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Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire

About the Song

Words by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music by Sally DeFord

Montgomery’s beautiful text is one of my favorites in the LDS hymnal (#145), and I toyed with the idea of writing my own melody for it for quite awhile before actually doing it.

The hymn as published in the hymnbook has eight verses, though only four are usually sung, probably because the melodic setting in the hymnbook places emphasis on quite a few wrong syllables for those last four verses… come to think of it, there’s a bit of that going on in the verses we usually sing as well.

This arrangement uses only seven of the eight stanzas–it just worked out that way. They’re printed below. “Only” seven may give the impression that the song is unusually long, but it moves along in such a way that each verse is really only half a verse long.

The choral is a step higher than the solo version and the accompaniments are interchangeable–if you prefer a higher-voice solo, use the SATB accompaniment.

Church Music Submission: Anthem division–Award of Distinction 2006 (SATB); Relief Society division-Award of Merit 2017 (SSAA)

Listen (and free 128kbps MP3 downloads)

Click the Soundcloud download icon to download the free track for personal use.

Recording featuring vocals by Heather Prusse:

Accompaniment track:

Recording featuring vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor:

Accompaniment track:

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Lyrics

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire
Uttered or unexpressed
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast

Prayer is the burden of a sigh
The falling of a tear
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try
Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath
The Christian’s native air
His watchword at the gates of death
He enters heav’n with prayer

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice
Returning from his ways
While angels in their songs rejoice
And cry, “Behold! He prays!”

Nor prayer is made on earth alone
The Holy Spirit pleads
And Jesus at the Father’s throne
For sinners intercedes

O thou by whom we come to God
The Life, the Truth, the Way
The path of prayer thyself hast trod
Lord, teach us how to pray

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