Hymn text by Mabel Jones Gabbott, 1910-2004. View the full text of this hymn.

Rejoice, ye Saints of latter days,
For temples now in many lands,
Where Saints, endowed with pow’r from God,
May learn to keep the Lord’s commands,
May learn to keep the Lord’s commands.

There are a lot of temples in the world today (143 of them, with another 27 in various stages of construction), and it’s safe to say that they cover “many lands.” We build them because we are commanded to, but also because we can perform ordinances therein that bring us closer to our Father in Heaven. We can receive power from on high that helps us to carry on through our lives. We learn obedience by making covenants, and we learn joy by keeping them.

We are directed to sing this hymn “joyfully,” but with a stately tune and at a tempo of 72-88 beats per minute, it feels more resolute than exuberant. That’s fitting of our attitude toward the temple. We rejoice, and we we want to shout to the heavens for the blessings we can receive in the temple, but we do so reverently.

Consider the phrase we shout joyfully in the second verse: “All we are giv’n we give to thee. Accept our love; we will obey.” Not exactly something you’d shout at the top of your lungs. We feel joy, but it’s joy in sacrificing to One who has given us so much. We feel joy in helping our kindred dead, as we sing in the third verse, to receive “the fulness of the gospel’s joy.” That’s an exciting prospect, but when you consider that part of the joy we are helping our forerunners to feel is the joy of obedience, this sort of reserved joy makes sense. This isn’t a gospel of unrestrained fun and games. It’s not permissive, and it’s not easy. There’s work to be done, covenants to be made, and a harvest to be brought in.

We labor, as do those we bring into the fold, to ready the earth for the second coming of the Savior. Listen to the final verse and try to picture this restrained joy at His coming:

His earthly kingdom now prepares
To greet his kingdom from above.
Then will the heavens shout for joy,
And Christ descend to reign in love,
And Christ descend to reign in love.

I imagine there will be tremendous joy when the faithful are reunited with their long-awaited King. I’m excited to meet Him, assuming I live to see the day. But I don’t imagine the joy that we feel will be raucous. I’ve felt joy that has caused me to whoop with glee, but I don’t expect to hear hoots and hollers to greet the King of Kings. We will feel joy, and we will shout praise, but I feel like reverence will prevail. It will be a sacred experience, and not one conducive to loud joy.

It’s a tricky emotion to describe. But then again, maybe it’s not so tricky when you consider that it will be our natural reaction to seeing our Lord “descend to reign in love.” Our love will echo His at that day, so it’s not surprising that it will be powerful, but also meek. It’s the same love and spirit we can feel in the temple, and it’s certainly cause for us to rejoice.

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