserve for Christmas.

  101. Kristine Haglund Harris
    April 20, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Yeah, but Hans, have you heard what Mack Wilberg does with “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” in his “Fantasia on Early Mormon Hymn Tunes”? Silk purse out of a sow’s ear if ever there was one!!

    (Also, it’s great that it’s in the hymnal because it means brand new Suzuki string students can be invited to perform when they haven’t been studying too long)

  102. Frank McIntyre
    April 20, 2006 at 1:20 pm


    I tried to be clear that I was talking about the analogy strictly in terms of the enjoyment one gets from Bach because one is well trained. This training seemed to mw to be a part of the story Kristine was telling. This is the part that is, I think, apples to apples. Comparing the overall enjoyment of Bach to a cell biology lecture may well be apples to oranges, but that is not what I was doing.

    If your argument is that people will enjoy it more generally simply because it is enjoyed more by those who are well trained, then I think we are now too close to arguing about tastes and subjective preferences for my, well, taste.

  103. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    I think this very discussion illustrates why sometimes the leaders have come out with specific guidelines about music. There’s too much subjectivity otherwise, and too much personal taste that makes things muddy. I was under the impression that poppy, JKPish and classical music is pretty much out these days anyway, isn’t it?

  104. D. Fletcher
    April 20, 2006 at 1:56 pm

    Out? Perry has songs in the hymnbook, as does Bach.

  105. April 20, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    My father often played the organ in Church when I was a kid. We’d both go together early so he could practice beforehand. I think he would usually play some Bach preludes before the meetings — so I’ve always associated that kind of music with reverence. It never occurred to me that anyone could find this music disruptive to the Spirit. From an example provided earlier though, where the organist was competing with the loud conversations gong on — I would imagine that any music, if it is played too loudly, would be disruptive.

  106. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    105 — I meant outside of the hymnbook. I thought that would be obvious.

  107. D. Fletcher
    April 20, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    I always play prelude softly, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. People talk loudly during the prelude, regardless of what’s being played.

  108. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 20, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Our leaders have talked about this problem. I don’t see it changing much, though. Sad.

  109. WillF
    April 20, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    M&M, That is why I was confused when I read “As the music crescendoed it forced the members visiting with each other to raise their voices.” in the Ensign article in question. I thought we were supposed to be listening to the prelude quietly.

  110. WillF
    April 20, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    But in all fairness to Bateman, we have no idea what Bach compositions the organist was playing in our discussion here. If it was Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor then I would probably be a little distracted myself.

  111. Frank McIntyre
    April 20, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    I think Elder Bateman may be getting a bad rap. His anecdote clearly takes down both the loud organist and the loud congregants, who were told to be reverent and sit down. In his anecdote, the organist was competing with the congregation in what, in the story, comes across as a proud fashion. Prooftexting the passage about “forcing the congregants to speak louder” is to ignore the reprimand Elder Packer gave the loud congregants.

  112. Mark IV
    April 20, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Frank, I think *forcing* is a pretty poor choice of words on Elder Bateman’s part. Did the organist force, literally FORCE the congregants to speak loudly? How did he do it? Was armtwisting involved? An economist, of all people, should have more respect for people’s choice and agency. :-)

    Using that reasoning, I am forced to speak more loudly with my neighbor when the bishop is using the microphone. And when a speaker runs overtime, I have no choice but to get up and leave.

  113. WillF
    April 20, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    It just occured to me that the “organ vs. the congregation” story took place during Stake Conference which is technically not a Sacrament Meeting. Maybe this is the distressing part — the subtext that only hymns can bring the spirit, no matter the setting.

    On the other hand, I have found that you can look at the story with a little more levity if you imagine that it was Mr. Bean at the organ.

  114. Frank McIntyre
    April 21, 2006 at 12:06 am

    You’re right. I would not use the word “forcing”. In fact, I rarely do. But one misplaced word does not change the message he was trying to convey, which was clearly not that the organist should shut up so people could talk.

  115. Mark N.
    April 21, 2006 at 1:55 am

    I bought a JKP CD containing songs about the Young Women’s Values for one of my daughters as an Easter present, but I didn’t know anything about the music except for the first song on the CD for which I volunteered to accompany a group of our ward’s YW singers on the piano. When my daughter played it for public consumption on the CD player in the dining room, I wondered if I was listening to a first version of the music from “Saturday’s Warrior” that a Latter-day Martin Harris somewhere had managed to lose somewhere, resulting in the version we’re all familiar with today.

  116. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 21, 2006 at 2:44 am

    You are clearly overreacting here. Stake Conference is a Sunday worship service. There are certain standards for our Sunday meetings. But there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy different music. Have you ever been to a music fireside? A sing-in? A choirside? A celebration? A holiday performance (like an Easter cantata or a Messiah performance)? A talent show? A music appreciation night? There are so many opportunities (if people are creative enough and proactive in their local areas) to explore other music besides what we are asked to focus on in Church. Why make such a fuss over what happens during three hours a week when we CAN do more at other times?

    For example, a choir I was in sang in a stake music fireside last year. It was actually more like a performance for us (although we did do some mini-talks). This stake has such a music fireside EVERY MONTH. It was fantastic to see a stake care that much about music! And guess what? We sang a wide variety of songs (spirituals, love songs, a crazy Shakespeare piece….). And guess what else? Those in attendance were allowed to applaud. In the chapel. On a Sunday night. Oh, and we had bongo drums for one of our pieces. And we even swayed to (try to) look like we really knew how to sing a spiritual. (Did I mention this was in the chapel?) You can’t convince me that our leaders are boring and restrictive and limiting us, nor that we can’t develop our musical intelligence in our Church. Just talk to someone who can do something and DO SOMETHING. Let’s not make such a big deal about nothing. Church meetings are not the only place we can sing and explore the musical horizons available to us.

    SO, does anyone else have any examples of Church music activities that can get us out of our usual Sunday mode?

  117. WillF
    April 21, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    I’m not saying that our leaders don’t appreciate or encourage other forms of music.

    I just don’t know what to make of the first two paragraphs of the article. I have felt the Spirit (or at least I thought I did) strongly when listening to orchestra concerts, jazz concerts, band concerts, choir performances and even the radio on the way home from somewhere and they weren’t playing something out of the hymnbook at the time. In fact, many times they were playing music I had never heard before.

    I do agree that good hymns are an excellent way of bringing the Spirit, I just don’t see why that means you have to rule out other forms of music as potentially spiritual (if you don’t see what I mean, read the first two paragraphs of the Ensign article again — it really seems to be implying that there are no other forms of spiritual music).

    Having said all this, I do feel someone exonerated for all the times I forgot to bring any interesting prelude music for sacrament meeting and turned to the hymn book. I guess I was being obedient without even knowing it.

  118. WillF
    April 21, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    I know I don’t get to decide, but here is what I feel is good counsel regarding music in church services:

    Just as it is to be expected that our sacrament services contain doctrinal sermons which lift us toward God, so should it be expected that our music reinforce such experiences. It is inconsistent that an inspiring sermon should be preceded or followed by music which is trite and banal. The obligation is as great for the one as for the other.
    Moreover, music in the Church should never be self-subsisting; to be effective it must be closely associated with the rest of the service, and it follows that Church musicians are therefore involved in serving, not in being served. Musical selection and performance should be such that the highest possibilities of the service may be realized; music should be more carefully selected and as well prepared as a thoughtfully and prayerfully prepared sermon. Musical messages should coincide with the theme of the meeting or sermon, necessitating that selections be made after that theme is established.
    Music in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on an exciting threshold; its obligation is great, but the rewards not only for those directly involved in it but for the entire membership are manifold. The God whom we worship deserves nothing less than our best efforts—in serving Him and in praising His name.

    from Ralph Woodward’s article, “Choral Music in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”

  119. mullingandmusing (m&m)
    April 21, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I think we can feel the Spirit in so many different contexts, but that does not make those situations church-appropriate. I felt the Spirit in my sensation and perception class in college, or while preparing my paper on women in Islam. I felt some incredible inspiration (I felt it was the Spirit, because talent is light) while attending Broadway plays and hearing the amazing music there — but that doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate for church. What I think the hymns do is help us focus on the gospel, the Savior, the Atonement, the Restoration…things more specific to our Sunday worship. It also keeps that unity throughout the world…that we as Saints are singing the same hymns everywhere.

    That there is other music that can truly complement the nature of our services is clear. But perhaps part of the reason there has been more focus on keeping with the hymns is because of the pop music problem, etc. that started creeping in esp. during the late 80s/early 90s. And, again, what is “inspirational” to some may not be worshipful, or subjectively inspirational to the lay listener.

    Our ward choir is allowed to sing other worshipful songs besides hymns. The local leaders have some leeway in determining what is appropriate. But the hymns definitely keep us within approved boundaries.

  120. D. Fletcher
    April 21, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    There was actually a letter from the brethren, a few years ago, saying that the Hymns were not the only appropriate music for church services.

  121. Conformity
    April 22, 2006 at 1:41 am

    How about this for a Primary song?

    1. Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
    Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    2. And the people in the houses
    All go to the university,
    And they all get put in boxes,
    And they come out, all the same.
    And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
    And business executives,
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    3. And they all play on the golf-course,
    And drink their Martinis dry,
    And they all have pretty children,
    And the children go to school.
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university,
    Where they are put in boxes
    And they come out all the same.

    4. And the boys go into business,
    And marry, and raise a family,
    In boxes made of ticky-tacky,
    And they all look just the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

  122. WillF
    April 30, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    It is interesting to see that the website just recently published a page titled Other Music.

    This section of the Church Music site provides choirs, youth, children, and families with music in addition to what is found in the Hymns or Children’s Songbook. Sheet music is available for music published in Church magazines. Seminary music is available as downloadable MP3s, with sheet music for some of the songs. As resources are available, we will continue to add music in various languages and formats.

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