Hymn text by Susan Evans McCloud, 1945-. View the full text of this hymn.

“I … desire that the song might mean to some of [the youth] what the songs of the youth had meant to me when I was struggling through my own teenage years. I received great sustenance, courage, and joy from the songs for youth. I wanted this song to do that for some suffering or confused or vacillating youth.” ~ Susan Evans McCloud [1]

Sustenance, courage, and joy. It certainly seems as if Sister McCloud reached her goal with this hymn. It was a favorite of mine as a teen, and as I reflect on it now with slightly more maturity, I realize that this hymn has a singular optimism that is perfectly suited to the innocent courage of youth.

Let me briefly share some reflections on three of my favorite lines:

“With faith we hold the iron rod / and find in this our joy.”

Our joy comes “in this”–simply holding to the iron rod. This is remarkable because the imagery of the iron rod comes from a setting of darkness and apostasy. Despite trying circumstances, the mere fact that we are hanging on in faith creates joy in the moment.

“We’re here to serve a righteous cause”

This line struck me for how humble it was. It doesn’t say that we’re here to “earn our salvation” or “save our families” or anything individual or self-aggrandizing. We are simply here to serve.

I also like that it doesn’t specify which “righteous cause” we’re serving. Any righteous cause that we encounter is worthy of our service.

“We’ll love and learn and overcome”

If there is any one line in all of the hymns that encapsulates what I hope to be the motto of my life, it is this. The purpose of life is simply to love, and when we make mistakes,  to learn. In this line I hear no pressure to achieve any particular standard, no anxiety about my productivity, no worries that I am not righteous enough. Our life can be counted a success if, at the end of it, we can honestly say that we learned and loved as well and broadly and deeply as we knew how.

 

Notice that this hymn is not titled “the Church’s youth” or even “the Savior’s youth” (though both are certainly implied). The voices this hymn represents belong specifically to Zion, and I have no doubt that if our faith manifested itself in this kind of hope and optimism, we would be even more a Zion people than we are today.

[1] Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009), 262.

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