The Book of Mormon opens with music. In the opening scene, Lehi sees in a vision:
God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.1 Nephi 1:8
The prophet Isaiah associated singing with expressions of joy and gratitude. For example:
- “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:13, 1 Nephi 21:13).
- “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11, 2 Nephi 8:11).
- “Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth” (Isaiah 12:5, 2 Nephi 22:5).
And in the following passage, which is quoted four times in the Book of Mormon, Isaiah associates communal singing with unity:
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.Isaiah 52:8 (See Mosiah 12:22, Mosiah 15:29, 3 Nephi 16:18, 3 Nephi 20:32.)
As the Jaredite barges crossed the ocean, the passengers “did sing praises unto the Lord” (Ether 6:9).
And Moroni tells us that one of the activities in ancient church meetings was singing (Moroni 6:9).
Soon after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, the Lord instructed Emma Smith to gather a set of hymns for their worship services:
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.
For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.Doctrine and Covenants 25:11-12
In the preface to the hymnbook, the First Presidency of the Church encourages us to use the hymns in our church services, in our homes, and in our personal lives: “The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.”
Because of the pandemic, we are currently limited in our ability to sing together. However, sacred music can still be an important part of our collective worship and our individual lives. Today, I will find opportunities to incorporate sacred music into my life, including singing hymns in my home. And this Sunday, as I participate in sacrament meeting, I will be mindful as we listen to the hymns, remembering they are an important part of our worship.