With all the pow’r of heart and tongue,
I’ll praise my Maker in my song.
Angels shall hear the notes I’ll raise,
Approve the song, and join the praise.
The closing hymn in my ward’s sacrament meeting last Sunday was “The Lord Is My Light”. That’s a hymn which, unlike this one, I know well enough to leave my hymnbook closed, well enough to pack up my bag and tend to my children while singing every word. Which is exactly what I did. But as I sang, I felt the power of that hymn move through me.
While sometimes I sing quietly, trying to blend in with the congregation, this time I couldn’t help belting out, “The Looooord is my liiiiiight! He is my joooooy and my so-ong!” It felt magnificent to sing praises to hymn with all the power my heart and tongue possessed.
I can think of a few times when I’ve felt certain that angels were joining the chorus, most of them surrounding sacred events such as temple dedications. But this was just sacrament meeting. Nothing special, right?
Except that our meeting houses are sacred spaces, dedicated as a house of worship to the Almighty God. Sacrament meeting is a time of renewing sacred covenants, of teaching and learning Christs doctrine, and of communing with the Spirit and with our brothers and sisters. Why shouldn’t it feel special each week? Why shouldn’t angels attend and sing along with us?
I’ll sing thy truth and mercy, Lord;
I’ll sing the wonders of thy word.
Not all thy works and names below
So much thy pow’r and glory show.
I think it’s easy for us to focus on the dramatic church stuff. Capital letter events like The Restoration or The Pioneer Exodus or The Day the Priesthood Was Made Available to All Worthy Men. Well-known names like Eliza Snow and Hugh Nibley and Gladys Knight. Epic conversion stories like that of Alma the Younger and grand miracles like the crickets and the seagulls. It is good to remember these things and to talk–and even sing–about them.
But it is the Lord’s words, truth, and mercy which should have the bulk of our attention. He gave His Only Begotten Son so that we might not be forever shut out of His presence. His gospel, plain and simple, is written out in the scriptures for us to study daily. Our job is to seek His truth and accept the mercy He extends to us.
Amidst a thousand snares I stand,
Upheld and guided by thy hand.
Thy words my fainting soul revive
And keep my dying faith alive.
In recent months I’ve seen many people walk away from the Church for various reasons. What astonishes me, though, is the people who have stayed. These are people who even I would have said had good reason to leave, much as it would have saddened me to see them go. And I think these last two lines are the key to why some stand firm when others just cannot: “Thy words my fainting soul revive and keep my dying faith alive.”
It’s the little things we do–reading our scriptures, praying, attending sacrament meeting every week–that keep us close to our Father in Heaven. The little things help us fortify our foundation in the gospel by reminding us daily of God’s truth and mercy. When we turn our attention away from His words and toward the thousand snares around us, we lose sight of His power and glory, and we falter.
So let’s use all the power of heart and tongue–and I would add “might, mind, and strength“–to remember Him, serve Him, and praise Him.