"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" (D&C 25:12).
Music happens to be a huge part of my life. I love to sing and I love to listen to music. Before my mission I don't think I went a day without listening to it. I noticed the difference in the songs I listened to. Some of them made me really happy, others helped me concentrate on homework and others were simply distractions. Each song brought a different spirit.
That is why, as missionaries, we are only allowed to listen to songs that bring the Spirit and direct our minds toward Christ and toward our purpose. Other songs are simply distractions. That doesn't mean we can only listen to hymns, but I can't listen to some of my favorite Lifehouse songs. To illustrate the way different types of music can affect you, here are two experiences I've had recently.
First, as a missionary we are allowed to use Facebook and blogs (like this one :) ) as well as other social media to help others come unto Christ. For this, we need access to the internet. The lobby of my apartment complex offers free wi-fi and computers are available for the residents, and so that is where my companion and I go when we want to do our online proselyting (aka Facebook and blogs). Music always plays through the speakers there. It's the same type of music I listened to before my mission. None of it is inappropriate, per se, nor is it loud either in volume or rhythm, but when that music is playing, it is harder for me to concentrate on what I'm doing. Once, a song came on that I liked, but I couldn't concentrate at all while it played because of the rhythm and volume, so we had to ask the manager to turn it down or off so we could do our work. When an inappropriate song comes on, I feel the Spirit disappear instantly. And usually it takes effort to bring it back.
In contrast, for our mission Christmas activity 2013, we were privileged to hear Freddy Ashby and Clyde Bawden perform some Christmas songs and hymns for us. Not only was amazing talent showed from both of them, but the spirit they brought while singing about the birth of Christ and of His Atonement gave me goosebumps, and I wished I could have heard more than the hour they performed. The Spirit was so strong and reaffirmed my testimony of my Savior, and also reminded me what my purpose as a missionary is: to help others come to know Christ and feel joy in His Atonement just as I do. The music moved me to ponder even more deeply on my knowledge of the Gospel and on my Savior, and the reason for the Christmas season.
The contrast between these two experiences is as stark as black and white. With the first, the Spirit just wasn't there. With the second, the music, the lyrics especially, reinforced my testimony. I left that performance with a greater desire to serve and to improve myself.
I encourage you all to be selective of the type of music you listen to, because it really can change who you are. I hope you will go through your playlists and reevaluate the type of music you listen to. This doesn't mean you have to change your entire playlist to hymns, because a lot of songs out there are amazing. Just be careful, because what enters your mind cannot be erased. So fill your mind with good things.
Check out this article from the September 2013 New Era: https://www.lds.org/new-era/2013/09/the-influence-of-music?lang=eng&query=the+influence+of+music
Tender Mercy 12/13/13: Just a short one this time. On Monday, while my companion and I were working at the Christmas lights at the Mesa temple, two volunteer hosts working alongside us brought us some hot chocolate. We were very glad of it because it was freezing that night.