Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mormon Hymns

A gentleman (church affiliation unknown) recently told me that he would join the Methodist church, except that their hymns are dull.  "The Baptists have the best hymns," he declared.

I don't know if he's sung any Mormon hymns, and perhaps he shares Gladys Knight's dismay about Mormon hymn-singing, but I for one love Mormon hymns.  From young childhood, I'm drawn to singing the hymns of the Mormon Church not just because of the music, but also because of the thought-provoking lyrics.

Mormon lyrics are not just beautiful, they are true doctrine, and hence, powerful.  My appreciation for the light those words provide continues to grow as I continue to sing and ponder them.  

It has occurred to me that some of the best of those verses, unfortunately, don't fit in the alloted space between the treble and bass clefs, and thus relegated to the "basement," are unfortunately forgotten.

Consider the following "forgotten" lines and tell me if you can't feel doctrine melting your heart and opening your mind.

"May we who know the sacred Name
From every sin depart.
Then will the Spirit's constant flame
Preserve us pure in heart."
(vs. 4, "Sweet Is the Peace the Gospel Brings," LDS Hymnbook, hymn #14)

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow.
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"
(vv. 4 and 7, "How Firm a Foundation," hymn #85)

"He looks! and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity, filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord."
(v. 6, "Redeemer of Israel," hymn #6)

And finally, three of my favorite, all of them sacrament hymns:

"In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One."
(v.4, "God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son," hymn #187)

"He died, and at the awful sight
The sun in shame withdrew its light!
Earth trembled, and all nature sighed
In dread response, 'A God has died.'"
(v.5, "Behold the Great Redeemer Die," hymn #191)

"How great, how glorious, how complete,
Redemption's grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!"
(v.6, "How Great the Wisdom and the Love," hymn #195)

Next time you open a hymnbook, sing big, but sing reflectively.  Ponder the powerful truths the hymns teach.  Let them sink into your heart and move you toward Christ, the real author of all inspired music.

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