You’ve probably heard a lot of rumors about missionaries and the music they can or can’t listen to. In fact, the stories you’ve heard contradict each other. So how will you know what tracks to bring and which ones to leave at home?
Each mission may have different “music guidelines,” because the mission presidents can specify appropriate and inappropriate music for their missions. Whether or not your mission president has done that, there is a general standard for all missionaries to follow.
What can I listen to?
The missionary handbook asks all missionaries to listen to music that aligns with their divine callings and “invite[s] the Spirit, help[s] you focus on the work, and direct[s] your thoughts and feelings to the Savior.” Let’s look at how these three elements will strengthen your calling.
1.Invite the Spirit.
Music is powerful. We’ve all felt the Spirit when inspiring musical numbers are heard. Our Prophet and his apostles remark each conference on the incredible and uplifting music performed by the choirs.
Seek for music that when played, you feel its goodness. You will feel the Spirit through the words, the voice and melody of each song. (Refer to Moroni 7:13 for guidance.)
2. Focus on the work.
Elder Stephen D. Nadauld shared his thoughts about music:
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.
There is a connection between musical power and teaching the Gospel. Listening to inspiring, faith-filled music will enhance your work in the field. It prepares you for the work. Singing these songs will magnify lessons and other meetings. Sacred music affirms truth.
3. Direct your thoughts and feelings to the Savior.
President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, “We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.” Let the music you listen to strengthen your relationship with the Savior. Ask yourself, “How do I feel? Are my thoughts directed towards Him and His work?” Answer these two simple questions and decide whether or not the music is directing you to live more like Him. If it is, bring it!
What tunes should I leave at home?
Missionaries are also asked to refrain from certain types of music. These musical choices can weaken the Spirit. To protect us from this, the handbook continues, “Do not listen to music that pulls your thoughts away from your work, merely entertains, has romantic lyrics or overtones, or dulls your spiritual sensitivity by its tempo, beat, loudness, lyrics, or intensity.”
With these guidelines, leave music that does not meet these requirements at home.
Don’t worry if you still have questions. Your mission president will be more than happy to answer them.
The influence of music.
“Music is an effective way to worship our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” It will be a tool to strengthen your testimony, companionships and those you are teaching. As you’re choosing music to bring on your mission, listen to the spirit that exists with each song. Remember the three elements each tune should involve and the features it should exclude.
The hymnbook introduction, Elder Oaks’ talk “Worship Through Music,” and Elder Jensen’s talk “The Nourishing Power of Hymns” offer other great suggestions that can also aid you in your music selection.