New Materials Bring Gospel to Developing Areas
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“New Materials Bring Gospel to Developing Areas,” Ensign, Mar. 1978, 69–70

New Materials Bring Gospel to Developing AreasBy

Item: The meeting place has no organ, no piano. In fact, it has no electricity. But an organ prelude of the hymn “Come, Follow Me” greets a small group of Latter-day Saints who gather in a one-room building for sacrament meeting. The congregation sings, with organ accompaniment, and later they leave the meeting as postlude music plays. Where does the music come from? From a cassette tape player run by a hand-powered generator.

Item: Elsewhere, a mentally retarded adult reads Book of Mormon stories—not from the Book of Mormon, which is too difficult for him to read, but from a new publication called Book of Mormon Stories for Beginning Readers. This is the first time he has been able to read scripture stories.

Item: In a developing nation, a father and his family, none of whom can read, study the scriptures. They hear the Book of Mormon on specially prepared cassettes played on a slow-speed tape player that operates on electricity or hand-powered generator. The scriptures are recorded in the native language.

These materials and others are now being developed by the Church to bring more of the gospel to those who have not had it before—to the illiterate and semiliterate; to the mentally handicapped; to those isolated by geography, lack of transportation, and lack of electricity.

Equipment being produced includes a record player, cassette tape player, and hand-powered generator. Cassette tapes and sound sheet recording discs are being made of the standard works and of two recently written books, Book of Mormon Stories for Beginning Readers and Gospel Principles.

Seven basic courses of study are being developed for members in developing countries: Gospel Principles, and two manuals each for priesthood bearers, women, and children.

“The Gospel Principles manual is very visual, highly scriptural, and written on a popular reading level,” says Josiah Douglas, supervisor of special curriculum for the Church. Gospel Principles has 103 full-page illustrations, 16 of them in color.

The manual will be translated into many languages and also will be available in English.

“It was written in narrative form, so that it could be read aloud or recorded. The audience may be literate, illiterate, or semiliterate,” Brother Douglas says. This year, the manual is being produced in English, Spanish, Cakchiquel (a Guatemalan dialect), and Aymara (a Bolivian dialect).

The more elementary Book of Mormon Stories for Beginning Readers, written on a second-grade reading level, can be used by the mentally retarded, by those with reading skill deficiencies, and by children. It will be used in a literacy program among native people learning to read the language of their country. Each page of the reader has six color illustrations of incidents from the Book of Mormon.

Gospel Principles, Book of Mormon Stories for Beginning Readers, and the standard works will be recorded on cassettes and made available in numerous languages. However, the cassettes are far from conventional.

Many persons in developing countries have cassette tape players, but the Book of Mormon, played at conventional speed, requires $25 to $30 worth of cassette tapes. With tapes slowed to one-fourth and recorded on four tracks, the Book of Mormon can be recorded in English on two cassette tapes, with room left for eighty-eight sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. A specially produced slow-speed tape player and the two Book of Mormon tapes can be purchased for $15.

The tape player then can be used for other slow-speed recordings of Church materials, including the rest of the scriptures, as they are produced.

Scriptures and the two new books also are being made available on sound-sheet recording discs. The slow-speed sound sheets play at two revolutions per minute. The Book of Mormon, recorded on three slow-speed sound sheets, costs seventy-five cents. The slow-speed player costs ten dollars.

To operate the cassette or disc players, the Church is making available a hand-operated six-volt generator. It can power the record player, the cassette player, a conventional cassette player, or a transistor radio. All of the materials will be field tested to determine the strengths of each.

Another innovation for those without full Church personnel or facilities is a series of “Music for Worship Service” cassettes produced by the Church Music Department.

Four cassettes contain music for two worship services each, complete with organ prelude, hymn accompaniment, and postlude. Forty-seven hymns, including ten children’s songs, are included.

One side of one tape, for example, has “Sweet Is the Work” as opening hymn, “I Stand All Amazed” as sacrament hymn, and “High on the Mountain Top” as closing hymn.

A fifth tape contains special-occasion music, including two Christmas hymns, two Easter hymns, and five hymns on selected topics. “There Is Beauty All Around” is included for family home evenings, and “It May Not Be on the Mountain Height” is included as a missionary hymn.

A sixth tape contains ten children’s songs, including “I Am a Child of God” and “The Golden Plates.”

The tapes have a wider application than just sacrament and Sunday School meetings. A family without a piano or pianist could use the tapes for home evening music.

Before the production of the tapes, Church units without organs or pianos often went without music. Now, Brother Douglas says, “If you’ve got a cassette, you’ve got an organ.”