On its surface, this seems to be a pretty typical hymn of praise. God is good, and we’re here to sing about it. We sing about the gifts that He has given us (“life and light,” “truth revealed, “grace,” and “wondrous love,” to name a few), and we sing about our adoration for Him for those gifts. But it’s not really a hymn about any of those things. We aren’t singing about the restoration, or about the Atonement, or anything else like that. We’re not even expressing gratitude, particularly. We’re simply offering praise to the One who gave all of that to us.
If we were to leave the hymn there, there wouldn’t be much to dissect. There’s not much under the surface of praise. But it’s when we look at the title that we find a little more to consider. Yes, this is a hymn of praise–it’s the first word of the title, after all. But consider how it is that we praise our Lord. We praise Him with not only our voice, but also with our heart. We tell Him and others about His goodness and mercy, but we feel it in our hearts as well. Our praise isn’t limited to only our words, but it lives in our actions, too.
We talked about our hearts last week. They represent the most central parts of our being. When we speak of something being near to our heart, we mean that it is very dear to us. And so when we say that we praise the Lord not only with our voices, but with our hearts, we mean that our praise comes from our very cores. These are not idle words. We feel this praise deeply. When we “sing with joy for grace made known,” we’re not simply saying that this grace is good. We feel it. That praise permeates us and is a key part of who we are.
Offering praise from our heart is more than a one-time event. Unlike a song of praise, a heart of praise can be constant. Everything about our lives offers glory to the Lord. It is evident in our actions, our words, and our thoughts. Others can see it when they talk with us. The Book of Mormon prophet Amaleki touches on this idea, describing it as “[offering] your whole souls as an offering unto him.” Every part of us, starting from our hearts and radiating outward, is filled with praise for our Lord. It begins to encompass every part of our being.
That’s a state of mind that takes some time to reach. For many of us, it can be fleeting. We can feel that fullness of praise sometimes, but as we are caught up in other parts of our lives, it fades, slipping through our fingers. For those times that we can’t offer our whole hearts to the Lord, we do our best by offering our voices. Sometimes, rather than feeling that praise from inside out, we work to feel it from the outside in. As we offer our praise “in loud acclaim,” our hearts can be softened. We invite the Spirit to testify of the truth of what we are singing (and invite Him to offer praise of His own), which helps us to offer our hearts as praise as well. We work to offer praise with both our hearts and voices, “[singing] the wonders of his name.”