Young Men Celebrate Music That Builds and Inspires

Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 27 March 2014

Young men from a combined choir of students from Utah’s Maple Mountain and Salem Hills High Schools sing during the March 15 concert at the Assembly Hall.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • Memorizing hymns can bring strength and inspiration during trying times.
  • Provide opportunities for youth to perform in choirs and as soloists in Church meetings.

In a day when much of the world’s music demeans and degrades, a collection of young men combined their vocal and instrumental talents on March 15 to present music that builds and inspires.

Entitled “O Come, Let Us Sing,” the event was held in the historic Assembly Hall and was part of the ongoing Temple Square Performances series designed to bring faith-promoting music to the heart of Salt Lake City.

With the support of the Young Men general presidency, the evening was organized to celebrate the wealth of musical talent found among the Aaronic Priesthood quorums of the Church.

A 175-voice combined Young Men’s choir featuring students from Utah’s Maple Mountain and Salem Hills High Schools anchored many of the musical numbers. Dressed in white shirts, dark pants, and ties, the boys performed a rich selection of numbers—ranging from the reverent “Be Still, My Soul” to the spirited Appalachian folk song “Sourwood Mountain.”

The program also highlighted several talented youth soloists—including violinist Alex Hawker, McKay Holmes on the French horn, tenor Jonah Hoskins, violinist Mitchell Andersen, and pianist John Baadsgaard.

The Assembly Hall audience applauded their efforts with several standing ovations.

David L. Beck, Young Men general president, spoke at the program’s conclusion and saluted the many performers. “What a wonderful, wonderful program,” he said.

Brother Beck remembered his father, Wayne Beck, singing the songs of his own youth to his children.

“Someday, when you have children, you can sing to them the songs you learned as a young man. That will be a memory that will remain with your children and your grandchildren and perpetuate the wonderful feelings and experiences that you had as a youth.”

When Brother Beck served as a stake president he presided over a branch in a care center’s Alzheimer’s unit. Many of the branch members could not remember their names or where they were from.

“Yet when we would hold Church services and sing a hymn, they knew the words,” he said. “It was a powerful reminder to me of the enduring influence of music.”

Music, he added, remains a powerful and important aspect in the lives of youth.

“There is so much in the world today that is demeaning and degrading and is intent on pulling down our youth. So it’s wonderful to be able to enjoy an evening like this where ennobling and inspiring music is shared.”

It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who asked his wife Emma to select a collection of hymns to be used by the restored Church. They remain powerful tools in the lives of youth.

“We’re anxious for the young men of the Church to learn … the sacred hymns and to memorize important songs that will inspire them, particularly in times when they are tried.”

Brother Beck encouraged parents and youth leaders to provide added opportunities for youth to perform in choirs and as soloists in Church meetings.

“I hope the young men of our Church, and of all faiths, seek to learn the sacred hymns that will ennoble them and help them fulfill their destinies here on earth.”

Brother Randall L. Ridd, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, spoke to the choir members and soloists prior to the event. Participating in such a choir, he explained, has been scientifically proven to both calm and uplift individuals.

He also cited Doctrine and Covenants 25:12: “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.”

It was the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, he added, who discovered that happiness comes when a person seeks perfection throughout his or her life and when that person comes to understand and follow God’s will.