“A Song of the Heart,” Ensign, June 1982, 37
When President Spencer W. Kimball meets with his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve in the temple, they begin by singing a hymn.
The Savior himself sang a hymn just prior to his crucifixion, As he met with the Apostles, he administered the sacrament and told them that he would “drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:25–26; italics added.)
There are times when music can soothe a troubled soul, alleviate fears, move us to good works, and renew our reverence for things of the Spirit. A friend told me of an incident in her life when a few short lines of one hymn made a lasting impression. Her oldest daughter had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy, her first grandchild. Two weeks later, she received a frantic call: “Mom, come—quick the baby!” When she arrived at the small apartment, the baby was lying lifeless on the couch. He had been well when put to bed the night before, but from unknown causes had slept silently into death.
She felt that her heart would break, and her faith wavered as she cried, “Why, Lord, why?” Then, as if in answer, came to her mind the strains of “Hold to the rod, the iron rod; ‘Tis strong, and bright, and true; The iron rod is the word of God, ‘Twill safely guide us through.” (“To Nephi, Seer of Olden Time,” Hymns, no. 186.) She did hold to the rod, and saw her daughter’s husband embrace the beautiful principle of life after death and join the Church. Her daughter and son-in-law are now united by a temple marriage and have that beautiful little spirit sealed to them, along with three other sons.
As a young girl, I was often so frightened in the night by strange noises and a runaway imagination that I couldn’t sleep. Then, filtering through my mind would come, “The Lord is my light; then why should I fear? By day and by night his presence is near.” (“The Lord Is My Light,” Hymns, no. 103.) Within minutes I would relax and fall asleep.
Such peace and strength cannot be experienced unless we learn the hymns and commit their words to memory. With the new Sunday meeting schedule, we have less opportunity to sing the hymns and thus less chance to memorize them at church. Our families, then, must assume the responsibility for hymn practice. It would be most gratifying to be able to turn our teenagers out into the world singing “Do what is right; let the consequence follow; Battle for freedom in spirit and might; And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow; God will protect you; then do what is right!” (“Do What Is Right,” Hymns, no. 27.) Or perhaps they’ll remember “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord” (“It May Not Be on the Mountain Height,” Hymns, no. 75) while being interviewed by the bishop for a calling. Many times I have sung “Today, while the sun shines, work with a will; Today all your duties with patience fulfill” (“Today While the Sun Shines,” Hymns, no. 215) while rinsing diapers or ironing five white shirts on a Saturday evening.
Let us consistently and conscientiously study our hymns and commit them to memory, that they may serve as a source of comfort and encouragement in our times of need.