Introduction: The following is from a post by Reuben at SingleSpeed titled “Harmonica at Church”. He has agreed to let us post it here, with some questions for discussion:
“My 3rd favorite thing about the LN Ward is Brother P. He’s a tall, slender old man whom I’ve never heard say two words, but he plays the harmonica beautifully. He’s at church every week – just him and his harmonica. He teaches the 8-10 year olds in primary, and they allow him to play his harmonica along with the songs each week during singing time. Sometimes when I don’t feel like going to sunday school, I stand right outside the Primary room and listen to him play along with the singing. One of the kids in his primary class, a smiley, roundish 10 year old brings his own little harmonica to church as well, and the two of them play together.
It warms my soul to watch this unlikely duo play the harmonica together. Both strike me as being a little on the lonely side, and I thank the Lord for providing them with the opportunity for friendship. About a month ago, we had our annual Primary program in Sacrament Meeting, and I cried when I saw the two of them together playing their instruments. I continue to thank the Lord for a bishop who allows reverent harmonica during sacrament meeting.
One of my slowest healing wounds is a memory of my childhood bishop telling an old man he wasn’t allowed to play his violin during sacrament meeting. John was my non-LDS violin teacher with whom my mother had arranged to play a special musical number along with me during sacrament meeting. He and I were seated behind the organ player on the stand in the chapel. As we began to sing the sacrament hymn, John stood up and began to play along, reading the music over the organist’s shoulder. The bishop stood up, walked over to the old man, and asked him to stop. I still remember the look on John’s face, as my bishop told him that his violin playing – his gift to God and the LDS church that day – was inappropriate. I have never forgiven my bishop for hurting John’s feelings.
And that is why it warms my heart to hear old Brother P. and the smiley 10 year-old playing their harmonicas in sacrament meeting.”
Both of these situations occurred in Sacrament Meeting, and both involved a decision made by a Bishop in the administration of his calling. What to you think of each decision? Was the Bishop correct or incorrect in each case? Regardless of your answer to the first question, was he justified or unjustified in each case? Is there anything about each situation that makes it different than the other – that would make the validity of either choice different than the other?
What guidelines do you think should govern the music that is shared in Sacrament Meeting, and why? Are there any situations where basic guidelines should be set aside and ignored – either to allow music that otherwise would be disallowed or to disallow music that otherwise would be allowed?