The stereotypical representation of a Christian heaven usually involves angels on a cloud plucking their harps in eternal praise of God. That imagery has never really resonated with me—I believe we’ll have plenty of meaningful work to keep us busy throughout eternity, so the idea of lazily sitting around on a cloud in lazy praise of our God just doesn’t seem right.
And yet, the scriptures do speak of angels who shall “worship him forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:21). While we may not be toting harps everywhere we go, worship and veneration of our Heavenly Father is an eternal principle. I do not believe it will not be our only heavenly occupation, any more than scripture study is all we are expected to do here on earth. Nevertheless, songs of Heavenly praise are probably not a rare sight in the eternities.
Come, Ye Children of the Lord extends this concept even further, referencing the songs of praise we might sing during the millennial reign of Christ. It draws from passages like this one in the Doctrine and Covenants:
And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever. (D&C 133:56)
The millennium will be a time of rejoicing and peace, a time long anticipated by prophets both ancient and modern. Though it often seems distant, we should recall that the Lord named this church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for a reason. This church is intended to prepare the world for the second coming of the Messiah, inviting all to come unto him and to receive him.
We preach and sing about the millennium often, but I don’t know if there’s any hymn that speaks more directly to the joy and happiness that will prevail on the earth at that time. Consider these passages:
Oh, how joyful it will be
When our Savior we shall see!
When in splendor he’ll descend,
Then all wickedness will end. (verse 2)
All arrayed in spotless white,
We will dwell ‘mid truth and light.
We will sing the songs of praise;
We will shout in joyous lays. (verse 3)
Earth shall then be cleansed from sin.
Ev’ry living thing therein
Shall in love and beauty dwell;
Then with joy each heart will swell. (verse 3)
As we consider this hymn, it’s important to remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just intended to bring us individual peace and comfort. The gospel is meant to bring peace to the entire world. It is, in no uncertain terms, a world-changing doctrine. It will make of this world a paradise, where all can live in happiness and harmony.
And yet, take note of the first phrase of this song:
Come, ye children of the Lord,
Let us sing with one accord.
Let us raise a joyful strain
To our Lord who *soon will reign*
We are not supposed to defer our praise until the millennium arrives. Rather. We sing now, joyously, in anticipation of the blessings our Father has promised us in the future. We do not need to delay our rejoicing; whether the promise is fulfilled for us, our children, or our grandchildren, the promise is still rich and full. If a parents’ greatest ambition is to provide a better world for their children and their children’s children, then should we not rejoice in the coming millennium?
I think it sounds pretty great.