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The Art of Music

Updated on March 13, 2018
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Ruth, a.k.a. Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian and has had amazing travel experiences.

Crouching Lion on Oahu Hawaii Personal photo REK
Crouching Lion on Oahu Hawaii Personal photo REK

Full Circle

I feel like I have come full circle. For the first 21 years of my life I lived in Utah. Since we were married we have lived in two different countries as well as Arizona and Hawaii. It has been quite an adventure. Now we are back in Utah, and I appreciate all those who have welcomed us back.

We were given two topics to choose from. I chose to give my talk on music. Not because I am an expert in it, but I have been surrounded with it all my life. As I grew up, my father played a reel to reel tape player with beautiful songs sung by Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Neil Diamond and others that had soothing voices and meaningful lyrics. My father also served as chorister for many years. Some of you knew my mother could sing and my two sisters have beautiful soprano voices. My brother hosts a sing-a-long every Christmas at his home.

Hula Personal photo REK
Hula Personal photo REK

Surrounded by Music

My husband learned to play the guitar at the Polynesian Cultural Center so he could have a job singing for the tourists. He used his singing in our courting in Provo while he was attending BYU. After we were married I returned to Utah with two of our children for a few months, he then wrote me a Tongan Love Song. My song now plays on the radio station A3Z in Tonga.

We have always been inspired to play music in our home, especially on Sunday. We listen to the hymns or classical music to keep us focused on the Sabbath Day. We have nearly always had musical instruments in our home, at least a guitar, an ukulele and a piano so the children could choose if they wanted to play them.

Tonga Islands REK
Tonga Islands REK

We often sang with our missionaries in Tonga. The Tongans have a natural ability to harmonize and share the Gospel through music. We taught the missionaries how to sing Love One Another in sign language. Singing it together in mission conferences always brought the spirit to our gatherings. I was asked to teach a small choir at the Tonga Side School once a week. Several of the children were of other faiths. We sang together many of the Primary Songs that we all know and love.

I also worked in the Fine Arts Department at BYU Hawaii. I loved that job. Our building was full of students who were aspiring singers. I could listen to their warm ups and singing lessons every day. It was thrilling to hear them progress in their singing abilities. Each Christmas, the Concert Choir would share Handel’s Messiah. It was a great reminder of the purpose for Christmas.
Whether we realize it or not, our heart is a spiritual instrument. It is always playing"musical notes and songs" which arise to God's ears. They are either pleasant sounds or notes of discord depending on the condition of our heart.

There are many very skilled singers in our world today. Many seek their own glory with their musical abilities. I believe that those who really influence others have a higher desire and recognize where their talents come from.

Our daughter (who is about as musical as I am) is married to a great man who is a member of the Tabernacle Choir. Our oldest son’s children have been involved in international choirs since he serves in the military and has lived in many countries. Our second son, Joel and his wife met through the Concert Choir at BYUH. Her father was one of the professors I worked with for several years. They share their talents at church, weddings, funerals and concerts. Our youngest son, Jacob, is a singer/song writer known as Cubworld who shares his talent with many. So you see, I AM really surrounded by music.

Music is the Universal Language

In Colossians 3:16 it says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” We need not have a trained voice to sing praises to God because he listens to our hearts.

Ephesians 5:19 says to us: "...Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." 

The Psalms of David were actual pieces of music which were sung...Scripture songs to us today. They all came from a pure heart which were voiced through music to God. For us, it is putting God's Word to music which is a pleasant and delightful sound to His ears when it come from a genuine heart. If our heart does not match up with His Word, we are not in tune but rather off key. We should not seek glory to ourselves through the talents he has given us.

Music flows from heaven to the soul. Hymns are songs of praise addressed back to God. I believe we were given music as God’s little reminder that there is something else besides us in this universe. Music is the universal language.

Our granddaughter playing the ukulele REK
Our granddaughter playing the ukulele REK

Heart Strings

Our hearts have many "strings" to it which we play upon constantly...our words, our actions, our motivations, our thoughts. In order to play skillfully we must allow the Holy Spirit to bring every "heart string" into that perfect pitch which is a pleasant sound to the Father's ears..."giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

When we lived in American Samoa, we were known in our neighborhood as the “singing family”. The homes were quite open without walls and with floor to ceiling screens to keep out the insects. The electricity would shut off usually in the evenings. To keep the children from being frightened, we would sing familiar songs which would calm them . Sometimes music is the only thing that gets your mind off of everything else.

We worked in the Oquirrh Temple the last couple of years. Preparation meeting always includes singing hymns. In Matthew 26:30 it tells how a hymn was sung by the Twelve Apostles before the Lord retired to Gethsemane.

Songs are used to comfort the sick and dying. You have perhaps heard of Michael Ballam. He visited BYU Hawaii and gave a presentation while I was there. He is a native of Logan and has performed in several operas throughout the world. At one time, he became very ill and lost his voice. For over a year he was silent.

Many people tried to help Michael, and he was humbled by the selfless service of others. He eventually recovered and vowed to be more in tune so he could help others. He wrote about the Healing Power of Music. He sings for residents of nursing homes and prisoners or others in need. He gives encouragement or solace to those that are in need of it. He is an at-large music missionary - a roving ambassador of goodwill with a tenor voice.

Our granddaughter, the youngest of 12 beautiful children was blessed with a sweet voice. Although she was born with spina bifida and spends most of her day in a wheel chair, she has been singing since she was very young. Her parents encouraged her to keep singing and her voice blesses our whole family and many others.

A picture on the wall at Dad’s quotes Zechariah 2:10 “Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion. For, Lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord”.

Music definitely is important to our family. I am grateful we have the opportunity to sing the hymns of praise to show our thankfulness for all we receive each day. I hope when we sing our hearts match our voices.


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