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Music and the Two Great Commandments

Presentation for the 2012 Family Forum at American Heritage School

Robert Swenson

on 27 March 2012

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Transcript of Music and the Two Great Commandments

The Two Great Commandments
Robert Swenson
American Heritage School
What is the
Doctrine and Covenants 25:12
For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
Music and the inner realm of
Matthew 22:36-40
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
1. God
2. your neighbor
Music makes us feel emotions like joy or peace.
Music helps us do other things well (math, reading, etc.).
Music invites the Spirit.
Music is a prayer.
Music promotes teamwork and unity.
Love = affection? kindness?
Love = Complete understanding of another's feelings
"Music is what feelings sound like."
deeply pleased
mildly pleased
overtly pleased
covertly pleased
deeply pleased because you got what you wanted for your birthday
deeply pleased because your favorite song is on the radio
deeply pleased because a war has ended
deeply pleased because you accomplished a goal
Music’s articulate transience deals not in discrete feelings, not in particular emotions, but in the form of our inner experience: “the mere feeling of vitality, energy, or somnolence, or the sense of quietness, or of concentration, or any of the countless inward actions and conditions which are felt in…mental life”; even “how a small fright, or ‘startle’, terminates, how the tensions of boredom increase or give way to self-entertainment, how daydreaming weaves in and out of realistic thought, how the feeling of a place, a time of day, an ordinary situation is built up…”

Music does not arouse or evoke actual moods or emotions. It presents us with images that shape and differentiate consciousness in unique ways, ways, which subsequently reorient the way we perceive the world. ...Musical experience amounts in Langer’s view to “the education of feeling, as our usual schooling in factual subjects….is the education of thought.”
Reading and writing help me to
my thoughts
Creating and listening to music help me to
my feelings
"Creating music as musicians, and listening to music creatively, do precisely and exactly for feeling what writing and reading do for reasoning."
- Bennett Reimer
Doctrine and Covenants 136:28
If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
Music is a mode of giving thanks and praise.
We can develop love of God by deepening our own understanding of ourselves through music
We can develop love for our neighbor by sharing inner felt-world experiences through music
We can develop love for our neighbor by unifying our hearts in group music making experiences
Good music reveals to us our divine potential
Du Bist Die Ruh (You Are The Peace)
By Franz Shubert (1797-1898)
You are peace, The mild peace,
You are longing and what stills it.

I consecrate to you full of pleasure and pain
As a dwelling here my eyes and heart.

Come live with me,
and close quietly behind you the gates.

Drive other pain out of this breast
May my heart be full with your pleasure.

The tabernacle of my eyes by your radiance
alone is illumined,

O fill it completely!
Il est bel et bon
Pierre Passereau (1509 – 1547)
Pierre Attaignant (c. 1494 – 1552)
Individuals experiencing the same music at the same time can "align" their inner felt-world experiences
"If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.
The scriptures inform us that ‘This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’ [John 17:3.] My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being He is."
- Joseph Smith Jr.
W. Bowman quoting Susanne K. Langer in "Philisophical Perspectives on Music"
Deceitful music can give us a false sense of who we really are
Deceitful music can mislead us about the true nature of others
Deceitful music can foster unity and conformity to unholy purposes
We can increase understanding of others and see traces of their own human (divine) qualities through music.
The rules:
1. Each line of text must go through your mind and heart before it comes out of your mouth
2. You must sing out boldly, without worrying about who can hear you and what they might think
3. You must not make any judgements (positive or negative) about the way another person is singing
et in unam sanctam catholicam ecclesiam
(And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church)

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

“The soul that on Jesus doth lean for repose,
I will not, I will not, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”
Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus said unto them: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Du bist die Ruh, Der Friede mild,
Die Sehnsucht du Und was sie stillt.

Ich weihe dir Voll Lust und Schmerz
Zur Wohnung hier Mein Aug und Herz.

Kehr ein bei mir, Und schließe du
Still hinter dir Die Pforten zu.

Treib andern Schmerz Aus dieser Brust!
Voll sei dies Herz Von deiner Lust.

Dies Augenzelt Von deinem Glanz
Allein erhellt,

O füll es ganz!
Full transcript