Discovering the Doctrine in the Sacrament Hymns

Elder Benjamin Tai
Elder Benjamin Tai 
Of the Seventy


In the New Testament accounts of the Last Supper, we learn that the Savior Jesus Christ observed the Passover with his disciples, instituted the ordinance of the sacrament and “when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” [i] where in the Garden of Gethsemane, He suffered for the sins of all mankind.[ii] 


As latter-day disciples of Jesus Christ, each Sabbath we commemorate His atoning sacrifice through the ordinance of the sacrament.  Like the disciples of old, each of us in our sacrament meetings are invited to “watch”, “tarry” and “pray” with the Savior for “an hour”[iii] as we remember Him and all that He has done on our behalf.  Like the Savior, we too can prepare for this sacred time by singing and contemplating hymns, especially those that teach us about His divine role as our Redeemer. 


Elder Peter F. Meurs has taught, “The sacrament hymn is an especially important part of our sacrament experience. Music elevates our thoughts and feelings. The sacrament hymn has even greater influence when we focus on the words and the powerful doctrine taught. We learn much from words such as “Bruised, broken, torn for us,” “Let us remember and be sure our hearts and hands are clean and pure,” and “Where justice, love, and mercy meet in harmony divine!”


“As we sing a hymn in preparation to partake of the emblems, the words can become part of our covenant commitment. Consider, for example: “We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full. We’ll walk thy chosen way.”[iv]

Our hymnal contains many beautiful hymns that specifically reference the Savior, His Atonement and the ordinance of the sacrament.  At the bottom of each hymn, scriptural references can be found through which the underlying doctrine can be further explored and studied.  Through singing these hymns with our hearts, minds as well as our voices and through contemplating the wonderful doctrine expressed, we allow ourselves to be filled with gratitude, love and peace through the power of the Holy Ghost. 

A few years ago, I attended a sacrament meeting with a mind troubled by the challenges and worries of the day.  When the sacrament hymn commenced, together with the congregation I sang and thought about the following words:

christ in gethsemane

In humility, our Savior, grant thy Spirit here, we pray,

As we bless the bread and water in thy name this holy day.

Let me not forget, O Savior, thou didst bleed and die for me,

When thy heart was stilled and broken on the cross at Calvary.


Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving; Teach us tolerance and love.

Let our prayers find access to thee in thy holy courts above.

Then, when we have proven worthy of thy sacrifice divine,

Lord, let us regain thy presence; let thy glory round us shine.

As I began to sing, I felt the need and desire to repent and to be humble.  This was followed by a vivid understanding of the symbolism behind the emblems of the sacrament and that the Savior sacrificed himself for me.  I became acutely aware that His stilled and broken heart made it possible for my heart to be filled with forgiving, tolerance and love; and that through His grace I may one day be worthy to be in His presence.  At the conclusion of the hymn, my mind was at peace and my heart was full of joy and gratitude for the challenges and opportunities encountered in life.  I was ready to partake of the sacrament.

Each week as we prepare to partake of the sacrament, may we:

  • ponder the words of the sacrament hymn and be attentive to promptings to act,
  • take time to read the scriptural references associated with the hymn and study the underlying doctrine,
  • sing the hymn with our heart, mind and voice, and
  • remember the Savior’s invitation to us to tarry, watch and pray with Him each sacrament service

As we do so, we will discover greater peace, love, joy and confidence through the gospel and greater meaning to our weekly sacrament experience.



1. Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26

2. While there is no record of the name of the hymn sung on that Passover evening, many scholars believe it likely to be Psalms 113-118, which is usually sung during Passover and contains many messianic references.

3. See Matthew 26:38, 40-41

4. Peter F. Meurs, “The Sacrament Can Help Us Become Holy,” Ensign, November 2016, 85

5. “In Humility, Our Savior,” Hymns, no. 172