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
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.