Some of the most intense spiritual experiences I have felt, the joy of the spirit, have come while listening to, or singing, the songs of the restoration and other songs of Christ. Recently for example, Ye Elders of Israel filled my heart with such longing for Zion. “O Babylon, O Babylon we bid you farewell we’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell.” The songs of Zion are a prayer (D&C 25:12), and it is through prayer we are made one with God. Our will is brought into alignment with His (Prayer in BD). One way to experience this oneness with God and our fellow man is by singing in a choir. Singing in a choir is the closest many of us come to experiencing and feeling the Zion of The Lord on a regular basis.
I may be speaking to the proverbial choir when I say this, but singing in a choir, particularly one which performs religious works, is the closest many of us come to achieving Zion. True Zion, not that place in Utah.
Zion is not really a place, although Joseph Smith said it would encompass all of North and South America (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 362, Article of Faith 10), and the center stake of Zion is yet to be established in Jackson County, Missouri, (Ether 13:6, D&C 57:1-3). Zion is a people. A people of one heart and mind (Moses 7:18). The pure in heart (D&C 97:21). A people with whom God dwells. (3 Nephi 12:8, D&C 6:32)
Singing in a choir is one of the great opportunities we have in life to experience and glimpse Zion. A choir consists of joining together many disparate individuals into a unified whole of one heart and mind (Moses 7:18), unified in purpose, word, tone, and praise, all striving towards one common goal. There is power in such unity. When unity is complete, harmonies are tight, the vibration of the musical chords can be felt resonating inside us, and the message being sung is endorsed by the Holy Spirit, then Zion in its perfection is touched. It can also be seen in practice as the choir members work with unity toward achieving one common goal, the performance.
We gain glimpses of Zion at various times in the church, in our homes, and in the temple. Our mandate is to establish and seek to bring forth Zion (1 Nephi 13:37; D&C 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6; 39:13). We should invite all to Zion, and invite all to sing her songs of redeeming praise and everlasting joy (Jeremiah 31:12; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; D&C 45:71; 66:11; 101:18; 109:39; Moses 7:53).
The act of singing in a church choir, the righteous song, is a prayer to the Lord. Some people choose not to sing, and that is their personal prerogative. Most church choirs are not dependent on audition for entry. Why? As a matter of practicality, every ward choir I have been in has always needed more people. They haven’t exactly been in a position to turn people away. Zion is the same, always in need of more. Additionally, denying an individual an opportunity, not inviting them, to sing in the choir also denies them the associated blessing on their head (D&C 25:12). Denying one the opportunity to sing is analogous to denying them the opportunity to pray (2 Nephi 32:8). Denying one the opportunity to sing is denying them entry to Zion. A grave responsibility.
While some may choose not to come to Zion, to sing in her choirs, the day will come when all the redeemed of the Lord shall “come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). That blessed, anticipated, yearned for day awaits us in the future, but can also be had now. “Come to Zion, come to Zion! Zion’s walls shall ring with praise” (Israel, Israel, God is calling).