Music has long been associated with the gospel, from before the foundation of the world “when the morning stars sang together” (Job 38:7) to the closing hymn of last week’s sacrament meeting. Almost all members have been affected by music somehow, whether as part of their worship or simply as uplifting entertainment.
In an effort to make the blessings of Church music more accessible to members, the Church has created and launched the Church Music Web Site (www.lds.org/churchmusic) as a resource for Church members, families, choir directors, music leaders, speakers, accompanists, and performers.
“The most important benefits of the new site will be spiritual,” says David Warner, director of the Church’s Music and Cultural Arts division. “As the First Presidency teaches in the preface to our hymnal, music has the power to move us toward greater spirituality in our homes and families. Whether or not members have a background in music, the site will help them in studying doctrinal principles, conducting family home evenings, serving in Church callings, and teaching the gospel in many settings.”
The centerpiece of the site is the Interactive Church Music Player, a tool that will play, print, download, or transpose most of the hundreds of songs from Hymns and Children’s Songbook. (A few songs from Hymns and Children’s Songbook had to be omitted because of copyright restrictions.) The player can play the music with or without vocals. Users may isolate and play specific parts of a song—helpful in learning a part. The player also allows users to change a song to a higher or lower key and even print it out in the new key.
Members can download any of the available songs with or without vocals as MP3s. The songs are all searchable by title, first line, topic, scripture reference, keywords, or author’s first or last name. Information about each song is available, as are quotes from current and past General Authorities regarding the blessings of good music.
“The hymns and children’s songs present gospel concepts in musical form,” says Diane Bastian, the Web site’s coordinator. “By including a variety of searches, the site becomes a resource for parents, leaders, and speakers to teach the gospel through the hymns.”
The site includes help for members who have a range of musical experience from basic to more advanced. Suggestions are included on selecting hymns for meetings, adapting hymns for choral use, teaching songs to children, adding variety to singing, accompanying singers, and choosing easy-to-play hymns. The Interactive Conducting Course provides helpful instruction on leading music.
Also included on the site are guidelines and rules for sending original songs and hymns to the Church’s annual music submission. Members can also print out sheet music from a number of past submissions.
“By including approved submissions, we hope the site will become a sort of living choirbook,” says Brother Warner. “We think it will become a great resource for ward choirs.”
Macromedia Flash 7.0 is required to view most of the site’s content. Flash is included in many newer Web browsers. Older browsers may be directed to download the free software before being able to access the site.