Manuscript Releases, vol. 5 [Nos. 260-346]


MR No. 306—Music

I saw we must be daily rising and keep the ascendancy above the powers of darkness. Our God is mighty. I saw singing to the glory of God often drove the enemy [away], and praising God would beat him back and give us the victory.—Manuscript 5, 1850, 1, 2. (“A Vision the Lord Gave Me at Oswego,” July 29, 1850.) 5MR 193.1

It has been revealed to me that not all the families who have a knowledge of the truth have brought the truth into their practice. Every talent of influence is to be sacredly cherished for the purpose of gathering souls to Christ's side. Young men and young women, do not consider that your musical entertainments, conducted as they are in _____ are doing acceptable missionary work. A spirit has come into them that is of a different order. We had this same spirit to meet thirty years ago, and we bore decided testimony against it in Battle Creek. 5MR 193.2

A decided religious feature should be encouraged in all our gatherings. Light has been given me decidedly again and again. Thirty years ago, when certain ones would assemble together for an evening of singing exercises, the spirit of courting was allowed to come in, and great injury was done to souls, some of whom never recovered.—Manuscript 57, 1906, 3. (“The Work at Mountain View,” May 3, 1906.) 5MR 193.3

It is not safe for the Lord's workers to take part in worldly entertainments. Association with worldliness in musical lines is looked upon as harmless by some Sabbathkeepers. But such ones are on dangerous ground. Thus Satan seeks to lead men and women astray, and thus he has gained control of souls. So smooth, so plausible is the working of the enemy that his wiles are not suspected, and many church members become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.—Manuscript 82, 1900, 12. (Diary, “From Australia to California,” August 29-September 13, 1900.) 5MR 193.4

The same night there was beautiful music and fireworks close by across the road. There is an extensive beer garden owned by the city and carried on by the city. This garden is made attractive with flowers and shrubs and noble trees, giving a nice shade. There are seats that will accommodate hundreds, and little oval tables are adjusted before these seats and this most beautiful instrumental music is played by the band.—Manuscript 33, 1886, 1. (Untitled, September 2, 1886.) 5MR 194.1

We are having an indescribable concert. Nine are singing—Dutch or German, or French, I cannot tell which. The voices are just splendid, quite entertaining. I think it is a Sunday school excursion company.—Letter 8, 1876, p. 2. (To “Dear Husband,” April 16, 1876.) 5MR 194.2

I was shown the case of Brother S—that he would be a burden to the church unless he comes into a closer relation with God. He is self-conceited. If his course is questioned he feels hurt. If he thinks another is preferred before him, he feels that it is an injury done to him.... 5MR 194.3

Brother S has a good knowledge of music, but his education in music was of a character to suit the stage rather than the solemn worship of God. Singing is just as much the worship of God in a religious meeting as speaking, and any oddity or peculiarity cultivated attracts the attention of the people and destroys the serious, solemn impression which should be the result of sacred music. Anything strange and eccentric in singing detracts from the seriousness and sacredness of religious service. 5MR 195.1

Bodily exercise profiteth little. Everything that is connected in any way with religious worship should be dignified, solemn, and impressive. God is not pleased when ministers professing to be Christ's representatives so misrepresent Christ as to throw the body into acting attitudes, making undignified and coarse gestures, unrefined, coarse gesticulations. All this amuses, and will excite the curiosity of those who wish to see strange, odd, and exciting things, but these things will not elevate the minds and hearts of those who witness them. 5MR 195.2

The very same may be said of singing. You assume undignified attitudes. You put in all the power and volume of the voice you can. You drown the finer strains and notes of voices more musical than your own. This bodily exercise and the harsh, loud voice makes no melody to those who hear on earth and those who listen in heaven. This singing is defective and not acceptable to God as perfect, softened, sweet strains of music. There are no such exhibitions among the angels as I have sometimes seen in our meetings. Such harsh notes and gesticulations are not exhibited among the angel choir. Their singing does not grate upon the ear. It is soft and melodious and comes without this great effort I have witnessed. It is not forced and strained, requiring physical exercise. 5MR 195.3

Brother S is not aware how many are amused and disgusted. Some cannot repress thoughts not very sacred and feelings of levity to see the unrefined motions made in the singing. Brother S exhibits himself. His singing does not have an influence to subdue the heart and touch the feelings. Many have attended the meetings and listened to the words of truth spoken from the pulpit, which have convicted and solemnized their minds; but many times the way the singing has been conducted has not deepened the impression made. The demonstrations and bodily contortions, the unpleasant appearance of the strained, forced effort has appeared so out of place for the house of God, so comical, that the serious impressions made upon the minds have been removed. Those who believe the truth are not as highly thought of as before the singing. 5MR 196.1

Brother S's case has been a difficult one to manage. He has been like a child undisciplined and uneducated. When his course has been questioned, instead of taking reproof as a blessing, he has let his feelings get the better of his judgment and he has become discouraged and would do nothing. If he could not do in everything as he wanted to do, all in his way, he would not help at all. He has not taken hold of the work earnestly to reform his manners but has given up to mulish feelings that separate the angels from him and bring evil angels around him. The truth of God received in the heart commences its refining, sanctifying influence upon the life.... 5MR 196.2

Brother S ... has thought that singing was about the greatest thing to be done in this world and that he had a very large and grand way of doing it. 5MR 196.3

Your singing is far from pleasing to the angel choir. Imagine yourself standing in the angel band elevating your shoulders, emphasizing the words, motioning your body and putting in the full volume of your voice. What kind of concert and harmony would there be with such an exhibition before the angels? 5MR 197.1

Music is of heavenly origin. There is great power in music. It was music from the angelic throng that thrilled the hearts of the shepherds on Bethlehem's plains and swept round the world. It is in music that our praises rise to Him who is the embodiment of purity and harmony. It is with music and songs of victory that the redeemed shall finally enter upon the immortal reward. 5MR 197.2

There is something peculiarly sacred in the human voice. Its harmony and its subdued and heaven-inspired pathos exceeds every musical instrument. Vocal music is one of God's gifts to men, an instrument that cannot be surpassed or equalled when God's love abounds in the soul. Singing with the spirit and the understanding also is a great addition to devotional services in the house of God. 5MR 197.3

How this gift has been debased! When sanctified and refined it would accomplish great good in breaking down the barriers of prejudice and hard-hearted unbelief, and would be the means of converting souls. It is not enough to understand the rudiments of singing, but with the understanding, with the knowledge, must be such a connection with heaven that angels can sing through us. 5MR 197.4

Your voice has been heard in church so loud, so harsh, accompanied or set off with the gesticulations not the most graceful, that the softer and more silvery strains, more like angel music, could not be heard. You have sung more to men than to God. As your voice has been elevated in loud strains above all the congregation, you have been thoughtful of the admiration you were exciting. You have really had such high ideas of your singing, that you have had some thoughts that you should be remunerated for the exercise of this gift. 5MR 197.5

The love of praise has been the mainspring of your life. This is a poor motive for a Christian. You have wanted to be petted and praised like a child. You have had much to contend with in your own nature. It has been hard work for you to overcome your natural besetments and live a self-denying, holy life.—Manuscript 5, 1874, 1-4. (“Testimony Concerning Brother Stockings,” circa 1874.) 5MR 198.1

Released July 20, 1972.