I love to play for worship services! Choosing effective prelude that prepares the congregation for worship, deciding how best to reflect the text of the hymns, and choosing registration that will support the congregation, but also reflects the hymn are things that I love to do. There's a beautiful science and spirit about preparing adequately to accompany worship services. It's my passion and I love it!
That said, I am not currently serving as ward organist, have not held that calling for over six years, and have only served in that capacity for a cumulative total of three years in my (almost) 20 years as an organist. As stake music chairman, I did accompany some stake meetings, taking care to also ask others to play as well. (I'm a big believer in spreading the opportunities throughout the stake members as much as possible.) I also took this opportunity to focus on my personal development through taking organ lessons, completing a level of BYU Organ Certification, serving in my local American Guild of Organists chapter, starting this blog to help others learn to play the organ, and preparing for AGO Certification.
However, I really missed having the opportunity to accompany on the organ on a regular basis!
After inquiring through as many sources as possible, I learned that temple organists are considered volunteer temple workers. All I needed to do to be considered to play the organ in the temple was to meet with my Bishop and have him fill out the form he uses for volunteer temple workers! I immediately did this, and after the necessary signatures were in place and it was sent to the temple, I was contacted by the supervisor of organists and put on a waiting list. After almost a year, I was given a shift! I play every-other week for an hour and a half, and I love it.
I was extended a release from my stake music chairman calling last June, and began playing in the temple the beginning of July. It's been wonderful, and it has been my only church calling for almost a year.
Although I have longed to play the organ in my ward for years, I've contented myself with thoughts of:
"I shouldn't seek after a calling."
"I have all of this time to learn more about the organ without the stress of learning and preparing multiple hymns, preludes, and postludes each week."
"Those serving as organists in my ward might need this push to develop their talent, while I work on mine without a calling."
"I need to practice seeing the good in those currently serving as organists."
"The Lord knows what he is doing, and I really need to learn patience."
"I appreciate the rare opportunities I have to play more than I ever would if I was currently serving as ward organist."
"I now get to play in the temple and prepare patrons for temple worship, the crowning gift of mortal life. I never would have pursued this position if I were serving as ward organist."
After presenting at Super Saturday last month, and sharing so many great ideas on beautifying hymn accompaniment, I felt like I needed to stop hiding my light under a bushel and had the greatest desire to play the organ for worship services again!
This situation leads me to a question I've pondered for years: As members of the Church it is common understanding that we do not seek after callings; It is also scripture that we should not hide our light under a bushel. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where callings are extended from Priesthood leaders to those whom the Lord qualifies, not man, sometimes members with specific skills are not chosen to serve in callings which go along with their chosen field, developed talent, or greatest interests. While I understand and accept this practice, we have also been told that our candle should not be placed "under a bushel, but on a candlestick; [so that] it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
As trained musicians in the Church, how do we reconcile these two seemingly conflicting beliefs? What are your thoughts or experiences?