Education Week: Music brings hope

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James Oneil Miner entertained his audience with innovative hymn arrangements during an Education Week session on Aug. 21. (Ty Mullen)

All eyes were fixated on James Oneil Miner as he moved his fingers graciously up and down the piano, filling the Madsen Recital Hall with beautiful, melodic music as pictures portraying Jesus Christ’s loving character were shown on the screen. Miner’s passion for the music was apparent as he pressed the keys, creating an elegant balance of tempo and dynamics.

Miner, an accomplished musician and recipient of the prestigious Instrumentalist of the Year award, described how music teaches about hope by performing well-known hymns during an Education Week session on Aug. 21.

He played familiar hymns including, “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” and “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” 

Miner explained that each of the hymns is filled with hope. He related an acronym he had once seen for that very word: Holding Onto Promises Even though…

“You fill in the blank,” he said.

He explained that hope is holding onto God’s promises, even though one may be stressed, sick, tired or worried. 

“Our hymns are full of hope and filled with messages that remind us to hold onto God’s promises, even though life will bring along its challenges,” he said. 

He quoted one of his “favorite promises” found in 2 Nephi 31:20, which reads, “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”

“What a glorious promise to contemplate,” he said. Although having a “perfect brightness of hope” is not always easy, Miner encouraged listeners to hold onto hope and think of those promises.

As his final song, Miner performed “How Great Thou Art.” At the conclusion of the performance, he turned to the audience and, with tears in his eyes, recited the lyrics of the last verse.

With strong emotion, he said, “I share with you the gratitude in my heart to be able to have the music and the lyrics to remind us (of) the incredible promises, the incredible hope that is ours.”

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