What I Learned at Stake Conference

We need to revise the last verse of “Come, O Thou King of Kings.” “Chosen race” and “heathen nations” just don’t work in 2012.

Discuss.

Comments

  1. I’m a big PPP fan; so I’d hate to mess with his words. But, if I were to change the lyrics I would want them to be “While all us Hipster Saints” and “The no good very bad sinners bow the knee”. There are enough beats in there to make it all work out. Plus, I think the youth would really dig it.

  2. Where roamed at will the fearless Indian band…

  3. Let’s just go the whole hog…the gospel just doesn’t work in 2012. Ditch it!

    I’m quite happy if anybody wants to think that we’re separate from mainstream culture, where else will the fear of Zion spring from? Be ye separate.

  4. Let’s have some blood staining Illinois, too.

    Also, “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” while being pretty, is pretty near incomprehensible. And there’s the troublesome line “There is no end to race.” What is that even supposed to *mean*?

  5. I’m not sure, JoeG, that referring to non-Christian nations (including our own?) as “heathen” is a requirement of the gospel. And using “race” as Parley P Pratt meant it (do we even understand what he meant?) when all the rest of the English-speaking world means something different, and the word carries overtones of discrimination based on skin color, doesn’t seem to be a requirement either.

    And, if the Lutherans can translate “das mördrische Blut” as “the murderous throng”–rather than the murderous “blood” or “tribe,” then surely we can change a non-doctrinal poem to avoid causing offense. My guess is that even Brother Parley wouldn’t be offended.

  6. I’m not much of a PPP fan; so I have absolutely no qualms messing with his words.

    In other words, yes. Let’s change the words of this hymn. Absolutely no need for them.

  7. #4 – They needed something to rhyme with “space”. It made more sense than “There is no end to lace”

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Modifying and updating hymn lyrics is standard operating procedure in the Church. Update away!

  9. ginaathompson says:

    Grace! There is no end to grace.

  10. Webster’s 1828 dictionary:

    RACE, n. [L. radix and radius having the same original. This word coincides in origin with rod, ray, radiate, &c.]

    1. The lineage of a family, or continued series of descendants from a parent who is called the stock. A race is the series of descendants indefinitely. Thus all mankind are called the race of Adam; the Israelites are of the race of Abraham and Jacob. Thus we speak of a race of kings, the race of Clovis or Charlemagne; a race of nobles, &c.

    Hence the long race of Alban fathers come.

    2. A generation; a family of descendants. A race of youthful and unhandled colts.

    3. A particular breed; as a race of mules; a race of horses; a race of sheep.

    Of such a race no matter who is king.

    4. A root; as race-ginger, ginger in the root or not pulverized.

    5. A particular strength or taste of wine; a kind of tartness.

    It appears there has been a fair amount of linguistic drift since 1828 with regard to this word.

  11. Kristine says:

    Right, JT–They clearly meant something like “the human race.” Neither Phelps nor Pratt meant to convey the racist sentiment that most contemporary readers/singers will understand from their words. “Heathen nations” is easily solved: “And all the nations bow the knee…”; a modification of “while all the chosen race…” isn’t as obvious to me.

  12. me thinks he means you become the chosen race by bowing your knee, and singing praises to thee

  13. Kristine says:

    I’m not saying it isn’t possible to figure out what PPP meant, only that the meaning isn’t immediately apparent to your average Mormon ca. 2012, and that the probability of giving unnecessary and unintended offense is intolerably high.

  14. Oh yes, I have always hated the “chosen race/heathen nations” couplet. But let’s face it, if we were to get rid of it, we would have to get rid of the Old Testament, at least.

    All poems/songs with a Zionist background will likely contain such egotistical reference, since this is the main tenet of boundary and identity formation for the Jewish and other religions. “We the chosen, them the heathen/gentiles.” I wish we as Christians would let go of this boundary forming tool. We need to grow out of the “chosen” and “pre-destined” and “lineage/race/tribe.”

    “…and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.”

  15. Kristine says:

    I think there are more and less offensive ways of referencing the doctrine of covenant peoples, though.

  16. Kristine says:

    And actually, I think especially given the context of passages like 2 Nephi 29, it’s not necessarily a problematic doctrine–we’re really talking about semantics here.

  17. I do think the Kolob one is much less problematic due to the context in which it is found.

    “The works of God continue, and worlds and lives abound;
    Improvement and progression have one eternal round.
    There is no end to matter; there is no end to space;
    There is no end to spirit; there is no end to race.”

    Clearly, after the counterpart “matter/space” couplet, the term race in the “spirit/race” couplet cannot possibly be referring to one particular race, but to humanity in general.

    Although I admit, this Hymn is not particulary among my favorites lyrically, but for the obvious reasons, not for the reference to race.

  18. We even messed with the words of “How Great Thou Art” for reasons that are not apparent to me, so why not hymns from our own members? I say change it.

  19. #18 – and the equally inexplicable “saints/angels” replacement of “heaven/nature” in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

  20. Since I am a Pratt-ite I say no way leave it alone. I agree with #14 we would have to chuck the entire OT if we did not want to deal with that type of terminology. I am surprised that some folks so interested in history are advocating obliterating it. Let’s just look at the words there, leave them there, and discuss them and what they mean to us individually, and what context they may have been intended in.

    Also leave If You Could Hie To Kolob alone as well.

  21. Kristine says:

    No more “If you could hie” bashing–it’s my favorite hymn!!

  22. Kristine says:

    EOR–what would you say about how it felt to be sitting next to an inner-city African-American kid singing those words? Sure, I have the historical and literary training to make sense of it, but I doubt that he did, and he’s as likely to just walk out and not come back as to ask for (and be lucky enough to ask the right person) an explanation. There’s no reason we have to preserve the historical text _in current liturgical use_ to maintain a sense of history.

  23. I still can’t believe we do the actions to “Book of Mormon Stories.” Mark my words, that song will be gone in the next Children’s Songbook update.

  24. I know that in one performance of “Kolob” (one of my favorites, BTW), they changed the line to “there is no end to grace”, which I think is just lovely, especially because grace as a concept never seems to get much play. Also, please 86 the heathen nations/chosen race thing. However pure the intentions then and now, it comes off as being racist. Just because want to save the baby doesn’t mean the bathwater isn’t in need of a change.

  25. There is no end to face. Quite Mormon, actually.

  26. it's a series of tubes says:

    No more “If you could hie” bashing–it’s my favorite hymn!!

    Likewise! Though it is surprisingly difficult to play despite being in an easy key – some of the phrasing and chord changes are unique among all the songs in the hymnbook.

    Plus, when my wife and I were married, our sealer expounded at length on it. It was awesome.

  27. Kristine (22) (from what I have read and seen in your panel discussions, I know you are not an insulting person, however…) I think it is actually insulting to assume a black person cannot hear/read the word race without assuming that it is meant to disparage them. It is also fairly insulting to assume that someone from an inner-city lacks the skills necessary to make the connection in the song (coming from the inner-city myself). The song (Come O Thou King of Kings) clearly indicates that “Chosen Race” refers to Israel, not white people. When one is baptized, they are adopted into Israel, and become part of the covenant.

    There is far more present in a Sunday meeting or Stake conference to send anyone running black or white. If someone is unwilling to listen to explanation and leave on a whim and never come back they were going to do so at some point anyway.

    I disagree that the spirit of information is not lost when the words are. Once we start fiddling with the words, or chipping away at them it is only a matter of time before they are no longer remembered. I may be a smidge biased, but I think Pratt’s words are worth preserving for the sake of history and people can decide for themselves individually whether it is good, bad, or ugly.

  28. I’m firmly in the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp. But those two lines are broke. “Race” just does not mean now what it did then. And it has nothing to do with whether the person is “inner city” or not. Yes, if you take the time to engage the text, there is some great stuff to learn there. But we don’t, at least not as part of our worship services. So the hymns have to speak for themselves – without relying on someone to explain that PPP was talking about the “human race” or “all the descendants of Abraham, whether by blood or adoption.”

  29. “Heathen nations” is absolutely unacceptable. It has got to go.

    I’m not quite as worried about “race,” but on the other hand, I feel that a Church that withheld the priesthood from blacks during the first few years of my lifetime probably would benefit from getting into the habit of erring on the side of sensitivity in such matters.

    And it isn’t just the hand actions to Book of Mormon Stories that are awful, the music itself is. The pentatonic melody, the open fifths in the left hand imitating drums: they are the exact sound of clueless white people imagining what foreign people (Amerindian, Chinese, whatever) sound like.

  30. On a slightly different note, I think a year in Sunday School discussing the Hymns would be way cooler than the current quadrennial rotation through the standard works. Lessons could discuss revisions made to the lyrics over time, the history of the authors and composers, and of course, discuss the doctrines taught. It *might* even encourage members to take our sacred music seriously.

  31. You know… just in case anyone in the Sunday School General Presidency is reading…

  32. Our mission hymn was “Up Awake Ye Defenders of Zion.” Half was in English, the remainder in Portuguese. When they put it together on my mission, the English lyrics were not yet “sanitized,” meaning that we sang verbiage like:

    Remember the wrongs in Missouri;
    Forget not the fate of Nauvoo.
    When the God-hating foe is before you,
    Stand firm and be faithful and true.

    Now it reads the “trials of Missouri,” and the “courage of Nauvoo.” Moreover, the foe no longer hates God, but is simply an prosaic “enemy host.”

    I get the changes. I get that we still want to convert people in Missouri and Illinois and that the former language would probably make that harder. But I much prefer the prior lyrics. They are, to me, more historically correct and far more stirring. I wish we still had them.

  33. Pretty sure the next LDS hymnal will not have room for any hymns other than the various arrangements of “Come Thou Fount” that are destined to fill its pages… (In seriousness, I’ll be glad to see it back in).

  34. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to read “race” in a “racial” sense, especially if 1) they live post-Holocaust, 2) they live in the United States, or 3) you’re dealing with the LDS Church, which has a past of racist policies and rhetoric that, while disowned, still haunts. Combining the three is just a perfect storm.

  35. I think we should change the lyrics to something more 21st century. Also, I want all possible “men” and “brothers” to be changed to something more inclusive. “Saints” works in place of “men” for the most part. “Brothers” is harder, because it’s often a rhyme. Not much rhymes with “sisters” other than “blisters,” which is not very gosple-y.

    And what’s with the Book of Mormon Stories hate? It must be a long time since YOU were a Sunbeam.

  36. Oh, also, I once heard that “If you could hie to Kolob” was going to be left out of a previous hymnal, but the prophet at the time (don’t remember who) said it was his favorite song. So, surprisingly, it was put in on the very last page and marked “Congregational Hymn.” It’s been included since then. It can go, though, as far as I’m concerned. There is no end to this song, there is no endtothis song….

  37. I agree with Rick in #30. I would love a year to discuss the Hymnal.

  38. I can’t even wrap my head around someone not loving If You Could Hie To Kolob. It has been used less and less every year so I got myself a hymn book several years ago in order to preserve it. It is definitely in my top 5 of favorite hymns.

  39. Left Field says:

    The modifications to “How Great Thou Art” aren’t an LDS thing. Protestant hymnals have the same changes. I think it’s a requirement of the copyright holder.

  40. Left Field says:

    “Race” doesn’t even rhyme with “peace.”

    Hail! Prince of life and peace!
    Thrice welcome to thy throne,
    While throngs of saints increase,
    Their Lord and Savior own,
    And all the nations bow the knee,
    And every tongue sounds praise to thee.

  41. Molly #36: that was actually “Adam ondi-Ahman” (This Earth Was Once a Garden Place). I thought it was David O. McKay who loved it and wanted it included, but might be remembering that wrong …

    Re changing lyrics: how about “When the Rosy Light of Morning” ? We used to sing the words penned by R.B. Baird: “Fresh from slumber we awaken; Sunshine makes the heart so gay”. But in the 1985 hymnal, the rhyme became “Sunshine chases cares away”. A number of other such examples populate our current hymn book. Hence text adjustments are fair game — and I far prefer Kristine’s suggestion to some of the tinkering that has already taken place.

  42. Kristine says:

    EOR (27) — oh, please. I am assuming no such thing. I am, however, drawing inferences from my general acquaintance with these kids, from my experience teaching them hymns to sing in Stake Conference, and from the whispers I overheard during the song. Don’t get all colorblind-righteous with me.

  43. gatoraidemomma says:

    What about Book of Mormon stories? It is very much sterotyping the indigenous peoples of the Americas … remains a children’s favorite and used all the time in Primary and in homes. I would like to see leadership make some definitive statements and nix the use of some hymns that remain on the books until the next reprint.

  44. Only read a few of the comments here, so this might have been said already, but on the Phelps “there is no end to race” tangent, an institute teacher told me it was referencing Joseph Smith’s teachings about all men being of the race of the gods–which was tied up in his teachings about Kolob.

  45. Please, please revise it.
    Hymn texts are hardly canonized scripture. There is precedent: ‘How Firm a Foundation’ being one (all that yoohooing Jesus tended to detract from the reverence).
    The church seem to be pretty fast and loose with revising other revered texts. I first became aware of this when I purchased my own copy of Talmage’s Jesus the Christ. My parent’s copy contained all sorts of startling ideas, which I could understand they might have wanted to remove. I was ticked off, that the page with all the publication notes gave no indication that this was anything other than the original book, gave no indication of when or by whom revisions had been made. By all means revise when needs be, but lets also apply some academic rigour.
    To the camp who think changing the text is to lose our history, all that is necessary is a little note at the bottom of the page stating text revised, and giving the date. Anyone wanting to examine the original text is not then going to deceived into thinking they have it.
    #30 RickH
    That is such a cool idea. I’d love it. I recently gave a sacrament meeting talk on ‘The Importance of Music in the Gospel’, looking at hymns, the history of hymn-singing, the purpose etc. But you can only fit a very sketchy overview into 15 minutes. The congregation sang enthusiastically for the intermediate hymn following, but it didn’t last…

  46. “Race” as used in If You Could Hie To Kolob means “the human race” — I always thought this was obvious and didn’t realize that apparently a lot of people aren’t actually familiar with the phrase “the human race” until it was once pointed out to me that some people actually use this line in this hymn as support for discredited and harmful racist speculations in our intellectual history.

    It should be changed to “grace” in that line and the entire song would be much improved, both by removing the potential for some racist Mormons to use that line as an apologetic for their unacceptable speculations and by giving voice to the role of grace in the Gospel — a role that inexplicably is not properly celebrated by Mormons.

    “Race” as used in Come, O Thou King of Kings is much more problematic than in If You Could Hie To Kolob. It straightforward refers to a type of tribalism, tying directly into notions of a “chosen race” which is a small step away from a “superior race” or “master race”. It feeds off of the precise impulses that motivate racism. We could easily change that line to capture the spirit of what Pratt meant in language appropriate for 2012. This isn’t about misplaced political correctness. It’s about right and wrong.

  47. We used to have no use for the drone, since only he who does something is worthy to live, but that was deemed too harsh an encouragement to do some good in the world today. Where did losing that harshness lead us? It paved the way for blogs full of droning!

  48. Kristine (42) My mistake, I didn’t realize it was “colorblind-righteous” to not assume (or infer) sweeping generalizations about an entire group of people (inner-city black people) based on what a few youths may have misunderstood. It is unfortunate that they misunderstood it.

    john f (46) those who are racist will use whatever means necessary to justify themselves. Changing one hymn, or every hymn will never fix that. As much as I am against changing if I honestly felt that changing it would end racism even for one person I would say do it–but it will not. Pratt used the term correctly in both 19th century terms and 21st century terms.

  49. Peter LLC says:

    but it will not.

    We have a seer among us!

  50. The scriptures can be changed – so why not hymns?

    Other examples, include “And none will molest them from morn until ev’n” in Now Let Us Rejoice and “Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear” from I Am a Child of God.

    I like the non-racism of the following message from Moroni to Joseph Smith:

    That God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people. (Joseph Smith History 1:33)

    And from Joseph Smith himself:

    For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations … who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12

    # 48 “There is no end to racism”

  51. And let’s not forget the ultimate anti-supposed-racism change: “white” to “pure” in *The Book of Mormon itself*.

  52. Peter I am not a seer, I have just seen enough “ism”. I have seen people do impressive mental gymnastics to make a concept or phrase fit what they already believe. I would be willing to bet good money that I have even done so myself.

    The words can be changed to anyone’s hearts desire, but the concept of a covenant people or “chosen people” will never go away. If it were me I would rather deal with it in a hymn. that’s all I have to say about this anymore.

  53. By the way, in #50 these are examples of lines that should be changed rather than ones that were changed. I don’t think “molest” should be sung and “parents kind and dear” is not an experience all children share.

  54. What 1978 made explicit was that the covenant people include people from all races. Some scriptures already suggested this but the revelation made it explicit.

    The covenant people are not defined by race but by righteousness – or at least the attempt at such.

  55. I don’t think “molest” should be sung

    Agreed. My daughter’s Madeline books from the thirties use “molest” in this older, more innocuous sense, which always gives me pause, but the word’s clearly changed. A lot. It doesn’t belong in our hymnbook anymore.

  56. M J (54) I dealt with that in my earlier post (#27)

  57. 23, 29, 35, 43-
    A few years ago my wife and I were called as Primary teachers and were mortified to realize how bad Book of Mormon Stories is. We couldn’t bring ourselves to do all the actions (the fingers behind heads was the most embarrassing to me). Yes, Molly, as a Sunbeam I didn’t think twice about it, just like the poor Sunbeams today don’t know any better.

  58. If we aren’t opposed to changing temple ceremonies because they are offensive to modern sensibilities, then changing hymns is no big deal.

  59. Perhaps be leaving it in we can use to spring board a discussion about race. If we simply remove all the references without first having the discussion of why its offense I think we end simply white washing the issue and are left without a way to even have a conversation about the real issue.

  60. EOR #56

    Yes – and isn’t it nice to have a second witness. Maybe we should have a separate book of historical hymns that respect the history – But for actual use – we could modernise the words or the meanings as has been done with scripture both written (the standard works) and spoken (the temple). The point is that we can determine what others see, hear, feel and experience by the words we use … and don’t use.

  61. Correction to my #47: I must have partially misremembered what I was told about Phelps’s use of “race,” as it appears that JS gave us nothing about Kolob other than what is in the Book of Abraham. Though the B of A explanation of the nature of man and God that is evident in “If You Could Hie to Kolob” is very similar to that of the King Follett discourse, which talks about “the designs of God for the human race.”

    I’ll leave off the tangent, now. I can see the argument on both sides with regard to “Come, O Thou King of Kings.” I lean toward leaving it the way it is in spite of the very possible misunderstandings, but if we can ensure that changing it won’t eventually mean a change to the word “race” in “Kolob,” (one of my favorite hymns), I will agree to not complain about it. Much.

  62. Wasn’t Pratt alluding to the Jews as “chosen race”?
    Here are a few suggested adaptations to better conform to the sensibilities of modern sexual revolutionaries and materialists: Hymn #5: “Her light should there attract the gays” and #19 “We thank thee o God for a profit.” Come to think of it, the end of this latter hymn is too harsh. Instead, let it be sung: “The wicked who fight against Zion, shall surely be beaten with a few stripes, and at last shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”

  63. NewlyHousewife says:

    Now hold on a second. We got it all wrong. The big question is: Will the hymn and children’s song books be updated before or after the YW manual?

    Methinks after.

  64. We also need to change the last line of “High on the Mountaintop”. We can not save ourselves and all our dead, that is only possible through the Atonement of Christ.

  65. I think we’re due for a new hymnbook, so all these suggestions can be incorporated. Also, it would be a good opportunity to put “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” back in. If the MoTabs can do it as GenCon, it’s clearly good enough for the Church as a whole.

  66. And what about Hymn 46, music compliments of Haydn? Interesting history to this one. It uses the same tune as “Deutschland uber alles” – a favourite of the Nazis. I remember meeting the eyes of a senior member of the Church from Austria who fought in the German Army in WWII (against his will) as we sang the hymn one Sunday. I’m sure the hymn provoked some interesting feelings for that brother. He later clarified that the tune was also the Austrian national anthem for a time.

  67. We might also consider removing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” My wife had British expats in her ward growing up, and they were always pretty offended (to the point of leaving the room) when the ward sang what they viewed as a “parody” of “God Save the Queen”. I dunno… what do saints on the other side of the pond think of that one? Or do you just not think of it?

  68. I haven’t read all of the comments, but had to respond to @67 RickH. I recall fondly one July 4 when the chorister opened time for people to suggest their favorite patriotic hymns. One British sister quickly suggested ‘God Save the Queen’ which we all sang with gusto and humor.

    I agree that all of the national and ethnocentric hymns should be deleted from the worship service.

  69. I also agree that the hymns specific to any country need to go. imo these are not songs to God.

  70. There was a Native American family in our stake that went into their primary and asked the presidency if they would alter the motions to BOM Stories. Instead of the two fingers behind the head, they recommended the children place their left hand under right elbow and right hand on top of left elbow, and hold it out in front of them, 90 degrees from the waist. (Harder to explain than to show…) Then they asked them to stand up straight and tall and look as nobly as possible. Also, to please refrain from yelping at the end. Everything was to be done with dignity and respect. It needs to be taught that way everywhere.

    I’m more familiar with alterations to the primary songs. The word “gay” was taken out of every song. In the Grandpa song it was changed to “hurray” and in the pioneer song it became “were they”. Easily words can be changed to keep up with the times.

  71. Or is it 45 degrees from the waist? Sorry, spatially challenged…Just directly in front of the chest.

  72. #69 – Of course, the direct opposite of the nationalistic songs is #80, God of Our Fathers, Known of Old. I love the message: All nations, no matter how awesome, are transitory, and the only thing that matters is our individual relationship with God. (At least that’s how I read it. If anyone out there who is smarter than me can further enlighten, please let me know.)

  73. #70 – my wife is the primary music leader. I’m going to suggest that, because we both cringe every time one of the kids wants to sing the song.

  74. How about “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand” – which was written in 1876 for the American Centennial? (At Yale, we sing the first line as “God of all nations”…)

  75. #74
    I love that hymn, had no idea of its origin and certainly didn’t equate ‘fathers’ with the US. I’ve always found it to be a lovely hymn for remembrance Sunday in Britain. I suppose the “all the starry band” bit might, now that I come to re-examine it, refer to the US flag, but it is far from obvious. For me, ‘fathers’ made a nice link to those who had died in conflict which would be lost if we moved to the Yale version you mention.

  76. Mommie Dearest says:

    When singing that lyric about “the starry band” I think of the Milky Way (our own galaxy viewed on end) which makes a wide stripe across the sky. That never occurred to me until after I had a lovely chat with an amateur astronomer. So yes on far from obvious.

  77. Yeah, I know it’s far from obvious, and “starry band” totally means basically “the host of stars in the sky,” but in origin it’s linked to the US. :)

  78. Kristine says:

    haycockm–don’t even get me started on the need for gender-inclusive language in our hymnal. That’s a loooooong rant. (Long enough to sing “I Believe in Christ” really slowly, all the verses of “If You Could Hie to Kolob” AND all of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief while I’m still raving :))

  79. If we can take the wings off Karl Bloch’s angels, it certainly can’t harm our conscience to change the words to Parley P. Pratt’s hymn.

  80. Left Field says:

    Are the hand motions for Book of Mormon Stories actually in the book, or are they just spread by folklore? Yelping?!

    What’s wrong with “none will molest them”? What is the “older, more innocuous sense”? I thought the current usual sense of the word was pretty innocuous, but maybe I’m too old to know some new meaning. Isn’t the general meaning of the word to bother, annoy, or harass?

  81. I think we have all missed the point of the post. Kristine learned something at stake conference! =) And it wasn’t about missionary work or temple attendance…

  82. My sister served an ASL mission and I asked her specifically what she signed for “molest them” and she signed the word for “hurt”. Now she’s not Deaf herself so they may have a separate sign but that’s what all the sistas in the mish were signing.

  83. #80 – most of the time when I hear the word “molest” it usually has the suffix “-or” and is preceded by the word “child.”

    So, yeah, I wouldn’t feel bad if we changed that line.

  84. themormonbrit says:

    agreed. Also, what’s with ‘O ye mounains high’?
    “thy deliv’rance is nigh, thy oppressors will die” just seems a bit antagonistic. And then it says: “In thy temples we’ll bend”. What on earth is that supposed to mean?

  85. Bend on knee. As in kneel.

  86. #67 Some British saints came to our ward–over the 4th of July weekend, mind you–and of course we sang ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee’ for our RS opening song. They sat with their books shut and staring/glaring straight ahead. This was only the warm-up act because it was the 1st Sunday and the RS counselor chose to teach her lesson on why America is the chosen land! Just doing what we can to improve relations across the pond…

    #80 Taught while in my youth to do these hand motions. No, they are not in the primary songbook like the ASL signs are to ‘Love One Another’.

    The yelping at the end is the war cry we all did to the last syllable of ‘righteously” (sounds like LEE-EE-EE-EE) with our hand bouncing up and down on top of our mouth. (I’m terrible at describing motions in words! Where’s a linguist when you need one?)

  87. Left Field says:

    #83: Yes, but without the suffix and noun adjunct, the word doesn’t carry that particular meaning. Without some modifier or context indicating a specific form of molesting, to my ear, the word simply means to harass or persecute, probably with malicious intent. I think of a mob riding into Haun’s Mill. To me, the connotation of “molest” seems exactly what is intended. I can honestly say that in the hundreds of times I must have heard that song, “child molester” never occurred to me; the context just doesn’t lead the listener in that direction. I suppose that if “child molester” is what most people think of, then perhaps we should take a look at modifying the lyrics. But it’s certainly not a line that I ever thought of as problematic.

    On the other hand, “chosen race” has got to go. Perhaps we can just drop that verse. Along with Verse 3 of the Star-Spangled Banner.

    #86: A war cry? Yikes! That’s horrible. I’m glad I’ve never heard that one. The song came after my time as a Primary kid, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it. I was only vaguely aware that they sometimes do hand motions. I wonder how the hand motions originated.

  88. Left Field says:

    I should have checked before I hit Post Comment. The third verse of the Star-Spangled Banner has already been dropped from the current hymnal. It’s only been, what? Three decades? I’m still remembering the third verse from the old hymnal, when the song was called “Oh, say can you see?”

    And I still have to stop myself from singing “You who unto Jesus…”

  89. If you should hie to Kolob, raise my Ebeneezer and borrow my balm of Gilead…

  90. We sang Now Let Us Rejoice in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and now because of this conversation I did think of child molestation. Great.

    2 side notes: Does anyone actually pay attention to the chorister? Just looks to me like a bunch of silly arm waving. Also, why do grown adults who have been lifetime members need the hymnal to sing Called To Serve?

  91. #90 Speaking as an adult lifer, I was raised learning the soprano line only but am attempting to learn the alto part so need the hymnal to read the notes. I actually alternate verses from soprano to alto since the songs are so high and it gives my voice a rest. In addition, us lifers are not the majority we once were in many wards.

    I look at the chorister several times during a song. My children as babies all modeled after our chorister, leading the music on the pews themselves. It’s a great way for them to get involved in the music before they learn the hymns or can read words or music. Bonus: when I lead music on Sunday I’m toning my triceps…of one arm at least.

  92. I can’t read music so maybe that is why it looks so crazy to me. I remember when my family attended my baptism, one of my sisters could hardly contain herself from laughing. I guess the reason I don’t get it is because I have been the chorister before and as mentioned I can’t read music. I stood up there just waving my arm, and no one seemed to note a difference.

  93. #90: “Called to Serve” was actually written as a children’s song, but it got so popular that the church president at the time requested it be in the hymnbook. It was apparently the very last one added in. Also, it’s catchy!

  94. Yeah, I’m not sure why we bother so much with having someone “lead” the congregational hymns. It’s not like anyone looks up for cues as to tempo, dynamics, or cutoffs. My larger issue with it is that it sort of reinforces the “ideal of mediocrity” we have in the church when it comes to music. After all, if someone who has no musical skills can lead congregational singing (which they can, for the reasons I just listed), that same person should be able to direct the ward choir, right? Because isn’t that just the same thing, but on a smaller scale, and with “rehearsals” (which usually entail singing through the hymn 3 or 4 times just to say we did it)? And heaven forbid we have a ward choir that’s actually… you know… GOOD, because they might be tempted to focus on the performance of the song, rather than the spirit of it. Oh, and calling that person to direct the ward choir will help them grow! Much like calling someone who can only play “chopsticks” to be the ward organist will help them grow, too! And just think about how much the congregation will feel the spirit as they hear all those wrong notes!

  95. I’ve noticed Catholic churches heading downhill musically as well. I go once a year for a memorial mass for my grandfather. This year, we also had my grandmother’s funeral, and the guy who was singing thought he was trying out for either American Idol or a lounge act. I was trying to mourn my grandmother’s death, and instead all I could see in my head was this idiot snapping his fingers and winking like an untuoso! At a funeral! The Church they went to was built in the 1700′s and so it has excellent acoustics and here they were being wasted just so someone could display their “talent”.

  96. Elder Packer in the Oct 1997 conference said this about ‘Called to Serve’:

    “Several years ago we were looking for something to inspire a conference of mission presidents. In a very interesting way we found it in a long-unused Primary songbook. The song, entitled “Called to Serve,” teaches in a few simple lines the message that I bring to you today.”

    Would love to know what that “very interesting way” was…

  97. Jack Hughes says:

    While we are at it, can we do one last purge of the Utah-centric hymns? “In Our Lovely Deseret” comes to mind. Having grown up outside of Utah, I had not even heard this merry tune until I went to college, where every Utah-born member seemed to know it by heart. Not only does it convey a message that is contrary to a modern worldwide Church, that irreverant “hark, hark, hark!” lyric always ends up sounding like barking seals.

  98. I love “In Our Lovely Deseret,” but for historical rather than musical reasons. It was the anthem of the Primary, the way “I am a Child of God” is now, for decades. It belongs in the Primary songbook, though, not the hymnal.

  99. Cowboy says:

    Changing lyrics to hymns to reflect changes in our language orchestrated by elitists seems a bit silly to me as does the whole elitist notion that we must be sensitive lest someone take offense.

    Heck, my sensibilities are offended by the inclusion of # 60–Battle Hymn of the Republic–to the exclusion of Bonnie Blue Flag.

    In Our Lovely Deseret is the same melody as the War Between the States song, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.

    How about a little thicker skin for all rather than casting about for something which someone might possibly deem offensive.

  100. Huh… not sure what definition of “elitist” means “try not to hurt other people’s feelings.” I rather thought that was an important characteristic of a follower of Christ. And it seems that Paul may have thought that not offending people was a rather important endeavor (see 1 Corinthians 8:13). But maybe I’m just too wrapped up in my own PC sensibilities to tell someone “This is the way we do it, and if you don’t like it, you can go to hell.”

  101. Cowboy says:

    Paul’s comments are a bit out of context for your point. Your comment, supra, regarding the Brits and the singing of ‘My Country tis of Thee” as a parody on ‘God Save the Queen’ is more illustrative of my point.

    I’ve spent a bit of time on the other side of the pond and was there during the world cup when England played the U.S. For FHE, the kids at Institute sang ‘God Save the Queen.’ It was in good fun and no one’s “sensitivities” were hurt. I was a guest in their country and the flags about town with St. Andrew’s Cross that day–and in the Institute–were a justifiable sense of national pride which is not a bad thing.

    But then, I’m a polar opposite of PC.

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