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One of my cousins came with me to church a few years ago (when I was still a teenager). That Sunday happened to be the day the young men and women sang “The Army of Helaman”. I don’t know if my cousin thought we were did a good job or whether he was just being polite, but when we were done, he started clapping.

It amounted to maybe three or four claps because it didn’t take him long to he realise he was the only one. He isn’t a Mormon and not clapping in church was something we took for granted and forgot to tell him.

Maybe we should have a sign outside: Visitors welcome. No clapping.

21 thoughts on “Clapping

  1. Oh, don’t even get me started on this one!

    This is one of my pet peeves.

    Some person gets up there and bares their soul, pouring everything they have into a performance that they practised weeks for; using skills they have dedicated years of their lives in mastering, and after the final triumphant crescendo are met with the sound of crickets and babies crying.


  2. It’s just a thing people get used to. Some people aren’t used to the practice of saying an audible “Amen” at the end of a prayer or a sermon. But they get used to it. I hope your cousin doesn’t feel any lasting embarassment; he shouldn’t. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. He was just trying to be nice but still learning the best way to do that in a particular context.

    The general feeling among the Brethren is that clapping is less reverent, less conducive to the Spirit, than respectful silence.

    When someone gives a musical performance in church (or, as they keep calling it in my ward, a musical “number”–for some reason that bugs me) we don’t want the attention of the listeners to be focused on the virtuosity of the performer, but on the spiritual effect that the music may have. I associate clapping with praise for a performer’s skills, rather than praise for God. When I perform in Church, I don’t want people to go away thinking, “Darn that guy’s talented!” I want them to go away thinking, “I feel closer to my Father in Heaven because of the talks and the music I just heard.” We can all be humble enough to do that, can’t we?

  3. ‘musical number’

    It sounds so vaudevillian, doesn’t it?

    As far as the spiritfullness of the occasion being marred by my clapping…

    …the performer can thank the gods for her talents, and I’ll show my appreciation of the gods by thanking the performer.

    By clapping.


  4. It’s a decision based on a cultural norm. I’m sure what we view currently as being appropriate music of praise is quite different from what was used in the time of, say, King David. That’s OK. We just do our best with the judgment we have and follow the inspiration of the Spirit when it’s given.

  5. I think Rick would give a five-minute standing ovation, or convince everyone in his row to do “the wave”–just to be provocative. :)

  6. I don’t mind not clapping. Having sung in choirs and performed solos many times over the years in Church I don’t feel at all unappreciated since I am not singing for the enjoyment of the congregation but to praise and worship God.

  7. Rick: I’ll bet you’d come to church and do a 5-minute standing ovation, or get everyone on your row to do “the wave”–just to make people stare.

    Am I right?


  8. Honestly, I’ll tell you how it would go:

    Rick walks into the church.
    Much gasping ensues.
    ‘Is that Rick? At church?’

    Rick’s hand is nearly wrung off (from all the hand-shaking) and sacrament meeting starts 5 minutes late.

    Performance goes great, Rick stands up to applaud, Rick is hit by wife in lower extremity – Rick immediately sits down.

    Rick drives home with much lecturing from significant other.

    Yup. That sounds about right.

  9. We just had our Primary Sacrament Presentation and the week before at our practice I asked the children why no one ever clapped in the chapel when someone sang really well etc and they answered because it wasn’t reverent. They gave other answers but they knew it just wasn’t done.

    So I taught them how to do a silent round of applause. When they finished their presentation on Sunday I got up to the pulpit to give my closing remarks and I just turned around so my back was to the congregation and I was facing the children and I just put my hands together, made them go in a big circle then put my hands together again making no noise. There were all of a sudden 40 little faces with these huge grins on their face.

    Maybe as adults we can know that we don’t need reaffirmation that we know how to play the piano like a concert pianist or that we can sing to the heavens but when you are 8, reaffirmation is important. We just found a way to do it and still keep the reverence.

  10. Hey Rick at times it is easier to beg forgiveness then to ask permission :) And don’t let Kim’s nonchalant attitude about his lack of singing fool you. He has an awesome voice.. something else he gets from me :-)

  11. “…an awesome voice”

    Oh, Kim?

    Sounds like it’s a good opportunity for an audio post…

    I mean you don’t want to let your mom down now, do you?


  12. oh he won’t be letting me down hehehe He actually will be singing a solo at our 25th anniversary celebration next year. Although I did have to promise him a kidney in the process :)

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