I drafted this chart based on some of our discussion in Sunday School today. We studied the birth and early life of Jesus Christ (mostly from Luke 2), and found basic patterns in the lives of those involved in that period, setting clear themes and models for us to follow in our own devotion to the Lord:
I’ve listened to several works of classical music this summer that are new to me, but I don’t think I’ve liked any of them more than I have these two pieces by Bach, his St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor. They’re quite long and I’ve only heard each once, so I can’t write about them in any meaningful detail; all I can say is that I like how they sound.
What’s struck me the most about them is their pervasive, ubiquitous piety. These two major works by one of music’s great masters are also artifacts of pure faith, resonating with reverence in every note. Like his contemporary Handel’s Messiah (a couple of individual pieces from which are familiar to everybody), both of these are suffused with the sublime and elevate praise to that refined plane of existence known as art. Truly moving. In fact, the first time I listened to St. Matthew Passion, one of my main impressions was, I should listen to this on Sunday afternoons.
I’ve also learned this summer what a great classical music tool YouTube can be. Not just private interpretations, but frequently entire concerts, in full orchestra, are archived there, in versions of exquisitely professional quality. Not only that, but longer works such as these two are usually available for viewing on a playlist, where the bite-sized clips apparently required by YouTube can be strung together in a continuous order for nearly seamless enjoyment. Press “play all” and enjoy your night at the symphony, or your pleasant Sabbath afternoon.
One topic to which my eye was drawn during a study of the Book of Mormon was how exactly God wants to be worshipped. As Latter-day Saints, we often say that lives of steady, regular devotion to righteousness and service constitute the ultimate worship, which is all fine and good–no problem there–but in light of the examples set by prophets in the scriptures, it seems incomplete. Consider:
1 Nephi 1:14-15: Lehi exclaims to God how great God’s power and plan are
2 Nephi 4:30-35: Proclaim trust in God while pleading (with firm faith) for help
2 Nephi 9: 8,9,13,17,19,20: Extol the virtues of God
Mosiah 2:3-4: Mosaic sacrifices and offerings explicitly linked with showing gratitude (see also verse 20)
Mosiah 18:30: Praises to be sung to God
Alma 26:8: Again, singing laudatory praises of gratitude
Alma 45:1: Fasting and prayer mentioned in conjunction with grateful worship
And those eleven citations are just a sampling of what the Book of Mormon shows in its narrative about the nature of worship. This may be something that we could benefit to learn from our Evangelical friends: while the kind of demonstrative emotion shown in much of their public worship might strike us as overly ecstatic to the point of being irreverent, our own scriptures surely show that it does have a proper place. I offer three suggestions–which I’ve practiced myself–to try integrating into our own worhsip, and see if they don’t invite the Spirit: