The Power of Hymns


zil2
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While I was away, I had two hymn-related experiences I wanted to share, in case they may help anyone else.  I'll relate them in reverse, and the second (first) one in another comment to this post.

In Sacrament meeting this past Christmas, a family sang a hymn (not LDS) I had never heard (apparently it's from 2020) called "O Come, All You Unfaithful":

It hit me like a freight train - one packed full of the Spirit.  It still does, every time I think about the lyrics (hence, I linked the video with lyrics).  As soon as I got home, I went looking for it and couldn't quit until I'd found a source for the mp3 (official page).  I was particularly struck by this verse:

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So come, though you have nothing
Come, He is the offering

The older I get, the more convinced I am that I have nothing. He is the offering.  My only hope - everyone's only hope.

I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on Easter of this past year, basing my thoughts off Elder Holland's April 2009 talk "None Were with Him".  It's a great talk.  I organized my own talk into four sections, paralleling the content of Elder Holland's.  As I reviewed and revised, the Spirit kept directing me to part 3 until parts 1, 2, and 4 were gone.  It seemed too short, but the Spirit knew I would be the last speaker and have no time for more, and apparently it was the important bit.  I don't always receive direction that strong, but this time, I did.  Part 3 was a lesson I had learned in late 2020 and early 2021 - what do you do when you feel alone, when you can't sense the Spirit or Comforter; when the Sunday School AnswersTM don't yield the Sunday School PromisesTM?  Short answer: we follow Christ's example:

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But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us.

...because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so.

This hymn helps to convince me to come, though I have nothing; come, even if I don't get an answer to prayer; come, even if my conversion is weak; come, even when I don't want to; just come.

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The second (or first) experience happened in early 2020.  I'm not sure when it started, but it culminated in mid February.  On any normal day, when my brain isn't forced to do other things, it's making up a story.  But at this time, instead of my usual story-making, I kept hearing hymns in my head. It went on for days, and then more than a week. Hymn after hymn during my idle times.  Some of them were even hymns I didn't particularly like, though the lyrics were always limited by my own memory of them.  As it went on, I recognized the pattern and that it wasn't me or an ear-worm, that it was something from outside of me - the Spirit, someone sent by God to stuff hymns in my head, something.  And so I finally stopped and spent some time thinking about it, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do about it.

I was sitting in a chair in my livingroom, where there's a desk with far too many blank notebooks waiting for a purpose (yes, I may have a notebook-buying problem :D ).  As I looked at this desk and saw two particularly large hard-bound journals, the thought came, "I could use one of those as a hymn journal."  This was followed by trying to figure out what a hymn journal would look like.  I got some blank paper and started drawing ideas.  Eventually, I settled on a layout that I thought was good. The hymns stopped playing in my head that day.

Within a day or two, I had printed a spreadsheet of the hymn titles from our hymnal to use for an index / tracker and had made my first entry.  I haven't been as diligent as I should, and sometimes hymns will start playing again in my head to remind me to go back to it.  This sometimes augments my scripture study or sabbath observance.  Honestly, it's emotionally draining - I learn so much.  So, what does a hymn journal look like?

Hymn # (if applicable)   Hymn Title

Initial thoughts, like why I chose it or what I like about it.

Summary of the linked scriptures in one column, with just enough to remind me what the scriptures say.  And my own thoughts on those scriptures in a second column (it's a dot-grid notebook).  These often include ways I need to improve.

Lyrics in one column (the chorus only once).  And thoughts on the verse, what it teaches me, and how I need to change (in the second column).

Then a summary of what I've learned from my study.

At the bottom of the entry (which may take more than one page), I note whether I can play it (on the flute, which I don't practice enough), and any issues I might face trying to play it.

I can't sing.  Fortunately, you don't need to sing to learn from the hymns.  And while an A4+ hardbound notebook, in dot-grid, with a fountain pen, makes the filling of this journal more pleasant, you don't have to have either to start your own hymn journal, should the Spirit so move you. :)

I suppose the conclusion to both these posts is the title - hymns are powerful vehicles not just to feel emotion or the Spirit, but to learn the gospel and what you can do to improve, or just to come to Him.

Edited by zil2
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I would like to add another witness to the power of hymns.  In the ancient past of my own life a seminary teacher challenged me (and all the other students in the class) to pick a favorite hymn.  Then use that hymn whenever challenged in life.  I picked the hymn “Oh My Father”.  I have sang this hymn many times while in difficult situations while in the military, my mission and life in general.  Sometime I have sang this hymn is the silence of my mind and sometimes out laude.

This hymn has become a great and powerful tool to help me overcome temptations.  It has become so sacred to me that I cannot sing it without being overcome by the spirit.  The blessing of this hymn went far beyond its initial intent when I had the opportunity to sing this hymn as part of the choir at the dedication of the Seattle temple – I heard angles singing this hymn with our choir.

I would recommend for anyone dealing with difficulty (that we all will sometime in our life) that they pick a hymn and sing It to themselves and to G-d whenever they need help in their life’s journey.  Such a hymn can become a powerful prayer.

 

The Traveler

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8 hours ago, Traveler said:

I picked the hymn “Oh My Father”.

One of my favorites. :)  Mine is "How Firm a Foundation".

8 hours ago, Traveler said:

It has become so sacred to me that I cannot sing it without being overcome by the spirit.

There's a dozen (perhaps more) hymns that I can only sing if I don't think about the words.  But not thinking about the words seems to defeat the purpose, so there are many hymns I can't sing for the overwhelming feelings that come with them.  Honestly, I don't understand how anyone can sing them - "I Stand All Amazed" for example - I see and hear and feel the events being described.  It's too much.

8 hours ago, Traveler said:

I would recommend for anyone dealing with difficulty (that we all will sometime in our life) that they pick a hymn and sing It to themselves and to G-d whenever they need help in their life’s journey.  Such a hymn can become a powerful prayer.

Excellent recommendation.

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2 hours ago, askandanswer said:

I think a lot of people might disagree with this.

No idea what to say to this. I'm acknowledging that I've read it. :mellow:

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1 hour ago, zil2 said:

No idea what to say to this. I'm acknowledging that I've read it. :mellow:

If I can give @askandanswer the benefit of the doubt, I believe he's trying to encourage you by indicating that you have a LOT to offer to others.  And the Lord will also accept whatever offering you have -- a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

If I can give @askandanswer the benefit of the doubt, I believe he's trying to encourage you by indicating that you have a LOT to offer to others.  And the Lord will also accept whatever offering you have -- a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Yes, that was my assumption.  I'm just very aware, these days, that it's the Spirit acting through me, and not me doing good things1; more aware than ever of the natural (wo)man in me, and its resistance to said Spirit.

1That doesn't sound quite right, but I don't know how to put it.

I suppose, from my perspective, whatever I have to offer, He gave me, so it's His anyway.  I know, my will is the one thing I have to offer, it just doesn't seem to be worth much without Him, so, ya know, nothing...

Edited by zil2
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21 hours ago, zil2 said:

 

It hit me like a freight train - one packed full of the Spirit.  It still does, every time I think about the lyrics (hence, I linked the video with lyrics).  As soon as I got home, I went looking for it and couldn't quit until I'd found a source for the mp3 (official page).  I was particularly struck by this verse:

The older I get, the more convinced I am that I have nothing. He is the offering.  My only hope - everyone's only hope.

I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on Easter of this past year, basing my thoughts off Elder Holland's April 2009 talk "None Were with Him".  It's a great talk.  I organized my own talk into four sections, paralleling the content of Elder Holland's.  As I reviewed and revised, the Spirit kept directing me to part 3 until parts 1, 2, and 4 were gone.  It seemed too short, but the Spirit knew I would be the last speaker and have no time for more, and apparently it was the important bit.  I don't always receive direction that strong, but this time, I did.  Part 3 was a lesson I had learned in late 2020 and early 2021 - what do you do when you feel alone, when you can't sense the Spirit or Comforter; when the Sunday School AnswersTM don't yield the Sunday School PromisesTM?  Short answer: we follow Christ's example:

This hymn helps to convince me to come, though I have nothing; come, even if I don't get an answer to prayer; come, even if my conversion is weak; come, even when I don't want to; just come.

Thanks for the hymn @zil2 I found it to be uplifting and thought provoking. 

Your Short answer: we follow Christ's example, is pretty much the answer to everything. That's why I never get too concerned about inquiring why certain things have happened or why I have experienced certain things - because no matter what happens or why it happens, the answer, and our response, should always be the same: keep the commandments and follow Christ's example.

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47 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

Thanks for the hymn @zil2 ...

You're very welcome!

46 minutes ago, askandanswer said:

...no matter what happens or why it happens, the answer, and our response, should always be the same: keep the commandments and follow Christ's example.

:) Exactly.

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