Hymn text by Eliza R. Snow, 1804-1887. View the full text of this hymn.

Again We Meet Around the Board is a pretty distinct title. As you know, I’m big into words and how they work and what they do, so as I pondered this hymn, the word “board” particularly stood out to me. In this usage, I believe it means a table at which a council sits. Let’s use this interpretation to look at the first verse.

Again we meet around the board
Of Jesus, our redeeming Lord,
With faith in his atoning blood,
Our only access unto God.

The board, or table, is Jesus’ place of meeting for his council. Who are the members of His council? Abraham 4:1 states: “And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.” In explanation of this, President Kimball said:

“Before this earth was created the Lord made a blueprint, as any great contractor will do before constructing. He drew up the plans, wrote the specifications, and presented them. He outlined it and we were associated with him. … Our Father called us all together as explained in the scripture, and plans were perfected now for forming an earth. In his own words: ‘And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.’ (Abraham 3:24–25.) That assemblage included us all. The gods would make land, water, and atmosphere and then the animal kingdom, and give dominion over it all to man. That was the plan. … God was the Master-worker, and he created us and brought us into existence”

We are all His council. We were important enough for Him to discuss His great plan with us (and, yes, it was a discussion that we took part in, or Satan wouldn’t have suggested an alternate plan that a third of our fellow spirit beings chose). And the scriptures refer to the gods building the earth, which means there were others besides God and Jesus involved, which has to mean some of us were instrumental in that work.

If we think of the board a bit like a properly functioning ward council, this seems a bit more approachable. The bishop sits at the head, and each organization contributes by explaining what they are doing, asking for help from others, and collaborating together to plan ways to strengthen the ward, who they represent. It’s no stretch to imagine Jesus’ board working similarly. He sits at the head, and there are people, such as the prophets and apostles, stake leaders, bishops, etc, who council with Him and with each other to plan ways to strengthen the church.

We can council this way with our Savior, too, in our families, in our callings, and even in our personal lives. There are those we will ask for help and guidance, but ultimately, we should be looking toward the Savior for assurance that our plans meet up with His ultimate designs for us.

Let’s go back to that first verse, now that we have fully discussed the “board.”

Again we meet around the board
Of Jesus, our redeeming Lord,
With faith in his atoning blood,
Our only access unto God.

We approach his board, or council, with faith that through the atonement, we have access to God. We know that God listens to us when we pray, and we always pray in Jesus’ name. We know that God wants us to live with Him again, and we know that this is only possible through Christ’s atonement. As Helaman taught his sons Nephi and Lehi, “O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world” (Helaman 5:9).

As we approach His board, whether through personal prayer, spiritual conference with others, attending our church meetings, participating in callings, and so forth, may we remember why we need His board and why it is so significant that we are members of His board. He loves us. He trusts us. And He will help us as we learn and grow and become more and more worthy of the multitude of blessings He bestows upon us.

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