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The Gospel in Words: The gospel in words: ‘Remember’

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Editor's note: This is a reprint of an earlier column.

"And now, O man, remember, and perish not." (Mosiah 4:30)

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the word

"remember" in the standard works. Remember is used 352 times in the

scriptures. When its variants are counted, that number jumps to more

than 550.

The root of remember is to keep in mind or to be mindful. It has the

sense of being "concerned about" and is related to the word "tradition."

The Oxford English Dictionary defines remember as "to retain in, or

recall to, the memory; to bear in mind; to recollect." Remember also

means "to think of or to recall the memory of something with some kind

of feeling or intention." Remember can also mean "to have mind of and

mention someone in prayer." Importantly, remember can mean to

commemorate or "to preserve in memory by some solemnity or celebration."

Remember is often used in connection with covenants between God and

man. After the flood, God set a "bow in the cloud" as a "token of a

covenant" to not again destroy the earth by water and "that I may

remember the everlasting covenant between me and every living creature"

on the earth.

We are to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy "as a perpetual

covenant ... between (God) and the children of Israel forever" (Exodus


When Abraham entered the promised land of Canaan, he built an altar

to commemorate the Lord's appearance to him and the renewal of the

covenant the Lord made with him (Genesis 12:6-8).

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that remember may be the most

important word in the dictionary: "When you look in the dictionary for

the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be

'remember.' Because all of (us) have made covenants ... our greatest need

is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every

Sabbath day — to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that

(we) 'may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has

given (us).' ... 'Remember' is the word."

While it is true that we renew our baptismal covenants when we take

the sacrament, the sacrament prayers are in themselves covenantal. As

President Kimball noted, central to the purpose of the sacrament is

remembrance: "this do in remembrance of me."

Remember is used in two senses in the sacrament prayers. First, in

the commemorative sense. We are to eat and drink the physical

substances to specifically remember the body and blood of the Savior.

Second, we are also commanded, among other things, to "always remember

Him." Thus, while the symbols help focus our immediate attention, we

are also called to "have a memory of something with some kind of

feeling or intention." If we fulfill our part of this covenant, he

promises we will have his spirit to be with us.