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Open House Message
Margaret D. Nadauld
Young Women General President
There are highlights, which stand apart in a life as significant. One such moment in my life was a personal meeting with President David O. McKay when I was in college. I was not much older than the young women you work with when I received an invitation to meet with the President of the Church along with a group of other young people. I remember my great feelings of unpreparedness for such an interview, but I also remember thinking how marvelous it would be if I could sit close to him and receive his personal counsel to me.
I was determined to be spiritually prepared for this special visit. With a prayer in my heart I read my scriptures all the way from Provo to Salt Lake City, typical of the "cramming" style of a college student! It must have worked because the meeting was wonderful. As we arrived at President McKay's apartment at the Hotel Utah several of the Apostles were leaving and they
stopped to greet us. Then, sisters I met the Prophet.
He invited us to sit with him on the couch and he took my youthful hand in his large, warm prophet s hand for the duration of the meeting. I will forever remember the great warmth and love I felt in his presence as he talked with us.
All too soon the visit ended and I realized that there had been no personal advice for any of us. In fact the words of the meeting have left my memory, but priorities became very clear that day. I had heard the prophet teach principles from the pulpit, and on this day I understood that when the prophet speaks he is speaking to me and to you. Ever since then I have listened carefully to the words of the prophet when he speaks because I know his words give sure guidance for our lives.
With my current assignment I am concerned about the young women of the Church and I look to the prophet for guidance by paying close attention to what he says to them and about them. For example, President Hinckley said, "When we save a girl, we save generations'' (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, September 1988, p.10). His simple statement reminds US what our work is all about. He teaches about the ever-lasting consequences of a girl with a testimony. The prophet's words help us visualize the far-reaching effects of our efforts and help us remember to "be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things, [even 12 year olds] proceedeth that which is great" (Doctrine and Covenants 64:33). It is that assurance that helps us focus on ways to strengthen young women.
Today our focus is on ways to infuse the whole Young Women program with Music, for music has great power to strengthen testimonies, teach the gospel, and keep youth close to the Church. Children are taught the gospel effectively through music in Primary. When you think of your favorite Primary memories, I would guess that many of those memories include singing time. In your ward, when children graduate from Primary, do they leave music behind? When they enter Young Women, are we building upon the foundation of Primary songs as girls sing the wonderful hymns of Zion, or do we just quit teaching the gospel with music? We hope not.
In the new Church Handbook of Instruction on pages 218 and 223 we read the following: "The bishopric may call adult women or young women to serve as Young Women music directors and pianists. The music director selects and conducts hymns for Sunday opening exercises. She also may help young women learn special musical selections and develop their musical abilities.... Music activities could include performances by youth choral groups, variety shows, quartet and music festivals, roadshows, and short presentations on music appreciation. Activities also could include instruction in singing,
conducting, and reading music.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks emphasized the importance of music in a 1994 October conference address. He taught: "The singing of hymns is one of the best ways to put ourselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. I wonder if we are making enough use of this heaven-sent resource in our meetings, in our classes, and in our homes" (Ensign, November 1994, p.9-11).
A Young Women presidency in Georgia is using "this heaven-sent resource." They write: "This year we took all of the lesson titles and matched them with hymns on that topic and scriptures gleaned from the bottom of the hymns. These we use in our opening exercises. It has been amazing to see the results. At first it was just nice to see that there was a scripture designated as appropriate for that day's lesson without the girls just opening their scriptures and randomly reading. Then the miracles began to
happen. The teachers all report that the words of the songs sung during opening exercises prompt questions that go along with their lessons. Almost before they can even begin to teach, the girls are asking questions. One new convert asked about 'how a prophet is called'. The girls have expressed gratitude at the 'structure' and are excited that our Mutual night activities reinforce the lessons that they were taught on Sunday. How great it can be when we follow the plan properly "
In his conference address Elder Oaks went on to explain: "The singing of hymns is one of the best ways to learn the doctrine of the restored gospel. Elder Stephen D. Nadauld captured this unique strength in some lines he wrote and shared in a General Authority meeting:
If I would teach with power the doctrine and the plan, I'd wish for gentle music to prepare the soul of man. And then to press forever these truths upon his mind, We'd sing the hymns of Zion With their messages sublime."
Let me illustrate how music can teach doctrine. There have been some
marvelous experiences come about in the lives of the young women who have been preparing
to sing in the General Young Women Meeting on the 27th of March. This has been a spiritual
experience for the girls. After the words of the songs are memorized and practiced over a
two-month period, they become part of the girl's memory bank. She will be able to call
upon the words of More Holiness Give Me or The Lord Is My Light at any time of need in her
One young woman was called by her bishop to be a member of the choir. She didn't come to church very often and owned only one dress, but the bishop called her and she agreed to be part of the choir. She was picked up every Sunday and taken to rehearsal by her peers. They sat together, learned the songs together, and enjoyed each other's companionship. When she was returned to her home afterward, she was far richer and stronger than when she arrived. She not only sang the hymns of Zion, but she was nurtured in gospel learning and understanding by the inspired conductor, wonderful Sister Annette Whitaker.
This young woman is blessed by those who are called to serve her. She is taught to follow the formula of our prophet, President Hinckley, when he teaches that to remain active in the Church everyone needs to have three things: I) a friend, 2) a responsibility, and 3) to be nurtured by the good word of God (Ensign, May 1997 p. 47) The girls who pick her up, sit by her,
and learn the hymns with her are wonderful friends. They are new friends. She has accepted a responsibility to sing in the choir. Her bishop called her and gave her this responsibility, and she has never missed one practice or one meeting. She is being nurtured by the good word of God as her leader teaches the meaning of the hymns with love, the Spirit, and good humor.
Sister Whitaker has taken many opportunities to teach the gospel while teaching music to the young women in the General Young Women Meeting choir. One example I'd like to share with you was when she was teaching the girls the third verse to the song More Holiness Give Me.
Sister Whitaker told the girls of a friend who was suffering from a terminal illness. She talked of her friend's "longing for home," her heavenly home, her desire to be "more fit for the kingdom," and to be ''more used."
Sister Whitaker continually helped the girls view the words of this song as gospel messages, not just simply words on a page,. She explained that how they sing them, the expressions on their face, and the testimony in their hearts would teach those who would be listening and would strengthen their own testimonies as well.
What will be the most important thing that happens in the lives of these young women who will be singing for us on March 27th? It will be the process of learning, the songs, understanding their message, feeling the spirit of the hymns, becoming friends with the other young women, and the nurturing by her leaders as she comes to the rehearsals. It is the process, not the performance that makes all the difference in the lives of the young women.
Each choir rehearsal for the General Young Women Meeting was begun and ended with prayers that were assigned a week in advance. Each week a leader gave a spiritual message, and then before beginning to rehearse, all the young women stood together and said the Theme. This was all done in an effort to invite the Spirit of the Lord to be with them.
The beauty of this example and the reason I share it is because it can be repeated over and over again any place in the world. Young women can gather together and practice glorious music for a special occasion you plan. They can rehearse for two months as these girls have done. They can memorize the hymns and be tutored by the Spirit and an inspired music leader. You can do this in your wards and stakes. I pray, for the sake of the girls, that you will.
In his address, Elder Oaks went on to explain: "The scriptures contain many affirmations that hymn singing is a glorious way to worship. Before the Savior and His Apostles left the upper room where they had the sublime experience of the Last Supper, they sang a hymn. After their hymn, the Savior led them to the Mount of Olives (see Matthew 26:30).
"Modern revelation reaffirms the importance of sacred music. In one of the earliest revelations given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord appointed Emma Smith to 'make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For 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' (Doctrine and Covenants 25: 11 - 12).
"In a revelation given through another prophet a generation later, the Lord commanded his people to 'praise the Lord with singing, [and] with music'" (Doctrine and Covenants 136:28).
One ward reported to us that their music specialist understood that scripture. She had been called to work with the youth in accordance with the Church Handbook of Instructions, page 218, and had caught the vision of how important music could be in the lives of young people. She organized a youth choir to learn music for Easter. When the bishop heard them, he invited them to provide the music for sacrament meeting. Young people who had never participated in musical groups before caught the spirit of this assignment in their ward and came to rehearsals, loved it, and were hooked! Teenage girls and boys alike joined in the rehearsals and presented a lovely Easter program of sacred music. One parent described it as thrilling! Then along came Christmas and all the wonderful music of that season. Once again the young people of the ward responded to the invitation of the music specialist, and another miracle occurred as the youth sang together and loved doing so.
I often recall the sweet memory of Young Women choirs who have sung at meetings 1 have attended in Mexico, the Philippines, Tremonton, and other places in the world. I can remember more than one occasion when I've watched a young woman in a choir, singing in a language I couldn't understand, with a radiant face and tears streaming down her cheeks as she felt the Spirit in her singing. Although I couldn't understand the language, I most assuredly felt the language of the Spirit from that music and it made all the difference. The Spirit was invited into a meeting by the sacred music of angel girls. Music allowed the teaching and the learning to be so very sweet.
I know of a stake that is setting a great example. They want their young people to have an experience with a musical drama depicting the restoration of the Church. To be able to do this, the youth need numerous practices. In this stake for the next six weeks, the activity for Mutual will be the rehearsal for this fine production. It is blessing lives. Youth who didn't know that they enjoyed music or singing together in a group are coming together with their friends from all over the stake. As a general rule, all
the wards are counting these rehearsals as their Mutual activity and the youth are not taken out of their homes by the Church more than one school night. The young people are having an experience they will never forget.
Music has great power to strengthen testimonies, teach the gospel, and keep youth close to the Church. And you know how much fun music can be! Music can be infused in all that we do in Young Women.
Remember roadshows? Roadshows contain fun, happy, upbeat, wholesome music. I want to share the words of a roadshow song about roadshows written by D. Ray Thomas:
There's lots more to roadshow than winning the prize, believe me. Fifty one kids have learned to work as a team, Fifty one kids have gained some new self esteem. Old folks have changed impressions they had. Kid's aren't really that bad. Now every teenager, they used to enrage her. But now we would wager, they're friends forever. We have found out that, whatever the flap, Roadshows can bridge generations that gap.
Did you know David and Jack had never learned how to dance. Did you see what happened when you gave them a chance? Julie and Bill, they never had met. She'll wear his ring by November, I'll bet. And when the Smith's saw their kids on stage, did you see the tears? They hadn't been here to Church for over five years. They'll be here Sunday and then many more. That's what roadshows are for. The things these kids meet while carousing the street, you can bet we have beat with a first class roadshow. Learning, to live beats a trophy by tar. At working together each one is a star.
These kids have had a good time and it has been a great show. You've taught them to star and helped their confidence grow. Life is our show-, the world is our stage. You've helped these kids come out of their cage. They've won their prize, and you've earned your wage. There's no show like roadshow, we've got to agree. There is no show like roadshow for me!
This kind of musical activity helps teach youth that living the gospel is a happy pursuit!
I would like to refer you to the April 1997 New Era article called, Tis Sweet to Sing by Lisa M. Grover, and to the April 1998 Ensign article called The Peaceable Followers of Christ by Elder Boyd K. Packer. You will be inspired as you read these articles relating to music. I thank Heavenly Father for music called "Divine Art" by Wilford Woodruff (Letter from Wilford Woodruff and his counselors, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, under date of February 11, 1895 to the choir at that time, read in April 1996 Conference by President Hinckley.) May you determine to bless young women with music!
Dear leaders of young women, in keeping with the theme of my message about music today I would like to sing these last few minutes to you. Since that is not possible, I would just simply speak with you about two matters of importance, which we hope you can help us with. There is some concern about modesty and about retention of the young adults. First may we consider
In First Corinthians 3: 16,17 we are taught: 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you...For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.' We would never think of showing disrespect for a holy temple in any way. We must think of our bodies as a temple also. We all need the Spirit of our Heavenly Father to be with us as
leaders and young women alike.
Servants of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly to show respect for Him and for themselves. By being modest in our dress, we not only show respect for our Heavenly Father but we are worthy to have His guidance. We do need to remember that we are the example.
Please be cautious about the way you dress. The counsel for young women in the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet applies to girls and to us. "Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others," especially to young women who look to your example, please "dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you." Young impressionable eyes watch and remember. As they are preparing to make and keep sacred temple covenants, they must see women who honor their covenants in the way they dress as well as the way they behave. They need to see women who keep their covenants with exactness. You have such great influence on the girls you serve. It is a blessing to them when you keep your standards high and they see that doing so makes you happy (p.8).
The second thing I'd like to address with you is the issue of retention. We only have these young women for six short years. The preparation we help her with in Young Women can set her on the course for the rest of her life. It can prepare her for her membership in Relief Society. In fact, it must prepare her for her membership in Relief Society. When she turns eighteen she
becomes a member of the oldest, largest women's organization on the face of the earth. Sisters are you preparing the young women that you love to accept their membership in Relief Society wholeheartedly and happily? Are they looking forward to their Relief Society experience as young adults? Will you work together as leaders in Young Women and Relief Society to find inspired ways to help the young women want to attend Relief Society when they turn eighteen? Please work together to help them be active and contributing members of that great organization.
It is a privilege for me to serve with you in the kingdom. I love the Lord. I love the work of the Lord. He has promised, "If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:67). The Lord will be your light. He needs
women who are enlightened to serve His Children in our days. President Kimball said this regarding righteous women like you: "To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times.... Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife" (Women's Fireside, November 1978 Ensign, p. 103). We thank you for your goodness. We need you. Living the gospel is a happy pursuit. Thank you for showing that to the young women you serve. Thank you for your diligence and your desire to serve well. Thank you for your efforts in being here today. If you were to sit next to the prophet and he were to hold your hand in his, what do you suppose he could say to you? What more could he say than he has already said? When the prophet speaks, he speaks to us. It is my prayer that we will listen
and follow. I testify to you that this is the Church of Jesus Christ, He lives, and He is the Son of God, and President Hinckley follows Him. He is a prophet. He is God's prophet on the earth today. We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet! In the name of Jesus Christ Amen
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