Hymn text by Joseph L. Townsend, 1849-1942. View the full text of this hymn.



That’s what the mood marking for this hymn says—to sing it joyfully. Its lilting, frolicking melody can hardly be sung any other way. There’s a quality about this hymn that makes it feel like a Primary song: the simplicity of its lyrics, perhaps, or maybe it’s that melody. They both have one thing in common, though. Joy.

The text of this hymn, another by Joseph L. Townsend, is filled with joy that the heavens are open, and that man can receive communication directly from the divine. Specifically, this hymn is an ode to the words themselves, that come from on high:

Oh, holy words of truth and love
We hear from day to day,
Revealed to Saints from God above,
To guide in heaven’s way.

Beautiful words of love
Coming from God above,
How sweet, how dear the words we hear!
They’re beautiful words of love.

There aren’t too many opportunities in my day-to-day life that cause me to sing praises to the actual words revealed from God. Reading the scriptures and attending church tends to bring quiet assurances instead of revering words as beautiful and sweet. But it does happen, at least twice a year. The next two verses make this hymn fit squarely into a General Conference context.

They’re from Apostles good and true,
Whose names we all revere,
Who daily teach us what to do
In words of love and cheer.

They’re from the prophets God inspires,
In counsels oft withstood,
Reproving all our ill desires,
Commending all that’s good.

To me, this hymn is about the moment your favorite Conference speaker—let’s say it’s Elder Holland—gives an amazing talk. The feeling that you get, the love you feel for this man of God, is nothing less than the Holy Spirit confirming the truth of his words to your soul. And while you love the person delivering the talk, it’s the words themselves that have come from God, been redirected through His chosen servant, and come straight to you.

We receive many great revelations through the Lord’s servants, but the miracle of it all is that we’re eligible to receive them ourselves. In addition to personal revelation, the Lord may use us at any time to inspire someone else—being the answer to another’s prayer, and being the conduit through which God speaks to someone. We can be that “chosen one”, if we prepare ourselves.

And from each chosen one that speaks
By aid the Spirit gives,
For every sphere of life it seeks,
For every one that lives.

As gems of wisdom, pure and bright,
That glow with lustrous ray,
We’ll seek to gain these words of light,
Their counsels to obey.

These gems of wisdom, pure and bright, are the promptings that the Holy Ghost puts into your heart. It’s how the scriptures become illuminated—becoming “words of light”—as we read them. It’s how our favorite apostle speaks directly to us in General Conference. And it’s how we find that feeling that seems to suspend us halfway between heaven and earth, filled with love and truth.

Filled with joy.

Image Credit: Elvert Barnes, 13.WhatSay.Self.SW.WDC.28nov05, November 29th, 2005 via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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