When Sayuri Chacon prays, she knows Heavenly Father will hear her—that’s a simple testimony the 15-year-old gained while singing with her family at the 2022 Church Music Festival.
“Sometimes you feel like people in the world can’t hear you, but when you pray, He’s always there to hear you,” she said.
Along with her parents and five siblings, ages 8 to 16, Sayuri performed “I Will Say a Prayer” at the concert on Saturday, August 6.
“I Will Say a Prayer” — words and music by Janice Kapp Perry — was one of 17 award-winning original works presented at the 2022 Church Music Festival “Rejoice!” The live concert originated from the Conference Center Theater at Temple Square in Salt Lake City and was broadcast online on the church’s broadcast page.
Tsukie Chacon, Sayuri’s mother, said that as her family practiced the song for the past few weeks, she saw how repeating the lyrics strengthened them.
“Now I understand the purpose of learning or memorizing hymns and scriptures,” said Tsukie, who was born in Mexico and lives in Highland, Utah. “I see the importance of it in our daily lives.”
The annual Church Music Festival features original church music and lyrics submitted by members around the world via the Church Music Broadcast. The Church Music Show encourages the development of musical talent and discovers new musical works by the day by inviting Latter-day Saints to submit original music for consideration, including hymns and children’s songs, hymn arrangements for choirs, soloists and instrumentalists, and choral hymns.
Katie Bastian, Director of Music at the Church’s Department of Priesthood and Family, said: “Although we all have different experiences, trials and cultures, music is a universal language that can benefit us all, whether we are creators, performers or listeners . We hope that everyone who participates feels the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
One thing that makes the Church Music Festival unique, she added, is that many of the original composers and lyricists attend in person to hear their creations come to life — some for the first time.
The concert opened with “The Day Dawn Is Breaking,” a cover of Suzanne Ostler Shippen performed by a mixed choir. Young performer Elle Hirst sang “Along the Covenant Path,” lyrics and music by Jocelyn Parker Parmer. Joshua Yordy performed his original song “Follow Me” and the male double quartet sang “Touch Thou My Eye,” lyrics by Jan Pinborough and music by Michael Finlinson Moody.
Other songs included a rendition of “Nearer, My God, to Thee” on cello and piano, arranged by Heather G. Badger, and the music video for “It is Glorious,” lyrics and music by Marie Pearson Tarbet and Larry Pearson. The concert was closed by the mixed choir with the song “Come, rejoice!” edited by Tami N. Petersen.
Only a handful of the more than 70 award-winning songs were presented at the concert. The awardees came from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, England, Canada and several US states.
Emma Lounsbury and Maleia Robinson were the first laureates to submit contemporary poems.
A native of Oregon, Lounsbury began arranging and composing music on the piano when she was 8 years old. She wrote her song “I Have You” when she was a teenager. The song communicates her relationship with God and how she relied on him to overcome hardships, loneliness and despair.
“Music is just a way for me to convey my experiences, tell stories and express things that are in my heart,” she said.
Lounsbury added that she feels honored to share a song that means so much to her. “I hope my song can just connect and resonate with them,” she said of those who listen to it.
Robinson, who grew up in Orange County, California, wrote “Remember” while thinking about what’s most important to her — family. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share her testimony through music.
“I served a mission in Cincinnati, Ohio as a proselytizing missionary and then came home as a service missionary. And I always felt that my mission had to continue,” Robinson told Church News. “I feel that music is my way to fulfill this mission and to share my testimony of Jesus with others.”
Sheet music from this concert will be available for free download at ChurchofJesusChrist.org/music/library/submitted-music-2012-present. The recording of the festival will be archived in the Gospel Library, Sacred Music app and Gospel Media for on-demand viewing.