I have a question for you: Have you received his image in your playing?
With this question, paraphrased from the prophet Alma, lies the greatest challenge that faces a Latter-day Saint organist. While we have to be good at what we do, the greater challenge is to do good.
As church musicians and especially as organists, we bear the sacred responsibility of inviting the Spirit of the Lord into our meetings. Our music beckons those who will hear to leave the world behind and to seek for that which is greater, higher and holy. To do this effectively, our preparations need to be sufficient and our attitudes need to be pure.
As we play the opening hymn, is our enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus Christ obvious to those who listen? Our music helps unify the congregation and creates an atmosphere of worship. This is both a tremendous opportunity and responsibility as we teach through music sacred truths.
There are those who like to complain that the Savior is never mentioned in our meetings. They are so wrong! The place where the work of our Lord is taught most clearly in our meetings is during the sacrament hymn. Think about it: our sacrament hymns plead to the Lord for mercy and remind us of that great work that was wrought for us at Calvary. We ask Him for forgiveness and promise to do better. In truth, we should never forget that he bled and died for us and our playing must be a reflection of the impact the atonement has in our lives.
As we listen to the speakers, do we think of ways we can reinforce their message? Are we sufficiently prepared that we can, if needed, change our planned postlude to better reflect what has been said? Have we learned basic techniques such as registration and improvisation to make our music more interesting? If we do this, we encourage our fellow worshipers to listen as we once again teach through music the lessons taught that day.
In the closing hymn, do we invite the listeners to introspection and prayer? Are our playing skills adequate to the task and do we constantly seek to improve them? If so, our playing becomes a tool in the hands of the Lord that is constantly increasing in usefulness.
As we do our callings well, our service is acceptable to the Lord and his presence is made manifest in what we do. The question asked at the beginning of this essay provides a measure of our sanctified service: Have we received his image in our playing?
If not, can we do so now?