On Worshiping Through Music

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Title Page

On Worshiping Through Music

A Talk in Sacrament Meeting of the
Sterling Park Ward, Ashburn, VA Stake

By D. Calvin Andrus, Bishop
mailto:calvin.andrus@gmail.com

10 January 2010, Version 0.1

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Talk

Introduction

(The following history is paraphrased from the Wikipedia.)

In 1885, there was a young man, aged 25, living along the coast in Southern Sweden by the name of Carl Boberg. One Sunday afternoon, Carl and his friends were walking home from church and were caught in a tremendous thunderstorm. There was bright lightning, loud thunder, strong wind, and drenching rain. By the time Carl got home, the storm had past and the weather was calm and a rainbow appeared. From his window, he looked out over the bay below his town. The waters had smoothed out, which allowed the songs of the birds in the woods across the bay to reach him. He could also hear more church bells, calling worshipers to a funeral service.

While taking in the scene, young Carl called to mind Psalms 8.

1. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
   who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, 
   that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4. What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man,
   that thou visitest him?
5. For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
   and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6. Thou madest him to have adominion over the works of thy hands; 
   thou hast put all things under his feet:
7. All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8. The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, 
   and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Verses 3 and 9 had a particular impact on Carl. Let me re-read just those two verses and try to keep them in your mind:

3. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
   the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
9. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

At that moment, Carl took a pen and paper and wrote a poem. Let me read Stuart Hines' 1949 English translation of the poem. Notice how Carl weaves the storm, the calm, and Psalms 8 verses 3 and 9 together.

   O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
   Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
   I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
   Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
 
       Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
       How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
 
   When through the woods and forest glades I wander
   And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
   When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
   And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
 
       Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee:
       How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

This is hymn number 86 in our current hymnal. It is one of our favorite hymns. We feel The Spirit when we sing it. It brings many of us to tears. Through this hymn, we join together to worship our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. We are better people after we sing this song.

Music in Church

Allow me to read what the First Presidency said about music in our church meetings.

Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. 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.
 
Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.
 
We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called on to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse.

Conclusion

Brothers and Sisters, I encourage you . . . May we choose to do so.

In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.