Appropriate Music for Sacrament Meeting
Does the Church have a policy that only hymns can be used as music in sacrament meeting?
“The hymns are the basic music for worship services and are standard for all congregational singing. In addition, other appropriate selections may be used for prelude and postlude music, choir music, and special musical presentations. If musical selections other than the hymns are used, they should be in keeping with the spirit of the hymns. Texts should be doctrinally correct” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 14.4.2). (See also “Hymns for Congregations,” Hymns, 380-81.)
Who makes the final decision regarding music for Church meetings?
“Music should be worshipful and fit the spirit of the meeting. Priesthood leaders determine what is suitable. … The bishopric approves music for sacrament meetings. … The presiding authority at a stake conference reviews all proposed musical selections for the conference early in the planning stage” (Handbook 2, 14.4, 14.4.4, 14.6.1).
Should we just sing hymns familiar to our congregation?
“In addition to using hymns that are already known and loved, members are encouraged to become acquainted with new or less familiar hymns. Music leaders should try to achieve a good balance between familiar favorites and hymns that are not as well known” (Handbook 2, 14.4.4). (See also Hymns, 381.)
Should we choose sacrament hymns only from the “Sacrament” section in the hymnbook’s table of contents?
Hymns throughout the hymnbook may be used as sacrament hymns if they follow this guideline: The sacrament hymn “should refer to the sacrament itself or to the sacrifice of the Savior” (Handbook 2, 14.4.4).
Should we sing every verse of a hymn?
“You need not feel compelled to sing all the verses of a hymn unless the message is otherwise incomplete. However, do not routinely shorten a hymn by singing just the first one or two verses. Singing the verses printed below the music is encouraged” (Hymns, 381).
May we stand to sing the national anthem? How about standing for the intermediate hymn?
“Members may stand for national anthems in Church meetings according to local custom and priesthood direction” (Hymns, 381). “An intermediate hymn provides an opportunity for congregational participation and may relate to the subject of the talks presented in the meeting. The congregation may stand during this hymn as appropriate” (Hymns, 380).
Is there an official list of “banned” or “approved” music or composers for sacrament meeting?
No. No official list of “banned” or “approved” selections or composers exists. Members and priesthood leaders are expected to review the general principle-based guidelines and then, with the guidance of the Spirit, apply the guidelines to a particular circumstance, adjusting to the occasional exception as appropriate. “Music should be worshipful and fit the spirit of the meeting. … Music and musical texts are to be sacred, dignified, and otherwise suitable for sacrament meeting” (Handbook 2, 14.4, 14.4.4). In keeping with these guidelines, music for sacrament meetings should be chosen and presented with the intent of promoting worship, rather than bringing attention to the performance itself.
May we use hymns from other denominations for special selections?
Yes. However, musical texts should be doctrinally correct (see Handbook 2, 14.4.2).
May we use classical music for special selections?
“In addition [to the hymns], other appropriate selections may be used for prelude and postlude music, choir music, and special musical presentations. … Secular music should not replace sacred music in Sunday meetings. … Also, much sacred music that is suitable for concerts and recitals is not appropriate for a Latter-day Saint worship service” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2). In keeping with these guidelines, music for sacrament meetings should be chosen and performed with the intent of promoting worship, rather than bringing attention to the performance itself.
May we use popular music that is written for a Latter-day Saint audience in sacrament meetings?
“Some religiously oriented music presented in a popular style is not appropriate for sacrament meetings” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2).
May we use classical music for prelude and postlude music in sacrament meetings?
“In addition [to the hymns], other appropriate selections may be used for prelude and postlude music, choir music, and special musical presentations. … Much sacred music that is suitable for concerts and recitals is not appropriate for a Latter-day Saint worship service” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2).
May the guitar be used in sacrament meeting?
“Organs and pianos, or their electronic equivalents, are the standard instruments used in Church meetings. If other instruments are used, their use should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2).
May brass instruments be used in sacrament meeting?
“Instruments with a prominent or less worshipful sound, such as most brass and percussion, are not appropriate for sacrament meeting” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2). “Music that is carefully selected and properly presented can greatly enhance the spirit of worship” (Handbook 2, 14.4).
Is it possible to use recorded accompaniment for special selections in sacrament meetings?
“Live accompaniment is normally used in sacrament and other ward meetings. If a piano, organ, or accompanist is not available, appropriate recordings may be used” (Handbook 2, 14.4.2.) Karaoke-type accompaniment is discouraged.
Should the performer of a special musical selection use the microphone?
The use of a microphone would not be appropriate in sacrament meeting if it were to detract from the spirit of the meeting, creating the semblance of a popular performance. However, a microphone may be used if the performer’s voice or instrument needs to be amplified.
What is the policy regarding cantatas for Easter and Christmas meetings?
“If a musical program is presented, it should be simple, reverent, and short enough to allow a spoken message. Sacrament meetings should not be turned over to outside musical groups. Recitals, concerts, and pageantry are not appropriate in sacrament meeting” (Handbook 2, 14.4.4).
May the piano and organ be used together?
“Using the piano and organ at the same time is not standard for Church meetings. However, these instruments may be used together occasionally” (Handbook 2, 14.9.3).
When will the Church publish a new hymnbook (or Children’s Songbook)?
The hymnbook and children’s songbook are currently under revision. Development of the prototypes for both books is expected to take several years as the committees coordinate together, considering both new and existing hymns and songs for inclusion. Translation of the books will begin after that work is complete. Learn more here.
May the meetinghouse organs and pianos be used for paid private instruction? What about recitals?
“When there is not a reasonable alternative, priesthood leaders may authorize the use of meetinghouse pianos and organs for practice, paid private instruction, and recitals involving members of the units that use the meetinghouse. No admittance fee should be charged for recitals” (Handbook 2, 14.7).
Who is responsible for keeping the musical instruments tuned and in repair? What is the procedure?
“The agent bishop for each meetinghouse and the stake physical facilities representative (a high councilor) are to see that pianos and organs are tuned, maintained, and repaired as needed” (Handbook 2, 14.9.3).
May we use original songs in Primary?
“The Children’s Songbook and the current sharing time outline are the basic resources for music in Primary. Hymns from the hymnbook and songs from the Friend and Liahona are also appropriate. Occasionally, children may sing patriotic or holiday songs that are suitable for Sunday and for the children’s ages. The use of any other music in Primary must be approved by the bishopric” (Handbook 2, 11.2.4).
What are the guidelines for music in Relief Society?
Music for Relief Society follows the pattern for other Church meetings.
What is the standard format for Latter-day Saint funerals?
“The bishop … considers the wishes of the family, but he ensures that the funeral is simple and dignified, with music and brief addresses and sermons centered on the gospel. … Music for funerals might include prelude music, an opening hymn, special musical selections, a closing hymn, and postlude music. Simple hymns and other songs with gospel messages are most appropriate for these occasions. Opening and closing hymns are usually sung by the congregation” (Handbook 2, 18.6.4).
What music is appropriate for weddings held in the chapel?
“A wedding ceremony that is held in a home or Church building might include prelude music, hymns, special musical selections, and postlude music. Civil marriage ceremonies should be simple, conservative, and without pomp in the proceedings. When a wedding ceremony is held in a Church building, a wedding march is not appropriate” (Handbook 2, 14.9.5).
What are the guidelines regarding forming multistake or area choirs or orchestras?
“With priesthood leaders’ approval, stake and multistake choirs may be organized for stake conferences, regional conferences, and other occasions, such as community events. After the performance, the choir is disbanded until other occasions arise. These choirs should not interfere with members’ participation in ward choirs. Standing community choirs directed by and consisting primarily of Church members are not sponsored by the Church. These choirs should not use references to the Church such as 'LDS,' 'Latter-day Saint,' or 'Mormon' in their names. If stake priesthood leaders approve, community choirs may use Church buildings for rehearsals and performances, provided they follow Church standards and policies related to activities and finances” (Handbook 2, 14.6.2).
Should choir members be called and set apart?
“Ward members may participate voluntarily in the choir, or the bishopric may invite or call them to participate” (Handbook 2, 14.4.5).
Can we have someone come to our area to do a workshop or seminar?
Wards and stakes have the responsibility for music training. “With the approval of priesthood leaders, stake and ward music chairmen may arrange for music training courses, seminars, and workshops. … No fee is charged for Church-sponsored training” (Handbook 2, 14.7). If guest speakers or instructors are invited, follow the guidelines in Handbook 2, 21.1.20. (See also general guidelines for activities in Handbook 2, 13.3.)