Making Life a Bliss Complete

Honest and heartfelt stories and lessons about home, family, love, faith, and personal growth.

Sabbath Day Light: There is music in me

I am a person who loves music. As I think about it, it has always been such a huge part of my life, and the memories I have make me smile.

My love of music came from my Nana and Granddad.

My Granddad was an amazingly talented pianist and organist. He had a gift not many people have, and used it for so much good. He was the organist in our church congregation for as long as I can remember. He also taught me, my siblings, and many others piano lessons. I remember him always making sure I lifted my wrists, and he wouldn’t check off a song unless I played it perfectly. I treasure seeing his handwriting in music books I still have. It is a way to always have a part of him with me.

My Nana has one of the most beautiful, operatic voices, a voice that you would imagine a chorus of birds accompanying. I grew up just loving her voice, and wanting to sing just like her. I think if Nana could sing instead of talk, she probably would. My whole life, she and I have had a special song (from Guys and Dolls), which goes, “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck, hug around the neck, and a barrel in a heap, barrel in a heap, and I’m talkin’ in my sleep about you.” I can hear her singing it right now. Even at my age, she will either sing it to me, or we will take turns saying each phrase to each other.

Disney songs made childhood so much more fun.

When I was a kid, my siblings and I were obsessed with Disney movies. I recall watching at least one a day during the summers. We loved singing the songs. One of my favorite activities was singing Disney songs, especially from Sleeping Beauty, into a running fan. It would make my voice project and sound crackly. We all thought it was hilarious.

Car trips were way more fun with these singers.

I remember growing up that my mom had certain cassette tapes she played over and over. The artists I remember the most were Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow, and Rick Astley.

I think my favorite songs were “I Will Always Love You,” “Copacabana,” and “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s hard to pick, though, because I just loved listening to these artists on the way to the pool, Kmart, or the library.

The Backstreet Boys brought teenage girls together.

Anyone remember the age of boy bands? I remember for several of my preteen and teenage years being totally obsessed with the Backstreet Boys. My friends loved them; my mom even loved them.

Their songs were so catchy and fun to sing and dance to.

“Backstreet’s back, all right!” “Tell me why!” “And that makes you larger than life!”

They were also really cute, had awesome music videos, and sold awesome merchandise. I remember getting a Brian patch for my backpack, and a Brian poster for my wall, and probably other Brian stuff. Can you tell I liked Brian?

Singing, listening to and playing musicals was my life.

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with musicals. I think this obsession started in 8th grade, when my drama class read and listened to The Phantom of the Opera (which I still think is the best musical ever). I remember I had to read Christine’s lyrics to “The Point of No Return.” Yeah, my cheeks were pretty red as I realized what the song was about.

After getting the Phantom CD for my birthday that year, I listened to it and listened to it, and sang it, and listened to it. I grew to really love it, which opened my appetite for more musicals.

I started to ask for music books of musicals so I could play them on the piano, and sing along, of course. Some of my favorites were Cats, Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Les Miserables.

I have many memories of singing this music and others, while I played my CDs in my room. I would sing while putting on my make up and doing my hair. I always thought if my door was closed, nobody could hear me – or maybe I just didn’t care.

I had the time of my life in high school when I got to play Hodel from Fiddler on the Roof my Sophomore year, and Catherine from Pippin my Senior year.

My love of musicals followed me to college and beyond. Last year I was able to act in a musical with my son, Casey, and many other members of my church in the Durham/Chapel Hill areas. I had the time of my life, and I remembered how much I love acting in musicals.

My love of music helped me meet my husband.

In the spring of 2009, I was dating a Marine who was deployed in Iraq. Despite my relationship status, I still went to the young single adult dances put on each month by my church. I didn’t go to meet men, but simply to satisfy my craving to dance to loud, upbeat music. Had I not gone to the dances that April and May, I never would have met or dated my husband since he lived two hours away. Thank you, love of music and dancing.

Primary songs are better when you are an adult.

As a child in the LDS church, I grew up learning and singing many songs about prayer, Jesus Christ, gratitude, prophets, and love. Some of the songs were just for fun, and were about apricot trees or snowmen.

My favorite Primary songs as a child were A Child’s Prayer and My Heavenly Father Loves Me.

I always loved going to church so I could sing these songs. As an adult, I have had the opportunity to teach these same songs to new generations of children. From teaching the songs, and also having been a teacher seeing the kids learn, sing, and love them, I have learned to love the Primary songs even more.

They have a new significance to my life, and I feel the presence of the Holy Ghost more strongly when singing them than ever before. I often sing Primary songs to my children, my favorites being I am a Child of God, I Feel My Savior’s Love, Families Can Be Together Forever, and I Love to See the Temple.

Singing is one of the best ways to feel the Spirit.

I am one of those people that loves singing in church choir, singing solos in church, and singing the hymns loudly and joyfully. People often tell me they were glad they sat near me because I make it easier to sing the songs.

More than once in my adult life I have been the chorister of our church congregation, and also have thoughtfully and prayerfully chosen the hymns to be sung each Sunday.

Something I have realized is that singing is a wonderful way to praise and show love to our Savior and our Heavenly Father. Hymns help us really internalize gospel principles as well, such as the atonement of Jesus Christ and loving one another.

The best thing about hymns is, if they are sung with real intent, they can help you feel the Spirit, and testify to you of the truthfulness of many things.

The reason I thought to blog about music in my life was because of the strong spirit I felt at church this Sunday, the first Sunday in our beautiful new building in Mebane. There were many gorgeous musical numbers, and all brought tears to my eyes, including the choir number I participated in, entitled Be Still.

I am so grateful that music exists. It can be fun, soothing, inspiring, powerful, uplifting. It is such a magnificent form of expression. It touches the mind, the heart, and the spirit.

Thank you for sharing!


  1. Chelsea Dyreng

    Great post, Mandy!

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly

      Thank you, Chelsea!

  2. Jad Al-Bjaly

    I learn new things things about my dear wife, thanks honey.


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