Tag Archives: Supplication

Hymn #166: Abide with Me!

My little sister spent a couple years at one college before deciding to transfer elsewhere and take her studies in a different direction. She moved to a new city where she didn’t know anyone. She shared a dorm room with a girl who was rarely there. For someone as social as my sister, it was an extremely difficult transition.

She once told me that, especially on lonely evenings when her roommate was away, she would sing hymns to comfort herself. I can’t help picturing her as she was when we shared a room as kids: curled into a tiny ball against the wall with heaps of blankets all around her in her twin bed. It breaks my heart a little to think of her alone and singing into the darkness.

There have been times in my life when I’ve curled myself into a metaphorical ball, barricaded myself in with pillows, and turned my face to the wall to endure the night. I felt alone in the world and it seemed the morning would never come. I suppose that’s why this hymn stirs my heart in ways few others can.

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

It’s such a desperate prayer! “Abide with me!” we cry three times in four lines. “It is dark! I am alone!” And yet we cannot truly alone, because we know we are praying to the One who is ever at our side.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

The faith shown in this hymn is so pure and simple. We know things change. People come in and out of our lives. Mortality seems long, but it is so fleeting. Our faith, however, is not placed in mortal things, but in the one “who changest not”. And as we learn from Helaman:

“It is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12)

When our faith is placed on our Savior, we can endure the dark, lonely nights. We may not enjoy them, but we know they will pass, and we know He will be with us until they do.

I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!

What can protect us from temptation? Who can guide us to safety and security? The clear (though unstated) answer is Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6). His reassuring love remains “thru cloud and sunshine”. His doctrine is unchanging. His Atonement is eternal.

If we look to Him, He will abide with us always. All we have to do is ask.

Hymn #163: Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

Perhaps one of the most memorable stories in the Book of Mormon is that of Ammon preaching to the Lamanites. When Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni departed for the land of Nephi to preach to the Lamanites, they did not know when they would return, or indeed if they would return at all. Ammon famously told King Lamoni: “I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.” These sons of King Mosiah could have inherited their father’s kingship over the Nephites, but instead they chose to preach the Gospel to those who didn’t have its blessings.

The departure of the sons of Mosiah on their extended mission is recorded in Alma 17. As they entered Lamanite territory and prepared to separate, these brothers held one final devotional meeting.

Now Ammon being the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them, and he departed from them, after having blessed them according to their several stations, having imparted the word of God unto them, or administered unto them before his departure; and thus they took their several journeys throughout the land. (Alma 17:18)

From that meeting, the four brothers departed into hostile lands, trusting in God to protect and guide them. As these men prepared to depart, I wonder if they sang a song similar to today’s hymn: ”Lord, Dismiss Us with thy Blessing.”

Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing;
Fill our hearts with joy and peace.
Let us each, thy love possessing,
Triumph in redeeming grace.
Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us,
Trav’ling thru this wilderness.
Oh, refresh us, oh, refresh us,
Trav’ling thru this wilderness.

Most of us are not planning a trip to enemy lands anytime soon. Our wilderness is not the land of Nephi, but could we not all use a bit more joy and peace in our lives? Should we not all triumph in and remember always the atoning grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Thanks we give and adoration
For the gospel’s joyful sound.
May the fruits of thy salvation
In our hearts and lives abound.
Ever faithful, ever faithful
To the truth may we be found.
Ever faithful, ever faithful
To the truth may we be found.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring us joy, but only if we live it. Appropriate, then, that as we sing we pray for it to abound in our hearts and in our lives. The point of living the Gospel is not simply that we live it while we’re in our church meetings—we go to the church meetings so that we can live the Gospel outside the meetings.

We should be ever faithful. Not just sometimes, occasionally, or periodically faithful. Not just faithful on the last Sunday of the month, or for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, but ever faithful, always faithful.

We’ll fail, of course. We’re imperfect, frail humans still learning and figuring things out. We get angry, stressed, frustrated, or upset, and we mess up. I wish it didn’t, but it happens. Even in this, though, we can turn to Christ—his suffering in Gethsemane, his death and his resurrection inspire hope in us. Even when we fail, he welcomes us and invites us to try again. This is the very message of the Gospel: that as we strive to keep the commandments of God, we will receive divine assistance enabling us to overcome and become far more than what we could on our own.

So as we depart from our spiritual gatherings, we do seek the Lord’s blessing. Not just a generic blessing, but a specific one: that the fruits of Christ’s Atonement may shine forth in our hearts and in our lives, perhaps bringing that light to another who desperately needs it.

Hymn #59: Come, O Thou King of Kings

Come, O thou King of Kings!
We’ve waited long for thee,
With healing in thy wings,
To set thy people free.
Come, thou desire of nations, come;
Let Israel now be gathered home.

We touched briefly on the subject of enduring to the end yesterday. It’s a substantial part of our doctrine. It’s not enough to have a moment of clarity and declare our conversion, only to return to our regular lives moments earlier. Our conversion has to be lasting, our actions sustained, and our faith deepened. But to what end are we to endure? How long is long enough?

This hymn gives us an idea. We ask the Lord to come again, as He has promised us. “We’ve waited long for thee,” we sing, and for those of us patiently enduring to the end, we truly have. We continue in the path, waiting for the return of He who is the author and finisher of our faith. It is in Him that our faith has an end when we see Him. We no longer need faith, having a full knowledge of Him. He will come and deliver His promised blessings to those who have waited for Him, coming with “healing in [His] wings.”

He also comes to “set [His] people free,” however you’d like to interpret that. He will certainly deliver His people from oppression as He comes to personally reign on the earth, yes, but I like to think of it as deliverance from sin. He has already given His life as a sacrifice for sin. He prepared a way for us to return to our Father when we fall from the path, and it’s in this sense that He is the author of our faith, having written the book (not literally, of course, although the scriptures are filled with His words) on how to follow that path. (The fact that the word “author” shares a common root with “authority” cannot be an accident.) As we follow that path, we are brought nearer to His presence, and when He comes again to earth, we can be drawn literally into His presence, as Israel is “gathered home.”

It’s a time to look forward to. The earth will be cleansed from sin, and our adversary will be bound for a season as we have the chance to live in love and peace. We will hear hosannas from “all the ransomed throng,” a group in which we might find ourselves if we’ve worked toward this day. He comes unto His own, and those are they who will find redemption. We make and keep covenants so that we can find ourselves worthy to stand with Him in that day. We soldier on, one day at a time so that we can “the wide expanse of heaven fill with anthems sweet from Zion’s hill.” We eagerly look to the day when He will rule as our Lord here among us, and we can “welcome in [His] peaceful reign.”

That day is still a ways off, though. It would be one thing if we knew the day He would come again. We would know how much time we had left. We could put off repentance, knowing that if the Lord wasn’t coming for six months, we could make amends in five months’ time. That’s not how it works, of course. No one knows when He will come again, and so we live in constant readiness, keeping ourselves worthy and prepared for that day when He comes again. We endure, remaining faithful to our covenants to to His commandments each day. And as we do, we look forward to that day when He comes again “with healing in [His] wings to set [His] people free.”

Hymn #131: More Holiness Give Me

Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. (3 Nephi 27:27)

This is the commandment, and the goal each of us is striving for. We are to become perfect, even as our Savior is perfect. It’s impossible, of course, which is why the Savior sacrificed himself for us in order to pay for our misdeeds. We do our best to follow his law and keep his commandments, but when we stumble, His sacrifice makes it possible for us to return home.

That’s an incredible thing for Him to have taken upon Himself, and it’s something we feel acutely, I’m sure. We are to be like Him, One who loved His brothers and sisters so dearly that he was willing to sacrifice Himself for us all. No big deal, right? Just become like that and you’re set.

It’s a daunting task, and one that none of us is equal to. So we plead with the Father, begging Him to at least help us along that path. Even if we can’t be perfected all at once, at least let us take a single step toward that goal. Help me to overcome this one sin, we pray. Help me to make at least this aspect of my life perfect so I can move on to tackle another area. Help me to be more patient. Help me to be a little kinder. Help me to be more willing to serve.

We’ve all offered prayers like this, and they probably sound a little like today’s hymn. “More holiness give me,” we ask. We’re trying our best, honestly, but we’re just not quire there. We aren’t asking for everything right now, but at the moment, we need just a little more “patience in suff’ring,” or “joy in his service.”

There’s a lot to ask about, and there’s a lot we ask in this hymn. We plead for patience, for faith, prayerfulness, gratitude, hope, meekness, and strength, to name just a few. By the third verse, it starts to feel repetitive and even demanding. Every line starts with “more,” and it begins to feel like a child asking for more, more, more. Maybe we feel a little guilty asking for so much. Perhaps we could do without the patience today, Lord, if only we could feel “more longing for home.” Maybe today all that is needed is “more tears for his sorrows,” or “more sense of his care.” Just a little will do today. We don’t mean to ask for so much.

Then again, perhaps we’re right to ask so much of Him, and maybe it would do us well to ask for even more. He is so, so willing to give to us, if only we’ll ask. “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you,” He once told us. “Seek me diligently and ye shall find me.” When we ask, He will answer. Even the least of us will give to each other when asked; how much more so will He, the Lord of all, be willing to give to us if we will but ask?

So we ask, even when it feels like too much. We ask for “hope in his word” and “meekness in trial.” We ask for so, so much, because we have been asked to do so, so much. We are tasked with becoming like Him in every aspect of our lives, and so we pray for improvement in every aspect as well. We pray, as the last two lines so simply state, to be “more blessed and holy– more, Savior, like thee.”

And He, He who asked us to be more like Him, is ready and waiting to grant that request, if we will be ask.

Hymn #121: I’m a Pilgrim, I’m a Stranger

asphalt-road-911849-gallery

I’m a pilgrim, I’m a stranger
Cast upon the rocky shore
Of a land where deathly danger
Surges with a sullen roar,
Oft despairing, oft despairing,
Lest I reach my home no more.

A pilgrimage is a journey, often a long one, to a sacred or holy place. Often the financial burden of a pilgrimage is great, or the journey itself is difficult, or the pilgrim chooses to abstain from food for a period of time…sacrifice is usually involved in one way or another. Generally speaking, the purpose of any pilgrimage is to demonstrate faith and religious devotion.

In the context of this hymn, mortal life is the pilgrimage that each of us must take. We left our premortal home with our Father in Heaven to come to earth where exist both temporally and spiritually “deathly danger”. Verse two is anxiety-ridden, for life is treacherous and too many of our brothers and sisters never find their way home.

Misty vapors rise before me.
Scarcely can I see the way.
Clouds of darkest hue hang o’er me,
And I’m apt to go astray
With the many, with the many
That are now the vulture’s prey.

But let us not forget that a pilgrimage is not just a miserable experience designed to frighten and discourage us. It is a journey to a holy place that results in spiritual growth and enlightenment. Is that not why we came to earth? To have our faith and obedience tested? To see if we would do all things whatsoever the Father commands? (see Abraham 3:25)

We journeyed here to mortality on an earth created specifically for us. It has its problems, yes, but God himself declared it to be good (see Genesis 1). Even when the world is at its worst, this “rocky shore” upon which we have been cast is full of sacred spaces. The Wikipedia entry on pilgrimages is (surprisingly) eloquent on this point:

“Such sites [i.e. those visited by pilgrims] may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit.”

There are places and experiences like this for us throughout mortality. The baptismal font is a sacred place, as is the chapel where baptismal covenants are renewed each week. Temples are being built all over the world to provide refuge, revelation, and a source of spiritual strength. A father giving a priesthood blessing to a sick child, a young woman searching the scriptures for answers to a troubling question, any time the miracle of birth occurs…each of these are “shrines” of a sort that mark the path of our pilgrimage.

Every time we have a sacred experience, the place or moment where it occurs is sanctified, and the Holy Ghost reminds us that we are headed toward our heavenly home. When we go through stretches of life with few of these holy milestones, we can still draw strength from those we have passed and look forward with hope for the next one. And always, always, our Father is there to help us find the way.

O my Father, I entreat thee,
Let me see thy beck’ning hand;
And when straying, may I meet thee
Ere I join the silent band.
Guide me, Father, guide me, Father,
Safely to the promised land.

Eventually, if we continue in the strait and narrow way, each of us will complete our personal pilgrimage here and return to live with our Father in Heaven. We will make many sacrifices along the way, and we will face many hardships, it is true. But if we watch for them along the way, we will find many sacred reminders of where we are headed, and each holy encounter brings us ever closer to the promised land.

Image source
Enchanted Path

Hymn #165: Abide with me, ‘Tis Eventide

Enchanted Path

This hymn, like its cousin “Abide with Me!”, recalls the story of the road to Emmaus. Two men are walking toward Emmaus, when they are joined by a stranger, who is, unbeknownst to them, the Savior. They walk with Him and describe the events of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. They also talk of His empty tomb, but they don’t seem to be sure that He was actually resurrected. The Savior gently rebukes them, laying out the scriptures for them and showing them the prophecies about events that were happening before their very eyes.

They arrive at Emmaus at dusk. The Savior makes as if to continue on His journey, but the two men, clearly intrigued by what He had to say, invite Him to stay with them, saying, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” He stays with them, and breaks and blesses bread, which jolts their memory; they’ve seen this before. And at that moment, He vanishes from their sight, leaving only the Spirit, burning within them, to testify of who He was.

In this hymn, we too invite the Savior to stay with us, but our experience is a little different. The two men on the road to Emmaus didn’t know who He was, although they felt the Spirit as He spoke. Here, we know who He is. We call Him by name. We beg Him to stay with us and bring light into our home. Our experience, then, is more like that of the Nephites as He was about to leave them. Having spent a day with them, allowing thousands to come and feel the wounds in his hands and feet and delivering sermon after sermon, He announces that He must return to the Father. The Nephites react by, well, see for yourself:

And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. (3 Nephi 17:5)

They knew who He was. The Spirit confirmed it to them, certainly, but they could see Him with their own eyes, and having done so, they wanted Him to stay. And so He did, healing and blessing them before at last returning to the Father.

We may not see Him with our own eyes, but we know Him. The Spirit testifies it to us, and our hearts too are filled with longing for Him to stay with us a little longer as we sing:

Within my heart a welcome guest,
Within my home abide.
O Savior, stay this night with me;
Behold, ’tis eventide.

We spend our lives preparing ourselves to meet Him. We obey His law and keep His commandments. We try to act and do as He did so that we can reach our goal of becoming more like Him. And once we meet Him, it’s no surprise that we wouldn’t want the encounter to end so quickly. “Lone will be the night,” we sing, “if [we] cannot commune with thee nor find in thee [our] light.”

I don’t know if you’ve felt that degree of longing for the companionship of the Savior. I know it’s a rare feeling for me. But as I sing this hymn, with its gentle ups and downs, soothing melody, and the soaring Ds and Es on the word “Savior,” I can’t help but feel that pull. I want to be with Him, to feel His embrace, and to stay and talk with Him as the shadows of the evening fall.

It fades as the song ends and the Spirit no longer testifies to me as strongly, but then, I think that’s why we sing these hymns so many times. Just as we wouldn’t want our visit from the Savior to end after just an hour on the road, why would we want the confirmation of the Spirit to end after just three verses?

Image credit: “Enchanted Path,” deviantART user thiselectricheart.

Hymn #103: Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Jesus Christ I often focus on his power and majesty. He is the Son of God! He is the King of Kings! Sure, he loves us enough to die for us, but that fills me with more awe and wonder than anything else. To use words like “precious” and “dear” when referring to my Savior feels a little weird. I call my daughters precious. I call my husband dear. Why is it hard for me to think of my Elder Brother in those terms?

I keep my most precious things close. If they aren’t physically with me, I at least know where they are and have a reasonable assurance that they are safe and well. I check on them frequently. It makes sense that my relationship with Jesus Christ should be treated the same way. If I’m not consciously drawing near to him, I should at least feel confident that he is there, that he loves me, and that I am doing his will to the best of my ability. I should check in with him frequently. I am dear to him, and he should be precious to me.

The final lines of the first two verses–”May each soul in thee abide” and “Let us never from thee stray” respectively–reaffirm the need to keep precious things safe and close. But from what?

In this hymn the words “sin” and “tide” are closely linked not once but twice. There are times in our lives when we reach spiritual peaks; being good comes easily and the Holy Ghost truly is our constant companion. There are other times when we grow weary or complacent or bitter or confused or whatever the case me be. Sin and doubt creep into our lives, as a rising tide slowly advances up the shore.

The Savior can provide a bulwark against this rising tide, keeping us safe and dry in his protection. But we must continually maintain our relationship with him, lest any crack in the barrier allow the tide to break through and overwhelm us. We must have the “swift conviction” necessary to ask for his help in “turning back the sinful tide” as soon as we recognize its advance.

I know I’m not the only parent who insists that my daughter stays right by my side–preferably holding my hand–when we are in a parking lot. This, I think, is what is meant by the “narrow way”. Staying within the bounds prescribed by our Savior protects us from nearby dangers and potential distractions; if we were allowed to wander, we might get lost or injured or who knows what else. With Christ’s “loving arms around us” we are safe.

Even at our Savior’s side, we will experience trying times. I’ve written about this before. Life will be hard, but with his help we can endure. Our hearts may be broken, but he can bind them. We may know sorrow, but he will bear some of that burden so we are not overwhelmed. We will undoubtedly cry, but he will dry our tears. The storms will come but they will pass, and if we keep Christ close in our hearts, in the end we will know “everlasting peace” in our Father’s presence.

 

Hymn #281: Help Me Teach with Inspiration

I hope the other Beesley Project contributors will forgive me for speaking for them in this post, but this hymn? This is what our little project is all about. It’s our aim and our prayer with every post we write.

Help me teach with inspiration;
Grant this blessing, Lord, I pray.
Help me lift a soul’s ambition
To a higher, nobler way.

Until a few months ago, I was a gospel doctrine teacher in my ward. During my tenure in that calling, I gained a very strong testimony that all the lesson plans and teaching methods in the world are worthless when it comes to things of God unless His Spirit is present. Generally speaking, my lessons were dramatically better when I moved away from my meticulous notes and just went where the Holy Ghost prompted me.

Sometimes our posts require some research about a hymn or its author. Other times we delve into the scriptural references included in the hymn book. We put thought and effort into our posts, but at the end of the day we hope the Spirit will help us write something true and meaningful. We pray to teach with inspiration.

Help me reach a friend in darkness;
Help me guide him thru the night.
Help me show thy path to glory
By the Spirit’s holy light.

One of the perks of contributing to this project is reading all the posts somebody else wrote. In less than two months, my co-contributors have shared thoughts that have led me to a change of heart, or shed new light on gospel principles, or strengthened my resolve to be better, or brought me comfort when I needed it.

Even if I am the only one who has been affected in this way, their efforts have been worthwhile. As we are taught in the Doctrine and Covenants, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15) That said, I pray that I am not the only one benefiting from these posts, and that we are reaching other friends who could use a little extra light in their lives.

Fill my mind with understanding;
Tune my voice to echo thine.
Touch my hand with gentle friendship;
Warm my heart with love divine.

As much as we want to teach others about the hymns we love, we also appreciate an opportunity to become more familiar with them ourselves. It’s like everyone says: when you have to teach about something, you end up learning a lot. We are gaining greater understanding and a deeper love of our brothers and sisters. God is blessing us for our efforts, for which we are enormously grateful.

Help me find thy lambs who wander;
Help me bring them to thy keep.
Teach me, Lord, to be a shepherd;
Father, help me feed thy sheep.

Ultimately our goal–in this project as in our lives–is to become more like the Good Shepherd. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Exemplar; we want to be like him and help others draw near to him. These hymns and this website are one small way for us to obey his commandment to feed our Father’s sheep.

And now I turn it to you, dear readers. How are we doing? Has the Beesley Project inspired you in any way? Has a particular post been a blessing in your life? We’d love to hear your feedback.