How to make the hymns more meaningful in our lives

You do not have to be a musician to appreciate the hymns and to have them be a powerful spiritual resource for you. However, you do have to be willing to stretch yourself a little and to put some time and effort into making the hymns more meaningful in your life. You have to work to get the rewards, just as you do with scripture study or any other gospel activity.

I have identified the following three things to help make hymns more meaningful:- Study the texts. Take opportunities to read and ponder over the words just as you would the scriptures. I have received some very personal and meaningful insights into various gospel principles while pondering hymn texts. Also, many of the words of the hymns are based closely on passages of scripture. Being familiar with the texts of such hymns has enhanced my scripture study also. The scripture references listed below each hymn are an invaluable resource.

Make the effort to learn hymns that are unfamiliar to you. Some of my favorite hymns are ones that are rarely, if ever, sung in Church. Set goals to learn one unfamiliar hymn at a time. If you play the piano or organ, even just a little, learn to play your chosen hymn. If you don't play, you can buy recordings of the hymns at Church distribution centers and sing along.

Learn about the history of the hymns and their composers and authors, as well as the development of hymnody throughout the course of history. There are good books by both LDS and non-LDS authors on these subjects. Visit your public library to find them. I have enjoyed learning about my favorite hymns, and I have even gained greater appreciation for those that are not my favorites as I have learned their stories and backgrounds. - Lisa Olcott Glade, Taylorsville, Utah

What we did:

Drives away clouds

When I have temptations or inappropriate thoughts or feelings, I begin to sing hymns. It is as a sun that drives away all the clouds. Also, if I'm sometimes feeling sad or unhappy, I like to listen to beautiful hymns, which give me back my good feelings. - Heidemarie Schindler, Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany

As a poem

First, we must learn the hymns. We can't make them more meaningful without knowing them. There are two parts to this, the melody and the words. If you are not musically inclined, then purchase the tapes or compact discs that the Church has of the hymns and listen to them. Or, have a friend help you learn the melodies. Read the words as a poem to better understand the message of the hymns and then memorize them.

Second, once you know the hymns, sing them often. Our family has made it a goal to learn one new hymn or Primary song each week. We sing as we ride to Church and as we prepare the children for bed each night. Our children sing in the grocery store, the park or wherever we are. Quite often the hymn of the week fits our topic for family home evening.

Third, read the scripture references listed at the bottom of the page as part of learning the hymns.

Fourth, have a hymnbook in your home. Read the First Presidency's preface and the appendix at the back titled, "Using the hymnbook." Many more ideas are presented there for our use. - JoEllen Turley Foutz, Birmington, Ala.

A hymn-a-day

Next to my scriptures, I keep a calendar and a hymnbook. The calendar I use lists the number of days into the year. Each morning I look up the hymn that has the same number as the day. Then I look up and read the scriptures listed at the end of the hymn and mark the hymn number alongside them. This makes it easy to use the hymns when I give talks or lessons.

There are 341 hymns; that leaves 24 days in December that I devote to studying Christmas music. My "hymn-a-day" brings me inner strength. It's a motivator for right thinking, especially when you personalize the text. - Jeanne P. Lawler, St. George, Utah

On Sabbath day

Realize that the words of the hymns were given by inspiration from Father in Heaven and can touch the lives of His children.

Realize the sacrament hymns express the love of our Savior through the Atonement. During the passing of the sacrament, the words of the sacrament hymn can be pondered and feasted upon.

Play the hymns from tapes on the Sabbath day. These tapes can be purchased through Church Distribution.

Realize the words of hymns can bring answers to prayer. For example, hymn #171, verse 4, is an answer for me: "As I walk daily here on earth, give me thy Spirit as I seek a change of heart, another birth, and grow, dear Lord, to be like thee."

Become familiar with the words of hymns to rid our minds of unpleasant thoughts. - Sharlie Carter, Louisville, Ky.

Study the words

Realize the hymns are inspired. Sing them accordingly and revere them.

Study the words; memorize them. Hum the music wherever you may be.

Find out the background of the hymns, the composers. Ponder meanings taught by the composers. - Tutoreinwe Proviah, Kampala, Uganda

Read preface

The First Presidency's preface to the hymnbook gives us counsel on using the hymns in our lives.

Every night, before our sons go to bed, we sing a hymn with them and then play a tape of hymns for them to listen to as they go to sleep. After only a few weeks, our 2-year-old began to sing with us. He had learned the hymns' words from the tape. He now enjoys choosing the hymns we sing and more important, he is beginning to understand the importance of living prophets, choosing the right, and the Savior's love for him - as taught in the hymns. We are seeing the blessings of using the hymns "as lullabies to build faith and testimony in

ourT young ones." - Camey Andersen Hadlock, Evanston, Ill.

Prayers to God

Always keep in mind that hymns are prayers to God (D&C 25:12) and that they are holy.

Use the topics section at the back of the hymnbook for hymns appropriate for a certain event or gospel doctrine.

Memorize favorite hymns. - Spencer Tim M. Vila, Quezon City, Philippines

How to checklist:

1 Realize many hymns are

based on scripture; study the

scripture references.

2 Learn the hymns; memorize

the words of favorite hymns.

3 Have hymnbook in your

home; read the First

Presidency's preface.

4 Sing hymns often, they are

powerful spiritual resource.

Write to us:

Nov. 14 "How to make the holiday season more meaningful."

Nov. 21 "How to apply teachings of Church auxiliaries in your home."

Nov. 28 "How to help someone cope with death of loved one."

Dec. 5 "How to maintain spiritual strength after full-time mission."

Dec. 12 "How to cope with an anxiety disorder."

Dec. 19 "How to remember Christ beyond Christmas.

Dec. 26 "How to enhance your temple worship."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid seasonal depression," "How to make a will that will foster love, not jealousy, between children," "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents," "How to plan ahead for the different stages of life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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