I was talking with an acquaintance recently and the subject of church music came up. She lamented the sad state of the LDS Church where those serving as musicians get an “A” for effort regardless of their level of performance. She continued by proposing that only those who have excellent musical skills ought to be allowed to participate in worship services.
For a moment I got caught up in what she was saying. I reveled in the thought of beautiful music every Sunday—prepared pianists accompanying competent choirs, and enthusiastic music directors working with trained organists in leading attentive, on-key congregations. It was a glorious scene!
Then my mind came back to reality. We’re just people…doing the best we can. We are brought together each Sabbath by a common bond of faith in God and desire to worship Him. One’s call to service is based on confidence not competence—confidence that the person will serve their God in the best way that they can at that point in their life.
I reflected also on the doctrine of grace and the atonement—are we not in this life all given the opportunity to receive an “A” for effort though our performance falls short of perfection?
I recall some of my own musical mishaps. I have stumbled through my fair share of hymns. I am guilty of ‘leading astray’ the ward choir. And once, while directing congregational singing, I spied a man in the congregation directing the music also—showing me the way I should have been doing it! (He was right, and I have led that hymn correctly since!) On-the-job-training can be a painful, but very effective, way to learn.
So where does this leave those who love beautiful, well-performed music as part of an uplifting worship service?
Well, quite frankly, often it leaves us with a great opportunity for charity; an opportunity of spiritual significance; yes, an opportunity for seeking, and expressing, the good in others. The seeking may take real work, at times. Yet the expression can be as simple as a smile, a pat on the back, a ‘thumbs up’ or a kind word. We need not gush, nor ‘make up’ stuff.
Keep it sincere. Keep it small. Keep it simple.
“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Alma 37:6