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Can anyone verify this quote? And isn’t it FANTASTIC?

By Maralise Petersen

‘Brigham Young guessed publicly that there was a lot more singing and dancing in heaven than in hell, and he saw no reason why the saints should imitate the hot place.’

–Wallace Stegner’s ‘Mormon Country’, page 18 of the 2003 paperback edition.

About Maralise Petersen


13 thoughts on “Can anyone verify this quote? And isn’t it FANTASTIC?”

  1. Yep. I can verify the quote. I pulled out my copy of Mormon Country, turned to page 18, and there it is, just like you said.


    Brigham Young was a great one for music and dance and the theater. Here's the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article on Dance.

    Here's a quote from the Journal of Discourses with Brigham Young telling it as it was at the time as he tended to do so well. "What do they need? A little relaxation. If you want to dance and rest your minds, dance. But a man or woman that intends, when they go into a room prepared for music and dancing, to serve the Devil a little while, I would to God that they would go to California, where they may serve the Devil all they desire to." (Nothing to be taken personally by any of the current residents of California of course. 🙂 )

    If you have your old Relief Society Manual from how ever many years ago we did Brigham Young, there is a section on "Happiness and Social Enjoyment" (page 183-91).

    So while I can't find a specific reference for that quote, I know from my family history that the members of the church back then held very regular dances and enjoyed them a lot.

  2. Not an exact quote, but the same general idea:

    "There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven. Sweet harmonious sounds give exquisite joy to human beings capable of appreciating music. I delight in hearing harmonious tones made by the human voice, by musical instruments, and by both combined. Every sweet musical sound that can be made belongs to the Saints and is for the Saints. Every flower, shrub, and tree to beautify, and to gratify the taste and smell, and every sensation that gives to man joy and felicity are for the Saints who receive them from the Most High.

    "There are many of our aged brethren and sisters, who, through the traditions of their fathers and the requirements of a false religion, were never inside a ball-room or a theatre until they became Latter-day Saints, and now they seem more anxious for this kind of amusement than are our children. This arises from the fact they have been starved for many years for that amusement which is designed to buoy up their spirits and make their bodies vigorous and strong, and tens of thousands have sunk into untimely graves for want of such exercises to the body and the mind. They require mutual nourishment to make them sound and healthy. Every faculty and power of both body and mind is a gift from God. Never say that means used to create and continue healthy action of body and mind are from hell. Such means never originated there. Hell is a great distance from us, and we can never arrive there, unless we change our path, for the way we are now pursuing leads to heaven and happiness."

    Brigham Young, remarks at the dedication of a theater Salt Lake City, March 6, 1862. Reported by G.D. Watt. Journal of Discourses 9:244-245.

  3. Great quote!

    One of my favorite scriptures is D&C 136:28.

    "If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving."

  4. Sigh — this topic makes me sad because it seems to me that we've pretty much relegated social dancing in the Church anymore to the yout's with their Stake Dances, and I guess also the older Single Adults. I wish we could go back to having regular dances for all the adults or, better still, the whole family.

    My stake did have a great dance festival a year or two ago with performances of dances from many genres and with many stake members of all ages participating — but IMHO the performances were waaay too long (like three hours) and the preparation time was huge and not really accomodating of people's busy schedules — in other words I think it was one of those things that was a great starting concept that went way overboard and probably burned everyone out so it won't get repeated often (or ever.) And my ward also tried to have a Valentine's Dance a couple years ago and it was fun but also a bit too programmed (well actually a lot too programmed) and too long, and also had low attendance. (My sister's ward has a very successful annual Valentine dance, though — I think the secret to its success is the chocolate fountain. My ward is not as savvy that way.)

    Maybe my observations aren't really church-wide — so if anyone knows of a stake or ward where regular, fun, lighthearted all-participatory dances are held, I want to know where you live so I can move there.

  5. From the Journal of Discourses, 26th volume:

    "When I was young, I was kept within very strict bounds, and was not allowed to walk more than half-an-hour on Sunday for exercise. … I had not a chance to dance when I was young, and never heard the enchanting tones of the violin, until I was eleven years of age; and then I thought I was on the highway to hell, if I suffered myself to linger and listen to it.

    I shall not subject my little children to such a course of unnatural training, but they shall go to the dance, study music, read novels, and do anything else that will tend to expand their frames, add fire to their spirits, improve their minds, and make them feel free and untrammeled in body and mind."

    Emphasis added by me.

    "If you wish to dance, dance; and you are just as much prepared for a prayer meeting after dancing as ever you were, if you are Saints. If you desire to ask God for anything, you are as well prepared to do so in the dance as in any other place, if you are Saints (DBY, 243)."

    I'll check on your quote tomorrow when my personal B.Y. scholar is in his office. Great topic, Maralise!

  6. Try the Moscow, Idaho Stake: a few months ago we had a family game night and dance. It seems that we generally have at least one adult dance a year.

  7. I love Truman Madsen's quote that says in effect: Brigham Young said that there is no music in hell, to which I reply, he just didn't live long enough."


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