With another General Conference just a month away, now is the season when church members are reminded what a great blessing it is to have a living prophet. This hymn articulates our feelings as we approach General Conference—our gratitude for modern revelation, our love for President Monson, and our eagerness to apply his teachings.
In addition to its potent celebration of the prophet, however, this hymn is remarkably clear in its articulation of the prophet’s specific message. I was surprised, for instance, by the following lines:
We listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the Savior too.
With love he bids us do the work the Lord would have us do.
Hosanna! Let our praise ascend unto the Savior’s throne;
Rejoice! The prophet has confirmed that by Him we are known.
Running throughout this hymn is a constant reminder that the prophet’s primary role is to strengthen our relationship with the Savior.
This even extends to the particular imagery this hymn chooses to invoke:
The Savior calls his chosen seer to preach the word of God,
That men might learn to find the path marked by the iron rod.
Here the verse draws on Lehi’s vision from 1 Nephi 8, and just about any primary child can tell you where “the path marked by the iron rod” leads: to the Tree of Life, a symbolic representation of the love of the Savior.
In our cultural excitement about priesthood authority and continuing revelation, our rhetoric sometimes overlooks what is most central to a prophet’s task. His job is to reveal as clearly as possible the love of the Savior and to point to the Savior’s path already outlined in the gospel. A prophet is indeed a revelator, but sometimes what we most need revealed to us is the heart of the gospel we’ve simply forgotten or overlooked in its simplicity: the Savior loves us, and we are known by Him.
I hear too many church members who walk away from General Conference jaded by “more of the same,” disgruntled that nothing novel ever seems to come from the pulpit. If we remember to pay less attention to the relative banality of conference talks and more attention to their actual content, we will find genuine truth where we’ve been prone to find only simple truisms. That is, when we genuinely “listen to a prophet’s voice,” we cannot help but hear the Savior’s grace and mercy in its overtones.