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As Written

I can't tell you how many times I have been in a choir, or some other musical situation, and someone asks the conductor a silly question such as, "How do you want us to sing that rhythm?" or "Do you want us to hold that note out for the full 4 counts?" or "Do you really want us to sing that C sharp, shouldn't we sing a C natural there instead?"

The answer from the conductor is invariably to sing it "as written."

Usually I just kind of snicker to myself and wonder why one would ask such a silly question in the first place. How else are you supposed to sing a particular rhythm except for exactly as it is written? Rhythmic notation leaves no room for questions. Neither does anything about musical notation. You just do what the music says and you're good.

Okay, sure, editorial error is a possibility, but usually those types of mistakes are quickly found and cleared up by the conductor who will let you know. We can't all just decide a certain compositional decision doesn't make sense, and do it the way we think it should be done. It doesn't really work that way. In the making of music, the score is our instruction book, and the conductor is our leader. The notes and the rhythms are pretty much non-negotiable, but there are things like tempo and dynamics which are left open to interpretation. In that case, we look to the conductor and if we follow his directions exactly, the melody comes out just as the composer wrote it and just as the conductor envisioned it.

Aren't the words of God the same way? How often do we look beyond the mark, trying to find greater meaning in the commandments, when really, we should just be keeping them "as written"? How often do we try to twist the words of the scriptures and the prophets to justify our actions, instead of just trying to live the plain and simple truths of the Gospel? Why is it so difficult to just accept the things that the Lord asks us to do at face value?

Maybe there is room for some editorial error, if you can call it that. But, the prophets and the apostles tend to clear these things up quite quickly and make any changes that we need to know about. And they always tell us. They also help make the interpretive decisions that are necessary for our day and age. And yet, so many of us decide that a certain commandment doesn't apply to our lives, or that it only applies in certain situations, with no regard for what the higher authorities are constantly teaching us.

I suppose there is always the danger of becoming like a Pharisee and only living the letter of the law. But doesn't Abinadi tell King Noah's priests that the reason they did not understand the commandments of God is because they are not written in their hearts? (Mosiah 13:11) I love that verse. I think that's where the true spirit of the law come into it. Do we keep the commandments because we love God, or do we do it for some other reason? Harold B. Lee said, "Truth is obeyed when it is loved." I think that's the key right there.

So the next time I question how a particular commandment should be kept, I first need to see if I love God enough to write it in my heart.

And then keep it "as written."

Lara is the mother to three amazing daughters and wife to a musical genius. When she is not working on her mother-of-the-year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching other people how to sing, taking hundreds of photographs, reading a good book, finding a great deal on groceries, or maybe even scrapbooking (that is, if she's not blogging). You can read all about her adventures at Overstuffed.

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