In Hebrew, the psalms are called Tehillim, or songs of praise. Music was important to the ancient children of Israel and it should also be important for Church members today.
Music is part of the highest form of expression. In The Promised Messiah, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: "It [music] has been given to man so he can sing praises to the Lord. It is a means of expressing, with poetic words and in melodious tunes, the deep feelings of rejoicing and thanksgiving found in the hearts of those who have testimonies of the divine Sonship and who know of the wonders and glories wrought for them by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."Music is both in the voice and in the heart. Every true saint finds his heart full of songs of praise to his Maker. Those whose voices can sing forth the praises found in their hearts are twice blest. . . ."
Music is not always a blessing, however, Elder McConkie pointed out. "Unfortunately not all music is good and edifying. Lucifer uses much that goes by the name of music to lead people to that which does not edify and is not of God. Just as language can be used to bless or curse, so music is a means of singing praises to the Lord or of planting evil thoughts and desires in the minds of men. Of that music which meets the divine standard and has the Lord's approval, He says: `My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.' (D&C 25:12)
"In view of all that the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, ought we not to sing praises to his Holy name forever?"
The Church Educational System's Old Testament Student Manual points out that, unlike much of modern music, the psalms "have the power to lift one toward God. The psalms are a collection of some of the very finest of the world's inspirational literature."
During his October 1973 general conference address, Elder McConkie spoke of the importance of praising the Lord.
"I think the Lord's people should rejoice in Him and shout praises to His holy name. Cries of Hosannah should ascend from our lips continually," he urged.
"When I think of the revealed knowledge we have about Him whom it is life eternal to know, and of the great plan of salvation which He ordained for us; when I think about His Beloved Son, who bought us with His blood, and who brought life and immortality to light through His atoning sacrifice; when I think of the life and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who has done more save Jesus only for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man who ever lived in it, and who crowned His mortal ministry with a martyr's death - my soul wells up with eternal gratitude and I desire to raise my voice with the choirs above in ceaseless praise to Him who dwells on high."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Kellene Ricks.
Sources: The Church Educational System's Old Testament student manual; The Promised Messiah, by Bruce R. McConkie; Unlocking the Old Testament, by Victor L. Ludlow; and The Spirit of the Old Testament, by Sidney B. Sperry.