Five years ago, my brother Brandyn Young reached out to residents at an assisted living center in Provo, Utah. It was a Sunday, and Brandyn had just watched the inspirational message “Service through Song.” He got together a group of friends from his dorm hall and watched the video with all of them. Then, they went and sang at the assisted living center.
Service through Song
Almost every Sunday since, Brandyn and the group visit and sing at assisted living homes. More recently, they stay in touch through virtual means. Brandyn explains, “A good friend, taking the #HearHim challenge to heart, set up a sing-along video call within the ward, and we soon realized this is something we could share with the residents.”
Since then, each week the residents of the assisted living home video-in and enjoy the company of Brandyn and friends who each share a musical number. Both before and after social restrictions were set, they were reaching out to those who feel isolated or were without friends and family.
Righteous music can bless and comfort all of us at some points in our lives, “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” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:12).
Magnifying a Calling during COVID-19
When COVID-19 quarantine restrictions were put in place, I felt a sense of loss for what to do in fulfilling my recent calling as a ward choir director. When I heard about the virtual hymn-sing, I realized that even during physical distancing limitations we each have the potential to serve. My calling was less about preparing hymns for sacrament meetings: it was about sharing the love of Christ through song and virtual visits.
I began to realize what potential we each have. I wished the same as Alma, “O that I were an angel … that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God” (Alma 29:1). I hoped that every resident of all the world’s assisted living sites could have a friend, receive encouraging words, and be uplifted by song. Inspired by this thought, the next Sunday my brothers and I joined in on the video call with the assisted living center and friends. There is much good we can do!
We are all in need of someone to lean on, and we each have real power and comfort to give. Everyone wants to be heard and cherished. Offering a listening ear to others is how all of us can #HearHim. The capacity is within us to be an angel for others, even virtually.
Serving Christ in Every Direction
While addressing students and missionaries at Brigham Young University, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught what to do in situations of great need: “When the U.S. Marines had been driven back and were surrounded, the general commanding that particular unit, instead of sending off a despairing and discouraging communique to the commandant of the corps, sent this interesting message: ‘At last we have the enemy just where we want him. We are surrounded and we can fire in every direction!’ I say to you, at last The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the world just where we want it—we can serve in every direction! Not only these young men and women present who are now in the [Language Training Mission], but each of us. There is always more to be done than we have time to do it in. Rejoice, for though we may seem to be encircled, in fact we are not” (“Taking Up the Cross,” BYU Speeches, 1976).
It may seem as though social isolation blocks us out, but truly it points us to a vantage point where we can “serve in every direction.” We can phone, video-call, email, text, Instagram, or tweet messages of hope and love. While serving gracefully, we are never alone.
There is only One who had to suffer completely alone—our Savior Jesus Christ. Because He has “descended below all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6), He can lift us up when we feel isolated and lonely. We can also serve as His hands to reach out to our brothers and sisters, children of God, to give them a sense of company, share songs of the heart, and receive blessings upon our heads too.