We recently had a little musical fireside in which four missionaries with outstanding musical talent performed for a group of people in our Stake Center. Two were music majors (including one who was at the Peabody Conservatory before coming on a mission) and the other two had been playing for years. Violin, mandolin, piano and guitar – a nice combination you don’t hear everyday.
The highlight of the evening (other than the unplanned entertainment from a cute little girl in a flowing dress who stood in front of the stage and danced energetically and gracefully during much of the music) was probably their special arrangement of “How Great Thou Art.” During this number, one long-time investigator reported that she felt the Spirit strongly confirming that she needed to be baptized. She was baptized Monday morning. Music on Saturday, baptism on Monday. Not bad! Sure glad we had that hastily thrown-together event! And I’m mighty grateful for the missionaries who, unbeknownst to me, had been quietly preparing for such an event in case an opportunity arose. They had been practicing together on preparation days for a couple of months since they were all in the same area (three companionships in three nearby wards were involved).
I’m also grateful that the Mission President was supportive and has allowed them to have instruments with them that they can practice occasionally on their missions. One of the music majors said it was interesting to note that he’s felt his musical talents grow faster while on a mission, when he has a lot less time to practice, than before his mission. “Less practice, better sound – go figure.” This kind of blessing undoubtedly won’t be given to all those who sacrifice the pursuit of their musical or other talents for missionary service, but I’m glad it happened in at least one case.
I wonder how often music plays a role in helping people accept the Gospel. It’s certainly an important part of worship, and can open channels to the heart and mind that mere discourse cannot.