D&C 25:12 tells us that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God. My patriarchal blessing repeats this blessing and admonishes me to play and sing the hymns of Zion. Hymns are an important aspect of the gospel and of our connection to God; yet, it seems to me, that those of us within congregations in the United States do not utilize this form of praise and worship in the way we ought to.
My grandfather often said, “There are two kinds of singers in this world: those who sing well, and those who sing loud. Sing loud.” When I sit in my Mesa, Arizona, congregation, it is only those who sing well (typically) who are singing. I have had two profound experiences when those who sing loud have brought the spirit in greater abundance than those who sing well. One happened just this last month as I was in Jamaica with my husband’s family. We attended church in the small Montego Bay, Jamaica branch. There were maybe a dozen Jamaicans there and a handful of tourists. The sacrament chorister conducted on his own time frame and with more vigor than I have ever witnessed. He understood the worship held within the hymns, and he was trying to convey that to those within the congregation. He was conducting his own Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the members of the Montego Bay Branch felt as though they were that choir. Their singing was the loudest I have ever heard from congregation. It also was by far the most out-of-tune, because they did not care to sing well, they cared to sing loud. They cared to worship loud. I have musical training, so I knew it was off. Normally this annoys me to no end, but there in that small room, it was a little slice of heaven. The conviction with which they sang those words dripped with testimony and belief. And it brought the spirit more than any hymn in my North American units ever has.
The other experience I had was similar. I was on study abroad in Paris, France. The ward in central Paris is interesting because it is made of ex-pat Americans and French African saints. The ward choir, comprised only of French Africans, was looking for additional voices. Thinking that I was one who “sang well,” I went to church early to practice with them. My “singing well” paled in comparison to their “singing loud.” As I stood to sing with them in sacrament, I could barely sing the words because their passion was so infused in their loud singing. Once again, I felt their testimonies dripping from an ordinary hymn.
My point is this: sing loud. We do not care if you can sing well or if you can sing at all. That is not the reason we have hymns. We have hymns because 1.) God commanded us to sing praises unto him and 2.) They are vehicles of the spirit. We sing hymns to connect to our God and to worship him with our soul. We sing hymns to receive revelation. God does not care if you are signing well. Revelation will come if you cannot sing well. We suffer from a lack of loud singing within our North American congregations, and it is truly our own loss. When you pick up the hymnal this Sunday, sing the words like you actually mean them. Think about what you are singing, and truly praise God by the words you are singing. Sing loud, and start a revolution within your own ward of the importance of hymns and the spirit they can bring to your meeting. I promise you, they do not need to be sung well to bring that spirit. They only need to be sung loud.