"Oh remember, remember . . . I urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God's kindness."

President Henry B. Eyring

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Song of The Heart

I feel impressed to record some things I have learned about the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In D&C  25:11-12, the Lord instructed Emma Smith, "And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. 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.”

From these scriptures I have learned to revere the hymns for these reasons:
1.       They are “sacred” to the Lord, so they should be sacred to His saints.
2.      The hymns are inspired! (“as it shall be given thee”) By this I know they teach correct doctrine.
3.      The Lord considers them “prayers” when sung by the righteous, so we should reverence them as such.
4.      If we do so, singing them (praying them) “will bring a blessing upon our heads.
Through the years I have come to realize some of these blessings. The music is sacred. We know it invites the spirit, why? Because the Lords very “soul delighteth in the song of the heart.” All of us are all drawn−̶-even compelled toward something that delights us−̶-that we love! So it is with the spirit of the Lord.
If we read the words of the sacred, inspired hymns, they testify to our spirits of the doctrines taught. Combine those truths with music and they sink deep into our hearts−̶-never to be forgotten. That is why the children’s hymns are so crucial! Remember how we learned our ABC’s?
If “songs of the righteous are prayers unto the Lord” I believe therefore, that opening AND closing hymns are part of the Invocation and Benediction of every meeting. After an opening prayer, which should be an invocation for the Lord’s blessing on our meetings, we all say amen. This signifies our affirmation and unity in invoking the Lord’s blessings−̶-likewise the benediction. Just as we fast and pray together for desired blessings on a beloved family or ward member, because our combined prayers have greater power to obtain blessings from heaven, so singing the sacred hymns together brings this greater power and they bind us together in unity and love.

I was taught years ago that when preparing for a lesson, that time is mine. I can take all the time I need. But, when I teach that lesson, the class time belongs to the Lord. It is a sacred time for the Lord to instruct His children. We should only be the vessel! I’ve come to believe−̶-to know−̶-that if our purpose is to invite the spirit and be taught by the Lord, then music is the most important part. I know there are some students in our classes who do not pray on their own, or at least not consistently. How can we fail to give them the opportunity “pray” a hymn to the Lord.  Far too often in church classes, a teacher will exceed his or her allotted time and the person conducting will announce, “Sorry, we don’t have time for the closing hymn.” Then, with children clamoring noisily at the door, we have a hasty closing prayer, instead of a sacred benediction! I believe that just as an opening hymn is a prayer to invite the spirit of the Lord, a closing hymn is a benediction, it is NOT just a song we can skip. The dictionary defines benediction as a form of blessing. Then let’s never forget to “sing a prayer” to bring forth the Lord’s promised blessings! If we do, that closing hymn will seal the testimony of the teacher and the students, and all will be edified together!