Monday, March 14, 2016

28. SING!

Yesterday, in church, I taught a new song to my Primary kids.  I have the best job in the church: teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ through music, to kids 3-12 years old.  And, oh my goodness, can our kids SING!  They totally melt my heart! They feel what they sing, and they are full of purity and innocence. The world has not yet told them if they can’t carry a tune. Oh, world…stay away from our kids!
So for the last two weeks I have been singing and playing recordings and videos of this new song for our Primary.  The song is called Gethsemane, by the beautiful and talented Melanie Hoffman (whose equally gifted husband Roger wrote the classic “Consider the Lilies." Talk about a gene pool!) The song Gethsemane has a super catchy chorus. Once you’ve heard it, you want to sing along.  So part of my strategy in teaching the song was not allowing the kids to sing. 
To teach the principles behind the song, I let the kids crush olives to press the oil out, like was done in the Garden of Gethsemane (Gethsemane means “the place of crushing” where olives were pressed for oil). I showed them how our sins keep us, by their nature, from being able to go Home to God’s presence.  And then I showed them how our Savior, whose divine foreordination, coupled with a sinless life, qualified Him to take the darkness of sin and sorrow and suffering from us, making us clean enough to return to God’s presence.  I showed with water and iodine and bleach how Jesus makes it possible for us to return Home clean. I asked them to also learn to be good, so that when they do go Home it will not be uncomfortable for them and they won’t have to learn new godly habits.  It was a lot of gospel teaching for little ones. I repeated the song over and over as I taught, but told them they could not sing. The poor kids were chomping at the bit!  Finally, I invited them to sing along with me.  They filled their chests with air, their hearts with the Holy Spirit, and bore their pure witness through song.  It moved us, who are seasoned with age, to tears. We sang it over again, and they hardly needed visual aids, because they had listened so often, wanting…deeply wanting…to sing.
It got me to thinking about our weekly Sacrament meetings, where we also worship through song.  I sit there, during the multiple times we are invited to sing as a congregation, and once in a while I don’t sing so I can listen. I am really sorrowful at how poorly we adults lift our voices in praise.  I don’t know why.  We generally devote massive amounts of our lives to practicing our religion  We give up full days of our lives in service. We give up substantial portions of our income to tithes.  We fast.  But we do not lift up our voices and sing.  It seems incongruous to me.  I look around and see how many lips are pressed shut…the same lips that freely part to partake of the Holy Sacrament. I wondered, if suddenly they took music out of our Sacrament meetings, how many people would decide they ached to sing?
I’ve thought about it often, through the years, the sorry state of Hymn singing in my Ward. I know for a fact most of my neighbors can sing. Still, they might not feel like they're very good at if praising with song were a performance instead of a prayer. 

I’ve wondered what I would do if I could not carry a tune.  But I’ve sat with people who do not carry tunes who are happy to sing, and it never…and I am serious…NEVER bothers me. I’ve thought, in an attempt to have empathy, “What if the Lord asked us to dance in his name, as a part of our worship.?”  My feet don’t work well, and even when they did I seemed to have two left feet. But I think I would probably at least try.  At least shuffle a bit. 

I cannot tell you which of my Primary kids have poor singing voices.  I think even they don’t know, nor care.  What matters is that they SING! And that they feel what they sing.  And they are better for it.  And I am better for it.

My HOPE, for my children, grandchildren, all family and friends, is to engage when the music starts to play, rather than tune out.  Unite with your spiritual family and LIFT UP YOUR VOICE AND SING!
Check out Roger and Melanie Hoffman's website:
During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day.  I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity.  This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.


  1. Amen!

    I play a "silent singer" game with my primary children. We learn the song so everyone can sing it with their strongest/bravest voice, then we have a guesser, and a silent singer. The silent singer has to look like they are singing (be expressive) but not actually sing (lip sync). Yesterday we played, and my guesser couldn't guess. I let him know that it was Jane, and he said, "but I heard her voice!" With a big blushing smile Jane said, "I was trying to silent sing, but the sound just kept coming out." She was embarrassed that she couldn't not sing--I let her know that is how I always feel!

    I used to "blend" during congregational singing, but have since decided that my worship requires my full voice. I sing with my strongest/bravest voice which is admittedly trained and stronger and braver than the average member. Even though I often stick out, I don't do it to draw attention to myself. It is my chance to add my testimony, or prayer to the meeting, with that attitude, I've found that it spreads. More strongest/bravest voices pop up when they know that they won't be the only one. We build each other up, we join together, we come closer to Zion. There are all levels of strongest/bravest, there are all levels of testimony and prayer, and there is room for every offering in the kingdom of God. My hope is that no one around me is afraid to make their offering.

  2. We are so lucky to have you teaching our kids how to lift up their voices and sing praises.