I have been meaning to write this story for months. What was the hang-up? I am not exactly sure. Like we are taught in Ecclesiastes “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” I suppose articles have their time and place as well. For this piece, the time is now.
My family has had the good fortune of Church membership for decades. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve sitting on the wooden benches in the pews at sacrament meeting. I have heard some of the most influential sermons spoken over the pulpit in these circumstances, which literally have changed my life for good.
With the advancement of technology, our meeting houses now span continents, and the messages are ubiquitous and powerfully shared among all men in many languages. But it wasn’t until recently that I recognized and came to appreciate the ever-present sermon of our hymns.
I have come to think of the hymns as the melodic parables of the Savior. When Jesus taught in parables, he used things that were familiar to the people to teach special messages. The parables have hidden spiritual messages throughout them. Similarly, our hymns include sermons hidden in the verses, poetry, meter, and melody.
As an illustration, the following songs were taken from a single sacrament meeting recently.
Lyrics- The Light Divine
The light of God rests on the face Father, let thy light divine
Of brook and flow’r and tree Shine on us, we pray.
And kindles in our happy hearts Touch our eyes that we may see;
The hope of things to be. Teach us to obey.
Ours the sacred mission is
The light of faith abides within To bear thy message far.
The heart of ev’ry child; The light of faith is in our hearts,
Like buds that wait for blossoming, Truth our guiding star.
It grows with radiance mild.
Today thine unseen purposes The Light Divine
By faith’s rare light we feel.
Dear Father, make us pure in heart;
To us thy will reveal.
The sacrament songs are among my favorite. I have been singing these praises of thanksgiving and adoration for decades. Interestingly they never get old or mundane or trite. In fact, I enjoy and appreciate them more today than anytime throughout my life. A good sermon has that characteristic. It never gets old, but instead, continues to uplift and edify.
These praises we sing in preparation for the day when our adoration will be at his feet. Gratefully we can receive the strength we need through him today when needed.
Lyrics- God, Our Father, Hear us pray
God, our Father, hear us pray; God, Our Father, Hear Us Pray
Send thy grace this holy day.
As we take of emblems blest,
On our Savior’s love we rest.
Grant us, Father, grace divine;
May thy smile upon us shine.
As we eat the broken bread,
Thine approval on us shed.
As we drink the water clear,
Let thy Spirit linger near.
Pardon faults, O Lord, we pray;
Bless our efforts day by day.
We have the tradition in our ward of frequently singing rest hymns as we called them when I was young. Perhaps you do this in your ward as well. These intermediate hymns give the congregation an opportunity to stand and sing.
Lyrics- The Iron Rod
To Nephi, seer of olden time, Hold to the rod, the iron rod;
A vision came from God, ’Tis strong, and bright, and true.
Wherein the holy word sublime The iron rod is the word of God;
Was shown an iron rod. ’Twill safely guide us through.
While on our journey here below, The Iron Rod
Beneath temptation’s pow’r,
Through mists of darkness we must go,
In peril ev’ry hour.
And when temptation’s pow’r is nigh,
Our pathway clouded o’er,
Upon the rod we can rely,
And heaven’s aid implore.
And, hand o’er hand, the rod along,
Through each succeeding day,
With earnest prayer and hopeful song,
We’ll still pursue our way.
Afar we see the golden rest
To which the rod will guide,
Where, with the angels bright and blest,
Forever we’ll abide.
Of course, our sacrament meeting is concluded with a closing hymn, wherein we recommit our allegiance to our Savior Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Then we continue to sing praises throughout our lives and service through the coming week. And we do it gladly and gratefully with gusto and commitment. Our lives and examples are testimonies of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. These praises we joyfully sing.
Lyrics- Go Forth with Faith
Go forth with faith to tell the world Go Forth with Faith
Of Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Bear witness he is God’s own Son;
Proclaim his wondrous word.
Go forth with hope and courage strong
To spread the word abroad
That people of all nations
Are children of our God.
Go forth with love to tell the world
The joy of families—
That we may be with those we love
Thru all eternity.
Go forth to serve and do your best
With no thought of reward;
Then you shall know the boundless joy
Of serving Christ, the Lord.
Go forth with pow’r to tell the world
The gospel is restored,
That all may gain eternal life
Thru Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Go forth to preach his glorious truths
Of peace, of joy, and love,
That all who heed his holy word
May praise the Lord above.
Yes. The hymns are melodies of the Celestial Kingdom. And therein are hidden sermons of great worth and spiritual messages of lasting value. We have a choice every day to welcome inspiring and uplifting music into our lives. If there was any particular difficulty in writing this article, it was limiting the good melodic examples to just a few. Gratefully, we don’t have to do that in our lives. Enjoy.
12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.
And gratefully, today good music in our lives is as easy to access as logging on to the Internet or connecting to your favorite playlist. It wasn’t always this way, as some of you older folks know. On occasion musical renditions in sacrament meeting add even further to this harmony.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life’s challenges is his panacea.