Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire

Lyrics & Information
LyricsAbout the song...
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

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)

Sheet Music and Recordings
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Transpose or resize the music, using these files, and the free Personal Composer demo found here: Personal Composer Demo.
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Pre-printed Music:

Sheet music for the Marvin Goldstein accompaniment is available here. (Click the “Songbook” link at the top of the page.)
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Vocals by Heather Prusse, Accompaniment Track
Vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor, Accompaniment Track

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YouTube Videos
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This Song on Audio CD:

"Reaching for the Light" CD cover

Reaching for the Light
Vocals by Heather Prusse

"Reaching for the Light - Accompaniment Tracks" CD Cover

Reaching for the Light
Accompaniment Tracks

He is My Song CD

He is My Song CD
Vocals by Various Artists

He is My Song CD

He is My Song
Accompaniment Tracks

(All CDS)

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  4 Responses to “Prayer Is the Soul’s Sincere Desire”


    To the interim choir director. This is something you could do yourself and make available to the group. Turn on the laptop camera or phone camera and record yourself playing and singing each part, then upload to vimeo or youtube for the choir members to practice at home. That would help take the burden off Sister Deford who is already going above and beyond in service for us.


    I would love to transpose this song, but can’r figure out how to use the Personal Composer Demo listed above. I downloaded the program, but don’t know how to import this song into it. I’d love to be able to sing it, but I have a 1st Tenor range, and can’t sing much above a G. My range, unfortunately, gets smaller and smaller as I get older. 🙁 I can’t sing the medium voice solo. This is the most beautiful arrangement of Prayer is the Soul’s Sincere Desire I’ve ever heard! Thank you so much for sharing your talent so generously!


    i really love song.


    I could really use an option created for downloading the individual parts of the SATB arrangement with only one part played and/or sung at a time (with or w/out accompaniment) so that our choir members who Don’t have music reading skills, Nor musical instruments, (but they do have desire to serve & learn) could download their part individually to practice and hear/learn on their own time and at their own convenience. This would also save them some embarrassment and mortification in some cases, when they feel totally lost as we try to go over their part for the brief amount of time that we’re all together as a choir, when they’d all rather be singing it together fully to fine-tune the whole piece.

    Please consider providing this option for this and other popular SATB choral pieces (for church choirs specifically as they have a limited pool of people to work with, usually with very little formal musical training).

    If there’s another spot on your site with that option that I perhaps missed, please let me know, Or if there’s another site which would fulfill this need, then please let me know ASAP.

    Thanks for your time,
    and for your beautiful choral work;
    many of us appreciate these gifts.

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