The Lord says he delights in the “song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto [him], and it shall be answered with a blessing” (D&C 25:12). The Lord intends such blessings for all his children. So he won’t withhold them just because we lack formal music training or may be tone deaf. Whoever we are, with whatever music background we possess (or lack), the Lord wants to bless our lives with music. So, sometimes he calls us as a ward choir director.
Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.
President Thomas S. Monson often reminds us that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” President David O. McKay emphasizes that we are all missionaries and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says we are all teachers. So I believe that we are also all musicians. After all, music is a universal language1 and a unique missionary tool2. Music literally teaches the gospel by delivering some of the greatest sermons to those with ears to hear.
Priesthood leaders set apart missionaries and teachers. Ward choir directors similarly receive priesthood authority to preach the gospel through music. This authority enables the choir director to choose music that will uplift, inspire, and bless those who sing and play and listen. And it entitles her to heaven’s help throughout the process.
Angels round about you.
You probably already have some talent and experience in music. (I believe music callings are always inspired, but sometimes necessity is the mother of inspiration.) Even if you have little or no experience at all, the Lord will help you develop musical ability. And not just develop it, but magnify it, make it miraculous and wonderful and marvelous to behold.
Sincere and humble choirs, great and small, often discover added strength in the very hour, yea in the very moment they perform. The singing is so sweet, the spirit so strong, it seems a sure sign of divine help. Promised angels round about us certainly do bear us up. I believe they even lend their voices in praise and in song when needed. The Spirit helps humble missionaries to bear powerful testimony in a language they are only beginning to understand. In the same way, the Holy Ghost makes ward choir music meaningful, even beautiful to those who listen.
Study it out in your mind.
On that note, I feel it’s important to recognize that all you really need to be a successful choir director is a willing heart and the guidance of the spirit. Of course, the Lord expects us study it out in our minds and seek learning from the best books (including church-provided resources for musicians). This may not be the “best” series about choir music in the church, but I hope it’s good enough to provide a few helpful ideas that will lead to your own inspiration.
- McKay, David O. Conference Report, April 1945, 119: “Music is truly the universal language, and when it is excellently expressed how deeply it moves our souls” (see music.LDS.org).
- Lee, Harold B. Conference Report, April 1973, 181: “The most effective preaching of the gospel is when it is accompanied by beautiful, appropriate music” (see music.LDS.org).
Why these notes? I link to quoted (or referenced) sources wherever possible. If I can’t readily find an online source, I’ve captured the information here—which means you’ll have to find a hard copy in a library or something, if you really need it.