Songs I Wish Were in the Hymn Book

Growing up I always thought the image on the hymn book was Angkor Wat.

On my mission, in one city my companion and I had to walk 45 mins to get to our area to teach.  We were newly together and frankly, she was driving me nuts.  She insisted on singing hymns the entire time we walked through the banana fields and winding rural paths. Relentlessly.  Finally, I couldn’t take it any more, so I started belting out Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”  She recoiled as if I had just taken a big swig of Vodka, wiped my mouth, and then offered it to her.  But then, she accepted the proffered folk song olive branch and started to sing it with me.  She shrugged and said she guessed it was not inappropriate even if it wasn’t a hymn.

Guthrie wrote that tune in 1940 based on an old folk melody.  Many of the church hymns and other Protestant hymns were written to existing folk tunes (some of which even doubled as drinking songs).  On a recent trip to Tokyo Disneyland I noticed that so many of the songs we were hearing in Westernland would likewise be pretty awesome if sung by MoTab.  On a related note, there is nothing that sounds more racist than Goofy speaking Japanese (Cantonese isn’t great either).

In that tongue-in-cheek spirit, I suggest the following songs (with possible lyrical modifications) would make some great additions to the hymn book to freshen up our singing:

  1. She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.  We’d have to tone down the “yee-haw” chorus, but this is another one that with a few lyrical modifications could be either about pioneers arriving in the Utah valley or about the second coming of Jesus.  This stuff practically writes itself.
  2. They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot.  It’s a little anti-progress from hippie Joni Mitchell, and in that sense, perhaps not the best match.  But it does remind us to focus on the gifts God gave the earth rather than the works of man.
  3. Free to Be . . . You and Me.  Americans in their mid-40s may remember this great titular song from an album recorded in 1972 by a bunch of feminists.  For many of my same-age peers, this was our first album.  Some may say we don’t advocate self-acceptance but rather self-improvement, not freedom, but rather obedience.  But we do have strong hymnal precedent.  The chorus of this song fits nicely next to “Oh Ye Mountains High” which includes the line:  “Where the clear blue sky / arches over the vale of the free.”  Now contrast this line from Free to Be You and Me:  “To a land where the river runs free / To a land through the green country / To a land to a shining sea / To a land where the horses run free / To a land where the children are free / And you and me are free to be.”  You can almost hear the Nephites, Israelites and early pioneers joining hands and singing along these refrains as they imagine the future promised land.
  4. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again.  This one is actually super close to the Battle Hymn of the Republic and without the tongue-twister lyrics.  To make it religious, just change “Johnny” to “Jesus” and “Hurrah” to “Hosannah.”  I should totally have been a Broadway lyricist!
  5. Ave Maria.  OK, I recognize that we don’t have any foreign language lyrics in the hymn book except “in excelsis Deo” which doesn’t really count since it’s a dead language used mostly in religion and law and internet conversations to point out other people’s folly.  We also don’t have any hymns to Mary, although we do mention her in a few Christmas hymns.  Still, this is an incredibly touching hymn about the grace of God, and it blesses Mary in the tradition of Psalmic writings.  I’m thinking here of Schubert, but I’m open to other versions.
  6. Edelweiss.  I grant you that it was written for a musical, making it decidedly modern, and it is about a flower and Austrian patriotism.  But, it’s not a far cry from “For the Beauty of the Earth.”  Consider these lyrics:  “Small and white clean and bright / You look happy to meet me / Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow / Bloom and grow forever.”  It practically screams Mormonism with its emphasis on purity and whiteness, good cheer and the plan of happiness, and eternal progression.  Plus, alpine flowers and nationalism.
  7. Zip a Dee Doo Dah.  Too silly?  Not if you plop it between “Scatter Sunshine” and “You Can Make the Pathway Bright.”  Consider the parallels with these lyrics:  “My, oh my what a wonderful day!” = “Oh how lovely was the morning!”  “Plenty of sunshine heading my way” = “If there’s sunshine in your soul today.”  “It’s a truth; it’s actual.  Everything is satisfactual.” = “Oh say what is truth / tis the . . . [insert stuff that is truth].”  Not such a stretch after all!
  8. What Child is This? / Greensleeves.  All right, so it was written by a serial homocidal adulterer who was either a heretic or head of the Church of England, depending on your perspective, but it is an amazing song and one of the best Christmas hymns ever written with the “What Child Is This?” lyrics.  English hymn books include “God Save the King / Queen” (while American hymn books contain the pilfered “My Country Tis of Thee”), so there’s no reason not to include this for nationalistic reasons.  Time to get with the program on this one.
  9. All You Need is Love.  I actually  have heard this one sung in a sacrament meeting as part of a missionary farewell.  The singer was the missionary’s former music teacher who sang this song with a guitar.  I think he was flummoxed when the members didn’t clap along and not a single member of the bishopric waved his lighter during the chorus.  Still, how can you go wrong singing a song that is so peaceful and loving, albeit written by the Beatle most likely to punch someone in the face in a bar?
  10. I Will Wait.  OK, not necessarily for the hymn book as choral singing isn’t ideal for this Mumford & Sons song, but imagine its potential for missionary farewells.  It’s got to be better than The Hollow of Thy Hand which sounds quite a bit like Terry Jacks’ Seasons in the Sun come to think of it.  Speaking of which, Seasons in the Sun would make another good one for mission farewells!  Maybe if we change “it’s hard to die” to “it’s hard to go.”  The departing missionary and his or her girl/boyfriend could sing it like a Captain & Tenille style mash-up.

What songs do you suggest?

Discuss.

Comments

  1. Not this precise version, but I love this song.

  2. Great post – the hymn book really needs updating. (Far to many miliataristic lyrics for my liking). A couple of suggestions:
    Marvin Gaye’s – God is Love from ‘What’s Going’ (give’s me the tingles), and even the ‘loved up’ slowed-down evangelical ‘Wholy Holy’. There’s not enough opportunities in the hymn book for the men to sing falsetto in my opinion.

  3. Ave Maris– yes, yes, yes. Mary was Jesus’ first (and probably most fervent) disciple — worthy to be the mother of the Saviour. Damn straight we should sing for her! (and therefore, no Mormonizing like the MoTab “Father in Heaven” rendition.)

    Also Panis Angelicus (my favorite version is Pavarotti and Sting– Sting’s tenor reminds me of a monk or choirboy). The melody of this mixed with the Latin words brings tears to my eyes every single time. Fabulously spiritual song. And no English translations here either, please.

    ANY Black Spiritual.

    And this. Totally and completely (Though without the movie lines and George Clooney lol)

    And finally– Morning Has Broken. A simple song about the beauty of nature and the rebirth (=resurrection) we witness each day. Sang it at my cousin’s funeral and it was just perfect.

    A side note– at said cousin’s funeral (held in a Presbyterian church) the lyrics to songs were projected on a screen in front. I loved it! Everyone sang with their heads up, shoulders back, and could follow the chorister instead of burying themselves in the hymn book. I think this is a real improvement over z(or augmentation to) the books. Just a thought.

    Sorry to rattle on,

  4. Oh, yeah– and Bridge Over Trubled Water.

  5. I miss loads of really great hymns I used to sing as an Anglican, and there are a couple of hymns in our hymnbook I refuse to sing on doctrinal grounds (“Praise to the man” and “Oh my father”) so I think the hymnbook is overdue for an overhaul. I’d want to include “Somebody to Love” by Queen. It’s in a gospel style, so it would be amazing properly done by a choir, and it would also be good in a singles ward.

  6. Anna, why ‘O my father’?

  7. Carl Youngblood says:

    I would love for us to sing the Methodist version of Finlandia (the melody used for Be Still My Soul), entitled “This is my song”:

    This is my song, oh God of all the nations,
    a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
    This is my home, the country where my heart is;
    here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
    but other hearts in other lands are beating
    with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

    My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
    and sunlight beams on clover leaf and pine.
    But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
    and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
    This is my song, thou God of all the nations;
    a song of peace for their land and for mine.

    This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms:
    Thy kingdom come on earth thy will be done.
    Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve him,
    And hearts united learn to live as one.
    Oh hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations;
    Myself I give thee; let thy will be done.

  8. Carl Youngblood says:

    Although there are issues with Praise to the man, a friend of mine made the very valid point that any hymn with the phrase “mingling with gods” can’t be all bad.

  9. We need more with the flavor of Kumbayah and The Circle of Life, and a few Hanukka and Kwanza songs, hand-clapping and swaying to the rhythym, I’d Like to Give the World a Coke, rainbows and pink unicorns, it will be such a joyful hootenanny love-in – beautiful, like Woodstock! Whirled peas, make love, not war, burning our draft cards and bras, granola and soul food! :-)

  10. A short sci-fi story by Stephen Peck makes a case for Stairway to Heaven: http://lowlyseraphim.marsdenar.net/content/rennact. I’ll second that.

  11. On the Turning Away – David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)

    On the turning away
    From the pale and downtrodden
    And the words they say
    Which we won’t understand
    “Don’t accept that what’s happening
    Is just a case of others’ suffering
    Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
    The turning away”
    It’s a sin that somehow
    Light is changing to shadow
    And casting it’s shroud
    Over all we have known
    Unaware how the ranks have grown
    Driven on by a heart of stone
    We could find that we’re all alone
    In the dream of the proud
    On the wings of the night
    As the daytime is stirring
    Where the speechless unite
    In a silent accord
    Using words you will find are strange
    And mesmerised as they light the flame
    Feel the new wind of change
    On the wings of the night
    No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It’s not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there’ll be
    No more turning away?

  12. A fun list.

    I would just append Come, Come, Ye Saints to “Hymns Ancient and Modern” (Church of England) and that would do. A sprinkle or two from Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild to add some world-renouncing folk rock.

  13. I’m all for adding “I Will Follow Him” á la Sister Act.

  14. Kevin Van Auker says:

    Sprit in the sky. In the garden of Eden (inagadavida)

  15. “Sheep Go To Heaven” (goats go to hell) by Cake.

  16. The Song Remembers When

    And Holy, Holy, Holy

  17. Antonio Parr says:

    First and foremost: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. Can’t believe that we don’t get to sing this one . . .

    Second: The most criminally underrated singer-songwriter may be Bill Mallonee, formerly of “Vigilantes of Love.” Often writes of Christ and salvation. One of his great ones is “All Out in the Clear”:

    ALL OUT IN THE CLEAR words/music: bill mallonee

    all the tapes will be erased
    the ones inside your skull
    the ones that made you feel disgraced
    the ones that made you feel so small
    all the trinkets that you bought
    every scene & every clique
    all you cobbled together
    to define yourself with

    CHORUS:
    nothing left to lose…nothing left to fear
    nothing left to prove…all out in the clear

    every mask you ever wore
    every image you portrayed
    every lie that you put forth
    it’ll all just fall away
    fall away like an old suit
    wash off like cheap cologne
    like an old coat you discarded
    threadbare to the bone

    CHORUS:
    nothing left to lose…nothing left to fear
    nothing left to prove…all out in the clear

    and everyone you ever hated
    everyone that you reviled
    everyone that you berated
    you may yet be reconciled
    every wall that you erected
    every line drawn in the sand
    all those convictions you protected
    wrapped up in prayers and flags
    CHORUS:
    nothing left to lose…nothing left to fear
    nothing left to prove…all out in the clear

    one day you’ll meet somebody
    well beyond the sea
    and you’ll shake hands with your true self
    and, by God, you’ll like what you see
    CHORUS:
    nothing left to lose…nothing left to fear
    nothing left to prove…all out in the clear
    all out in the clear

  18. Jeannine L. says:

    Chortle. “Somebody to Love” in the single’s ward. I’m still laughing.

  19. David Elliott says:

    “Let My Love Open the Door” by Pete Townshend. Townshend described this song as “Jesus sings.”

  20. it's a series of tubes says:

    Angela, you might want to check your sources re the provenance of Greensleeves.

  21. I love Finlandia – I haven’t heard the Methodist version, though I like the lyrics. I just taught 2 Nephi 4 in seminary this morning, so Be Still My Soul has been running through my head the last few days – in fact, I played a clip of the BYU’s Men Choir singing it:

    +1 on the Gilmour song – my all time favorite Floyd song. Reminds me of Old Testament prophets.

  22. “You’ve Got a Friend.” Great song by Carole King, great recordings by her and by James Taylor, and by the two of them together. If James Taylor can sing with the MoTabs, then surely we can sing this, right along with “Because I have been Given Much” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus!” (Which we could sing to the tune of Israel, Israel God is Calling–just paste the lyrics on the opposite page.)

    Moving back in time, though, we need to add Joseph Addison’s great hymn “The Spacious Firmament on High” sung to the hymn tune Creation, which we could also use for “The Morning Breaks” and make that hymn singable for a congregation.

    And if you’re looking for silly lyrics to match with Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, you really should add “When the Rosy Light of Morning.”

  23. There’s an old Beach Boys song titled: Catch a Wave. Change that to “Get Endowed” and you’ve got a great tune (with a few other modifications) featuring bass, tenor, soprano sections plus SATB sections as well. Great for the choir.

  24. How about “Morning Has Broken.” Good old-time hymn, and just in case you have to make your case to the Church Music Committee, here’s a performance by the MoTabs:

    But it would probably be too great a stretch, since if they put it in the hymnbook the next thing you know we’d be seeing acoustic guitars in our church services. Slippery slope, and all that.

  25. tubes: myth busted. I admit I’m disappointed that HVIII probably didn’t write it, though. Maybe I’m a regiphile.

  26. How about just a return to a few from the Deseret Sunday School Songs. Some of my favorites include, Rock-a-Bye-Baby ( I guess it was appropriate to nap during Sunday School) pg.124 ‘Never Be Late’ ( ….but be on time for your nap!) pg 79, ‘Don’t Worry’ pg 111, ‘Little Lispers’ pg 117, ‘Don’t Kill the Little Birds’ pg 163, to name a few. Also, 1984 Thompson Twins…No Peace for the Wicked

  27. Whoa. My comment went into moderation. That’s like hitting the BCC jackpot; right up there with being threatened with bannination by Steve Evans.

  28. Another vote for “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing,” plus the music makes a great alternative melody for “Oh My Father.”

    I like this one too:

    “Look Within,” by Jim Messina when he was with Poco:

    When you’re down, and feelin’ low, and there ain’t nobody,
    And no place to go
    Don’t feel alone, ’cause you have a friend,
    Look within, look within

    So many times, we go astray, and we need somebody
    To show us the way
    Don’t be afraid, ’cause you have a friend,
    Look within, look within

    Within every soul, there was left the seeds of need
    As in the soil of the earth, they are concealed
    Prayer is the rain, to make ‘em grow
    Water them well, and they shall yield

    Don’t feel sad, and don’t be blue,
    There is somebody waitin’ on you
    Open your heart, ’cause you have a friend,
    Look within, look within

    Within every soul, there was left the seeds of need
    As in the soil of the earth, they are concealed
    Prayer is the rain, to make ‘em grow
    Water them well, and they shall yield

    So don’t feel sad, and don’t be blue,
    There is somebody waitin’ on you
    Open your heart, ’cause you have a friend,
    Look within, look within

    Look within, look within, open your heart,
    Baby now look within
    Open your heart, let that love light shine within
    Open your heart, baby now look within
    Open up, I said open up, open up and let that love light in..

  29. As fate would have it, The Lower Lights (of whom I am a member of) will be in the studio this week recording more music and we’ve tossed around the idea of an album of religious songs written by people who aren’t publicly religious. We won’t be doing that this time around, but at some point I’m hoping that we will record:
    My Sweet Lord – George Harrison
    Jesus Gonna Be Here – Tom Waits
    House Where Noboy Lives – Tom Waits
    You’ve Gotta Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan
    The Man in Me – Bob Dylan
    Make You Feel My Love – Bob Dylan

    Others?

  30. “Brightest and Best of the Stars of the Morning” is not only a nice Christmas carol, but also (I’m told) the mellow, minor key, original setting of “Praise to the Man.” Check it out on http://www.christmascarolmusic.org. Other than that, I pretty much second RJH.

  31. it's a series of tubes says:

    Sorry Angela – I had to do it. Only because I think that it is one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed.

  32. I also vote for “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I don’t know why it was removed from the hymnbook in the first place. It’s a great hymn. The only problem is, whenever I hear it, it stays in my head for days.

  33. it's a series of tubes says:

    As recompense, I suggest the following: all stanzas of Abide With Me.

  34. I agree that “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” would be great to have back in the hymnal. Also, Sharee, I attended a lecture once by a member of the board who compiled the current hymn book, and he said that the reason is was removed was because no one was singing it at the time (he didn’t go into detail, but I’m guessing there was some polling or something done to figure that out). He said that the song was relatively unknown in the Church, even though it was in the hymn book, until one of the BYU choirs did a rendition of it in the late 1980s. Since then, it has been a big favorite. So, I guess the lesson is be sure to sing those obscure hymns that you like so that they stay in the next hymnal.

  35. Meldrum the Less says:

    Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul (also called 10,000 reasons ) by Matt Redman from Atlanta GA.

    Pop Christian music released about 2 yrs ago, might be one for the ages.

  36. O Divine Redeemer needs to be in the hymnbook, We are a poorer people for it not being there currently. Although, I sort of cringe to think what the average ward would do to it–namely, butcher it, and then bury it in a funeral march.

  37. I have heard from an inside source that “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” will be back in future editions. I agree with “O Divine Redeemer.” What a great hymn!

  38. The Crusader’s hymn Beautiful Savior (EOR– is that the same as O Divine Redeemer?). It needs to be promoted from the Primary book.

  39. And, well, I personally love everything suggested here, from the OP onward. Anyone up for a compilation?

  40. it's a series of tubes says:

    the reason is was removed was because no one was singing it at the time

    If this is true, I want to know how on earth more wards were singing “The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close” than Come Thou Fount.

  41. Beautiful Savior and O Divine Redeemer are not one and the same but that is also a great choice. As is O Come O Come Emmanuel. We need more songs about, you know, Jesus.

    LOL @ The Wintry Day Descending to Its Close.

  42. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. It’s a fantastic German hymn, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, and is currently in the German LDS songbook.

    I really think we need to pull more great songs from other faiths and get rid of some of the sillier songs in our own hymnbooks.

  43. Jack of Hearts says:

    Just choked on my sandwich after reading tubes’ last comment. Priceless! And I agree wholeheartedly; it there’s one hymn I would vote out, it would be The Wintry Day.

  44. There are hundreds of excellent hymns that could be added to improve the hymnal without resorting to using pop songs.

  45. sba, I used to sing that song every Christmas (family friend was a huge medieval music nerd) and haven’t heard it since! Now I’ve got to look it up.

    If they asked me – which I note they’re not – I’d go ahead and purge all the Hooray For Utah! selections. Made more sense in 1985, but today, what percentage of the LDS Church actually lives in our lovely Deseret? I always chuckle when my fellow Saints here in flat, flat Indiana are singing about how great it is to live in the mountains.

    “High On A Mountain Top” can stay, though. It’s one of the few hymns we sing anywhere near fast enough.

  46. I have heard from an inside source that “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing” will be back in future editions.

    So, only 30 more years to wait!

  47. “I’d go ahead and purge all the Hooray For Utah! selections. Made more sense in 1985, but today, what percentage of the LDS Church actually lives in our lovely Deseret?”

    Purge? You want to purge the historical songs? Perish the thought. More of them should be added back in. We should have a sense of our history and an appreciation for those who have gone before. (With the exception of “The Wintry Day.” That can go.)

    Speaking generally (not just to Joni!), I’ve noticed that people who make complaints about the Utah songs are probably just ignorant enough about our musical history to think that “For the Strength of the Hills” is another one of those Utah songs. (I’d be happy to be proved wrong about that suspicion, of course.) If you are ignorant about our musical and poetic history and have any desire to improve yourself you may want to follow Kent’s excellent Literary series over at Times & Seasons. He tends to post on Sundays and it’s a great read during certain sacrament meeting talks, or when other meetings start to get long.

  48. Some favorites from my Catholic days: “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” another one (forget the name but it’s basically the Beatitudes set to music), “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “The Strife is O’er,” “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” (tune of “In Humility, Dear Savior”).

  49. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” is a poem written by Henry van Dyke in 1907 with the intention of musically setting it to the famous “Ode to Joy” melody of the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s final symphony, Symphony No. 9.

    Text:

    Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee (or You), God of glory, Lord of love;
    Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to (or Hail Thee as) the sun above.
    Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
    Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

    All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
    Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
    Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
    Singing [sometimes "Chanting"] bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

    Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
    Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
    Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
    Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

    Mortals, join the happy (or mighty) chorus, which the morning stars began;
    Father love is reigning o’er us [or Love divine is reigning o'er us], brother love binds man to man. (leading us with mercy’s hand or binding all within its span)
    Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
    Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life

    I love the statement ‘Thou our Father, Christ our Brother’ as some of our evangelical friends seem to be uncomfortable with the ‘Christ our Brother’ concept.

  50. The only reason he even mentioned the fate of “Come Thou Fount” is because someone asked about it. No one asked about “The Wintry Day,” so, I can’t say as to why that one’s still in there, but I have a sneaking suspicion if might be because it was written by Orson F. Whitney.

  51. Well, you can take “The Wintry Day,” but you have to replace it with some other choir number with a tenor line that tops out on G. Even if that tenor reach exceeds my grasp most days, it’s pure heaven on the rare days when it doesn’t.

  52. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    About omissions or revisions, how about ‘I Believe in Christ’. This Deseret News story tells us the reason we have this hymn in the form it is:

    “The 1985 hymnbook committee was nearing its publication deadline and came to me with this text of Elder McConkie’s and said ‘Would you be willing to make a musical setting of this for us to consider?”‘

    The original text had eight verses. The committee presented him with six. He reduced that to four and started working on the music while riding the bus home that evening.

    Elder McConkie was quite ill when Longhurst was setting the music, and the two did not collaborate. Longhurst did find out after submitting an arrangement to the music committee that “Elder McConkie wanted all eight verses of his poem included rather than the four I had set,” Longhurst said.

    The hymnbook project was on deadline. “I had nothing to do except a very desperate maneuver, which accounts for the form that the hymn currently has. You sing through it once and you come to a half cadence. Then you repeat it and come to a complete cadence, and that completes one verse of music that is actually two verses of text. So the four verses of the hymn as it is now published are actually all eight verses of Elder McConkie’s poem.”

    I wish, in this case, the musician had stuck to his guns rather than honoring the Apostolic wishes. Nothing like singing eight verses of a hymn for a ‘rest hymn’. My improvised lyrics to that ‘half cadence’ are:

    “You sing it once, then repeat again,
    It cycles back and never ends….I BELIEVE IN…”

  53. The Man of Steele says:

    For the singles ward ladies:

    It’s Raining Men (Hallelujah!)

  54. Amy T., for some of us who don’t live in Utah/don’t want to live in Utah/don’t have pioneer ancestors, some of those songs can be downright insulting. It’s not really about ignorance.

  55. Meldrum the Less says:

    Woodbury;

    Are you including my suggestion above as pop? (Maybe I don’t know the definition of pop?)
    You do know that many great hymns and pieces started out as pop in their day?

    Have you listened to Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul?

    Here is one version a bit slower than I have usually heard it in non-LDS churches and mostly with piano so would fit into our current worship practices easily . (He can’t completely abandon his guitar the most common instrument in churches now and we don’t clap).

    This hymn is so powerful that when I sing it with a congregation, it rattles around in my mind for days. Especially the third verse about “when my time has come.” This might be my death song. Something to sing when you know you face death soon- most of us will have to do it. Been to the coronary cath lab once for stents and probably will have to return. Or worse. Come Thou Font of Every Blessing might do it for some.

    I would not want us to be cutting ourselves off from such a rich creative and religious vein of solid gold. I say let all good hymns be considered based on their individual merit, not on their antiquity, source, audience, familiarity or popularity.

  56. it's a series of tubes says:

    In Our Lovely Deseret must never be removed, because what other hymn results in the congregation sounding like a pack of barking seals?

    Hark! Hark! Hark!

    Also, it was written by a prophetess, Eliza Snow, so it gets an automatic +1 in the awesomeness category.

  57. Antonio Parr says:

    Patrick Campbell: A “must have” is “All the Diamonds” by Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn. The song has been covered by many, but I’ll bet the Lower Lights could do something magical with this hauntingly beautiful masterpiece.

  58. Meldrum the Less says:

    How did I just do that? I just copied a link I don’t know how the whole thing appeared complete with my favorite line quoted. This is a modern day digital miracle or accident, take your pick.

  59. Just leave out “Imagine”.

  60. Rigel, we could accommodate you and Joni by singing “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” to the tune of “They, the Builders of the Nation”

  61. There’s no need to take anything out, we could just expand the hymnal. Most other hymnals are at least twice as big as the lds one.

  62. I really don’t understand why historical hymns are insulting, Joni. Are hymns that refer to ancient Israel insulting because you weren’t there with Moses and the Ten Tribes? Are hymns that refer to the ministry of Christ insulting because your ancestors were off doing other things in other lands when he was alive?

  63. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Clever KLC. On that note, “It May Not Be On The Mountain Height” fits nicely to the music of “As the Bridegroom to the Chosen” by John Rutter. I transcribed it for a special number once.

  64. Because they aren’t “historical hymns.”

  65. All Good Gifts from Godspell. It would need to be transposed way down…the high part is REALLY high.

  66. I second “On The Turning Away”. I once did that one on the tuba for a mission conference, and it sounds very hymnlike without the near-perfect electric guitars. But, that might encourage people to do something real instead of just putting ten bucks under fast offerings.

    I’d also like to see at least two hymns in our book authored by Johnny Cash. There are plenty that would fit right in.

    We also need Amazing Grace in there. I knew a guy on my mission who maintained that Amazing Grace was the song that led him to Christ years before, and he wasn’t going to get baptized without it.

  67. Christian Rock songs are out out out because they are an insult to both Christianity, and Rock. As far as In Our Lovely Deseret being taken out it will be over my cold dead body. I could do without the patriotic and warmongering selections, but I can easily deal with the UT ones. I understand why people who are not interested in UT would not want to sing them though.

  68. Molly Bennion says:

    Lots would be an improvement but start with Amazing Grace and In the Garden.

  69. 1) Tho In the Outward Church Below (Wheat and Tares hymn from old hymnal- set to Mozart’s Magic Flute. Ditch the lyrics and replace them with Mozart’s originals — which were about eternal marriage!)

    2) O Holy Night

    3) The other “Away in a Manger”

    4) John Rutter (The Lord Bless You and Keep You) -Anything by John Rutter

    5) Allelujah- (Mozart)

    6) Dona Nobis Pacem (here is M*A*S*H* singing it . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCVaupUXNeY )

    7) The Cherry Tree Carol (Joan Baez sang this one)

    8) Merry Christmas Little Zachary (John Denver)- Replace “little Zachary” with “little children” or something.

    9) Mary Did you Know

    10) Little Drummer Boy (at least for the primary hymnal)

    11) Chester (American Revolutionary Folk Tune, later set with sacred text by Philip Doddridge-
    Let the high heav’ns your songs invite,
    These spacious fields of brilliant light,
    Where sun and moon and planets roll,
    And stars that glow from pole to pole.

    Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise,
    ‘Round the whole earth and never stand,
    So when Thy truth began its race,
    It touched and glanced on ev’ry hand.

    12) You’ll Never Walk Alone (Hat Tip, President Hinckley)

    12) Jerusalem-
    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon england’s mountains green?
    And was the holy lamb of god
    On england’s pleasant pastures seen?
    And did the countenance divine
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was jerusalem builded here
    Among those dark satanic mills?

    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
    Bring me my chariots of fire!
    I will not cease from metal fight;
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
    Till we have built jerusalem
    In england’s green and pleasant land.

    13) All We Like Sheep (Handel)

    14) Bach- Everything from the Christmas and Easter Oratorios.

    15) Ralph Vaughan Williams- hymns, folk tunes, etc.

  70. I’d like to blackball “Faith in Every Footstep”. No offense to the composer, but it has some problematic part writing-especially moving toward the chorus.

  71. 1) Tho In the Outward Church Below (Wheat and Tares hymn from old hymnal- set to Mozart’s Magic Flute. Ditch the lyrics and replace them with Mozart’s originals — which were about eternal marriage!)

    2) O Holy Night

    3) The other “Away in a Manger”

    4) John Rutter (The Lord Bless You and Keep You) -Anything by John Rutter

    5) Allelujah- (Mozart)

    6) Dona Nobis Pacem (remember it from ‘M*A*S*H*?)

    7) The Cherry Tree Carol (Joan Baez sang this one)

    8) Merry Christmas Little Zachary (John Denver)- Replace “little Zachary” with “little children” or something.

    9) Mary Did you Know

    10) Little Drummer Boy (at least for the primary hymnal)

    11) Chester (American Revolutionary Folk Tune, later set with sacred text by Philip Doddridge-
    Let the high heav’ns your songs invite,
    These spacious fields of brilliant light,
    Where sun and moon and planets roll,
    And stars that glow from pole to pole.

    Sun, moon, and stars convey Thy praise,
    ‘Round the whole earth and never stand,
    So when Thy truth began its race,
    It touched and glanced on ev’ry hand.

    12) You’ll Never Walk Alone (Hat Tip, President Hinckley)

    12) Jerusalem-
    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon england’s mountains green?
    And was the holy lamb of god
    On england’s pleasant pastures seen?
    And did the countenance divine
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was jerusalem builded here
    Among those dark satanic mills?

    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
    Bring me my chariots of fire!
    I will not cease from metal fight;
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
    Till we have built jerusalem
    In england’s green and pleasant land.

    13) All We Like Sheep (Handel)

    14) Bach- Everything from the Christmas and Easter Oratorios.

    15) Ralph Vaughan Williams- hymns, folk tunes, etc.

  72. Bach’s Coffee Cantata (against coffee). Lol. Just kidding.

  73. A ditto for In the Garden. Not that many LDS congregations would get anywhere close to the sublimity of Mahalia Jackson’s version on The Power and the Glory. And as for the Lower Lights, I’ve always maintained that “Truth Reflects upon Our Senses” would be a great little bluegrass number (especially since the chorus comes from a somewhat-roots gospel song, “Life Is like a Mountain Railway”).

  74. Antonio Parr says:

    Double “amens” to Amazing Grace and In the Garden. Those songs have the power to heal on the very spot on which they are sung.

  75. I hear many a fantastic arrangement of a wide variety of music sung by the Tab. choir. Maybe we could have an expanded selection of hymns for choir or special musical numbers that are not generally sung by the congregation. Our current hymn book is intentionally redacted to include very appropriate for worship and mostly easy-to-perform arrangements.
    I just would love to see if the primary boys go wild if “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is sung in church.

  76. Simple Gifts.

  77. I have to agree with Tubes and EOR regarding In Our Lovely Deseret. I remember my four daughters ages 10 – 16 hearing/singing it for the first time while living in Chicago or AZ about twenty years ago exclaiming, “Dad, this hymn is cheesy!” .I explained that it is a classic hymn written by a prophetess from Utah’s glory days as a territory and you won’t find a catchier tune in the entire hymnal, and that they would one day introduce and/or sing it to their kids with great delight. I don’t know that I convinced them at the time.

    Also I couldn’t disagree more with all the piling on of Wintry Day Descending To Its Close, which is one of (if not my all time) favorite hymns. With its tight harmonies and and wonderful melody I look forward to singing it from January through March as the closing hymn to sacrament meeting in the late block. Most years I am disappointed and I have to bribe or ask a favor of the Ward Music Chairperson. While its Orson Whitney lyrics are somewhat quaint and a little politically incorrect, that is all the more reason I like it. Hymns aren’t to entertain or be trendy but help us remember our history and faith of our father’s (and mother’s), IMO.

  78. thisgreatdeep says:

    9) Mary Did you Know
    Heard that sung at a ward Christmas party once; afterwards I wanted to drive off a cliff.
    12) Jerusalem-
    Yes!
    Another vote for “Come thou Fount..”; Interesting insight re: “I Believe in Christ”. I always felt rather guilty disliking this hymn, as it is such a favorite for so many, but I find it so repetitive; perhaps this is why.
    Do we have a groundswell of support to reinstate “Each Cooing Dove”? Still remember my brothers giggling about that one. I would love to revisit some of our old hymns, whose messages we need now more than ever. Consider hymn #170 from the 1891 edition, “Think Gently of the Erring One”:
    Think gently of the erring one!
    O, let us not forget,
    However darkly stained by sin,
    He is our brother yet!
    Heir of the same inheritance,
    Child of the self-same God,
    He hath but stumbled in the path
    We have in weakness trod.

    Speak gently to the erring ones!
    We yet may lead them back,
    With holy words, and tones of love,
    From misery’s thorny track.
    Forget not, brother, thou hast sinned,
    And sinful yet may’st be;
    Deal gently with the erring heart,
    As God hath dealt with thee.

  79. Yeah, Angela! I’ve thought about this so many times! Some entries that really shouldn’t be controversial, they’re so standard in hymnody:
    “Be Thou My Vision”
    “Pass Me Not”
    “Amazing Grace”
    “Fairest Lord Jesus”
    “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”
    “Blessed Assurance”
    And loads more Christmas carols

  80. With RJH on Hymns Ancient & Modern, but happy to skip Come, Come ye Saints (sorry Amy) – it’s too often a dirge, and I’m just not comfortable about rejoicing in all that dying anyway. I’ll second anything by John Rutter.
    I’d especially like to see:
    The King of Love my Shepherd is
    He who would valiant be
    We plough the fields & scatter
    Christ is made the sure foundation
    The day thou gavest Lord is ended
    I will sing with the Spirit
    Look at the world
    Wings of the morning
    A clare benediction
    Be thou my vision
    &c.
    And for Christmas
    Yes, a lot more carols, especially a plug the Harold Darke setting of ‘In the bleak midwinter’, and the English tunes for ‘While shepherds watched’, ‘It came upon a midnight clear’ and ‘O little town of Bethlehem’…
    The children’s song book would benefit from ‘Little donkey’ and ‘We three Kings’ for Christmas.

  81. liz johnson says:

    How about “Get Together” by the Youngbloods?

    “C’mon people now, smile on your brother! Everybody get together, try to love one another right now!”

  82. liz johnson says:

    Patrick Campbell: How about “How Firm a Foundation”, but sung by a female lead?? Especially the 3rd and 7th verses? Please? Pretty pretty please?!

  83. John Rutter’s works are gloriously lovely, but they really are more choral works, not hymns.

    More Ralph Vaughan Williams would be awesome.

  84. There are so many great hymns out there from all sorts of traditions. Some of my favorites: My Song in the Night, My God My Portion and My Love, Love Divine All Loves Excelling, Standing on the Promises, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go, His Voice as the Sound, Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming, In the Bleak Midwinter…and on and on.

  85. H.Bob – there are several hymns (“Truth Reflects” is one of them) that my wife and I always hillbilly up when we sing them in church. We slide (loudly and slowly) any intervals larger than a 2nd. Its funny to see the people sitting in front of us try to figure out what’s going on and where that awful singing is coming from.

  86. RickH. I just don’t understand why you would do something like that. One is brought closer to God through music, and it is a worshipful exercise to sing hymns. Why would you use it as an opportunity to “hillbilly it up” so you and your wife can have a laugh?

  87. Because RickH is a sinner, EOR. That’s why. It’s fairly easy to understand.

  88. Amen to “Simple Gifts” and “Think Gently of the Erring One”, and John Rutter. Thisgreatdeep, do you don’t pull a “Thelma and Louise”, I retract “Mary Did You Know”. I don’t understand “In the Garden.” The words are beautiful, but the tune is extremely outdated and has poor word painting. Perhaps like “How Great Thou Art”, once you’ve heard Elvis or a gospel singer jazz it up, it never sounds the same again.

  89. Bro. Jones says:

    Dave K–OMG if we had Pink Floyd in the hymn book, I would immediately quit my job and leave my family to become a full-time missionary.

  90. Capozaino says:

    If modified lyrics and rock are acceptable, I don’t see why we couldn’t really open it up and do a reverse-soul music thing by taking songs about romantic love, slowing them down a bit, and changing the lyrics to be about divine love. A few proposals:

    Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire (modified to correspond to first vision): “I was surrounded by a pil-lar of fire. It came down, down, down, and my soul went higher. And it burns, burns, burns. Pil-lar of fire. Pil-lar of fire.”

    Toto – Roxanna: “All I want to do when I wake up ev’ry morning is choose the right. Je-ho-vah, Je-ho-vah. I never thought a God like you could love a sinner like me. Je-ho-vah, yea. All I want to do when I’m set up on a hill is shine my light. Je-ho-vah, Je-ho-vah.”

    Doors – Touch Me: “Come on, come on, come on, inspire me, Lord. Can’t you see, I’m kneeling on the floor? You hear me knocking at your door. Why won’t my bosom burn some more? You hear me knocking at your door.”

    Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream: “Jesus when I found you I found peace unknown. I set out to get you with a fine toothed comb. I was lost inside. There was something goin’ on. You extend forgiveness that I can’t explain. Bring me closer and I feel no shame. Ev’ry beat of my heart, divine grace keeps it goin’ on. Discipleship is mine, requires a dedication. All this love we feel, in our congregation, we can find it together, uh-huh. Doing good with each other, uh-huh. Children of our God. That is what we are. He will right our wrongs, be our guiding star. Hie away with me to a better world where we rely on each other, uh-huh. From one brother to another, uh-huh.”

  91. Great list, Hedgehog!

  92. The English tune for O little town of Bethlehem (Forest Green) is in our hymnal. It’s number 15 or something.

    Always thought mormons would like “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” (Repton) as well.

  93. I know this is just for fun and all, but a few of the songs listed as favorites just don’t work as group singing numbers.

    1) O Holy Night–Solo (with backup chorus if wanted)
    2) O Divine Redeemer–Solo or maybe a choir piece, but best as a solo
    3) Mary Did You Know–Solo
    4) Ave Maria–Schubert or Gounod–best as a Solo–Difficult as a group number

    I would love to add a mens piece–

    Wagner’s Pilgrims Chorus from Tannhauser–“In Ewigkeit,” indeed!

  94. EOR, Hunter got it mostly right. In addition to being a sinner, I’m also a jerk. And I’m also a music nerd AND a snob. I also have a history of distorting other hymns I don’t like. Love At Home gets a wonderfully demented vibe if you transpose the left hand up a half step. I’ve also transposed it to a minor key – we sing it slower than most funeral dirges anyway, so why not just go all in? (FWIW, I haven’t done either of those things during Sacrament meetings. I do have *some* sense of propriety.)

    While I can’t argue with (most of) the hymn texts, there is nothing – NOTHING – worshipful about the “Scatter Sunshine” melody. Add that one to the list of “how did this one make the cut instead of “Come Thou Fount?”

  95. Klutz, I think Pilgrim’s Chorus would work as a stand-in for “O Home Beloved.” If I could convince enough people (read: tenors and basses) to attend rehearsal, I’d totally try to pull that one off.

  96. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Not a fan of Scatter Sunshine either.

    I do miss the Sacrament Hymn from the old LDS hymn book “For Our Devotions, Father we”. I realize it was a bit challenging with the meter change, tempo change, and the flowing melody. Does anyone else but me remember or miss this hymn? Perhaps it might be like those movies you remember as a kid that were so good, but when you rent them from Netflix as an adult, you don’t care for them anymore. I will have to dig out my old hymnbook and see if I can transcribe the lyrics.

    Capozaino,
    Though I doubt your “Islands in the Stream” suggestion will ever make it, your lyrics were great!

    Joni,
    Though most of Rutters works are more choral, there are a few that could serve as hymns. I just doubt the church could ever negotiate the rights to include them in the book. Would likely cost too much. What about Deep Peace (although the ending goes a little high), God Be in my Head, Christ Be With Me, and the Bridegroom? I also love Rutter’s “Of a Rose, A lovely Rose” (from Magnificat) for Christmas, and would love to see it as a special number, but I’m sure that the reference of praying to Mary would freak people out in the same way that Ave Maria has. I remember being in a YSA ward where a local college choir snuck in a performance of Ave Maria after the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting. It was a beautiful performance, but the Bishop had a fit!

    ThisGeatDeep,
    Thanks for acknowledging our common feelings!

  97. I tend to be more traditional in my church music taste, but I like Capozaino’s “Islands in the Stream” idea. Also, I would take any excuse to sing Toto in church. Or anywhere, really.

  98. woodboy,
    Thank you.

    We do play the music to hymn 15 for O Little Town in my ward. It does make it harder to keep track though; words/parts/how many verses… We never sing hymn 15 because it would just be so weird.

    Ooh yes, on “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”.

  99. I used to sing this in High School, a simple arrangement for SATB would be sublime in church. I definitely used to feel the spirit when singing it at school.

    “Then bursting forth in glorious day
    Up from the grave He rose again!
    And as He stands in victory
    Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me”

  100. Meldrum the Less says:

    Moderate me if you must, perhaps this idea is a thread jack.

    What if we had NOTHING in the hymnal? What if we elevated the calling of ward music director and put them in charge of singing/playing the best music we could for that congregation? Many wards have surprisingly talented and informed musicians. A stake level music calling would facilitate sharing what seems to be good in other wards and redirect the radicals if needed. Perhaps a yearly conference for the same purpose and a website available with at least as many good ideas as we have generated here in a few days.

    I would like to end the shy woman waving her arms around helplessly and replace her with four strong voices in front of microphones who could carry the hymn even if everyone else refused to sing. I would like more instruments. Classic strings would be my first option. But to support that we would need to open up music schools at church for primary age children to cultivate the skill needed in many wards. Of course my daughter is a violinist, concertmaster at her college and that definitely makes me biased.

    What about south of the border and other less affluent areas? Perhaps the guitar would be acceptable. I asked my daughter why the guitar was the most common instrument in Protestant church today and she said because a person with a little bit of natural talent can learn enough cords in an hour of practice to play many simple numbers well.

    I would applaud most of the suggestions above as steps in the right direction, but I would love to see us go further.

  101. Way late here, but I have to chime in anyway and agree with RLR in sticking up for The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close. One of the best-composed hymns we have!

  102. Re: I Believe in Christ, here’s Rigel Hawthorne’s inspired rewrite from a comment a few years ago:

    I’m a darned long song;
    I’m way too long.
    It’s like you’re singing two whole songs.
    You sing me once then repeat again
    I cycle back and never end!

    I’m a darned long song;
    I’ll make you yawn.
    You’ll wish the electric chair’s turned on!
    I’m like a torture chamber’s rack
    I’ll make the terror suspect crack.

    (http://mormonmatters.org/2008/03/04/my-top-ten-cultural-sins-or-why-i-dont-mark-my-scriptures/#comment-161337762)

  103. Central Standard says:

    Doobie Brother’s “Jesus Is Just All Right With Me”

  104. Meldrum the Less says:

    This seemed like a minor miracle to me. Yesterday was my daughter’s debut as a violinist for a Presbyterian church band. Not just a one-time gig but a weekly job earning $200 for an hour of her time each Sunday morning. The minister is Scottish and much of the congregation has a Scottish flavor, lots of red heads and freckles and large stout guys who look like they might throw trees around for fun. The first song she played with them was to my delight: Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul.

    The first verse was sort of dull but then by the second and third verse I sensed a definite change in the emotional involvement of people in the congregation. They played several songs during the service and by the end the minister was in tears to the point he had trouble pronouncing the final benediction or whatever it is called, which people in his flock found unusual. These are stoic people and not given to emotional excesses. The minister said it was the music, especially he loves the sound of the violin, it reminds him of home. It might have helped that my daughter somewhat resembles the Disney character Merida in both looks and temperament, although her skill with the bow is in music not archery. She still aims straight for the heart.

  105. The Scots? Not an emotional people? You’ll want to check your racial stereotypes, Mel.

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