The LDS Hymnbook: 2043

Some of you may already know of the Mormon Artists Group and subscribe to their newsletter, Glimpses. To those who are unfamiliar with the MAG, I give them a hearty recommendation. I reprint with permission of the author, Glen Nelson, the latest installment of their newsletter.

In front of me are two hymnbooks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One is the 1927 edition. It is 8” x 5.5”. Its dark green bookcloth cover is embossed with the words Latter-day Saint Hymns and decorative scroll work of a harp and floral pattern. The front cover features a severe geometric border at its edges; the back cover has a small, round embossing of a harp at its center. It was published by the Deseret Book Company, copyrighted by Heber J. Grant, and printed by the Press of Zion’s Printing and Publishing Company. It is the hymnbook my parents grew up with.

The other hymnal will be familiar to anyone reading this newsletter. The 1985 book which includes 341 hymns, ending with “God Save the King,” sells for $16.95 for the coil-bound version I use at home. It has a blue-green cover with the word “Hymns” printed boldly in gold over an embossed relief of the Tabernacle organ pipes.

But enough of comparisons.

What will the hymnal of 2043 be like?

1927-hymnbook-retouchedIf the evolution of our hymnbook is any indicator, the 2043 book will have many new voices. I don’t mean singing voices. The 1927 hymnbook had 421 hymns, 86 of which were written by Evan Stephens. As hymnbooks go, we call this a monopoly. (Stephens has only 19 hymns in the current book.)

Hymnals are a reflection of the church’s population. They contain the creative ideas of average church members elevated through the arts of music and literature but made sacred by their prominent use in our worship. The early hymnal employed various popular Christian works, but it prided itself on its uniqueness, and the creation of hymns spoke with our point of view—our beliefs, our fears, our history. Sometimes it employed folk tunes and melodies of Scotland, Ireland, England, Spain, and Sweden, which was only fair since the people singing them were Western European immigrants.

With that trajectory, won’t the 2043 hymnal include melodies from Argentina, Samoa, Russia, and Nigeria too? Won’t the Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Sibelius, and Vaughn Williams scores be joined by the world’s greatest modern composers? Will Stravinsky, Copland, Britten, Bernstein, and Messiaen appear? The pattern of our history says yes.

There is a phrase I’ve been hearing lately, “hymns of the restoration.” Its usage worries me. People speak of limiting acceptable music to “hymns of the restoration.” What does this mean? Surely, they are not suggesting that my great-great granddaughter’s hymns written in the year 2108 will be unwelcome because they came too late. Or because they are written in Mandarin because she was raised in Beijing. At least, I hope not.

I, for one, welcome the idea that my children (who will be merely my age in 2043) will sing the testimonies of people whose landscapes were starkly different from Mormon pioneers of the American West. I want them to sing the hymns of African, South American, and Asian LDS songwriters. I fully expect them to sing harmonies and rhythms that would have sounded completely wrong to my grandparents. We call that inclusion. It is the anthem of progress.

Comments

  1. I REALLY hope you are right. I would love to see a hymn book wit hymns from around the world! It is so sad when the members in other countries can’t sing their old favorites in church because they aren’t in the hymn book.
    One thing I wonder about is copyright problems. In Russia we had an excellent unauthorized version of How Great Thou Art. Sadly, it was put out by a different church and we had to use a lesser translation, IMO, in the hymnbook.
    Remember the church old contests in the New Era and Ensign? They promoted poetry and music? Maybe they should do something like that, collecting hymns from around the globe.

  2. They still have those contests, every year (in fact, winning compositions from this year’s contest are scheduled to be performed sometime in the next couple of weeks at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square). The entry form for the contest expressly invites members to compose and contribute songs from countries around the world.

  3. Maybe they’ll finally get caught up with the rest of Christianity’s major religions and have gender-inclusive language, too.

  4. Hmmm. So what happens to all those hymns? and does the Liahona do it too? or do just the English speakers participate? I’ve been impressed with worldwide art–Tree of Life collection that was done.

  5. Oooh, what a positively lovely idea. I hope you’re right.

  6. Hmmmm.

    I would be sad if the hymns of my ancestors were silenced in the name of PC. My gut reaction is that you are being PC.

    I would support though regional hymn books.

    Book for Africa, S. America, Asia etc.

  7. bbell, my gut reaction is to wonder what’s wrong with being “PC,” and to wonder whether an anti-PC reaction is as stereotypical and predictable as a PC one.

  8. Steve,

    Are you somehow ashamed that the Hymnbook is primarily of Western European origin?

    Like I said as the church grows it would make a great deal of sense to start to allow regions to develop their own musical selections and hymn books. It simply does not make sense to jettison traditional LDS hymns at the same time. I think we are starting to see the beginnings decentralization with the recent formation of regional MTC’s

  9. bbell, don’t be ridiculous — I’ve said nothing of the sort. Indeed, no one (other that you) has mentioned jettisoning traditional LDS hymns.

    I believe that you are misreading. Indeed, if you read the post carefully you’ll see that what is being discussed is the inclusion of new traditions and world forms of music, not the exclusion of the status quo.

  10. bbell,

    Who is being PC here? The Church? That is, the organization that now has more non-American members than American members? An African member is just as much a member as an American member. For him or her, it would hardly be an act of “political correctness” to sing an African melody in church.

    And a “regional” hymn book, as inclusive as it might seem to us, would have a ghettoizing effect — Africa and South America are mighty big and diverse places, you know. Would Mexicans sing out of the North American hymn book? Would Brazilians sing in Spanish? Would Japanese saints sing in Korean? C’mon.

    I will make one proposal in the proud name of Political Correctness: get rid of Book of Mormon Stories, with it’s phony-baloney “Injun” music and hand gestures!!! If not for the sake of its racist overtones, than out of deference to the Church’s tacit acceptance of the limited-geography theory!

  11. I would like to see hymns from around the world included…leaving intact some of our specifically historical LDS hymns as well “hymns of the restoration” if you will. I would also like to see and expansion of what is “musically appropriate” in our meetings.

  12. As long as they bring back “Come Thou Fount”, I’ll be happy.

  13. And quit taking the word “grace” out of hymns.

  14. Will Schryver says:

    For one thing, I would imagine the hymn book of 2043 will be digital in nature, with the ability to transpose with a click; generate (perhaps) an accompaniment only version, or a solo instrument version, or two-part harmony version for, say, violin and flute.

    In addition to my stake calling, I serve as our ward organist. Since I grew to prefer certain of the hymns (such as We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet) in the “old” keys of the pre-1985 hymnbook, I now go on the church music website and transpose the hymns to the preferred key, then print them out and tape them in my large organist hymn book over the current versions.

    This past Sunday my daughter and I did a special musical number in Sacrament meeting. I’m able to just create an accompaniment-on-the-fly by opening up the hymnbook and following the chord progression. However, my daughter (a 14-year-old flutist) struggled a bit to convert the melody line to the higher octave of her normal flute music. It would have been nice to have been able to select, on the church music website, the option to print out a melody line one octave higher (or lower) if desired.

    At any rate, aside from how the CONTENT of the hymn book will change, I foresee the FORMAT of the book changing as well. We have the technology today to do everything I’ve talked about above. I would imagine that, by 2043, things will be exponentially more advanced.

  15. I am told that we are strengthened by hearing the testimonies of others. This idea applies to music. By singing hymns from within and outside my culture, I can better explore my testimony. Sort of the idea of “Neither can we without them be made perfect…”

    (I have some problems with Book of Mormon stories too. What if I’m called to lead the music in Primary?)

  16. The hymnbook 2043. ‘Joy to the World, the Lord is come…let Heaven and NATURE sing.” Like the rest of the English-speaking world, please. And ditto cheryl on “Come Thou Fount.” A great one!

    Jeremy
    Children can get very attatched to their favorite songs. (Do you remember that episode of ‘Star Trek’ where all of the children, chant ‘hail, hail, fire and snow?’) Approach this subject with great caution among the short ones.

  17. Joanne–You can try evasive maneuvers when the kids ask for that one. “I’m not very good at that one. Do you have another favorite?” That sort of thing.

  18. Steve, I don’t think bbell is necessarily against political correctness per se. I think he/she’s more against some of the tomfoolery that has been foisted on our culture in its name.

  19. Joanne and Jeremy, I too find the “Injun” hand gestures repellent. (When I’m accompanying, I play the “smoke-signal” rhythms as legato as I can get away with.) In my ward, the kids use American Sign Language (as opposed to the war chants and Macarena). If you’re called to lead the music in Primary, you could ask someone who knows ASL to teach you.

    I have more thoughts on this topic but must collect my children from school now …

  20. The hymnbook 2043. ‘Joy to the World, the Lord is come…let Heaven and NATURE sing.” Like the rest of the English-speaking world, please.

    I’d much rather have them harken back to the millennial fervor found in early LDS hymnals, when the words of this hymn were altered to “Joy to the world! The Lord will come!”

  21. I WAS primary music leader a couple of years ago. As a stopgap measure, I tried to have the accompanist lay off the “DUM dum dum dum DUM dum dum dum” drumming in the left hand, took out the traditional hand action (which are just a custom, not actually indicated in the book) in which kids put two raised fingers behind their heads to mimic feathers, and tried to make the crossed-arms thing at the end less emphatic (it reminded me too much of the Sitting Bull caricature in “Annie Get Your Gun”).

    One change I hope they never make is to take out the “deep doctrine” hymns, like “If You Could Hie To Kolob” and “Oh My Father.”

  22. Thomas Parkin says:

    By 2043 singing will have been replaced by extra-planatary, vibrationally-correct, electronically-enhanced, exquistely depersonalized and harmonized “thought song.” We will have moved beyond considerations of gender, and even geography. But Mt Shasta will be still be very important, of course, and 144,000 of us will thought sing together there in the holy mountain top without a negative ion in sight.

    ~

  23. JimD, I’m against silly foistings as well — but I don’t think this is one of em.

  24. Steve,

    Sorry for the strong reaction. Your follow-up comments make sense.

  25. Aw, you know I heart ya bbell. Cheers.

  26. Unless by the year 2043 the Second Coming has occurred and we are all speaking Adamic, I assume that we are speaking here of an English language hymnbook. While I would love to see hymns from non-English language cultures in the English language hymnbook, I don’t think it would be inappropriate for that hymnbook to still stress the musical traditions of the English-speaking cultures. The greater challenge would be to see if non-English language hymnbooks of that era will be more representative of those cultures than the current ones, which consist almost entirely of translations of the English language hymns. (That said, it would be good for there to be a body of common LDS hymns, and even better if some of those common hymns came from non-English cultures).

    Assuming that we are now speaking of an English language hymnbook, one thing I would like to see would be an expanded section of patriotic hymns of all of the English speaking nations, such as “O Canada” “God Bless Africa,” and, of course, “Waltzing Matilda.”

  27. Jim, the French hymnbook still contains “La Marseillaise,” much to the chagrin of the average Frenchman.

  28. Steve Evans,

    86 of which were written by Evan Stephens

    Were you named after him, or is it purely coincidental?

  29. Alexander says:

    Clearly if you are going to add new hymns, whether it be the latest drivel from the nephew of someone on the Church’s music committee or an Indian song written in swar, you have to get rid of something you have now.
    I’ve never attended church in Hong Kong or India – do they sing the hymns? How do the local members feel about it? It seems like it would be ridiculous to them to worship through American/Western European hymns.

  30. LOL, 2 cents. I wondered that many times when perusing the hymnal.

  31. Correction to #26 — apparently Australia’s national anthem is something called “Advance Australia Fair.” Sorry Matilda. Also, this would be a good place for “Jerusalem,” which the English consider a patriotic hymn.

    Steve — At least the French know the tune to La Marseillaise. The Belgians usually couldn’t even remember the tune to La Brabanconne, which was also in the French hymnbook in my day.

  32. Clearly if you are going to add new hymns . . . you have got to get rid of something you have now.

    I nominate “The Wintry Day, Descending To Its Close”. The tune of that one is just weird.

  33. Sorry, JimD. One person’s weird is another person’s middle of the road. The Wintry Day has gotta stay.

    The Japanese sang hymns from the American hymnal, in translation. Obviously, there is no indigenous tradition of Christian hymnody in Japan. So, what are you gonna do?

    I know as I was thinking of Pres. Hinckley’s passing, one of the Japanese saints’ favorites came running, on all fours, thru my head:

    Ware wa Ten ni mata au toki
    Nan no uta wo utawan . . .

    (Sung to the tune of Oh What Songs of the Heart)

  34. Jeremy, either one of those songs could go away forever, never to be sung again, and I would rejoice with a loud rejoicing. Hie to Kolob has several much prettier texts, so we wouldn’t lose the lovely Vaughan Williams arrangement, just the incredibly dorky words. And “O My Father” is just lame.

    To each her own, I suppose.

  35. LRC, Umm, I’m pretty sure that the two biggest christian demoninations (Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy) aren’t all that into gender-neutrality. In fact, I’m sure of it…

  36. Ohhh… Mark B. Now that will stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

    Totally appropriate, but totally annoying. ;-)

  37. re #35 –

    All the recent Catholic hymnals I’ve seen use (for example) “Good Christians All, Rejoice” rather than “Good Christian Men, Rejoice”. Haven’t seen any Orthodox hymnals, but if they were compiled since 1985 (when the current LDS English hymnal was finally printed) I’d be surprised if they did not do the same. That is the type of gender-neutral language I’m suggesting. Not gender-neutral references to God, just to humanity.

    Two more quick points:

    1. I don’t think we need to remove a bunch of hymns to add some new ones (although there are several I wouldn’t miss).

    2. Re: making hymns “PC” – it happened once already (the world apparently does have a use for the drone and we no longer sing about avenging the death of JS Jr, and we’ve left out some of the worst songs about the poor benighted red man and his less-than-white cousins).

  38. Ann, I happen to love both those hymns, but I also think they’re perhaps the most Mormon of our hymns. There are plenty of hymns I can think of getting rid of without losing significant articulations of doctrine–these two seem important in a way that few others are.

    Out of curiosity, what are your favorites?

  39. Just so long as we don’t start changing every other “His” to “Hers” (my parents’ UU church choir spent hours doing exactly that: I think it’s a pity they didn’t use red pencils for it.)

    I don’t know much about the hymnal of 2043, but I hope the congregations of 2043 will sing hundreds of different songs jubilantly (or solemnly, or what have you) and at an appropriate speed. I can’t express how annoying it is to sing EVERY single hymn at something between 45 and 60 beats per minute, and “gravely,” but I dare any of you to try it on a song like “The Iron Rod” or “The Spirit of God” or “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” or…

    And in the Children’s Songbook, I expect we’ll finally have better songs for the Books of the New/Old Testament — maybe even for the Articles of Faith, too.

  40. Re: “Hie to Kolob”…there is no end to “There is no end to…”(s) Love, love the tune. Hate, hate the lyrics. Maybe I’d like “O My Father” if the tune wasn’t so tedious. But probably not; I’m not much of a fan of the poetry of ERS, either.

    Obviously, it’s a matter of preference. I’m a convert, so I don’t have any sense of attachment to these songs. They’ve always struck me as weird. I know other people like them, so when I was picking music I always scheduled them for when I was out of town.

    My favorites are “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “For All the Saints.” I also really love “I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly” (I know it’s trite, but I heart Ralph Vaughan Williams) and strangely, “We Are Sowing,” mostly for the last verse.

    The former Catholic in me wants to see a version of “Sent Forth By God’s Blessing” (tune is The Ash Grove) added to our hymnal. Margaret Young suggested “Welcome Table,” to which I say, Preach it Sister Margaret. Also, let’s add “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Shall We Gather at the River.” Some folks I know who served missions in South America have suggested “De Colores.”

  41. Sarah — The Mormon Artists Group mentioned in the original post has published a wonderful children’s song cycle on the Articles of Faith by D Fletcher.

  42. Re #29 –
    I can speak for church in India. Its a bit different there as church is all held in English. Few if any of the materials have been translated into other languages (the BOM is Hindi and I think recently Tamil). There is a large english speaking tradition (it is probably the only unifying language in the country) because of it recently being an English colony. Therefore, they do sing the hymns and sing them english. To the few members there, it is not that strange. Christianity itself is a cultural tradition brought from England – it is not seen as weird that the practice of it would be in an english tradition.

  43. Just to clarify, the author of the post was Glen Nelson, right? (I’m acquainted with him, and second Steve Evans’ hearty recommendation of the MAG.)

    The only non-English-language LDS hymnal with which I’m familiar is the Spanish-language one, which contains a handful of hymns for which we don’t have an English-language equivalent. The bulk of the himnario, though, is translations of hymns from the English-language edition. I’ve assumed that’s also the case with editions in other languages.

    I love “Hie to Kolob” and find the repetition appropriate (much like the repetition in “More Holiness Give Me”), but am not a fan of the current setting of “O My Father.” The pre-1985 edition had two or three settings from which to choose, if memory serves. Oh, and if you tried to cut “The Wint’ry Day,” there’s a brother in my ward who would challenge you to a duel.

    Also, I agree that the settings of the Articles of Faith in the children’s songbook are singularly unmusical. I would love to hear David Fletcher’s take on them.

    There’s another question that’s been vexing me since Sunday, though. What will become of the “Latter-day Prophets” song? Will new lines be added to accommodate President Monson and the next prophet or two? The current book indicates that President Hinckley’s name will be subbed out with the current prophet in the future, but come on — would we really ask our kids to just blot out his name?! Another option would be taking out the throwaway line “remember the F” after Joseph F. Smith and then bumping up each of the prophets (“Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant; George Albert Smith and David O. McKay. Joseph Fieeeeelding Smith was followed by Harold Bingham Lee …”), but this too poses problems. For one thing, the kids love singing “David Ohhhhhh McKay!”

    Yes, I spend a lot of time in Primary; why do you ask?

  44. Left Field says:
  45. The Finnish hymnbook has a smattering of traditional Finnish hymns, but mostly translated English hymns. As my Finnish improves, I am starting to sense how badly some of those hymns translate and how well others do. As a result, the hymns often sung here are not necessarily the ones sung often elsewhere.

    This is just a theory, but I’ll float it anyway: the more poetic the language of the hymn — with stress on the sound of the language over content — the worse it translates. So I wonder how far the hymnbooks will reflect much internationalism in lyrics. If appropriating tunes only, this pisses people off more than anything. (Most Finns find Be Still My Soul mildly offensive, considering the Sibelius tune is the national hymn.)

    The Articles of Faith should never, ever be set to music. What a horrible, noisy idea.

  46. I’m English, converted aged 16, now live in Scotland. I’d love to see each country have their own hymnbook with a set of ‘core’ hymns known the world over, then local favourites to be sung at each leader’s discretion. For example: I really miss Church of England hymns, and go to an Episcopalian church sometimes just to be able to sing them. BUT if we added ‘Jerusalem’ with all the stuff about England’s green and pleasant land, to a national UK hymnbook, the Scots would be up in arms. As would the English if they were required to sing Flower of Scotland, which celebrates the Scots defeating the English.

    so either we have to stay away from national hymns, or come to a grown up compromise. But yes, being back “Come Thou Fount”, and also “Hushed was the evening hymn”. I am old enough to still sadly, remember hymn numbers from the old hymnbook: and to refer to the current one as ‘the new hymnbook’ :-)

  47. LeftField, awesome suggestion. And Norbert, I think setting the Articles of Faith to music is an excellent idea because I know of few things that facilitate memorization better than music.

  48. Ward Organist says:

    I am familiar with all the hymns in the hymnbook, so it has always been astounding to me when I choose an old standard for sacrament meeting and no one knows it. Something like “Though Deepening Trials.”

    So after playing the music for awhile, I figured out the 20-30 hymns that our ward tends to know and use them heavily. “High on the Mountain Top,” “Redeemer of Israel,” “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” and so forth. I will use lesser-known songs at the rate of one a week, tops. That would be “Awake and Arise,” “Our Savior’s Love,” and “Come Along, Come Along.”

    Regardless of my preferences, I know that music is such an integral part of our worship and the only chance that many ward members get to actively worship, besides showing up at the meeting and taking the sacrament, that when selecting music, I always pray about the selection. I’ve had weeks where certain songs would have been a logical fit for the topic but after being inspired to chose something different, found that the speakers took a different tack and the music worked perfectly for the meeting.

    For the sacrament hymns, the previous organist went through them week after week…#169, #170, #171, etc. She was so proud of this technique that I kept it up for awhile, then switched to my own method…each of the 28 sacrament hymns gets a notation as to how many times it gets sung in a year depending on how comfortable people are with them, how easy they are to sing, and how successful they generally are at bringing the spirit into the meeting. “Again Our Dear Redeeming Lord” might get sung once but probably will be skipped altogether. The same for “Again We Meet Around the Board.” On the other hand, we will do some as many as four times in a year. That would be “In Humility, Our Savior,” “Jesus of Nazareth,” “I Stand All Amazed,” and “How Great the Wisdom.”

    I know it’s a radical thought to consider the needs and wants of the congregation instead of my own preferences (based on the discussion of “Book of Mormon Stories”), but what can I say? It’s a personality-type thing.

    And about tempo, when I was learning to switch over from being a piano player to an organ player, things tended to be a little slow. Now I tend to always play at the top of the recommended range, if not faster. Meetings seem to drag a little in our ward; there’s no reason the music should, too.

    FWIW, there is probably not a single song in the hymnbook that someone would not be offended if it were left out. That is not a reason to keep it in a subsequent edition. For example, I wish they still had “When in the Outward Church Below” from the old hymnbook. It was set to a tune out of the Magic Flute. But the text was weak in a number of ways. Please, although some of the professional music types love it and people will fight duels over it…light fire to “The Wintry Day” and give it a proper burial. But then, everyone would have to find another song to hate.

  49. Norbert, I would have agreed with you in theory about the Articles of Faith, and the Primary songbook settings are horrid, but D. Fletcher did a setting a couple of years ago that ROCKS. Still, I’m inclined to agree in general with your theory about the primacy of text.

    And if “Be Still, My Soul” is problematic, tunewise, it’s nothing like “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” which was once “Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles”… gulp.

  50. Anne,
    From one Brit to another, I salute you. Where in Scotland do you reside?

    One solution is to have a national supplement to the central hymnbook. For the UK, “national” would have to separate all the home nations. I would be delighted to sing Jerusalem and wouldn’t at all mind if the Scots sang their hymns from time to time. But this is obviously more than just national anthems — after all, God Save the King is in the current hymnbook but is never, ever sung — this is allowing local Saints to praise God in their own musical tongue.

  51. The one thing about “Be Still, My Soul” is that it is the easiest hymn to play. For a former violinist who’s trying to learn the piano, that’s a plus.

    But Kristine, being the Germanophile that you are, you know the history of the Deutschlandlied, and how the Nazis hijacked both the meaning of the “Deutschland ueber Alles” (sorry, I don’t know how to do umlauts) and the tune (turning the legato into a martial tempo and tone). Since we believe in restoration, can’t we also believe in the restoration of the original sense of the text and the music?

    Besides, that tune is still the German national anthem. Should we all turn our backs or boo when it’s played at, say, the Olympics?

    Or, is it perhaps feminist annoyance at the third verse, with its paean to

    Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue
    Deutsche Wein und deutscher Sang

    Criminy, you can’t be equating women to wine and song, can you!

    Or maybe it’s sour grapes about Miss America. I mean, Kristine is almost Kirsten, isn’t it?

  52. D. Fletcher says:

    As long as the new hymnbook contains “Abide with Me (fast falls the eventide),” I’ll be satisfied.

    Thanks for the compliments, friends. The Articles of Faith isn’t poetry, and it was very difficult to make it sing at all. I did the best I could do with it.

  53. One solution is to have a national supplement to the central hymnbook.

    This is done informally in our ward, with photocopies passed out on special days and as the ‘join with us’ part of special music fairly regularly.

    Kristine, I’ll take your word for it, but the AofF never struck me as very lyrical. And can a musical version of the Proc on the Family be far behind? teehee

  54. There are plenty of hymns easier to play than Be Still, My Soul. Probably the easiest is God Moves in a Mysterious Way.

    The hymn tune Austria was written by Haydn in 1797 with the text Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser. He included it with variations as the slow movement of the Kaiserquartett, op. 76, no. 3. The theme of the first movement was derived from the same phrase (G,E,F,D,C). It has not been tainted for me by any subsequent misappropriation. It appears in many hymnbooks with many texts across the world.

  55. D., I heard a jazz rendition of “Abide With Me” that brought tears to my eyes.

    Lovely to see you. I’ve missed you!

  56. D., don’t be coy — your AofF is wonderful.

  57. Ward Organist says:

    About “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” we did that one week and almost no one sang it. Easy to play, hard to sing.

    Isn’t the easiest song to play in the hymnal, “How Gentle God’s Commands?” At least on the organ.

    One of my favorite non-LDS religious songs is “Here I Am Lord” (Schutte) but I don’t know if I would recommend it for the 2043 hymnbook.

    And where are all of the “Amazing Grace” lobbyists?

  58. Ward Organist says:

    #54 About “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” we did that one week and almost no one sang it. Easy to play, hard to sing.

    Isn’t the easiest song to play in the hymnal, “How Gentle God’s Commands?” At least on the organ.

    One of my favorite non-LDS religious songs is “Here I Am Lord” (Schutte) but I don’t know if I would recommend it for the 2043 hymnbook.

    And where are all of the “Amazing Grace” lobbyists?

  59. I’m a lurker here, but have to jump in on this one. Has anyone heard hymn #51 (Sons of Michael, He Approaches) actually used in a meeting? I’m thinking that that one could go without anyone missing it. I would definitely like to see Come Thou Font added back. And I think Latter-day Prophets should be sung the way you first learned it. For me, that would be ending with, “… Our prophet today is loved by all, it’s Spencer W. Kimball.”

  60. Ward Organist says:

    “Will Stravinsky, Copland, Britten, Bernstein, and Messiaen appear?”

    Only if they wrote easy to sing tunes. Some of the current picks in the hymnbook violated this principle and they just don’t get sung. Think “I’m a Pilgrim.”

    A significant part of our LDS musical heritage is Welsh. Think Evan Stephens. Isn’t Wales one of the small, oppressed nations? Their language was suppressed until the 1990s. Doesn’t having Welsh music in the hymnbook provide some diversity?

  61. #57 — I scheduled “Sons of Michael” one Sunday just because the third verse mentions Eve, the mother of our generations, and the glorious dance of adoration in her honour! I like the tune, but I wouldn’t care if the hymn were removed.

  62. I was surprised that Sons of Michael, He Approaches was retained in the 1985 hymnbook, especially since the extra effort was made to provide it with a new tune. I can’t imagine it would make the cut if the revision were done today. Maybe in 1985 their were still enough people around making the decisions with a certain kind of nostalgia.

    I agree that the contortions required to add the extra prophets’ names make a mockery of the song, but it was always kind of a ridiculous song. Looks like another revision will be required.

    As for D.’s articles of faith, it’s a very beautiful setting, but it’s almost too sophisticated for children. It’s better quality music than the previous version, but I don’t understand why everyone feels the need to denigrate the Watkins settings. Maybe it’s just because I learned them when I was 9 or 10 and have some kind of sentimental attachment, but I am still fond of those tunes. And, mnemonically, they are better – each article has it’s own characteristic tune that makes the words easier to remember than D.’s more through-composed version. D.’s setting is more fit for a performance, however — some of those Watkins settings can, with too much repetition, begin to sound almost as insipid as “Latter-Day Prophets” (Also by Watkins).

  63. Alexander says:

    Does anyone attend a ward where the chorister/organist will select an alternate hymn tune for a particular text? I know it used to be common, but I haven’t personally ever seen it done. I wish it would happen again – take ‘Hie to Kolob’ tune and sing the words to ‘Come all whose souls are lighted’ for instance.

  64. That’s why there is a metrical index in the hymnbook (pp. 405-09) The example you mentioned is 7676D, of which there are eleven examples, whose tunes and texts can be interchanged. When I was younger, we occasionally did this in several different wards, but it only really works with unison singing, since the words and music are on different pages (unless people know their voice parts as well as the melodies).

  65. You can sing so many hymns to the tunes of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Yellow Rose of Texas” for the same reason, #62.

    Completely ruined “There is a Green Hill Far Away” for me. (Now maybe for y’all, too.)

  66. Ward Organist says:

    If we have to sing “A Key Was Turned in Latter-Days” in Relief Society, I prefer to sing it to the tune of “Abide With Me ‘Tis Eventide.”

  67. Alexander, once I had my ward choir sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” to the RVW “Forest Green” tune (included in our hymnbook as “I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly”), as is often done in England. A wag in the baritone section dubbed it “I Saw a Town of Bethlehem.”

    Bill, you do make a good point about the mnemonic advantage of the distinct tunes in the Watkins AofF songs. And to be fair, they aren’t all bad. But the second one is fairly excruciating.

    Anyway, I’d kind of like to see President Faust’s “This Is the Christ” in a future edition of the hymnal.

  68. The sixth one is also very singsongy.

  69. My wife will sometimes do the meter switcheroo with the ward choir as a means of testing how well they’ve memorized their parts. We’ll sing the text of “Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies” to the tune of “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” for example.

  70. Ann, you can also sing the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner to Gilligan’s Island, which somehow seems appropriate.

  71. Re: “Hie to Kolob”…there is no end to “There is no end to…”(s) Love, love the tune. Hate, hate the lyrics. Maybe I’d like “O My Father” if the tune wasn’t so tedious. But probably not; I’m not much of a fan of the poetry of ERS, either.

    Don’t worry, both of these hymns will be either abandoned or substantially rewritten by 2043, due to doctrinal statements that have been declared mere “speculation by a few early leaders.”

    FWIW, I think “If You Could Hie to Kolob” is the most beautiful, and uniquely Mormon song in the present hymnbook. I hate to see it gi, but I think its days are limited.

  72. Latter-day Prophets:

    …Gordon B. Hinckley led the way, then Thomas S. Monson, our Prophet today.

    There might be room for one more prophet, then you’d better get your house in order for the Second Coming!

  73. I say address the issue of what hymns to get rid of, and the problem of strange patriotic choices in one blow, by getting rid of all patriotic and national hymns in the hymnbook. (OK, so this probably wouldn’t cut out neough hymns, but it’s a change i’d be happy to see.)

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is about transcending nationalism, among other differences. Sing your anthems at your backyard BBQ or at a parade on national holidays. I say they have no place at church.

  74. I was looking for LDS flute solo music and came upon this post. I find the conversations kind of silly. As far as I know it is okay to sing folk music and other hymn like music in church from your culture.

    The Bishop can approve music that is hymn like for use in sacrament meeting etc. in the children’s primary hymn book and the nursery book it says that singing cultural music is appropriate and okay. I have a Japanese hymn book and they don’t have as many songs in their hymn book as we do. And I do believe that the hymn books are already different regionally. I think they include the standard songs and then have some for there region.

    Most people are just not aware of this. Also, everytime the hymn book is updated they take out songs and add some. This doesn’t mean that the songs removed are not hymns anymore. Come thou Font was in the origional and no longer in the current one. But I have heard it sung in many wards recently. Any song printed in the church magazines is considered church approved etc.

    I think we need to remember that the Lord has given us guide lines (hymn like) and leaders (Bishops)to help us and that it is okay to express our joy of the gospel through music no matter what part of the world we are from.

  75. One more final comment. I am almost 100% positive our (US) patriotic songs are not in other countries hymn books. Maybe England. And our faith teaches us to support our government and leaders and to pray for them. I don’t see anything wrong with the patriotic songs. London has a beautiful hymn called I Vow To THee, My Country. The first verse is patriotic and the second verse is about God.

    We need to remember that “man” is compiling our music, not God himself And that of course the future hymn books will be tweaked and adjusted as needed. For the church as a whole and for each language. I think they base it more on languages than culture or geography.

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