"O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth."

Psalms 96:1Music is, and always has been, an integral part of religion. Moses and the children of Israel sang "The Lord is my strength and song, and he is becoming my salvation." (Ex. 15:2). David praised the Lord through music, as recorded in the Psalms. And in Ephesians 5:19, followers of God were admonished to sing hymns and spiritual songs . . . making melody in their hearts to the Lord.

Today, music continues to enhance worship. And many gospel music groups tour the country, sharing their beliefs and feelings through music.

Coming to Salt Lake City within the next three weeks are:

David Smith of Nashville, Tenn. He will be singing in the general session of the 14th Annual Convention of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18 in the Hilton Hotel.

Smith began traveling with the Oakridge Boys at age 13. He has been a regular for Grand Ole Gospel Time on the Grand Ole Opry.

Jon Stemkoski's CeLebrantSingers, an internationally known Christian music ministry with headquarters in Visalia, Calif. The group will perform at the Ebenezer Assembly of God, 116 S. Tenth West, at 7 p.m. Aug. 19. A two-hour service will feature 10 singers and a 12-piece orchestra. The concert will include a selection of contemporary gospel songs, liturgical music, praise songs and worship choruses. The public is invited and admission is free.

The Continentals, an internationally recognized Christian music group. They will present a concert of inspirational and traditional Christian music 7 p.m. Aug. 20 in the Evangelical Free Church in Salt Lake City (4630 S. Fortuna Way); and 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Aug. 21 in the Southeast Baptist Church, 1700 E. 70th South. The group is composed of 24 vocalists and a 10-piece instrumental ensemble.

Michael Card. He will perform at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 8575 S. Seventh East, 7 p.m. Aug. 30. Tickets are $5. Card has written all the lyrics and music on his five albums - "First Light," "Legacy," "Known by the Scars," "Scandalon," and "The Final Word." For information, call 298-1142.

With the spotlight on these out-of-town gospel-musical groups, Utahns need to be reminded that there is no dearth of home-grown gospel singers and musicians. In fact, many of them are participating in Jesus Fest '88, a series of shows consisting of four local bands and 23 individual performers. They have been traveling throughout the state since July 30.

Director Diane Johnston said six more performances remain: Saturday 6-10 p.m. in the First Baptist Church of Evanston; Sunday noon-10 p.m. in Sugarhouse Park; Tuesday 6-10 p.m. in Murray City Park; Thursday 6-10 p.m. in Central Park, Logan; and Friday 6-10 p.m. in Liberty Park, Ogden.

Jesus Fest '88 will conclude in the North Shelter of Salt Lake's Liberty Park on Aug. 20, with individuals and groups performing from noon-10 p.m.

Johnston said this is the first year for Jesus Fest. It is an outgrowth of "Praise in the Park," a one-day program of religious music performed by local talent that is now in its fourth year at Liberty Park.

One of the groups performing in Jesus Fest '88 has had exposure outside Utah. The group, Chenenniah, performed in California last year.

Another band, Outcry, is involved in an active prison ministry. Every month for two years, it has performed at Utah State Prison.

Not long ago, the band was chosen by World Vision to represent the Rocky Mountain region. This will mean extensive touring to high schools and churches later this year.

Johnston is the keyboard artist and one of the vocalists for Outcry. She is also director of FigTree Ministries.

One of the purposes of FigTree Ministries is to spread the news of a risen Saviour. And it is through music that Johnston and other musicians plan to carry this message to all people.