Our young family was growing and we decided to finish a few rooms in the basement to accommodate our needs. One weekday while I was alone at home, it was my assignment to paint the new bathroom. After donning my ragged painting clothes and gathering the necessary supplies, I loaded a roller with white semi-gloss and began rolling in smooth strokes up and down the first wall. I had been painting for only a few minutes when I started to sing quietly, making a discovery: the empty room made a marvelous echo chamber—great acoustics for singing. So I went for it. With no one around to hear me, I belted out song after song.

At one point I remembered a gorgeous religious piece I had sung in high school: O Magnum Mysterium. (1) Though two decades had passed since I had performed the song with my choir, I found that the Latin words were still in my mental archives, and I reverently began singing them. Memories flooded back. Every time I had sung this piece—either in rehearsal or in a performance—I’d had a spiritual experience. It happened again as I sang the glories of the Savior in my half-painted echo chamber.

As I continued to paint, I reflected on the many times singing about Jesus Christ had deepened my testimony: as a tiny girl in an Indiana church where I was exposed to the simple beauty of Primary songs; in my childhood home where my parents filled their children with meaningful music; in high school and college choirs where we sang progressively more complicated works; on my mission where my companions and I used music to share our testimonies; and in humble ward choirs where handfuls of people with imperfect voices came together to make an offering to the Lord.

Standing there in the basement bathroom, I felt a great desire to continue singing praises to the Lord. I opened my mouth and began to sing a new song, composing as I went:

 

“Every time I sing His praise I feel my soul expand.

How I love to celebrate the wonders of His hand.

Every time I sing His praise I know that He will hear,

for my song becomes a prayer to His discerning ear.” (2)

 

During the past decade as I’ve arranged hymns for my children and for church choirs, I have grown in awareness of the poignant beauty of the words we sing each Sabbath day:

“Jesus, the very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my breast.” (3)

“I think of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt. Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?” (4)

“Oh, love effulgent, love divine! What debt of gratitude is mine, that in His offering I have part, and hold a place within His heart.” (5)

“’Tis sweet to sing the matchless love of Him who left His home above, and came to earth—O wondrous plan—to suffer, bleed, and die for man.” (6)

We need not have a perfect singing voice—or any singing voice—to reverently whisper these words as we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Supper. What better way to focus on this sacred weekly ordinance than to feel the meaning of the Sacrament hymn we sing?

Though I have felt comfort from the hymns many times through the decades of my life, I once experienced that comfort to an unusual degree after receiving difficult news—the kind of news that shakes your world and leaves you uncertain about the future. The adversary knows me well enough to see that at times like this I am very vulnerable to fear, and I felt his dark influence working on me. After a completely sleepless night, a night spent feverishly praying to push back the fear, I was in a state of exhaustion when my husband and children left for work and school. I collapsed in a heap, hoping to finally sleep for an hour or two, but each time my eyes closed all I could feel was fear.

Finally, desperate for sleep, I pulled out an old set of CD’s—simple recordings of hymns from the LDS hymnal—and turned the music on softly. It helped a bit, but not enough, so I increased the volume until the room was filled with music. As I lay back down and let the familiar words and tunes of the hymns wash over me, I felt my fears melting away. The power of the songs dispelled the darkness. Though I was too tired and emotional to sing out loud, my soul felt deeply the familiar music and lyrics, and I discovered what it means when “Jesus listening can hear the songs I cannot sing.” (7)

What a glorious gift is spiritual music—an earnest invitation for the Holy Spirit to surround and soothe us. A vehicle to transport us nearer to the Savior. “Oh, I truly stand amazed every time I sing His praise.” (8)

Every Time I Sing His Praise

Words and music by Lynne Perry Christofferson
(from the album Lift Your Mind Higher)
Vocalist: Jessie Clark Funk

Every time I sing His praise
I feel my soul expand.
How I love to celebrate
the wonders of His hand.
Every time I sing His praise
I know that He will hear,
for my song becomes a prayer
to His discerning ear.

(Chorus)
Oh, He has led me through my wilderness,
and somehow silenced all my fears.
His love is overflowing,
and I draw strength from knowing
He is always near.

Every time I sing His praise
I feel my soul expand.
How I love to celebrate
the wonders of His hand.
Every time I sing His praise
the darkness slips away.
At the sound of Jesus’ name
no evil dares to stay.

(Chorus)
Oh, He has led me through my wilderness,
and somehow silenced all my fears.
His love is overflowing,
and I draw strength from knowing
He is always near.

Every time I sing His praise
I feel my soul expand.
How I love to celebrate
the wonders of His hand.
Oh, I truly stand amazed
every time I sing His praise.

Notes:

  1. O Magnum Misterium, by Tomas Luis de Victoria.
  2. Lynne Perry Christofferson, “Every Time I Sing His Praise,”
    Lift Your Mind Higher, (album), 2006.
  1. “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” Hymns, no. 141.
  2. “I Stand All Amazed,” Hymns, no. 193.
  3. “God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son,” Hymns, no. 187.
  4. “’Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love,” Hymns, no. 176.
  5. “There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today,” Hymns, no. 227.
  6. Lynne Perry Christofferson, “Every Time I Sing His Praise,”
    Lift Your Mind Higher, (album), 2006.