Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice
We have received many requests for the information and format of our sacrament meeting program, Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice.
Some of the following information has been stated in other articles and hymn sing sample programs. However, we have restated them here so that the sequence of the sacrament meeting is placed together.
We continually marvel at the formula of reminding congregations of truths, providing an avenue for expression, and then together experiencing the results of stated information. It is a powerful and unforgettable learning tool.
The following is a basic 40-minute outline of the program.
For the opening hymn of sacrament meeting we recommend either With Songs of Praise (#71) or Praise the Lord with Heart and Voice (#73).
SPEAKER: "In July, 1830, just three months after the gospel had been restored, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from the Lord in behalf of Emma Smith. This revelation is found in Doctrine and Covenants 25:11-12: ‘And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.’
Now I find it very interesting that with all the things that needed to be done, and instructions that needed to be given, the Lord felt this principle to be one of great importance. For it gives this explanation, ‘For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea; the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.’ Then the Lord gives a promise, ‘And it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.’ This instruction was received just three months after the restoration of the Church!
During scripture study I have found continual references to singing hymns of praise and raising our voices in gratitude to the Lord. There are also many references to singing a new song. Doctrine and Covenants 84:98-102 refers to the singing of a new song at the coming of our Lord and Savior. There are many other references referring to a new song. I searched through the cross-references which gave me other scriptures with this instruction. In Psalms 33:3 I read: ‘Sing unto Him a new song.’ There was nothing different in this but as I looked at the bottom of the page for the cross-referencing, I found: ‘ i.e., raise also fresh, new praises and thanks to God for his ever-new blessings.’
I was so excited for it helped me to understand more fully the need, the responsibility and joy in singing ‘fresh new praises and thanks to God.’
With this introduction, we are going to sing ‘fresh new praises’ today and hopefully experience together a ‘significant spiritual experience.’
Everyone will need a copy of what we lovingly refer to as the ‘green scriptures.’ Please take the time now to get one.
In the front pages of your ‘green scriptures’ is a message from the First Presidency regarding this hymnbook. Please turn with me to the Preface -->PREFACE
(Stress the importance of the hymns, not only in our meetings but also in the home and in our personal lives).
Let’s begin with the hymn, As I Search the Holy Scriptures, #277. This is a wonderful hymn to sing before family scripture study. I’m sure that most families in this ward have no trouble calling the family together for the reading of scriptures.
Bus just in case there are one or two, consider the great help this hymn can give, for music has the capability of bypassing all other physical senses and heading directly to the heart. As your family learns this hymn, they will learn to love it. As it is sung regularly, you will feel a peacefulness and quietness enter the home in preparation of feasting on the words of Christ through scripture study. Let’s sing verses one and four.
It’s not always necessary to have accompaniment for the singing of hymns. Just hum a note and everyone sings the melody. For those who feel they can’t sing, or don’t have a good voice, the Lord gave the following instruction in Psalm 98:4: ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’ Let’s begin making a ‘joyful noise.’ That is the only requirement given. Let’s sing the fourth verse again -- this time melody only and a cappella. (Without accompaniment).
Can you feel it? Wouldn’t it be easier to study with this feeling?
Next let’s turn to hymn #85, How Firm a Foundation. This is a powerful hymn. Before we sing this hymn, I would like to share a very special story in connection with it.
AMANDA SMITH STORY
If we would memorize these four lines--just four lines--imagine the power we would have in refuting thoughts that are not correct. The added power to turn away from sin! And youth, if these words were firmly implanted in your minds and hearts, I know they would come forth to rescue you in a moment of decision. Think of the strength of these words, ‘I will not, I cannot desert to his foes--I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.’ Let’s sing the seventh verse with great conviction. Don’t forget the repeats.
Please turn to I Need Thee Every Hour, hymn #98. We will sing this a little differently. In the October 1991 General Conference, Elder Packer gave a wonderful and timely message. He spoke of the jamming of communication systems in times of war and it’s importance in conquering and overtaking a people and their country. Then he related this to our day and the battle we are in. The adversary uses the same tactics for he is busy jamming our communication powers with the Lord. We are surrounded by noise--loud noises. We are surrounded by confusion! And this is done to keep us from hearing that ‘still small voice.’ For our Father in Heaven speaks to us quietly and reverently.
As we spend the next few minutes together in singing the hymns, we hope to be able to fine-tune our listening powers and to feel the Lord’s sweet spirit in great abundance. To help with this, we will be singing the melody only. We can forget about reading parts and concentrate on the messages contained within these beautiful hymns. The choir will sing verses one and three and we ask that the congregation join in singing the second and fourth verses in unison. Let’s take time to feel.
High on the Mountain Top, hymn #5. Verse one will be sung by everyone, verse two women only, verse three men only, and the fourth verse by everyone. Please sing all verses in unison.
HYMN - Testimony
Please turn to hymn #144, Secret Prayer. Let’s sing the first three verses--all in unison.
HYMN - 2nd Testimony
For the closing hymn, please turn to #117, Come Unto Jesus. This hymn carries a powerful spirit and message particularly as we see the gospel spreading throughout the world. I will sing verses one and three, and the congregation please join with me on verses two and four. At the end there are three words-- ‘Come to me.’ These words are sung on the same note. I will give you a nod. Please join with me."