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How can I use Church music to learn about the plan of salvation?

The First Presidency taught: “Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end” (Hymns, ix). Most principles of the gospel, including those related to the plan of salvation, are taught powerfully through hymns and other Church music.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Prayerfully study these scriptures and other resources. What do you feel inspired to share with the youth?

Colossians 3:16 (Teach one another through hymns or music)

D&C 25:12 (The song of the righteous is a prayer unto the Lord)

Dallin H. Oaks, “Worship through Music,Ensign, Nov. 1994, 10–12

Music and Dancing,” For the Strength of Youth (2011), 22–23

First Presidency Preface,” Hymns, ix–x

Enhancing Lessons with Music,” Teaching, No Greater Call (1999), 172–73

Church music website

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between things they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help:

  • Ask the youth to share something they would like to tell a friend about the plan of salvation. What could they do to help the friend learn?
  • Read as a class the “First Presidency Preface” in the hymnbook (pages ix–x). Invite the youth to list on the board things the First Presidency asks us to do and the blessings they promise. 

Learn together

Each of the activities below will help the youth use Church music to learn more about the plan of salvation. Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Show the youth how to use the topical index of the hymnbook or children’s songbook to find music related to the plan of salvation. Invite each youth to select a hymn or song and study the lyrics and related scriptures (found at the end of each song). What insights do they gain about the plan of salvation from the words of the hymns?
  • Ask the youth to share a spiritual experience they have had with Church music. What made the experience meaningful to them? How can music help you teach someone a gospel truth? Ask the youth to go to the section titled “Enhancing Lessons with Music” in Teaching, No Greater Call (pages 172–73), which suggests five ways to use music in teaching. Invite the youth to select a suggestion that interests them and study that section individually or in small groups. When they are finished, ask them to share with the class what they learned and explain how they would follow the suggestion to teach others about the plan of salvation. What hymns or songs would they use?
  • Write the following headings on the board: “Premortal Life,” “Mortal Life,” and “Life after Death.” Invite the youth to sing or listen to “O My Father” (Hymns, no. 292). Ask them to identify what this hymn teaches about these three phases of the plan of salvation and write what they find under the appropriate headings on the board. What else do they learn from this hymn about Heavenly Father’s plan for us? What other hymns or children’s songs can they think of that teach about the plan of salvation? Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about how the Spirit can teach us through music.

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand how to use Church music to teach and learn about the plan of salvation? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Invite to act

Ask the youth to ponder what they learned today about teaching and learning with music. What do they feel inspired to do because of what they learned? How will it affect their study of the gospel? the way they think about music? their future teaching opportunities?