“Singing with the ‘Tongue of Angels’” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 72–73
By the time I went on my mission, I was amazed at the number of scriptures, psalms, and hymns I had memorized due to my participation in ward and stake choirs. Because our stake sang the Messiah every year, for example, not only did I understand many difficult passages from Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets, I knew they were true.
Since that time I have either sung in, played for, or directed the ward choir whenever possible. Here are two suggestions for choir directors that I’ve learned from my own experiences:
Sing often. And remember, not every performance needs to be in sacrament meeting. Many ward choirs sing at firesides, ward Christmas parties, conferences, funerals, memorial services, community events, and care centers. Our choir will long remember the little gray-haired lady in the wheelchair at a local care center who alternately applauded and cried out, “Please come back, please come back,” between numbers. As the choir members sang, workers and visitors started gathering outside the door to feel the beautiful spirit that was present.
The more you sing, the more needed your choir will feel. The more they feel needed, the more faithfully they will come.
Never use guilt. This dampens ward choir enthusiasm fast and drives away potential members. The best way to increase the size of your choir is to love people into the choir. Just as the Church personalizes the gospel by baptizing and teaching people individually, you will find participants by individually inviting, calling, and assuring ward members of the blessings that await them in the choir. In our ward, we have prayed members into the choir, we have prayed a song to beauty, and the Lord has heard our prayers (see D&C 19:38).—Brad Thompson, Hughson Ward, Turlock California Stake