“Consider String Quartets for Church Music,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 60–61
“String ensembles may be used for special musical selections where such music would be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting.” (Letter of the First Presidency to all stake and district presidents, bishops, and branch presidents, Sept. 6, 1974.)
Latter-day Saints should be interested in improving the quantity and quality of music in the Church. Every ward and branch should have a choir; in addition, at the suggestion of the First Presidency, string ensembles may also be encouraged to perform at meetings where they would be considered appropriate.
The Church Music Department recommends that qualified string players be invited to join with the organ and congregation in worship services. Because string instruments blend well with both organ and voices, any number and combination can be used successfully. In areas of the Church where few good string players are available, even one violin, viola, or cello is sufficient to add beauty and provide an opportunity for service.
From the early days of the restoration of the gospel, music has been encouraged in the Church to edify and uplift the hearts of the Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith “recommended the Saints to cultivate as high a state of perfection in their musical harmonies as the standard of the faith which he had brought was superior to sectarian religion.” (Joseph Young, History of the Origin of the Seventies, Salt Lake City, 1878, appendix pp. 14–15.)
Musical instruments have been used to enhance and beautify the worship services, and instrumental ensembles have often joined with choirs in worshipping through music. For a number of years the Bonneville Strings, a fine ensemble, has been regularly adding to the beauty of the services in the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake.
Recently the glorious sound of combined voices and instruments was heard at a presentation of Merrill Bradshaw’s oratorio, “The Restoration,” at Brigham Young University, when the entire audience joined the chorus and orchestra in the hymns of Zion. Those present experienced a kind of spiritual elation.
As an important part of the long-range aspect of developing the use of strings in the Church, our children should be encouraged to take music lessons and become proficient on musical instruments. They should also be provided with constant opportunities for hearing the best music beautifully performed, whether on recordings in the home or at live concerts.
With the development of new teaching philosophies and methods, it is now possible for children to learn to play string instruments as early as four and five years of age. Having such early training, our children could begin to experience the joy of service in music, even in Primary, by playing for the simple children’s songs. Then, as they advance in proficiency, they could gain further experience by playing hymns in Sunday School. Finally, with sufficient background, they would be qualified to join with the congregation, choir, and organ in sacrament meetings to inspire, through music, feelings of reverence and worship.