Are Mormons Christian: Mormon Doctrine:Christ Centered Music

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Music can also be a catalyst for feeling. The Holy Ghost. The first time I can remember feeling the spirit is when I was a young child and heard a woman sing the song “I Heard Him Come.” My guess is that you have also had experiences in your life where music has helped you directly connect with heaven.

There’s a long history of worshiping Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through music. Although there weren’t many movies about Jesus back in the days of Moses, in Exodus Chapter 15, Moses says, “I will sing unto the Lord.” A few centuries later, Psalm 9 talks about singing praises to the Lord. And note this powerful passage from Colossians: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Or in the modern day, the Lord has said, “My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.” People will often ask about the difference Christianity vs Mormonism with music. Let’s listen to a few seconds of the earliest known Christian hymn that has both lyrics and music. This hymn was written more than 1,700 years ago.

While that particular hymn might not move you in the same way it did early Christians, it illustrates a long history of Christ-centered music. The Christian theologian Saint Augustine, writing in about 400 A.D., commented on the Christian worship music of his day. He said, “I realize that when they are sung, these sacred words stir my mind to greater religious fervor and kindle in me a more ardent flame of piety than they would if they were not sung. And I also know that there are particular modes in song and in the voice corresponding to my various emotions and able to stimulate them.”

I don’t know how that mysterious relationship works, but there is no doubt that there is power in Christ-centered music. In our day, President Russell M. Nelson has talked repeatedly about the importance of sacred music. Let’s look at a brief clip from him speaking at the 2021 youth music festival.

“I love that hymn, ‘Hope of Israel,’ because my dear young friends, you are the hope of Israel, the children of the promised day. I have always loved music. Good music has amazing power. It has had a profound influence on my life, and it can on yours too. It has lifted my spirits during sad days, and it has helped me feel joy at other times. I have used music to praise our Heavenly Father and to worship our Savior. I have also found that listening to uplifting music is one of the best ways to feel the Spirit and hear the voice of the Lord.”

“We’ve heard some wonderful music today. I hope it has strengthened your love of Jesus Christ and increased your desire to take part in His great work. I also hope it has helped you feel connected to hundreds of thousands of others like you.” In context, President Nelson was speaking at an event where youth around the world had gathered together to hear sacred music. I love how he describes his hope that listening to this music together has connected them.

This same idea is present if we think across the centuries of Christianity vs Mormonism music. For example, our hymnbook contains the hymn “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” The lyrics are about a thousand years old. When we sing the hymn, we’re not just singing with the people in our congregation; we are singing with millions and millions of people across the centuries and continents who have sung these same words.

One word that’s been used in song throughout the centuries is “hallelujah,” which you probably know means “praise the Lord.” For example, in Psalm 106, we read, “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.” The Hebrew phrase translated as “praise ye the Lord” is essentially “hallelujah.” This word appears in ancient music, traditional hymns, as well as contemporary Christian songs.

Remember that the next time you sing the word “hallelujah.” Let’s listen to how this one word has been used in different ways across the centuries.

Copyright rules prevent me from playing lengthy music clips, but it’s clear that for centuries, music has been helping people draw closer to Christ. There are medieval chants about the Savior, classical works like those by Bach or Mozart or Handel. Many of us are familiar with traditional hymns, which are a powerful way to connect with Christ. The Sacred Music app produced by the Church has some great modern renditions of hymns, as well as other contemporary music produced by the Church.

I also love the broader genre of contemporary Christian music. People will ask what is the difference in Chritian music around the world? This also can bring the question, “Are Mormons Christians?”In addition, recently I’ve been listening to modern Christian music in Spanish and Portuguese. Did you know that following the United States, Brazil, and Mexico, respectively, have the second and third largest Christian populations in the world? I was recently listening to a contemporary Christian song in Spanish. It has more than 500 million YouTube views and tens of thousands of comments in Spanish praising Jesus Christ. Watching this video reminded me that I’m part of a global Christian community. If you speak a second language, you might consider exploring music in that language. It can not only help you personally, but it can also be a bridge as you share the gospel with others.

If you’d like to explore both ancient and modern Christian music, I’ve placed a curated list of Christ-centered music on the course website. One young adult recently wrote me the following: “To further focus my studies on Christ, I decided to work on being more intentional with my music, and I have seen the most incredible change in just the past few weeks. I feel like I’m always listening to music, and although it’s never bad music, it’s never particularly brought me closer to Christ. As I’ve been focusing on Christ-centered music, I’ve been able to see God’s hand in my life more. I can recognize the promptings of the Spirit better, and I’m just overall more peaceful and genuinely happy.”
That’s the power of Christ-centered music. Again, take a moment to think about application. I’m guessing you already have a good Sunday playlist. Is there a way to have a playlist that’s specifically focused on Jesus Christ? Could exploring a variety of genres of Christ-centered music help you draw closer to the Savior? We talked about diversity in artwork  with Christianity vs Mormonism, and the same principles can apply to music. Today, we’ve talked about connecting with Christ through artwork, movies, and music. My hope is that there’s something that’s got you excited, that you’re thinking, “Oh, I’d love to watch that movie,” or “I could really get into this kind of music,” or “I’d love to explore more artistic depictions of Jesus Christ.” I personally have found myself drawing closer to Christ through artwork, movies, and music, and I hope that the same thing will continue to be true for each of us.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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