I Have a Question: Will Lame Talk Intros Ever End?

Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!  We can’t do this column without you.  Actually, I guess we could.

You can drop three hymns from the hymnbook, and you can add three hymns in their place. Which do you drop/add and why?

Steve: Now listen — no matter what answer we give, someone out there will say “that’s my favorite hymn! I converted to the Church because of that hymn!” so I fully recognize that this is a trap question. That said, without ANY COMMENTARY on the substance of the hymn: are you sure I can only drop three? There are lots of duds in there. The key to a dud hymn is lots of repetition and lame rhyme, and here are the worst:

1. I Believe In Christ
2. Because I Have Been Given Much
3. Nearer, My God, To Thee.

All three of those songs are usually sung as monotonous dirges that suck the life out of the congregation. We should put them in the Primary Songbook. Now, as for three hymns to put into the hymnbook, I KNOW someone out there has got it bad for “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” but that one is played out. Anything the Piano Guys has done is OFF THE LIST. Here’s three:

1. Amazing Grace. No-brainer. Even a Muslim president can sing it!
2. Holy, Holy, Holy. What’s that? Mormons don’t believe in the Trinity? Sure you do. Move along.
3. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf would also be acceptable.

Scott B.: As usual, Steve overthinks this. I’m going with
1. America the Beautiful, because c’mon;
2. My Country ‘Tis of Thee, because c’mon;
3. The Star-Spangled Banner, because c’mon.

For additions, I want (1)”Jingle Bells,” (2) Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” (preferably the live version where Martin Gore does some extra guitar work, but I’m not picky), and (3) The Parting Glass.

How many threads are currently keeping the Constitution in place? Is there anything I can do as a concerned Elder?

BCC: There are lots of threads keeping the Constitution in place. LOTS. Threads like the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch. As a concerned elder, you should be sure to hand out copies of the Constitution at Church and quote from it extensively during every meeting. It wouldn’t hurt to buy a white horse.

How can I get sacrament meeting speakers in my ward to stop beginning every single talk by telling the story of how they were asked to give a talk? If this is impossible, can bishopric members be required to creatively or outlandishly ask people to give talks so the story is interesting?

Scott B.: I’m really grateful for the opportunity to answer this question. And actually, it’s funny–a couple of days ago, I was at home playing with my kids or making dinner or doing some other utterly uninteresting thing that actually isn’t funny, when I heard a soft “ping” emanate from my phone. Looking down, sure enough–there was a little red icon on my email app, showing that I had received an electronic message. Had I known at the time what the message was, I probably wouldn’t have looked at it (LOL, Right!?), but I checked it out. And right there, on the spot, out of the blue, a BCC Reader was asking me–ME!–to explain why we always have lame talk intros in Sacrament meeting, as if I know anything about that topic!?

“When Brother 2nd Counselor called me last weekend, I was a little nervous because I was in a whorehouse at the time I took the call”

As a member of the congregation, there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent this practice. It shall never end. There is a secret additional verse to If You Could Hie to Kolob:

“There is no end to intros;
There is no end to dictionary definitions;
There is no end to introducing your family;
There is no end to quoting from the Ensign.”

It’s not a very popular verse.

Theoretically, a bishopric could require all speakers to make up a completely outlandish story to introduce how they were asked to speak. That would liven things up a little. But after a few talks, wouldn’t that get old? People will get less creative and interesting as things go along. The first couple of them would be all Indiana Jones or cyberpunk, but by the end of the year you’d run out of material. “An angel threatened me with a sword if I didn’t speak in sacrament today.” Sure, buddy, we’re heard that one before.

Here’s a crazy idea for better talks: don’t require people to talk about other people’s talks.

What is in my file at church headquarters? Will the contents of my file be considered at the final judgment?

BCC: The second question first: yes. The contents of the file are considered in the final judgment, I kid you not. This is where the Church takes things very seriously: our records are kept as a sort of sealing up of testimony. We ACTUALLY BELIEVE that your membership record is a matter of heavenly things. There is significant scriptural precedent for this. Ask a clerk.

The first question: less than you might think. Dates of ordinances performed, marriage, mission, patriarchal blessing, that sort of thing. Tithing. Notations can be added for church discipline under certain circumstances. Other than that, nada mucho. And you should be grateful.

If anyone else wants to know the contents of their file, just send us an email. We’ll be happy to look for you.

My 3 year old has taken to being a bit violent. He keeps pinching his brother and kept biting me today. He also tries to punch me when he doesn’t get his own way.
So, how do I defend myself against my family?

Scott B: Have you considered asking your child to think of his favorite hymn when he’s tempted toward violence?

Steve:Some people will tell you that it’s wrong to punch a little child in the face.

The best way for you to defend yourself against your family is to avoid them entirely. If you’re a man, having a busy job and being a bishop is the one-two punch you need to not be around Lil’ Nibbler. If you’re a woman, well, disregard the Proclamation on the Family and get a serious career path job. You’ll thank BCC later.

What if ward leaders did an anonymous survey to learn what ward members thought would make the Sabbath more holy?”

Steve: Yeah, wouldn’t that be great?

Scott B.: I don’t think anonymizing my responses would really help. Everyone knows I dedicate my Sabbaths to the Caber Toss.

LDS-Themed Art Recharacterized as LinkedIn Invitations, Ranked:

As always, these rankings are authoritative.

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

10. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

9. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

8. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

7. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

6. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

5. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

4. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

3. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

2. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

1. “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”


  1. stephenchardy says:

    Do you guys do stand-up? I would pay.

  2. Spirt in the Sky, for hymn addition.

  3. stephenchardy:
    We do not stand when discussing the Hymns of Zion.

  4. agreed on #134 IBC. It is a death march of a hymn. Try singing it as the closing hymn on a fast sunday – you’ll be lucky if 1/4 of the congregation is alert at the end.

  5. also, what about “In the Garden of Eden” By I. Ron Butterfly?

  6. A Happy Hubby says:

    Q – Will Lame Talk Intros Ever End?
    A – No

    I second, “Spirit in the sky”, but it needs to include the fuzz guitar and also some good backup singers. BTW – the guy that wrote/sang this was Jewish!

  7. Amen on No. 134. Interestingly, two of the three hymns sung at Elder Scott’s funeral are not in the hymn book. Likewise, many of my favorites are likewise not to be found. Speaking of the funeral, “Jesu, The Very Thought is Sweet” was fantastic.

    Out: Whose on the Lord’s Side?
    In: Letting the women sing “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy”.

    Re: speaking assignments. I’m actually surprised this hasn’t happened yet, given that our youth are incapable of asking someone to a dance without it being a production. (Sister Jones, we really “donut” want anyone but you speaking at church next week.)

  8. Ug, posted too soon. ETA:
    Re: speaking assignments. If we are going to recount our “speaking assignment story”, we do need to get better stories.

  9. If I were to do a non-authoritative ranking of all your rankings, this one would be number 1.

  10. “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” I can’t agree here. Between its connections to Jacob at Beth-El (and temples, see the footnotes referencing Genesis, and a stone as a pillow), its historical use (maybe) by the Titanic stringplayers, and its lovely harmonies to sing as a tenor, it stays. End of discussion.

    (Crummy movie. Moving scene.)

  11. Eh, not the actual scene. See

  12. I love being Mormon when I come to this website. Bless your cheeky hearts.

  13. fuddyduddy says:

    Somebody please tell me what is going on in picture 8. It looks like a McNaughton painting, but it shows J.S. being showered with money while people around him are in chains. Is this some spoof of McNaughton, or has he gotten even crazier?

  14. You guys making fun of how people give talks makes me never want to give a talk. I try not to give a lame intro but as a non writer I know my talks end up being pretty formulaic. (i’m a math teacher after all) So the question is, how can I get the bishopric to only ask you guys to give talks and leave us non writing, non funny people off the hook….?

  15. Regarding, “Here’s a crazy idea for better talks: don’t require people to talk about other people’s talks”: The bishopric of which I am a part is adamantly against assigning book report talks. When I ask people to speak, I give a topic and urge them to speak from personal experience and tell stories. But I should ask them to leave out the story of my asking them to speak. That drives me bonkers. I’m also not crazy about opening a talk with how awful it is to give talks, how barely willing the speaker is to take their turn at the pulpit, how rotten he or she is at speaking, etc. But I understand that for some people, giving a talk will be the most terrifying thing they will do all year, so I try to listen sympathetically.

  16. I do not know the song “Spirit in the Sky”, but somehow just reading the name made Debbie Gibson’s mid-eighties classic “Circle in the Sand” pop into my head (haven’t thought about that song in at least two decades, I had no idea it was lurking about in my subconscious just waiting for the right moment to emerge), but with the words “Spirit in the Sky” instead. Thanks.

    And the pictures get funnier and funnier. Nice work.

  17. Three hymns to remove:
    1. The one where the heathen nations bow the knee
    2. Another one about us being warriors killing sinners or something
    3. I Believe in Christ

    Three to add:
    1. Wondrous Love
    2. Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee (the tune is Ode to Joy)
    3. Wayfaring Stranger

  18. I would love to have the hymn “In the Garden of Eden” by I. Ron Butterfly added to our hymnal.

  19. Those pictures are THE BEST. Thanks. I haven’t laughed so much in days.

  20. your food allergy is fake says:

    Please lose all the hymns about sunshine. There are about 15 of them.
    I like Nearer My God to Thee’s references to Jacob’s dream with the ladder, so it should stay and be placed next to Stairway to Heaven in the next hymnal.

  21. Outstanding.

  22. I suggest “spiritual” sung by Johnny Cash, Unchained. If you are not weeping by the end, you have no soul.

  23. Jared vdH says:

    May I be the first wet blanket to say that I Believe in Christ is probably my favorite hymn and I love singing every verse of it? It does make me kinda sad to see that so many actively dislike that hymn.

    I apologize in advance if I am ever the one picking the music for sacrament meeting. We’d sing it enough that you all would probably rip me to literal shreds afterwards if you weren’t already asleep.

  24. Jared vdH says:

    Also, Faith in Every Footstep should probably be added. I’d be fine with In Our Lovely Deseret being tossed out though.

  25. Maebridge says:

    Hooray for all of this! I really want to contribute a hymn, but I can’t top Personal Jesus or In the Garden of Eden. I will just say that Personal Jesus should always be the sung standing with lots of stomping and clapping…..

  26. BlueRidgeMormon says:

    I was going to say “I. Ron Butterfly” FTW, but then I read the veiled reference to “Jacob’s Ladder” by Rush. Well done, fake food allergy. Well done. Drop the mic.

    BTW in case anyone missed the original “LinkedIn” joke, it originated with Frank Chimero; see here: LinkedIn invite as a New Yorker cartoon caption.

  27. I don’t care what hymns get added, so long as they are done in 45 seconds or less. Two lines in the hymnbook, one verse, and drop the mic.

    Talks need to start with a story. I got to start one a while back with the lines “So, I was in Chicago for training, and went into a kosher deli right under the L tracks for lunch. There were six Jewish rabbis sitting there having lunch together. They spotted me when I walked in, and yelled ‘Hey, Mormon boy! Go get the roasted chicken and the carrot salad. You’ll regret it if you get anything else. Then come sit with us. We have much to discuss.’ So I did, and they were right, and I learned more about the Book of Mormon in the next forty minutes than I did in a year of seminary class.”

    People actually put away their cell phones. Never seen anything like it.

  28. BRM, yes — thanks for that link that’s where the idea came from.

    Jared, thanks for being a wet blanket. Yes, it’s a terrible hymn. That doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful in its own way or spiritually important.

  29. IMO, the lamest talk intros can usually be counted on to happen at the beginning of the Youth Speaker’s talk: “Hi, and in case you don’t know me, my name is [insert name here], and I was asked to speak today on the topic of [insert topic here].” It’s entirely possible that this one thing will eventually drive me out of the Church altogether. If I ever hear it during a General Conference, that may well be the end.

  30. Blasphemous Rumors by Depeche Mode would be a better choice. Or Master and Servant.

    Gina, Circle in the Sand = Belinda Carlisle. Which gives us another candidate for the list (if it wasn’t authoritative): Heaven is a place on earth.

  31. Jared vdH says:

    Steve – hope it correctly came across that I was insincerely being a wet blanket. I don’t particularly care that you all hate it. I love singing it myself, but perhaps it’s better as a performance piece than sung communally. It could probably also do with a reworked melody/arrangement.

  32. Jared vdH, I’m one who would cut that hymn, but I promise not to physically attack you. I’m sure you’re great, except that you believe people who have different taste in hymns than you must also be torturers and murderers. But we all have our character flaws.

  33. But Jared vdH is right: His specific different taste in music does bring out the torturer and murderer in me. So which one of us has the character flaw?

  34. Ben S.,

    I believe the historical value of Nearer My God To Thee has been completely nullified by CNN’s world apocalypse version:


  35. As Steve suggests, Jared vdH–the problem isn’t with the message of that hymn. I quite like the message, and love the original sermon from BRM it was given in. For me, it’s not even the forced rhymes. Rather, the biggest problem is the pace it’s played at along with the 4 verses x 2 pages length.

  36. “Faith in Every Footstep”

    Jared vdH, you’re killing me, man. About six years ago, our ward choir started singing that song, and I swear on my mother’s grave that, as I type this right now, they still haven’t hit the halfway mark.

  37. Alf O'Mega says:

    Sorry I’m late. Pitchforks and Torches R Us was having a BOGO sale. I think I brought enough for everybody. Now, which way was Jared headed?

    No doubt “I Believe in Christ” should be the tinder we start the bonfire with. But before we’re done burning hymns, there has to be room for “Before Thee, Lord,” “In Remembrance of Thy Suffering,” “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” “Scatter Sunshine,” and almost everything written by Evan Stephens. (As an active apostate, however, I must confess a soft spot for “Ye Simple Souls Who Stray.”) Fortunately, I pick the hymns for our ward, so we only stray into the hymn barrens by specific request from key-bearers.

  38. The worst part of I Believe In Christ is the fact that it pretends that it has 4 verses but really truly has 8. I’d probably also dump Now Let Us Rejoice for having the most boring bass part in the entire hymnbook. Sure it’s got clever chorus tweaks for the 4th verse but it’s not enough to save the whole song.

  39. Out: Whose on the Lord’s Side?


  40. Peter, I disagree as that is the finest owl-based hymn in the entire book.

  41. Olde Skool says:

    Steve: yes, especially since they revised “Yoo-hoo unto Jesus.” I’d lose “I believe in Christ” and add half of U2’s catalogue.

  42. Steve, all the extraneous “who-ing” in that song really chaps my hide. Remember How Firm a Foundation back in the day? “You who unto Jesus”? Gone. Each Cooing Dove? Out. We just need to change it to “Whose on the Lord’s side? Me!”, and stand up with a fist pump, Primary style.

  43. Who’s on the Lord’s side? Whooooooooo?

    You whooooooo unto Jesus!

    I’m very pro-owl.

  44. Just yesterday I happened to look up “owl” in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Did you know that Athens was known to have many owls, and anciently to “send owls to Athens” was used in the same sense as “coals to Newcastle” is today?

  45. andrewheiss says:

    Italian hymnbook has Holy, Holy, Holy because we like Catholicism there, I guess. Fantastic hymn.

  46. Clark Goble says:

    I think we need more dirges played in Church especially if played on the organ the way The Doors played them.

  47. Clark Goble says:

    The Johnny Cash version of Wayfaring Stranger is amazing.


  48. I’d like to re-add “Though in the Outward Church Below” … it was in the hymnbook once and was removed, but I’d like to see it back again and watch people squirm as they sing it…

  49. The sunshine ones aren’t so bad if you play them in minor.

  50. Promise: If one of the new apostles starts his talk by saying, “When I saw Pres. Monson’s name on the caller ID, I knew I’d be speaking today,” I will eat my iPad.

  51. Jax, I hadn’t heard of Though in the Outward Church Below. I just read the lyrics. That’s one scary hymn! Especially verse 6:

    But though they grow so tall and strong,
    His plan will not require them long:
    In harvest, when he saves his own,
    The tares shall into hell be thrown.
    For soon the reaping time will come,
    And angels shout the harvest home.

    That some serious Mountain Meadows stuff right there. “His plan will not require them long.”

  52. It’s a great tune, though, Willie. Mozart IIRC.

  53. I am stunned that the ONLY woman depicted in the linked-in invitations is Eve from the 1960s.
    Hymns I want:
    O Happy Day!
    Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley version, but take out all allusions to adultery, of course)
    The Trumpet Shall Sound (Until trumpets are allowed, I suggest kazoos as accompaniment.)

  54. Margaret, you’re wrong! You completely missed Potiphar’s wife!

  55. Dump: If you could Hie to Kolob.
    Add: O Sing a Song of Bethlehem

    (same lovely tune, way better words)

  56. Clark Goble says:

    Aargh. Never Hie to Kolob. Especially since they redid the music with the last revision of the hymnal. It’s great sung to the tune of a scottish drinking song. Everytime it gets sung I imagine some pub with a bunch of scots in kilts singing a rousing version of it.

  57. Clark Goble says:

    BTW BCC did a whole post on Hie to Kolob where J Nelson-Seawright found the song done by the Pogues (with different words but I like to imagine they’re singing our words) Although being a Canadian of a certain age I like the Irish Rovers’ version.

  58. If “In Remembrance of Thy Suffering” is sung at the right tempo (hint: faster), it’s a splendid hymn. And what better sentiment is there than that expressed in the third verse:

    When thou comest in thy glory
    To this earth to rule and reign,
    And with faithful ones partakest
    Of the bread and wine again,
    May we be among the number
    Worthy to surround the board,
    And partake anew the emblems
    Of the suff’rings of our Lord.

    And the problem with “Now Let Us Rejoice” is that we plod through it. The music is a waltz, and it should be counted/sung that way, about 45 or 50 beats (dotted half notes) per minute.

  59. John Mansfield says:

    “Please lose all the hymns about sunshine. There are about 15 of them.”

    We can also drop the songs that mention sunset, the good and gloomy ones about needing the Lord to fortify us to go out the doors into the dark, difficult world. Abide with Me. Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide; God Be With You Till We Meet Again. As the Shadow Fall. Now the Day is Over. They were great for ending sacrament meeting at five o’clock in early November thirty-six years ago, but they’ve been orphaned now that sacrament ends mid-morning or early afternoon, with Sunday School following in ten minutes. I miss those songs, but we’ve no occasion to sing them.

  60. BlueCollar says:

    Can we please add “Losing My Religion” by REM, just to make things a bit more interesting?

    Re: stupid talk openings…people do NOT need to mention who helped them write the talk. You’re a youth speaker, and it’s obvious your mommy helped you, so you don’t need to say it. It’s even worse when a 70-year-old speaker says that her husband had to help her with hers because her first draft wasn’t good enough (as happened in our ward last week). It doesn’t really inspire confidence in the speaker.

  61. John Mansfield, I agree but the Scandinavian & German like that solemnity.

  62. Clark Goble says:

    Play Losing My Religion in a major key instead of a minor key. Have part of the audience sing “found it” and “repent” in the chorus.

  63. Did you know that Athens was known to have many owls, and anciently to “send owls to Athens” was used in the same sense as “coals to Newcastle” is today?

    In fact, the Germans still use the former in the sense of the latter.

    See: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eulen_nach_Athen_tragen

    If you select the English version, bam! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coals_to_Newcastle

  64. Re: BlueCollar

    My wife directs our choir and sometimes I sub in to play the piano. A couple months ago I stepped in to play before the official pianist got there so I grabbed one of my many binders full of music in plastic sheet protectors and added whatever song we were singing. When the official pianist arrived I offered her my binder so she wouldn’t have to bother with stray sheets of paper. Well it just so happens that the song right next to it was a piano version of Losing My Religion. Of course neither the pianist nor anyone else in the choir knows who REM is. It was a brief awkward moment.

    Regarding hymns to drop from the hymn book, at this rate we are going to toss the whole thing out.

  65. Clark Goble says:

    No one knew who REM is? There were no Gen Xers in the choir?

  66. I hope we never lose 255 Carry On

    And we hear the desert singing:
    Carrion, carrion, carrion!
    Hills and vales and mountains ringing:
    Carrion, carrion, carrion!

  67. Joy to the World (Three Dog Night) should replace Joy to the World.

  68. Jerry, that’s already happened in some wards.

  69. It would be nice to skip the “this is how I was called to speak” and just get on with the talk in General Conference too.

  70. Bonjo, how’s that iPad taste?

  71. I’m surprised that “In Our Lovely Deseret” (307) hasn’t been brought up yet. The Word of Wisdom doesn’t really make for poetic lyrics in the second verse– neither does singing out “hark! hark! hark!” And I think as a society in large we’ve forgotten the part about eating “but a very little meat.”

  72. We’re gonna bring that back like JT.

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