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Thursday, April 30, 2009

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. If we follow directions exactly, the melody comes out just as the composer envisioned.

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. 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 telling us.

But then, 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."

27 comments :

  1. Wow, Lara! You're so right. I love the idea of writing it in your heart. I never really applied that scripture to myself before.
    Thank-you!

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  2. What a wonderful comparison! This world would be far different if all people everywhere were living this way.

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  3. That's just beautiful. I have a feeling it'll stick in my head (and heart) for a good while.

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  4. What a great thought! If only we could all be a little more like Nephi: just go and do, no questions asked. It'd make life easier, wouldn't it?

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  5. I love it. Why do we always try to be the exception to the rule? My mom always says that if God had meant to call them the Ten Suggestions, he would have called them the Ten Suggestions. :-)

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  6. Great post, Lara. This is such a great perspective.

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  7. I love this. Thank you. :)

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  8. I felt your heart. And it is lovely. Have a beautiful day.

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  9. The composer (God) knows the piece, as he created it. The best way to ensure that you have the very best sound is to follow the music, as written. This is such a lovely analogy, Lara! Thanks.

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  10. What a beautifully written post. I have to say that I have had a struggle with keeping the commandments "as written". Something I am still working on.

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  11. I agree with that last statement Lara! Well said... Charlie always tells me that the letter of the law is there for us to see and start from but the spirit of the law is what makes it meaningful and eventually obeyed or disobeyed.

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  12. Beautiful! What a great analogy!

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  13. On considering this lovely analogy, I like to include the interpretive prerogative that is given to conductors. For example, while the notes and rhythms are usually non-negotiables, there is flexibility in tempo. Or the duration of a fermata. How about when it's time to breathe? What bowing works best on this line? Are you first violin or second? All these decisions are made by an inspired conductor who knows his musicians and has a vision of what this particular piece should sound like at this place and time.

    And I think of our priesthood leaders as the conductors.

    I love you, Lara. You speak my language!

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  14. Very poignant, Lara. Interesting insight!

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  15. OH and I did 14G as written!! Amazing huh????? Tell the girls we are going to sing that!

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  16. Well written my friend. Thanks for sharing that wonderful analogy. Loved this post!

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  17. "Truth is obeyed when it is loved."
    I love that. We love Him, so we follow him. We follow him, because we love him! It's the eternal circle of life!
    :~D

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  18. Good point.
    I hope my baby will follow her schedule as written.
    No questioning sweetheart. :)

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  19. Thanks for sharing this, Lara. I really enjoyed reading it.

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  20. I feel that way, not only about the scriptures, but also about the constitution of this country. It was an inspired document to govern this country. If you look at an 1828 Webster's dictionary, the definitions back then for a lot of terms used in the constitution were a lot different than they are now. Definitions have been changed over time to suit people's purposes and interpretations and it's sad.

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  21. You're so wonderful! I absolutely love your blog. Especially your gospel-ish principles.

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