Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Song of the Heart Is Best When Shared

Today was one of "those" sacrament meetings, the ones that fill up the empty spaces in your heart and make you whole again, even when you didn't realize a few pieces had gone missing. Often, it is sitting in sacrament or other church meetings that I come to understand where I am wounded and how to be healed.

Most of us are wounded, in one way or another, and music is one of the best medicines available. We all know that, but what I perhaps didn't know was how much other people's personal feelings and experiences with music could affect my own. Today, I found out. 

Our sacrament meeting (after covenants were renewed), consisted entirely of people coming up out of the congregation, announcing the page number of their favorite hymn, and inviting us to sing that hymn together as a ward family. Those members who rose to request a song were asked to include a brief explanation of that song's meaning to them and why they had chosen it.

It sounded like a good idea and a fun one, so I was on board immediately. What I didn't expect was that I would be in tears by the middle of the first hymn and would continue in that vein until the meeting ended, far too soon. I have never had 40 minutes pass by so quickly. It truly felt like 15 or 20, at most.

Music has always been intensely personal to me; I feel it in my bones, and I can't imagine life without it. I love the hymns of our church, which bring back powerful memories of my childhood branch, where I first caught the vision of belonging not only to a religious organization but to a community of people who would (with my parents) teach and support and raise me. I felt their love and internalized the strengthening truth that we are all "one body" and that "the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now [we] are the body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Cor. 12:25-27). 

This scripture best explains how I felt as many of my ward members stood at the podium and shared their deepest feelings and experiences in expressing their love for a certain hymn. How uniquely intimate and spiritual this meeting was, and how generously they spoke of things that we, as ward family members, could be trusted to hear...and hold dear.

Words fail me, but I loved it from start to finish. My only complaint is that I was too choked up to sing some of the lyrics, which were (at times) a bit too tender to utter...especially in light of newfound insight and understanding, gained by means of a dear brother or sister's sacred experience.

Unlike the meeting itself, the closing song was not congregational. Rather, a lovely group of Primary girls stood in a semi-circle, united in singing "A Child's Prayer." "Heavenly Father, are you really there?" they queried lyrically. The answer I received was a resounding yes! And not only was He there, but He heard us.

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" (D&C 25:12).

Today, my ward received such a blessing.


LaMar said...

Oh Sue - that sounds like a wonderful sacrament meeting! I'd love to have been there. Music for me (just as with you) is so deeply personal that I feel it at times in a place that's hard to describe. My heart, I suppose. My soul. But I know what you mean, and it's an amazing feeling. I'm going to remember that idea - what a great theme for a sacrament meeting!

LaMar said...

Sue - I'm on LaMar's computer, but this is Karen. I didn't realize it would come up with his name until I published the comment. Sorry for the confusion!

NBlake said...

Wow! That sounds like a great meeting!

Natalie said...

I wish I could have been there!
I feel music "in my bones" as well.
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Even though I couldn't be there with you, it's as though I get to feel a little piece of it through your words.

K2cole said...

Such a great idea! I love to sing in church! I was so touched by this post I am still a little 'misty'. I like to know that the host of heaven sings praises to our Lord, I always think that is what I am on Sunday when I get to sing in every meeting!

I just want you to know how much I look forward to and enjoy your posts. They brighten, uplift, humor and make me ponder. Thank you.


jen said...

The way you express yourself envelopes the reader in your experience. Thank you. And a great idea to maybe do with the youth! I'll think on it for while!

Lisa Loo said...

Our Bishop did this once and it was AMAZING!!! Music is important to me also--I love memorizing the hymns and their harmonies--they are lovely things to have floating around in one's head. Thanx for sharing this special meeting.

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