Music of the Latter-day Saints meeting
Published 6:00 am Friday, July 9, 2021
I have been asked about music in services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Lord said, “The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.” We sing throughout our Sunday services, called sacrament meeting.
You will readily recognize many hymns, including such revered Christian anthems as “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”
One of my favorite hymns, common to many denominations, is “I Need Thee Every Hour.” We are reminded of our complete reliance on the atonement of Jesus Christ as we sing:
“I need thee, oh I need thee;
Every hour, I need thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Savior;
I come to thee.”
Hymns strike familiar chords of faith, such as the tender relationship with our heavenly father described in, “I Am a Child of God”:
“I am a child of God
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.”
Yet other songs focus on particular Latter-day Saint beliefs about the restoration of Christ’s gospel, such as “An Angel From On High” and “The Spirit of God.”
Prior to the sacrament, the distribution of bread and water in symbolism of Christ’s body and blood, we sing a hymn to prepare spiritually to renew our sacred covenants with God. Many of these will be familiar to fellow Christians as well, including, “There is a Green Hill Far Away.”
Like our friends in other churches, Latter-day Saints sing many seasonal songs. At Christmas, we commemorate the Savior’s birth with “Joy to the World” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” while at Easter, we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death by singing “He is Risen” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”
Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: “Worthy music is powerful. It has the power to make us humble, prayerful and grateful.”
“Come, Come, Ye Saints” is a favorite hymn at this time of year commemorating the arrival of early Latter-day Saint pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah on July 24, 1847. Composed by early convert William Clayton, this song was written just after Clayton had received news of the healthy delivery of his newborn son.
Even though the Latter-day Saints had just been driven from their thriving city of Nauvoo, Illinois, Brother Clayton captured the joy of living the gospel and inspires each of us in our commitment to faithfully follow Christ:
“Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
‘Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive.
Do this and joy your hearts will swell—All is well! All is well!”
DR. BRENT ROBERTS is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@ hotmail.com.