Many of you are familiar with The Songs of Zion hymnal that we sing from in Church. (Raise your hand if you call it “the gold book”?) For those readers who may not be aware, the words and music of each Songs of Zion hymn come to us in an unusual way. The words and music are miraculously delivered by God to Sister Arlene Buffington, who has no training or penchant for songwriting or composing. If you want to know more about the history of the songs, check out the preface at the beginning of The Songs of Zion hymnal.
Today, we’re excited to bring you an article written by Sister Arlene that tells more about how the songs are given as well as a few experiences relating to specific hymns. We hope to share more periodically throughout the year.
The Songs of Zion are given in three different ways:
- I am awakened from sleep hearing words and music and I get up and write them down.
- I see before me a scene and what is taking place in the song. God draws me a picture so I better understand what is happening in the song. I write it and sing it at the same time.
- The Spirit, and many times the power of God, will fall upon me when God sends down a song.
There have been hundreds of individual experiences concerning these songs from our brothers and sisters all over the church. Two brief experiences shared with me are as follows:
A brother heard these words, “Take The Songs of Zion with you and they will carry you through life.”
Another brother from Mexico heard these words, “Study The Songs of Zion, these are my words.”
Also, the late Brother Dominic Thomas once told me, “The Songs of Zion are carrying our people.” I know they have carried me and many others.
There have always been songs for all ages of time and these songs are for our day and time.
In 2015, when Brother Eugene Amormino was no longer able to arrange the songs, God brought Brother Phil Benyola in to do this work so the songs could continue to go out to our people. It has been a blessing working with him and I thank God that He continues to send songs.
Following are a few experiences that I have had regarding some of the songs.
“God Sent Manna” (No. 131)
When this song was given, I was walking into the Imperial Branch and the Spirit spoke to me so clearly these words, “The Songs of Zion are manna from Heaven.” Shortly after that the Word of the Lord was spoken, “Eat of my manna for the journey is great.” (Just like the children of Israel we are given manna from God in the wilderness.)
“The Gospel’s Sound” (No. 133)
The Spirit spoke these words to me, “The Gospel has a sound.” The message in this song is so important. “Contemporary sounds and songs don’t have the Gospel’s ring, peculiar so they say we are, of latter days we sing.” When this song was given, I saw the scene of a marching band with many instruments playing. In the first verse where it says, “The Church of Jesus Christ will stand, it’s built upon His name.” That’s where I heard the trumpets come in very clearly.
“Singing on the Mountain” (No. 25)
When this song was given, I had a severe case of pneumonia. I was not able to sing or even speak for many weeks. During the night hours I could hear this song being sung over and over. It sounded so beautiful! It wasn’t until I recovered that I was able to tell what had been given.
“Sing Me The Songs of Zion, Saints” (No. 2)
When I heard the testimony of a brother on his deathbed who requested his daughters to sing to him a song of Zion, the Spirit of God fell upon me so greatly and this song was given.
“The Outcome of the Battle” (No. 222)
This song was given in church as a brother was being anointed and the words were, “Lord, our brother has fought this battle for a long time and we know he would like to see the outcome.” Right then the Spirit of God fell upon me and the song was given. The Spirit revealed to me the battle spoken of in this song is the same battle written in Joel 2, and this song is asking for God’s assurance that He will bring us through.
“Zion’s Borderline” (No. 1).
Many times, a scene comes before me and I see what is taking place in the song as I am writing it. I saw a parade going by and a father holding his small child on his shoulders so the child could see this beautiful sight. The third verse says, “Hold while I reach to touch the mount.” Many times, God holds us up above the crowd so we can see the latter-day glory and the beauty of Zion.
“Sing the fair Songs of Zion, hear the message they bring
Introducing with pleasure, the blest Latter-Day Theme.”
“The Latter-Day Theme” (No. 86)
These songs were sent to carry us through this great wilderness on our journey to Zion.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.