Teaching the Gospel through Hymn Singing
"Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns" (First Presidency Preface, HYMNS, 1985, p. x).
President Brigham Young could hardly wait for the Tabernacle organ to be finished so "we can sing the gospel into the hearts of the people" (The Tabernacle Organ," p. 4).
"If we will listen, (the hymns) are teaching the gospel . . . the hymns of the Restoration are, in fact, a course in doctrine" (Boyd K. Packer,ENSIGN, November 1991, p. 21).
The purpose of hymn singing is to teach the gospel--to help members learn the hymns, ponder their messages, and partake of the spirit they bring. Many gospel principles are taught through the hymns.
Following are some ideas for teaching the presenting the hymns:
1. Spend most of the time singing. The best way to learn a hymn is to sing it. Do not constantly stop and start or spend the majority of the time talking.
2. Focus on the hymn’s spirit and message rather than on technical aspects. Read appropriate scriptural reverences, paraphrase the message in simple terms, and explain unclear words and phrases.
3. Encourage all to sing. Remind them that the song of the righteous is a prayer to God. (See Doctrine and Covenants 25:12).
4. Encourage members to memorize the hymns.
5. Tell a brief story about how a hymn blessed someone’s life.
6. Give brief background information about the hymn or its author or composer.
7. Involve children and youth in singing, playing, or conducting the hymns.
8. In advance, ask the ward choir, a quartet, a family, a soloist, or any other group to present a hymn.
9. In advance, ask a member to choose a favorite hymn and tell why it is meaningful.
10. Be creative. Be cheerful, use humor, do something different.