Planning Music for Church Worship Services
Members who serve in ward music callings work together to select appropriate music for worship services. When feasible, the bishop and his counselors choose meeting topics well in advance. This allows the music chairman, music director, and choir director to plan hymns, special selections, and choir performances that complement and reinforce the meeting topics. This also allows time for the bishopric to approve the musical selections in advance.
Opening and closing hymns in sacrament meetings are usually sung by the 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 (see “Sacrament Meetings” in Handbook 2, 14.4.4).
The sacrament hymn is always sung by the congregation. It should refer to the sacrament itself or to the sacrifice of the Savior. Vocal solos or instrumental music may not replace this hymn. No music should be played during the sacrament prayer, while the sacrament is being passed, or as a postlude after the sacrament is passed (see “Sacrament Meetings” in Handbook 2, 14.4.4).
Special musical selections or a congregational hymn may be scheduled after the sacrament or between speakers. Such musical selections may be presented by the ward choir, other choirs, small groups, or individuals. The bishopric decides what music is appropriate. (See also “Appropriate Music for Church 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.
The ward choir should sing in sacrament meeting at least once a month.
Ward Leadership Meetings
Leaders plan and conduct meetings “as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God” (D&C 20:45).
Ward leaders planning leadership meetings should ask themselves, “What music can be used to invite the Spirit?” and use that question as a guide in their preparations.
(For information about which ward leaders with music-related callings might be invited to various leadership meetings, see the pages under “Ward Music Callings.”)
The bishopric oversees music in ward priesthood meetings. Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary leaders oversee music in their organizations’ meetings (for more information, see the information below, the pages under “Ward Music Callings,” and the appropriate section of Handbook 2).
Each meeting begins with a welcome by a member of the presidency, a hymn, a prayer, and brief announcements. The meeting closes with a hymn and a prayer.
Opening exercises before Young Women classes should include an opening hymn and may include additional music, if desired. Hymns and appropriate musical selections may also be used in Young Women classes.
For a large selection of downloadable MP3 music files and sheet music, visit the “Church Music Library.”
Sharing time normally includes prelude music, a reverent song or hymn that the children know, one or two activity songs, singing time conducted by a music leader (about 20 minutes), and postlude music. Music is also important in Primary classes and activities. (See also “Music” in the Primary section of Serving in the Church.)
Mutual opening exercises should include a hymn and may also include musical selections and opportunities for the youth to share their talents and testimonies.
Combined Aaronic Priesthood–Young Women Mutual Activity
Mutual activities should provide youth with a variety of opportunities to serve others and to develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. Some examples of appropriate activities are service projects, music, dance, drama, cultural events, sports or athletic events, career exploration, and outdoor activities.
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