Did you know that the Church Handbook of Instruction has been revised? You can read the new information here:
I wanted to share some of the changes with you.
The old manual had a different format. It began with an introduction, then discussed music in the home, music in church meetings, etc. The new manual begins with the purpose of music in the Church, then outlines the music responsibilities for each calling, instead of having that information buried on page 292 (the fourth page of the old manual). It also is now a numbered document, so it is very easy to be referred to different sections.
In the old Handbook, the Bishopric's responsibilities are simply listed as, "Oversees ward music." Now there is a list of things the bishopric should be doing. While much of this information was contained in the previous manual, it was scattered throughout other topics and required a close read to find it.
Some of the responsibilities that were previously assigned to the Ward Music Adviser have been reduced.
Quite a bit of redundant language has been omitted, so it is easier to read.
A new section entitled, "Adapting Ward Music to Local Conditions and Resources" has been added.
Music in the Ward
There is now a how-to section dedicated to the ward. Before, the ward music chairman was to collect the topics from the ward music adviser, then oversee the ward music director in choosing the hymns, then relaying this information back to the ward music adviser. That has been simplified. Nothing was ever said about a time frame. Now, the manual says, "When feasible, the bishop and his counselors choose meeting topics well in advance. This allows the music chairman, music director, and choir director to plan hymns, special selections, and choir performances that complement and reinforce the meeting topics." The emphasis is mine. I wish this statement was also under the bishopric responsibilities section!
We are reminded that music in our church meetings is "for worship, not performance."
The information under "Congregational Singing" has been expanded to add, among other things, "Congregational singing has a unique and often underused power for unifying members as they worship together."
The information under "Special Musical Selections" has been reduced.
In our Sacrament meetings, we are encouraged to not only use "hymns that are already known and loved," but to also "become acquainted with new or less familiar hymns." We are also told that, "No music should be played during the sacrament prayer, while the sacrament is being passed, or as a postlude after the sacrament is passed."
Under "Choirs" much information has changed. One new additions is, "Ward members may participate voluntarily in the choir, or the bishopric may invite or call them to participate." It also outlines variations for branches and large wards, and how long to hold practice.
A section on using music in the classroom has also been added.
The Stake Music Chairman's responsibilities for providing music have been changed to, "Arrange for music and musicians for stake conference sessions and other stake meetings and events as requested." References to Priesthood meetings have been removed.
Specific mention of calling an optional stake organist has been added.
Under "Music for Stake Conference," we learn that music "should be planned with the purpose of strengthening faith and testimony."
Something new that is mentioned is that standing choirs "should not use references to the Church such as 'LDS,' 'Latter-day Saint,' or 'Mormon' in their names," as they are not authorized to be sponsored by the Church.
Additional Music Policies and Guidelines
A section on cultural and recreational music in the chapels in included, outlining what is and is not appropriate.
Something that was buried in the previous manual that I'm hoping to incorporate in my current stake is now easier to find: "Music that is purchased with budget funds is usually kept in the meetinghouse library and belongs to all units that share the library." Each ward should not have its own collection of choir music. All choir and other music should be kept in the library and be available to all units in that building.
Information on music for funerals and baptismal services has been moved out of this section of the handbook. While the funeral information did not change, the baptismal information has, somewhat.
The largest change in this revision was organizational. Things are much easier to find and read now. Before, I had to read a number of sections to glean bits of information about my calling, and the callings I am a resource for (I'm currently serving as the Stake Music Chairman). Now, things are much easier to find and are organized in a more succinct and effective way. You can request a free manual at a distribution center or online at store.lds.org. Click on Serving in the Church --> Specialists and Committees, then scroll down to Music and click on "Music Handbook." The current picture looks like the old one, so you might want to wait a bit or email the Customer Service representatives at "help @ store . lds . org" before ordering.