Today is a guest post from The Chorister.
I decided to start with one of my favorite hymns—Come unto him, #114. We hardly ever sing it in Sacrament meeting, which is a real shame. I’ve been listening to it all week and it just makes me feel good. Is that “the Spirit”? I don’t know. I just know that it makes me feel calm and peaceful, and that’s enough for me right now.
Here are the words (written by Theodore E. Curtis, 1872-1957), and the music (written by Hugh W. Dougall, 1872-1963). The scriptures cited in the hymnbook are Psalm 55:16–17, 22 and Matthew 11:28–30 —both of which are beautiful scriptures that talk about coming unto Christ.
The third verse mentions three kinds of people who could benefit from coming unto Christ—the depressed, the erring, and the weary. I feel weary lots of times in terms of my relationship with the church. I have allowed those feelings to impact my feelings about both God and Christ, which I regret and would like to change.
In thinking about this hymn, I came across a speech that Elder Holland gave at BYU about coming unto Christ. There are some things in it that I am not sure about:
- Is Christ really the “only way” to achieve happiness? Are all Christians happy? Are all non-Christians incapable of happiness?
- Is Christ really the “only way” to eternal life? I know that this is a basic premise of Mormonism and while there is much about this central message of Christianity that I like, I wonder if that can really be.
E. Holland said: “On the example of the Savior himself and his call to his apostles, and with the need for peace and comfort ringing in our ears, I ask you to be a healer, a helper, someone who joins in the work of Christ in lifting burdens, in making the load lighter, in making things better. Isn’t that the phrase we used to use as children when we had a bump or a bruise? Didn’t we say to Mom or Dad, “Make it better.” Well, lots of people on your right hand and on your left are carrying bumps and bruises that they hope will be healed and made whole. Someone sitting within reasonable proximity to you tonight is carrying a spiritual or physical or emotional burden of some sort or some other affliction drawn from life’s catalog of a thousand kinds of sorrow. In the spirit of Christ’s first invitation to Philip and Andrew and then to Peter and the whole of his twelve apostles, jump into this work. Help people. Heal old wounds and try to make things better.”
E. Holland concludes by saying that Christ “wishes us to come unto him, to follow him, to be comforted by him. Then he wishes us to give comfort to others.”
That’s the central premise of this hymn, I think. Or at least that’s the take-away message for me. We’re supposed to do for others what Christ says he will do for us—help us, comfort us, pay attention to us, listen to us, serve us. Regardless of my questions, confusions, and doubts about “the church” and “the gospel,” this is clearly something I can do, both for myself and for others. And maybe that’s enough.
“We’re supposed to do for others what Christ says he will do for us—help us, comfort us, pay attention to us, listen to us, serve us. Regardless of my questions, confusions, and doubts about “the church” and “the gospel,” this is clearly something I can do, both for myself and for others. And maybe that’s enough.”
I like your focus on the practical side of the church vs. just theology. Very uplifting!
The message of the text is fine, but I’ve gotta say, this is one of the hymns I’d hoped would be left out of the 1985 hymnal – – – the musical setting is just a bit too slurpy for my tastes. Perhaps setting the text to a different hymn tune would help . . .
One of my all time favorite hymns. I first heard it sung in the Solemn Assembly Room of the Salt Lake Temple. I also enjoyed hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing it at Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s funeral.