Hymns that Need to Go

Now for a fun project — let’s rewrite the hymn book! In particular, let’s discuss a few hymns which (in a perfect world) might be headed for the chopping block.

This kind of discussion has the potential to generate some serious disagreement, so let me start with a few clarifications and parameters.

First, I’m not talking about hymns that everyone sings, whether or not they have much aesthetic appeal. (Think the unfortunate alto line in “Now Let Us Rejoice”). Yes, I know, you may think “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet” is musically bland. But let’s face it, no one is going to take that out. Let’s stay in the real world for this post.

Nor am I talking about hymns that aren’t sung, but should be.

In addition, bear in mind that there’s a special place in the book for easy-to-play hymns. Yes, “Come Follow Me” and “Secret Prayer” and “Choose the Right” are probably over-sung. But they serve a very important role in the 25% of wards where the ward organist / pianist can comfortaly play only a very small subset.

That is, we’re going to focus on hymns which are:

1. Little-known.
2. Relatively bland, trite, or uninspiring.
3. Preferably, not particularly easy to play.

Where appropriate, we’ll also discuss any other specific reasons for removal.

These are hymns that you’ve really never heard sung, and you haven’t missed much. These are the hymns which could be removed entirely from the book and no one would ever notice it.

Here are a few of my picks:

#168 – As the Shadows Fall. Could there be a more appropriate hymn for immediate excision? Let’s see, this one has:
-Music set in a difficult key. There aren’t any hymns set in D flat in our hymn book, and it’s for a reason.
-Words that are bland and uninspired. “Thee” rhymes with . . . “thee.” With that rhyme scheme going, you would think they could have had more than two verses.
-It’s not anything really useful — it’s the least useful category of hymns in our book, the “closing / repose” hymns. And it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of dreck between 152 and 168. (It’s not all dreck, but the percentage seems higher than usual).

#154- Father, This Hour has Been One of Joy.
-It’s got the dreaded single verse — a sure sign of questionable lyrics.
-It also has an extended intro — what is this, a primary song? Come on, give us four verses and those little brackets for an intro.
-The lyrics are uninspired. Let’s see, you have no further verses to have to deal with. Full freedom to express beautifully in a single verse what you perhaps couldn’t in the more rigid environment of a four-verse hymn. And the best this hymn can do is “blessings” with “caring”? Yech. Seriously, how much time was spent on these lyrics? 10 minutes? 15, maybe?
-That said, this one has a decent melody. I don’t think it’s enough to save it, given the major shortcomings of the text.
-Not an “easy to play” hymn, so no reason to save it on that ground. (Not really hard, either, but it’s no “Come Follow Me”).
-You’ll notice that this is another in the 152-168 range of hymns.

#40- Arise, O Glorious Zion
This one may be less obvious than the other two. It’s got four verses, a normal meter (7676D), and a normal-sounding melody.
That said, this is a hymn that I never hear sung in church. (Really — in 30 years, and numerous wards in several states, I can’t recall ever hearing this one sung in Sacrament.) And the reason seems to be that it’s just bland. It’s very topic-duplicative — it offers the same kind of text as other hymns (such as #41, Let Zion in Her Beaty Rise). However, it does so in a much less interesting way.

Okay, let’s discuss. Any objection to my three selections so far? And — the really fun part — which hymns do you think should be added to the list?

212 comments for “Hymns that Need to Go

  1. Allison B
    January 17, 2005 at 9:44 am

    “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” and “In Our Lovely Deseret” get my vote for removal. I alternately cringe and choke back inappropriate giggling whenever we sing these.

  2. Allison B
    January 17, 2005 at 9:52 am

    . . . which isn’t all that often, so although they probably aren’t really “little-known,” they aren’t sung that often in my experience, and IMO meet the other criteria of being “bland, trite and uninspiring.”

  3. January 17, 2005 at 10:13 am

    Oh, I don’t know about “uninspiring”. “Deseret” usually inspires a particularly tough-to-conceal laugh out of me! :-)


  4. Ben S.
    January 17, 2005 at 10:15 am

    We sang “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” frequently in my French wards, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung in the US…

  5. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 10:17 am

    No!! In Our Lovely Deseret stays–it’s historically important and charming in an admittedly giggle-inducing 19th-century way. It was really *the* anthem of the Primary until “I Am a Child of God” came along in the 50s. Maybe it should go back into the Primary book, but I’d be really sad to see it disappear.

    But I’m totally with you on Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd. Also “The Wintry Day, Descending…” We sang that yesterday. Ugh.

    Also “Have I Done Any Good?”, “I Have Work Enough to Do,” at least one of the “sunshine” songs (I’d get rid of all of them, but that could be just my nasty Swedish temperament showing), “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words,” “Nay, Speak No Ill” (noble sentiment, impossible to sing), “Come Along, Come Along.” You get the idea–I think most of the 19th-century gospel songs need to be reworked or jettisoned. The Sunday School songs could probably go to, though I’m fond of “Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning”

    One benefit of weeding that section might be that some of the great ones that are buried in there–“Jesus, Mighty King in Zion,” “Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth,” “How Wondrous and Great,” “Arise, O God and Shine”–would be more prominent and would hopefully get sung more.

  6. Sheri Lynn
    January 17, 2005 at 10:22 am

    Gladys Knight hasn’t fixed this stuff yet? ;-)

  7. January 17, 2005 at 10:28 am

    Please, for the love of Pete, can we get rid of “Because I Have Been Given Much”? ARRRRRRGHGGHGHHH I hate that hymn. Trite rhymes, simplistic music…. awful stuff.

  8. Karen
    January 17, 2005 at 10:40 am

    Steve, I’m suspicious that you are not of a sufficiently grateful mindset to really appreciate BIHBGM. If you only realized that you have been given much (many) blessings it would sink into your soul at the sublime singing of the sacred sonnet that you too must give. One must be careful, in posting at T&S, that one doesn’t reveal one’s own spiritual weaknesses, because real Mormons, the kind who like to give, do not actually have weaknesses.

  9. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 10:46 am


    Because I Have Been Given Much doesn’t qualify for this discussion, sorry. We’re talking about unobtrusive changes that could / should be made, that no one would even really notice. Like it or not, BIHBGM has become an unofficial Relief Society anthem.

    There’s a slightly off-color story I’ll have to tell you some time about that hymn which will change the way you see it forever.

  10. January 17, 2005 at 10:58 am

    “I Believe in Christ”.

  11. January 17, 2005 at 10:59 am

    Thanks Karen. I’ll show that love by word and deed, thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

    Was that freaking thing written by Dr. Seuss for heaven’s sake???

  12. Bryce I
    January 17, 2005 at 10:59 am

    Steve —

    My one foray into the exercise of unrighteous dominion came as a district/zone leader on my mission, where I prohibited the singing of “Because I Have Been Given Much” at any meeting over which I was presiding.

  13. January 17, 2005 at 10:59 am

    Kim, no hymn penned by a G.A. is leaving the hymnbook, no matter how trite.

  14. Sumer
    January 17, 2005 at 11:00 am


    I’d like to hear your off-color story? Can’t you share it here? Exactly how off-color could a story about a hymn be?

  15. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 11:01 am

    Sigh . . . so much for the parameters of the discussion . . .

  16. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 11:06 am


    Not terribly bad, but depepndent on innuendo that I’d rather not post (due to blog comment policies that I authored, so I can’t just flaunt them). I’ll CC you on an e-mail to Steve.

  17. January 17, 2005 at 11:07 am

    Hey, I love “Because I Have Been Given Much.” And I love “In Our Lovely Deseret” too. And, for the record, also: “Did You Think to Pray?,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,” “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” and “Today While the Sun Shines” (though there’s various lyric changes which have been made in several of these which I greatly dislike). In other words, yes, I like a lot of our droopy 19th-century Social Gospel-type hymns. Granted, it isn’t a deeply informed aesthetic love, but something much more simplistic: I like singing songs that I believe in. Let’s leave this sort of bashing for Kristine’s much anticipated Mormon Music Snob post (and I mean that in the best possible way Kristine!).

  18. January 17, 2005 at 11:15 am

    Russell, I like the other hymns you mention — the “social gospel” hymns are among my favorites. But BIHBGM just chaps my hide, mainly because it is sung so often. And I agree with you; I like singing songs that I believe in, and these hymns go to group effort and A+ attitude. Good stuff.

    Kaimi, you can’t title something “hymns that need to go” and then insist on your wafer-thin parameters. The people will rant as they are wont.

  19. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 11:16 am

    Gee, for a minute I as I skimmed RAF’s list of songs (they’re not hymns!), I was going to agree wholeheartedly–throw them out!–but then I discovered that he liked them. “Mikey likes them.” (But it’s still Maypo!)

    Others to jettison:

    We are all enlisted
    Hope of Israel
    Called to Serve (or, at least, send it back to Primary)
    Love at Home ugh!
    Welcome, Welcome Sabbath morning
    You can make the pathway bright
    Scatter Sunshine

    One “We are all enlisted” story. A missionary in the Kochi district wanted to sing it at a district meeting. I, the DL, demurred. He said, it’s in the hymnbook. I tore the page out of mine, said “No it’s not.” We didn’t sing it.

  20. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 11:18 am

    It’s kind of funny in a military ward to sing “We are all enlisted,” and there are always jokes about the officers (who aren’t, in military parlance, “enlisted men”) singing it.

  21. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 11:23 am

    Russell wrote Granted, it isn’t a deeply informed aesthetic love, but something much more simplistic: I like singing songs that I believe in.

    I agree with Russell on this. It would be unfortunate to jettison any of the hymns he listed (the 19th-century Social Gospel-type hymns) because of the deeply LDS identity of them. “Did You Think to Pray?” certainly cannot belong on a list of hymns to be excised.

  22. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 11:24 am

    Mark B., “Hope of Israel” should definitely stay.

  23. January 17, 2005 at 11:35 am

    Two points: 1) I’m actually disappointed that we’re not jettisoning hymns based on the alto line; O My Father and Come Come Ye Saints both have terribly boring alto lines (I usually end up singing tenor or base just to keep myself interested; perhaps if I were a soprano, my life would be more interesting.

    2) I’m not sure anyone’s thought of this, but some of these hymns are beloved by the converts down here. We have a close friend who grew up as a Methodist minister’s daughter and she laments that we don’t sing several of the hymns (which are in our hymnal) that she remembers growing up. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of the one’s she’s mentioned to me several times.

    That said, ones I woud jettison, based on difficulty to play:

    62 All Creatures of Our God and King — I love this hymn. I cannot play it, and I’m a decent pianist.

    197 O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown — Bach is great, but not exactly singable

    215 Ring out Wild Bells — my parents loathe this one and cringe every year when they have to sing it. I might have to agree, though it’s kind of fun singing in a minor key once a year

    I’m not terribly fond of 284 If You Could Hie to Kolob, but that might just be me. I do know several people who do like it. But they also like I Believe in Christ… which by the way, we’re required to teach the Primary kids this year…

  24. January 17, 2005 at 11:40 am

    Last night my Christian Scientist room-mate asked me to sing some hymns with her. She actually grew up as an unobservant Jew and is just starting to explore Christianity. She’s the first person I’ve met since my mission that’s really seeking the truth and open to receiving it. Wanting to choose just the right songs for her I said a silent prayer as we sat down at the piano.

    My first inclination was to sing my own favorites—-Abide With Me, Oh Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown, The Spirit of God, O My Father. But, I surprised myself by turning instead to the primary songs in the book—-I am a Child of God, Teach Me To Walk in the Light, Families Can Be Together Forever and I Know My Father Lives. She especially liked the second verse of I Know My Father Lives. When I asked her why she said, I like the idea that God has a plan for us.” Although I’m not a fan of a lot of primary music I was deeply moved by the whole experience.

    I share this story because I think that the hymns serve a variety of different purposes. I think getting rid of most of the ones that have been mentioned would be a mistake. Called to Serve, for example, or Welcome, Welcome Sabbath Morning. I admit that Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd is not what I would call profound either lyrically or musically. But, having sung it in the vast desolation of the Judaean wilderness after reading John 10 and sharing testimony, it becomes meaningful.

    However, I’d be happy to part with “Have I Done any Good in the World Today,” since so many LDS women feel like the good they do is not measurable and never enough and thus feel like they’ve “failed indeed.” We could also re-introduce “Come Thou Fount.” How could anyone have ever voted to take that hymn out?

  25. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 11:44 am

    I’m with Melissa, I suppose. Lot’s of hymns don’t move me, but whenever I abuse them I always find that its some Saint’s spiritual lifeline I’m abusing.

  26. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 11:44 am

    If You Could Hie to Kolob is a bit quirky but the tune is great. And further more, I’d say that anything arranged by R. Vaughn Williams is a keeper – which includes All Creatures of Our God and King among others.

  27. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 11:45 am

    I second Melissa’s comment, especially with regards to “Come Thou Fount.”

  28. CJ
    January 17, 2005 at 11:46 am

    Does absolutely every post on this blog have to focus on what in our imperfect opinions is wrong with the Church, what changes should be made in policy, and how we would do things better? Isn’t there something more worthy of discussion than nitpicking?

  29. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Part of the reason I haven’t committed the fulness of my musical snobbery to phosphors yet is that reading these threads makes me realize just how inconsistent I am. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t measure up to any aesthetic standard I know of, but which I love anyway, because I heard it at a particular moment in my life, or because my grandmother used to sing it while washing dishes.

    I confess that, while I loathe “Because I Have Been Given Much” for poetic and musical reasons, and because no one even follows the directions (there’s no alto line!! It’s marked “Unison”, dammit!!), I can still occasionally be moved by it, because I heard Elder Eyring weeping his way through it as he told of trying to teach his children about service in a Stake Conference once. Even when the droning repetition of it leaves me cold, I am reminded of what I felt listening to Elder Eyring, and how that changed me, and I appreciate being reminded to change again.

    There’s no aesthetic standard I’m aware of that can flex enough to make room for those sorts of sentiments, or even just for the charm of the 19th-century songs that articulate peripherally Mormon notions about cheerfulness and hard work. I wish we still had something like the old red “Recreational Songs” book, a place to keep all those beloved things that aren’t really hymns. I wish we sang twice as much as we do in church, so that there would be room for everything.

  30. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 11:51 am

    Good questions, CJ.

  31. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 11:52 am

    I think, actually, that no one did vote to leave out “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”; it was left out rather accidentally. In any case, MoTab has performed it more often since 1985 than they did before–it will be back in the next hymnal.

  32. January 17, 2005 at 11:52 am

    CJ, you must be new around here. And you haven’t read the other posts currently up, if that’s really your assessment.

    I can’t believe I’m defending T&S…. *gag*.

  33. Ivan Wolfe
    January 17, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    # 12 – ‘Twas witnessed in the Morning Sky.

    It lyrically duplicates the (slightly more) well known hymn #11 “What was witnessed in the heavens?” At least the choir occasionally sings #11, since it has seperate male and female parts, but I have never, ever heard a congregation sing #12.

    This goes for #15 “I saw a Mighty Angel Fly” too, which also seems like a duplicate of 11 & 12.

    Toss out #20 “God of Power, God of Right” as well – The only reason it is in the hymn book it to fill the space between 19 & 21 – both of which are sung often.

  34. CJ
    January 17, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Nope, not new. I’ve been reading and randomly commenting for a couple of months now. The general focus on the negative and the presumptous implications of many that they know better than the Brethren has really begun to wear on me. I realize that there are blogs dedicated to lauding the accomplishments of the Church and celebrating uniquely LDS perspectives and that T&S is not one of them. I still think, however, that a practical discussion of what are perhaps at best niche/pet topics could be done with a little more decorum and respect for what we hold to be THE ultimate truth.

  35. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 12:06 pm

    Don’t mind Steve E., CJ. It’s a good question.

    Kristine HH,
    I think your comment #29 is exactly right. Because I Have Been Given Much is the kind of hymn that I have to keep my opinions on to myself (or share them with my longsuffering wife). But lot’s of people like it.

    I think your long-anticipated post would be magnificent if it incorporated your #29 into it. I think your insight there has something to do with the Lord giving us revelation little by little and speaking to every soul in his own tongue and all that, but I think there’s more explanation than just that.

  36. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Nope, Come Thou Fount was voted out – to much grace not enough works. I love that hymn.

  37. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 12:12 pm

    Ivan, God of Power, God of Right is really great when sung by an Aaronic Priesthood choir! In fact, I think it’s *the* perfect hymn for that group.

    “I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly” does sort of repeat the themes of 11&12, but it’s the best of the bunch, musically. Here are some alternate words I like to do with the choir this time of year:

    All beautiful the march of days, as seasons come and go,
    The hand that shaped the rose hath wrought the crystal of the snow,
    Hath sent the hoary frost of heav’n, the flowing waters sealed,
    And laid a silent loveliness on hill and wood and field.

    O’er white expanses sparkling pure, the radiant morns unfold,
    The solemn splendors of the night burn brighter through the cold.
    Life mounts in every throbbing vein, love deepens round the hearth,
    And clearer sounds the angel hymn, “Good will to men on earth.”

    O Thou from whose unfathomed law the year in beauty flows,
    Thyself the vision passing by in crystal and in rose,
    Day unto day doth utter speech, and night to night proclaim,
    In everchanging words of light, the wonder of Thy name.

    (Frances W. Wile, 1878-1939)

  38. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 12:14 pm

    Jack, do you have a source for that assertion?

  39. Ivan Wolfe
    January 17, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    Kristine –

    I know that 15 has a better melody, but I was trying to stick to Kaimi’s criteria, and in my experienec, Ward Choirs occasionally sing 11, but no one ever sings 12 or 15.

  40. Anna
    January 17, 2005 at 12:15 pm

    “Our Mountain Home So Dear” strikes me as a bit Utah- (or at least Mountain West-) centric. I can assure you that we never sing it in Indiana.

    I firmly believe that many of the hymns, including some of the ones maligned here like “Because I Have Been Given Much” and “I Believe in Christ,” would sound much better if they were simply sung faster. I understand that tempi are often limited by the abilities of the pianist/organist, but I think there’s also a widespread assumption that “reverent” equals “ponderously slow.”

    That said, I played my postlude ponderously slowly yesterday so that no one would be too offended that (on a dare) I was playing “Eye of the Tiger.”

  41. Rosalynde Welch
    January 17, 2005 at 12:16 pm

    What about simply re-setting many of the objectionable hymns? An interesting setting can add interest to a text that is inspiring but conventional, just as a really great text can make a conventional setting wonderful.

    Also, CJ, I’m glad you’re around. I’d invite you to read almost any of the posts that are currently up if you’re interested in supportive but stimulating observations on church life. What happens in the comments is only partially in our control, of course, and we’re glad to have many different perspectives participating there–including yours.

  42. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 12:17 pm


    Did the Bretheren really assemble our little hymnal? If so, that’s news to me — I believe that it was assembled by church music committee people — e.g., Michael Moody.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with Michael Moody or church music people. But that origin means that the hymnal, or the hymn selection in it, can be discussed (including discussing hymns some of us would rather not have included) without challenging doctrine or “the bretheren” or really much of anything.

    I mean, take one example. “How Great Thou Art” wasn’t in the pre-1985 hymnal. It’s in the green (1985) hymnal.

    Did our doctrine change in 1985? No, it didn’t. The music committee chose to include a hymn, that’s all. If I had said in 1984 “I wish that ‘How Great Thou Art’ was in the hymnal,” would I be inappropriately criticizing the bretheren or anything? If I said, in 1986 “I wish that it weren’t in the hymnal,” is that inappropriate?

    Also, it seems pretty clear to me that (to use your words) “absolutely every post on this blog” does not “focus on what in our imperfect opinions is wrong with the Church.” Isn’t that pretty obvious?

  43. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 12:21 pm


    Agreed that one of the problems with Because I Have Been Given Much is that it’s often sung at dirge-like pace. And you’re also right that the pace is often set by the organist/pianist’s abilities.

    Because I Have Been Given Much is in A flat, which can be pretty daunting for a modestly skilled pianist. I know the music purists will kill me for suggesting this, but why not move it to a different key? It would survive just fine in (e.g.) B flat, or even (gasp!) plain old G. (That might make it peppier, too, which wouldn’t be a bad thing).

  44. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Don’t jump all over CJ. We spend a lot of time criticizing people here (you are criticizing Michael Moody, I presume), and it seems the least we could do is not to fly off the handle whenever someone criticizes us.

    If you read carefully, you’ll find that CJ is not questioning our righteousness. He’s just saying that, as in a marriage, if we spend all our time nitpicking (no matter how justified the nits) the fact of our great and overriding love for that which we criticize becomes less apparent to others and, I would add, eventually to ourselves.

  45. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Kristine, I feel a little uncomfotable throwing around names, but this is what I was told by the chairman of the church music committee…

  46. January 17, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    Adam: “Don’t mind Steve E.”

    No, don’t. I was DEFENDING your blog, man, and I refrained attacking CJ in the process. You should be thanking me, not dusting me off. Thanks again adam.

  47. Nate Oman
    January 17, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Four points:

    1. “In Our Lovely Deseret” is a fairly popular congregational hymn in Korea, and it is (blessedly) always sung much faster than in the United States.

    2. One thing that strikes me as interesting is the fact that our hymnal is — compartively speaking — quite short. Rather than excising songs that fail to meet with Steven Evan’s complete and utter approbation, I would like to see a bigger hymnal.

    3. My favorite hymns tend to be those expressing some degree of relish for the judgments of the Lord that are about to fall upon the Gentiles. For example, I think that it is unfortunate that we have excised the bits of “Praise to the Man” dealing with the blood stained guilt of Illinois. I am glad, however, that “We Thank the Oh God for the Prophet” still contains a reference to “the wicked who fight against Zion” and the happiness that they will be missing out on.

    4. Kristine wrote: “Part of the reason I haven’t committed the fulness of my musical snobbery to phosphors yet is that reading these threads makes me realize just how inconsistent I am.” Actually, Kristine, the inconsistency has already been noted ;->…

  48. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    Kaimi, B flat would be OK, but G would be unsingably low for many women.

  49. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 12:25 pm


    I probably shouldn’t have been as forceful, so let me just say —

    I’m sorry that you think that we’re overfocusing on criticism. But I think that we can discuss hymn selection without inappropriately trying to substitute our opinons for the bretheren’s. If you feel otherwise, that may work for you; I would invite you to comment on any of a number of other threads around here.

  50. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 12:27 pm


    You know better than I do, but dropping it a half-step makes it unsingable? I didn’t realize it was that close to the line.

  51. Trev
    January 17, 2005 at 12:28 pm

    Not sure of the hymn number, but “Purple Haze” has got to go, especially when they turn the organ up and play it real loud.

  52. J. Scherer
    January 17, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    #278- “Thanks for the Sabbath School”

    ‘Join in the joy of the Sabbath School throng’ ??

  53. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Kaimi, that would be a minor third.

  54. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Kaimi, most women’s voices have a “break” somewhere between D and F above middle C, and many women don’t navigate the switch from chest voice into mixed voice very well. So the B-flat and C at the end of the first line often sound pretty growly anyway, and if you dropped all those E-flats down to a D, pretty much everybody (at least people who aren’t trained or haven’t pushed their break down by singing alto a lot) has to switch to chest voice for that D, and it’s just awkward.

  55. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Whoops! I should read a little more before I presume… I see in an earlier comment you were talking about transposing down from A flat to G. My bad…

  56. Anna
    January 17, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    Kaimi, I’m not so sure the key signature is such a big factor in singing “Because I Have Been Given Much” so slowly. If the song is so hard to play, why is it sung so often? Since it has an accompaniment-style left hand (instead of the usual chords), you could even argue that it’s one of the less-difficult hymns to play. I remember learning it when I was about 10. “How Firm a Foundation” is also in A-Flat, and that’s not sung exceedingly slowly (often too slowly for my tastes, but faster than BIHBGM). No, I’m convinced that it’s sung slowly in a misguided, futile effort to make it sound pretty and reverent.

  57. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    Anna wrote “Our Mountain Home So Dear” strikes me as a bit Utah- (or at least Mountain West-) centric. I can assure you that we never sing it in Indiana.

    This brings us back to the whole the-Church-is-insensitive thing because it is actually conscious of its inter-mountain-west heritage, as if gratitude and pride in that nature of our history somehow diminishes Latter-day Saints living in Indiana, Europe, or Korea. I love “Our Mountain Home So Dear” and it has nothing to do with living in SLC. It has to do with my identity as a Latter-day Saint and the crucial role that these mountains and this geographical location has played in the life of the entire Church. I never heard that song until I was a missionary in East Germany. I grew up in Dallas (and so, not in Utah) and despite that, when I heard that song on a tape of MoTab hymns while in East Germany, my heart swelled with gratitude that the Lord had been so merciful and generous to our forefathers in faith as to give them this mountain kingdom (as it was when the Saints first inhabited it). The thought never entered my mind that the song was Utah-centric and thus insensitive to the Saints I was serving among in East Germany. I was naive enough to think that even the East German Saints would be grateful for “our mountain home so dear” back in Utah, not because it is in any way superior or anything like that but because of what it means to us as part of our common Latter-day Saint heritage. In fact, the first time I ever realized that some people have a chip on their shoulder against “Utah-centric” aspects of this Church was around pioneer day last year reading this very blog–a comment by Kaimi about how the pioneers weren’t his ancestors or the ancestors of many people in his Brooklyn ward, so a little less emphasis on them, please, because it is insensitive. That was reinforced by the American-flag-at-the-SLC-temple-post.

    This returns us to the idea that many of the nineteenth-century “Social” hymns, as Russell puts it out of enthusiasm to bring Socialism on board here, contain a unique expression of Latter-day Saint identity that remains a healthy part of LDS worship. There is nothing wrong with instilling a common identity of faith through such tools as these songs, even if many of them are Utah-centric. After all, Saints from Europe often migrated here during that time period rather than staying in England or Denmark or Germany. These songs are about them too and include their identity as well. Kristine noted that these songs have value in their ability to teach us of the “peripheral” cheerfulness and hard-work-ethic of the early Saints. I would agree with this except to the extent that it implies that these aspects of Latter-day Saint identity are or even should be “peripheral” to what it is to belong to this Church. To the contrary, these characteristics, as embodied in many of these “trite,” “boring” hymns are inextricably intertwined with the more doctrinal Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence my defense of the nineteenth-century pieces in our hymnal. And let’s get “Come Thou Fount” and “Tho From the Outward Church Below” back on board too. And I would love to see “Amazing Grace” in there too. We could always change a few words to make it more doctrinally sound (though it is questionable whether it is doctrinally unsound given the insight of the Book of Mormon here and here and especially here. Contrary to what the media might say, these scriptures have always been part of the BoM and do not represent some kind of change in Church policy to begin focusing more on Christ in an attempt to enter the mainstream.)

  58. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 1:09 pm

    John, Emma Smith actually included “Amazing Grace” in one of her hymn compilations.

    I agree with you on the Utah songs–I don’t know how much sense it makes to sing them in many settings, but at least some of them should be in the book. (And Our Mountain Home So Dear gets to stay additionally because it’s one of few texts in the hymnal written by LDS women–I know you’ll be pleased by that reasoning :)).

  59. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 1:10 pm

    A bit rantish, to be sure, but sign me up. I *like* celebrating the pioneers.

  60. CJ
    January 17, 2005 at 1:19 pm


    Thank you for your responses. It’s a testament to the beauty of the bloggernacle that a little post such as mine can provide impetus for some relatively serious discussion. I agree, Kaimi, that not “absolutely every post” on T&S is steeped in criticism. I guess I should use more precise diction when dealing with attorneys :). I merely meant that it seems (again, from my individual and obviously biased/imperfect opinion) that a great percentage of the posts and resulting comments on T&S deal with finding imperfection and what each of us would do better. I also agree, Kaimi, that what appeared to be a link between the Brethren and hymn selection in the hymnal would have been unfounded, had I intended one. My point is that aside from official Church doctrine, the Church itself is still composed of what are for the most part righteous, striving members of the Household of Faith. Seeing some things as incongruous or improper is normal and just fine; I do feel, however, that making it one of the foci of discussion tends towards criticism of Church membership as a whole and therefore the Church. If we spend our time on nitpicking and finding fault with the minutia of Church life, I really think we’re looking beyond (or short of) the mark. Just my two cents. Apologies both in advance and retrospect.

  61. January 17, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    CJ, I think you are right on. Please don’t take my earlier blunt reply too seriously, and let’s all be friends (except for Adam).

  62. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Right on, CJ. Well and courteously put.

    And please, go be Steve E.’s friend so he’ll leave off pestering me. :)

  63. Nate Oman
    January 17, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    Also, he obviously needs friends. I am convinced that his obnoxious carping is actually a hidden cry for help, understanding, and love ;->

  64. January 17, 2005 at 1:34 pm

    “he obviously needs friends. I am convinced that his obnoxious carping is actually a hidden cry for help, understanding, and love”

    A cry that will clearly go unanswered on T&S. So be it — I’ll spare you my obnoxious carping in the future.

  65. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    No, wait. Beneath these gruffs exteriors we . . .
    [small voice]
    we love you.

  66. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Glorious Words Of Thee Are Spoken, needs to go, even though the music is by Haydn. It is the tune of Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles, the Nazi anthem. (Sorry about this one Kristine.)

    God Of Power, God Of Right, was written by my grandfather, Wallace Bennett, and as such, should stay. Part of the hymns’ pleasure is our connection to our ancestors who also sang them.

  67. January 17, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    I think, actually, that no one did vote to leave out “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”; it was left out rather accidentally. In any case, MoTab has performed it more often since 1985 than they did before–it will be back in the next hymnal.

    I hope so, I really like it.

  68. CJ
    January 17, 2005 at 1:44 pm

    It’s really a shame when you lose a comment because you failed to fill out your name and e-mail address. Gotta somehow tweak the PHP code to reinclude the comment text after the back button is hit, fellas. :)


    Thanks for your remarks. Believe me, of all my friends and acquaintances, I’m the most likely of any to ask questions and speculate concerning apparent logical gaps in the Plan of Salvation or seemingly misguided policies. I just think we must take extreme caution when asking such questions and do so with the attitude (made obvoius by the tone of our writing) that there ARE in fact answers for those things that may not add up in our minds at the moment. When discussed with such an attitude I think we would find a more positive, productive atmosphere instead of one that has (again, from my perspective) tended towards fault finding.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am “one of them”. I graduated from BYU last year and work on Temple Square for the Church, programming for lds.org and mormon.org. It’s a filler job as I await word from a few more law schools before deciding where to end up in the fall. Believe me, while at work I see my share of decisions made at all levels that make me wonder. :)

  69. Anna
    January 17, 2005 at 1:44 pm

    John (#57), I think you were far more bothered by my comment than I am bothered by the hymn. But then, that wouldn’t take much since the hymn really doesn’t bother me that much.

    I completely agree that all Church members, regardless of location, should share in and celebrate the legacy of the Church. My mother, a convert, has said that she loves hearing about and honoring the pioneers and doesn’t feel a bit slighted just because she isn’t their literal descendent. I may not like Utah-centric hymns as much as many of the other hymns, but I concede that they have a place. If I were really that offended by the inclusion of hymns that refer to the West or pioneers, I might have singled out “High on the Mountain Top” or “Carry On” also, but I actually like both of those hymns quite a bit. In fact, “Our Mountain Home So Dear” is more about appreciating nature than anything else, and I certainly have no problem with that! Among hymns honoring creation, I simply happen to prefer “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and I recognize that that’s my personal opinion with which you’re free to disagree.

    Again, John, I’m very sorry. I really dislike contention and don’t want to get into an argument with you. (Especially because you’re probably much smarter than I am…)

  70. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    I know you’ve had a bad experience with this one, D. Fletcher, but I think you’re too hasty. Deutschland, Deutschland, was not the Nazi national anthem, it was the pre-existing German national anthem. Its not like we’re singing the Horst Wessel song. The Nazis just appropriated it like they did other emblems of German patriotism.

    And, as you say, the music is by Haydn. And, as you are probably more reluctant to admit, very few people actually know that the tune has a German connection, let alone a Nazi one.

  71. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    The ones who know that it has a Nazi connection are the Jewish converts, who hear it an immediately leave the Church. I repeat, it must go, or at least, never be sung again. I’m not politically correct normally, but a bad experience is a bad experience. If one good person leaves the Church over a hymn, then I say it’s bad.

  72. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    Actually, it wouldn’t be very hard to find several good tunes for “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken.” That being the case, I see no reason to keep the tune–if we can avoid giving offense, we should.

  73. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    D. wrote It is the tune of Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles, the Nazi anthem. (Sorry about this one Kristine.)

    We had an exchange over this here back in July. What you are overlooking, D., is the fact that this song is still the German national hymn! The offending verse is no longer sung. I am sad that your Jewish friend left the Church because this tune is set to Newton’s lyrics. I will reserve judgment on that action. But I will say that the song cannot be faulted and should definitely stay.

  74. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    A real treat for me was to find out that “O My Father” was once sung to the “Deutschland, Deutschland Über Alles” tune!

  75. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    You’re right, Kristine! That’s what I should do, find a new tune for that text!

    I’ll bet that song with those words does NOT exist in the German edition of the Hymns (but if it is in there, I’d be surprised that anyone in Germany would program it).

    On other subjects, I’m actually disappointed in the keys of the hymns. All the keys were altered to make them easier to play, but in many cases, the keys are inferior, and make our Sacrament Meetings sound too tonally focused one key or another.

    If any of you program hymns, think occasionally about having each of the 3 or 4 hymns in a meeting be in different keys.

  76. Maren
    January 17, 2005 at 2:04 pm

    Lord Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing. My older brothers used to loudly sing Go tell Aunt Rody or however you spell it every time the hymn was played. My poor mother was always trying to keep us quiet, my father sitting on the stand for various callings, and then the music gives us the opportunity to really misbehave, I feel it should go. Also, I agree about the Hymn with the Nazi connection. It should go.

  77. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    Maren wrote Also, I agree about the Hymn with the Nazi connection. It should go.

    This is untenable and it is really starting to annoy me. That song is still the German national hymn. There is no “Nazi connection” between modern-day Germany and Nazi Germany based on the fact that this very same song was the Nazi national hymn and is also the current German national hymn. This all hinges on one verse of a poem written in 1841, long before the Nazis, and the Nazi-misconstruction of that verse. That verse is no longer a part of the German national hymn and indeed, is illegal in Germany. But the tune and the other verses of that same poem remain the German national hymn. To the extent that the same logic behind the argument that there is a Nazi connection between “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” necessarily impies that modern-day Germany is Nazi based on the continued use of this song with a “Nazi connection,” I actually take offense. Please see my comment here to inform yourself about that song and stop saying that it “must go” because it is a Nazi song. That is pure nonsense.

  78. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 2:14 pm

    Sorry, this it the link to some apparently very needed background information on the Haydn tune behind “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” and the von Fallersleben poem that is set to that tune and that is still the German national hymn (newsflash for uninformed Americans: Germany is not a Nazi country and all Germans are not Nazis, in fact, very few are).

  79. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    It’s just context, John. Context is ALL, particularly for familiar songs. The anthem was BANNED in Germany after the war, only finally reinstated after the fall of the wall and the reunification. It just doesn’t have anything to do with the Mormon Church and it doesn’t have a spiritual context — so if it offends somebody it ought to go (the tune). I’m not particularly enamored of our own National Anthem either, as a hymn. Here’s what I could find out:

    The “official” name of the German National Anthem is Das Lied der Deutschen, or simply, Das Deutschlandlied. The song is often called Deutschland ueber Alles, simply because those are the opening words of the first stanza. It is virtually unknown today that the expression “über alles”, or “before all [others]” refers not to the conquest or enslavement of other countries or the establishment of German hegemony over other peoples, but rather to a call for all Germans to abandon their concept of being a subject or citizen of this or that principality or region (such as Bavaria or Prussia) and to realize the common bond they had with one another by simply being German. This concept was considered “revolutionary” at the time the words were written in 1841, since loyalty to “Germany” was considered by the princelings and kings of the disunited Reich (divided into 40-plus separate states) to be disloyalty to themselves. This “All-German” idea was suspect because it was also associated with the rising middle classes and their suppressed Frankfurt assembly of  1848.

    The song’s words were penned by the teacher Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who had been a fervent supporter of German unity and republican government, and who, because of his activities on behalf of these causes, was forced to flee to the North Sea island of Heligoland, where the verses were actually written. The music is taken from the String Quartet in C major (the Kaiser-Quartet), Op. 76,3 of Joseph Haydn, composed in 1797. It was officially ignored during most of the Second Reich (1871 to 1918), which had no official anthem as such.

    The Deutschlandlied’s real popularity began with World War I, when it was sung on the battlefield by young soldiers from every Gau of the Reich who were thrown together against a common foe.

    Ironically, Das Deutschlandlied did not become the official national anthem until declared so by President Ebert of the Weimar Republic in March, 1922.

    Not surprisingly, during the next European War, the words “über Alles” were ruthlessly exploited by Allied  propagandists.

    Banned after 1945 by the victors, the Deutschlandlied is again the German national anthem, but only the third stanza is used. The first stanza is absolutely verboten, since it refers to the traditional ethnographic boundaries of Germany (“from the Maas [in Belgium] to the Memel [between the present day Kaliningrad area of Russia and Lithuania], from the Etsch [on the Austro-Italian border] to the Belt [in Denmark]”). Likewise, the propagandistic mistranslation of the  words “über alles” has now become accepted “truth”, thus precluding their use.

    After the fall of the Berlin Wall, proposals were made to combine the hymns of the BRD and the DDR (the anthem of which was an officially commissioned postwar piece by the communist poet Johannes R. Becher and leftist composer Hans Eisler) to create a “unified” national anthem. At that point, musicologists made the ironic discovery that, in terms of rhythm and meter, the words of the former DDR’ s anthem Auferstanden aus Ruinen (perhaps not accidentally) fit the musical score of the Das Deutschlandlied perfectly!

  80. January 17, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    > This goes for #15 “I saw a Mighty Angel Fly” too, which also seems like a duplicate of 11 & 12.

    There’s a reason why #15 is in the hymnbook.

    It’s the tune the English use to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” By including it in the hymnal, it gives English organists/pianists the music they need.

    Frankly, I don’t see why there’s a need to get rid of any of our current hymns, at least not based on matters of aesthetic taste. It’s fairly obvious from the discussion here that what one may dislike, another may like.

    I’d rather discuss what should be added to the hymnal. “Amazing Grace” gets my vote.

  81. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    D. you didn’t need to go to the effort of researching it yourself. I have provided a link to my own comment on the background.

  82. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 2:27 pm

    I think we did it at the same time, John. By the way, I have nothing against the song personally, but truthfully, the music doesn’t do much for me. It seems like a national anthem, more than anything else. I don’t like national anthems as spiritual uplifters, usually. How do people feel about the old chestnut, “Up Awake Ye Defenders of Zion,” sung to Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean?

  83. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    I do think that we should mix-and-match a little more often.

    Last Sunday, we sang “Come all whose Souls are Lighted” to the tune of “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” I thought that it worked very well.

  84. January 17, 2005 at 2:32 pm

    Softly Now the Light of Day. Shortest hymn in the hymnal at only one verse and four phrases. Anytime the introductory phrase is the same length as the actual hymn, it should be suspect. If they kept it in there only to fill white space, I would rather have a nice illustration – such as a picture of Gerald Ottley coaxing the congregation on or Lloyd D Newell softly orating a limmerick (:

  85. Ivan Wolfe
    January 17, 2005 at 2:32 pm

    I do agree with the few comments on expanding the hymn book – I have a few other-denominational hymn books, and they all have 600+ hymns (some come near to 1,000!!!). Of course, the hymns written in praise of the “blessed Trinity” and the “by grace alone” lyrics wouldn’t make the cut, but we could still easily double the size of our current hymnal if the Church music comittie really, really wanted to.

  86. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    I’m happy to note that, whatever opinions folks may have on Because I Have Been or Glorious Things, no one has yet offered a defense of any of the first three I suggested.

    Clearly, the person with ultimate hymn-chopping power should be . . . me! (Diabolical laughter).


  87. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 2:35 pm


    If we can cut “For All the Saints” to fit, we can cut most anything to fit.

  88. January 17, 2005 at 2:35 pm

    God Save the King. What king? There’s no king?! And would we really want to preserve such a outmoded form of government??

  89. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    Franz Josef Haydn’s tune has been the German National Anthem from 1922 until the present but before that it was the Austrian National Hymn, the “Kaiserlied” or “Gott Erhalte Franz den Kaiser,” from 1797 until 1918. It was commissioned in 1796 and was first performed on Emperor Franz II’s birthday, February 12, 1797. BTW, the hymn was written before the string quartet.

  90. Sheri Lynn
    January 17, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    I’m learning Spanish hymns. The Spanish hymnal is much thinner, and dozens of hymns were left out. If our Spanish-speaking brethren and sisters don’t need it, why do we? I haven’t yet located a hymn that is only in the Spanish hymnal and not in the English.

  91. January 17, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    God Be With You Till We Meet Again. Probably the most sappy sentimental hymn in the book. If not remove it, couldn’t they just chop it down to one verse so I don’t have to repeat Till We Meeeeeeeet a dozen times? I wonder how often Pres. Hinckley has listened to that hymn.

  92. Ivan Wolfe
    January 17, 2005 at 2:39 pm

    Kaimi –

    Yep – but I’m more thinking of the hymns that have titles or oft -repeated choruses that include such pphrases as “three-in-one, blessed Trinity” or “by faith through grace alone” that rather than cutting, would require total rewrites (rather than limited rewrites such as with “How Firm a Foundation”)

  93. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 2:40 pm

    So, is Glorious Words of Thee are Spoken in the german edition of Hymns? With the national anthem words, or with “Glorious…” translated?

    How would we feel if “The Star-Spangled Banner” was in our hymnbook, but with rewritten words reflecting Jesus or the Prophet? The only reason I think this one should go is because the hymn has a context, a familiarity as a national anthem, that became associated with the Nazis when they were in power. That context makes it offensive to some, and should be removed from the hymnbook.

  94. Ivan Wolfe
    January 17, 2005 at 2:41 pm

    Sheri –

    I know the Thai hymnal has the Thai national anthem – are there Spanish hymnals that have national anthems for their various countries (Spain, Mexico, etc?)

  95. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 2:41 pm


    There are a few in the Spanish that aren’t in the English. I believe that “Si la Via es Penosa” is one of them. I don’t think that “Hay un Hogar Eterno” is in the English, either. (I could be wrong on either or both of those).

  96. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 2:46 pm

    “As the Shadows Flee” is quite nice music, Kaimi, are you sure you want to give that one up? Written as late as 1977, obviously meant for evening Sacrament Meeting, how about just change a few words and keep it.

  97. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    Back to Kaimi’s original post–yeah, I know it won’t ever happen, because we just love dotted eights–sixteenths, and we don’t pay attention to the words, but come on, can’t we as a church come up with something better than “We thank thee o God for a prophet”?

    A central doctrine that sets us apart from all the rest of Christendom, and all we get are two lines, followed by a whole collection of trite statements that have nothing whatever with prophets.

    Please, can’t somebody write an improvement on that?

    And, we should go back to the pre 1985 hymnbook and deep six the Battle Hymn of the Republicans.

  98. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve been an organist for nearly 40 years and have played virtually everything in the old blue hymnal (pre-1985, or the “True Hymnal” as we old traditionalists refer to it), and the new green hymnal. Yesterday I was requested to play #188 “Thy Will, O Lord, Be Done” for the Sacrament Hymn. I’ve got to tell you, that was the first time I have ever played that hymn and I hope it is the last! That is the poorest excuse for a hymn that I have ever played. (I am referring to the music, not the words).

    I wish that they would have included some of the Blue Hymnal tunes that have been dropped. I am particulary fond of “Though In The Outward Church Below” (tune from Mozart’s “Magic Flute”) with its great bass line.

    The new tune for “If You Could ‘Hie to Kolob” is vastly superior to the old tune in the Blue Hymnal. Go listen to Ralph Vaughan Williams treatment of the tune in “Variants on ‘Dives and Lazarus'”.

    We need more Easter hymns. Plenty of Christmas stuff, but hardly any Easter. The Lutherans have some great Easter music in their hymnal. “Lutheran Book of Worship”, c. 1978 (#’s below from LBW):

    #131, “Christ is Risen! Alleluia!”.
    #135, “The Strife is O’er, the Battle Done” (tune by Palestrina)
    #143. “Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds” (same tune as “O Creatures of Our God and King”)
    #145, “Thine is the Glory” (from Handel’s “See the Conquering Hero Comes”)

    I have used these hymns for prelude and postlude on Easter and even had our ward choir sing “The Strife is O’er” one Easter.

  99. Chad Too
    January 17, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    D.Fletcher sez:
    “On other subjects, I’m actually disappointed in the keys of the hymns. All the keys were altered to make them easier to play, but in many cases, the keys are inferior, and make our Sacrament Meetings sound too tonally focused one key or another.

    If any of you program hymns, think occasionally about having each of the 3 or 4 hymns in a meeting be in different keys.”

    I’ve made liberal use of the new Church Music website for this very reason, D. It transposes to the key I prefer and then I print it off for the organist. Great for any meeting where the hymn in “A” makes it a touch brighter than “Ab”. For most hymns those who don’t read music are simply following the organ anyway, so they don’t notice the change.

    Also, since I sing true First Tenor, any little TTBB quartets I sing in can benefit from the key change. Some hymns I’m taken up a full major fifth!

    Given your talents, though, I guessing you can transpose in your head. Lucky.

    Oh, and obligatory to the original topic, I could lose all the sunshine songs without too many tears. I’m also not much of a fan of the congregational hymns where the men have different words/rhythms to sing than the women do (think the chorus of Let Us All Press On as an example). I always feel like I’m showing off when I sing the part as written, and invariably someone shoots me the look of “what are you DOING?!?” before they realize that I was right in the first place. Story of my life, I suppose…

  100. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 3:00 pm

    I’m not sure if this belongs in this thread, or in a thread entitled “Did they really say all that?”

    But, as long as we’re rewriting the hymnal, how about this:

    Mosiah 4 and 5 include two responses by the multitude to the words that King Benjamin had spoken.

    Mosiah 4:2

    And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.

    Mosiah 5:2-5

    2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

    3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.

    4 And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.

    5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

    Now, I don’t know how many of you ever experienced “concert recitations”, but I don’t know how that multitude ever cried out all those words with “one voice”. Perhaps King Benjamin had circulated a proposed text, and they all just read from it. Or maybe their language was much more economical–three of their words took the place of 10 of ours.

    Or, maybe, they sang it. Some strong voiced song leader “lined” the hymn for them, and they joined in singing the words. Or . . .

    Anyway, the challenge for the poets and musicians is to set those marvelous words to music–in a hymn that our congregations could sing. If you’re successful, then we can join with the people of King Benjamin and speak all those words with one accord.

  101. Jonathan Green
    January 17, 2005 at 3:01 pm

    D. Fletcher, I actually think doing your own research is a good idea, but you’re off on this one. The third verse of “Das Deutschlandlied” has been the German national anthem since 1952. Once the Germans got their country back, they pretty quickly returned to their old national anthem. I’m really, really sorry that your friend left the church, but it seems like a rash response based on a factual misunderstanding.

  102. Chad Too
    January 17, 2005 at 3:05 pm


    I wrote a hymn a couple of years back (a fellow ward member set it to music) that could be considered both an Easter hymn or a sacrament song. It ended up a finalist in the church music hymn contest. Even though we didn’t win, the letter we got heavily implied that the hymn might be used in the future. Who knows, maybe someday y’all could be griping about a hymn I wrote!

    But I agree. Too few Easter hymns.

  103. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    Mmm, I just picked that information up from some website. I didn’t write it myself. I see that I misunderstood about the hymn being completely banned in 1945, but my point about its context is still valid. The first verse of the hymn IS in fact banned, because of the same contextual problems. It didn’t really mean what it came to mean during the Nazi era, but ultimately, it couldn’t work without that era’s evil context removing validation from the verse.

    Let’s find other music for those words.

  104. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 3:09 pm

    The reason there are too few Easter hymns is twofold. On the one hand, how many hymns can we actually do on Easter? (Only 3.) And on the other hand, the Church is downplaying Easter, in a big way. The Bishops received letters (I think it was 2 years ago) saying, NO big Easter program. And surprisingly often, Easter falls on General Conference Sunday.

    Also, all of our Sacrament songs might be considered Easter songs.

  105. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 3:14 pm

    When the St. Matthew Passion is performed as the Good Friday service at St. Peter’s Lutheran (54th and Lexington), they close the service with the choir and congregation singing “Lord, Thee I love with all my heart.” It would be a nice addition to our hymnal. The lyrics and an off tempo midi file are at lutheran-hymnal.com

  106. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    When I lived in Germany, the music teacher in my school started to teach the national anthem to my eighth-grade class. It created a furor; several of my friends’ parents wrote notes asking for their children to be excused from singing it. It’s not in the German hymnbook in either form. Germans don’t sing it much, and probably wouldn’t, even if they played baseball. The fact is that it’s got a complicated and uneasy history, both in Germany and abroad. If we had an annotated hymnbook that could give people context, then it would be OK, but if we need Germanists to explain why it’s OK, then maybe we should pick a different tune. (Or require that a Germanist be called in every ward :)) There are dozens of worthy 8787D-metered hymns out there; we could find something lovely.

    I think the same thing about the last line of the third verse of “If You Could Hie to Kolob.” “There is no end to race,” while it makes perfect sense if you carefully parse the poem, taking into account the common 19th-century usage of “race”, is needlessly offensive to people who don’t have the time, skills, or inclination to do such a careful reading. We could change the word to “grace,” without doing serious violence to the hymn, and it would make it more comfortable to sing. Again, where we can easily avoid giving offense, it makes sense to do so.

  107. Larry
    January 17, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    Wasn’t Amazing Grace left out because it was sung by those who killed the prophet just after they completed their foul deed.

  108. Adam Greenwood
    January 17, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    ‘Oid el toque del clarin’ no se encuentra en el himnario ingles.

    If the recurring carping and kvetching weren’t enough to turn one off this thread, the quality of the suggestions in it would be. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is one of the greats. One should not try and reduce it to fit into some narrow partisan and political worldview, nor dismiss it on that grounds.

  109. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    “The Bishops received letters (I think it was 2 years ago) saying, NO big Easter program.”


  110. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 3:19 pm


    Beside the Nazi era notions of “ueber alles” applying to all other nations, without any geographic limitations, the old Maas to Memel, Etsch to Belt lines would trouble not only the Dutch, but also the Poles and the Russians, who have staked claims to part of all of East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia. If the Germans started singing about making those areas part of Germany, there’d be real trouble brewing.

  111. Jonathan Green
    January 17, 2005 at 3:20 pm

    D., I don’t have my German hymnal with me, but I believe it contains the text of “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” but set to a different tune. Or I may be remembering its presence in the pre-late-90’s German hymnbook. It would have been silly to have a hymn set to the national anthem. The new German hymnal also retains “Come Thou Font of Every Blessing.”

    Hymns that Have to Go:
    “I Believe in Christ” (8 verses masquerading as 4; “my feet he plants on gospel sod”??)
    “How Great Thou Art”

    I’m not a huge fan of most of the hymns in the primary section of the hymnal, but I wish we had “Fair is the Sunshine / Beautiful Savior” in the regular hymnbook.

  112. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    Oh, sorry Adam. I was just being silly about the BH of the R’ans’. Nonetheless, I would still be happy to see it go.

  113. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    I was told this by my nephew-in-law, who is the Bishop of the Park Slope ward. He received a letter from Church authorities, saying there weren’t to be any big Easter programs performed for Sacrament Meeting. Just a normal program, with a musical number and hymns and talks. I think they were trying to stop a practice which has happened in some wards, where Easter Sacrament Meeting might be taken up by a portion of the Messiah, or St. Matthew Passion, or something.

    Anyway, after he told me this, I asked our current Bishop, who confirmed that he got the same letter.

  114. January 17, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    What about hymns about Israel that Arab members have to sing (Israel, Israel, God is Calling and Hope of Israel, to name just two)? If you start throwing out hymns that offend someone (as opposed to annoying) someone, we’d probably lose a lot.

  115. January 17, 2005 at 3:24 pm

    “And on the other hand, the Church is downplaying Easter, in a big way.”

    I certainly hope this isn’t actually the case, but rather is some weird misunderstanding on various bishops’ parts. More info, if any is available, D.?

  116. Charles Sakai
    January 17, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    As a ward chorister with some 25 years’ experience in numerous wards & branches, I’ve developed a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Many of the hymns were selected because of their historical or cultural context, or because they teach doctrine in a succinct, easy-to-remember way. “It May Not Be on the Mountain Height” (#270) often ran in my head while I was in the military, because it helped me to accept assignments to places I didn’t want to go, as long as it was part of the Lord’s design. “Because I Have Been Given Much” (#219) has made me look beyond my own narrow interests – even though I may have felt burnt-out on that particular hymn, the congregations I led always sounded good, so obviously there are people out there who can relate to it. It was a sad day when “On the necks of thy foes thou shalt tread” was changed to “Without fear of thy foes thou shalt tread” in “O Ye Mountains High” (#34), but on the other hand, I never did feel comfortable with the lyrics of “Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion” (#248).

    Knowing that other churches have published hymnals that are two or three times larger than our own, a little more variety is welcome. Since Mormonism has shown a lot of respect for other cultures, I would appreciate seeing more music from around the world, more Primary hymns (having joined as an adult, I was deprived of the experience of learning them in childhood), more songs for Relief Society and the youth programs of today, more sacrament hymns, and music from other churches (such as “Amazing Grace” and “In the Garden”), as long as the lyrics are in harmony with our teachings.

    The needs of the program, nature of the audience, and capabilities of the accompanist should be uppermost in the mind of a music leader when making a selection of hymns for a program. He or she has no time to be distracted by extra-musical considerations.

  117. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 3:27 pm


    Agreed on 188. It’s a very bland tune. For that matter, I don’t see why we need the double sacrament-songs (176, 173) either.


    I had forgotten “Oid el toque.” And I can’t find my himnario, for some reason it’s disappeared.


    I know, that’s your old gripe (and “grace” does fit pretty well there); as noted a long time back, “Come O Thou King of Kings” has similar issues.

  118. Jonathan Green
    January 17, 2005 at 3:32 pm

    Wait, I forgot the punchline–

    “Das Horst Wessel Lied” has a tune quite similar to “How Great Thou Art.” If we drop both “How Great” and “Glorious Things,” do we have a deal?

    Adam: If YOU don’t like the comments here, then why don’t you get your OWN blog where you can post what YOU want? Oh, wait a second…

  119. danithew
    January 17, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    Amira brought up hymns about Israel or Zion that might be slightly offensive to Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. There are also militaristic hymns that can be problematic in a setting with Muslims, such as Onward Christians Soldiers.

  120. Jonathan Green
    January 17, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    And I’ll second Mark B’s suggestion of “Lord, Thee I love with all my heart.” But just about anything from sixteenth-century German hymnals would be good.

  121. January 17, 2005 at 3:41 pm

    More than 120 comments in less than a day. Yikes.

    I agree with Mark B.’s suggestion as well regarding “Lord, Thee I Love”. But would that constitute a move toward ecumenicalism?

  122. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 3:46 pm

    Well, the hymns are something EVERYONE has an opinion about. It’s the way that we chiefly worship together, in our most important service.

  123. January 17, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    I recall singing Onward Christian Soldiers at the BYU Jerusalem with some Muslims in attendance who were not pleased about it.

  124. Kristine
    January 17, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    “But would that constitute a move toward ecumenicalism?”

    I don’t think so; our hymnal has always been sort of an omnium gatherum.

  125. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    But were the Muslims converted to Mormonism? Onward Christian Soldiers was written for children to march into church — it has no context of Crusades or anything else along those lines.

  126. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 3:53 pm


    If it’s a move toward ecumenism, and if that’s bad, then we’d have to send the angels from old 102 down to mow down the tares and toss them out. Take out all those great Wesleyan hymns (I mean, come on, Joseph did say he had some partiality to the Methodists, but who, after all, does Charles Wesley think he is??). We’d have to toss How Great Thou Art back to the television preachers, and All Creatures to the Catholics.

    Remember, Emma was commanded to make a selection of hymns–and there just weren’t that many LDS hymns in 1835–so she naturally had to go outside.

  127. January 17, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    I miss old 102. They still sang it in France a few years back. The harvest, the tares, what great images.

    Plus, I don’t view ecumenicalism as an inherent evil. Especially in cultural terms — we mormons should learn to outsource!

  128. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    Why is All Creatures Catholic? The version we use comes from Ralph Vaughn Williams.

  129. Rosalynde Welch
    January 17, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    Chad Too–re: silent transposing…. that would make me insane! I don’t quite have perfect pitch, but I have real problems reading the parts if the hymn has been transposed without telling me… I keep trying to sing and #F, and it’s just not right… argh!

  130. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 4:35 pm

    Really? I do not have perfect pitch, just perfect relative pitch. I transpose the hymns all the time, often modulating up and down the keys. The “flat” keys are lovely, and are not used enough. Two keys I particularly love are Db and B, but I don’t like reading them on the page, just playing in them by ear. I think some of the hymns would be much better if re-arranged and re-pitched.

  131. Nate Oman
    January 17, 2005 at 4:39 pm

    ” So be it – I’ll spare you my obnoxious carping in the future.”

    Unlikely ;->

  132. Kaimi
    January 17, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    Well I don’t have anywhere near perfect pitch, nor D.’s dexterity in playing, but I also like transposing on the fly sometimes. It’s always fun to kick up a primary song a full step for the fourth verse (such as “Do as I’m Doing” or “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man”). And fortunately, it doesn’t require D-level musical chops to do that. (Otherwise I would be in trouble).

  133. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    “All Creatures…” can be considered Catholic only because the text is adapted from St. Francis of Assisi.

    The Canticle of All Creatures

    Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
    All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
    To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
    and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

    Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
    especially Sir Brother Sun,
    Who is the day through whom You give us light.
    And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
    Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
    In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

    Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
    And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
    by which You cherish all that You have made.

    Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
    So useful, humble, precious and pure.

    Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
    through whom You light the night
    and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

    Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
    Mother Earth who sustains and governs us,
    producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
    Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon
    for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
    Blessed are those who endure in peace,
    By You Most High, they will be crowned.

    Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
    from whom no-one living can escape.
    Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
    Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
    No second death can do them harm.

    Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
    And serve Him with great humility.

  134. January 17, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    I think the better option is to put a little more thought into the songs we are singing. Not every song in the hymnbook is appropriate in every situation. We often seem to choose a song because of its title.

    Not to mention that we choose the closing hymn weeks in advance, and sometimes it does not fit well at all with the spirit of the meeting. It’s probably not practical to choose a song on the spur of the moment though.


    They were Muslim, not Mormon. However, it is easily interpreted as a rather bellicose song, no matter why it was written. I wouldn’t care to sing it again in any kind of mixed setting.

  135. jonathan thomas
    January 17, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    I have a confession to make, with apologies to Kristine, D. Fletcher and all of the rest of you hymnal aficionados.

    (Note to CJ: Don’t read beyond this point, this is bad stuff).

    I have never liked the hymns. (Yes, there are four or five exceptions.) As a teenager, I was a primary pianist; on my mission, I accompanied and played frequently; and I have played for sacrament meetings and priesthood meetings over the years. The hymns just bore me stiff. I know I have no soul and I feel terrible about this. I am much more inspired by a good sermon, scripture or book. I have friends who are just the opposite. For them, the high point of Sunday worship is in singing congregational hymns or listening to or performing in a choir. What’s wrong with me?

    I feel compelled to make another confession…and this one is really, really bad. When I played prelude and postlude for primary and priesthood meetings, I would intentionally mix in some pop songs I knew, just changing the rhythm or embellishing enough so that it was not readily recognizable. Songs like Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” ELO’s “Strange Magic” or America’s “Daisy Jane” were easily integrated into my pre/postlude repertoire (although I do remember having a hard time working in Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” at one point). It got really bad after awhile, and I only stopped after some High Priest in one of the wards I was in figured out one time that I was actually playing the piano intro to Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” before we sang “Ye Elders of Israel” for the umpteenth time.

    I am trying to be better, but it’s hard. I’m in a church position now where the whole ward gets to see how I respond to hymns up on the stand. What do I do? I lip-synch with a smile since I can’t stand to hear myself sing. I tell you, Milly Vanilly and Ashley Simpson have got nothing on me. Somebody, please save me!


  136. Julie in Austin
    January 17, 2005 at 6:07 pm

    I would like to see “The First Noel” removed for the following reason:

    When I was growing up, my mother had four little candles that she put out every Christmas on the bannister. One was an N, an O, an E, and an L.

    Every time my brother walked by, he rearranged the candles as necessary to spell LEON. It made my mother crazy, which made it all the more fun.

    Hence, any time “The First Noel” is sung in Church, I usually end up needing to draw blood from my lip in an effort not to laugh.

    (I know this is one of those ‘you had to be there’ experiences, but what is the point of blogging if you can’t navel-gaze?)

  137. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 6:13 pm

    You just need to sing the hymns when accompanied by someone who really believes them.

    I too, have added secret counterpoint to accompaniments, and often played preludes with source melodies like “I Feel You Johanna” from Sweeney Todd, and “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific. Although, I don’t jazz up the hymns this way — they need something else, a perfect tempo, and an understanding of the text phrases, and a little bit of stretching (but just a little). Some of the hymns are the most beautiful music in the world, like “In Humility Our Savior” and yes, “All Creatures of Our God and King.”

    And some of the simpler hymns are remarkably good when played with freshness and feeling. “Did You Think To Pray?” is one I like to embellish this way.

  138. Mark B.
    January 17, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    What’s wrong with suppressing laughter at private jokes in the hymn texts? Nobody ever died of a bloody lip.

    I have to stifle a smirk every time I sing:

    Her light should there attract the gays
    Of all the world in latter days

  139. Chad Too
    January 17, 2005 at 7:05 pm

    Mark B’s comment… Diet Coke… you know the drill ;-)
    Off to find the keyboard cleaner.

  140. john fowles
    January 17, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    D. I was surprised at your surprise about “Onward Christian Soldiers” and its context in light of your sensitivity to context for “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” The Nazi context of the latter is far less obvious than the crusading context of the former, given that the supposed Nazi context of the latter only stems from the use of a classic Haydn tune that is still the tune of the German national hymn today in a non-Nazi Germany and the crusading context of the former stems directly from the words of the hymn and its use in broader Christianity. It seems that the offensiveness of Christian Soldiers to Palestinians in Jerusalem should be much more obvious than the offensiveness of Glorious Things to an American Jew in NYC.

  141. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    I have generally used great music for preludes and postludes, i.e., organ preludes and fugues by JS Bach; music from Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” (Pilgrim’s Chorus), “Lohengrin” (The King’s Prayer); Handel’s “Aria” from “Rinaldo”, “Largo” from “Xerxes” (more familiar as “Holy Art Thou”), etc. I generally use these during the first 5 minutes of prelude and then switch to hymns or hymn arrangements in the last 5 minutes of prelude before the service begins. This past year I added Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” (organ transcription), and decided to get a little adventurous by playing some of the music from “Lord of the Rings”. A number of teenagers came up to me after Sacrament Meeting saying “All right, Brother Hansen!”. Unfortunately after a a couple of months the Bishop caught on and that was the end of that! Gee, hust as I was preparing a medley from “Star Wars” too!

  142. January 17, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    I really like the idea of “Lohengrin”. Beautiful, inspiring piece.

  143. January 17, 2005 at 9:41 pm

    I’m smiling at this site, and guys, I needed a smile.

    I lead the music in church, I can’t READ music, and I can’t sing very well, but I have a sense of rythm. I often find myself picking a really hard song to play, and lead, because it has words that go with the lesson.

    Then again, I pick the same songs again, just to play with peoples’ heads, like, oh, hmmm…God is Love, or The Light Divine. I’m waiting for somebody to notice. They USED to be my favorite songs, but I’m actually getting sick of them:).

    What is really funny when I just write the alphabet or a poem in the air and nobody notices.

    I wish we’d INCLUDE some beautiful songs like There is a Balm in Giliead, or Draw Nearer to Me, or just have some fun.

    thanks for being here

  144. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 10:22 pm

    I have been known to play “Message in a Bottle” as postlude (it’s a Police song).

    John, “Onward Christian Soldiers” is close to my favorite hymn. It may irk some people in other faiths, but I have never seen it do any damage in our faith. Since I don’t have a bad experience with it, I like it fine. As I said, it was written for children to sing, I learned it as a child, and it picks me up every time I play it (very loudly).

  145. Jeff in Atlanta
    January 17, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    The number one, silliest hymn award goes to “Who’s on the Lord’s Side, who?” It is such a swarthy, old sailor song. Sing it:
    Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? (toot-toot)
    Now is the time to know (TOOT-toot)
    We ask it fervently,
    Who’s on the Lord’s side, who? (toot-toot)

  146. Jack
    January 17, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    One of my favorite hymns is “A Hymn to Him”.

  147. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 10:45 pm

    …which technically isn’t a hymn at all — it’s a tarantella. I like it too! Great words. So gay.

  148. Greg
    January 17, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    There’s nothing like descending the stairway into the Columbus Circle subway station with D.’s pounding rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” still playing in your head. It provides the courage necessary to negotiate a stroller and kids through the tall turnstiles and onto the 1/9 local.

  149. Hans Hansen
    January 17, 2005 at 10:50 pm


    Yes, “Who’s on the Lord’s Side, Who?” is a swarthy sailor song. The tune is “A Life On the Ocean Wave”.

    Original words:

    A life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scattered waters rave, and the winds their revels keep!
    A life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scattered waters rave, and the winds their revels keep!
    Like an eagle caged I pine, on this dull unchanging shore.
    Oh give me the flashing brine! The spray and the tempest roar!
    A life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scattered waters rave, and the winds their revels keep!
    The winds, the winds, the winds their revels keep!
    The winds, the winds, the winds their revels keep!
    The land is no longer in view, the clouds have begun to frown
    But with a stout vessel and crew we’ll say let the storm come down!
    The land is no longer in view, the clouds have begun to frown
    But with a stout vessel and crew we’ll say let the storm come down!
    And the song of our hearts shall be, while the winds and waters rave.
    A life on the heaving sea! A home on the bounding wave!
    A life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep!
    Where the scattered waters rave, and the winds their revels keep!
    The winds, the winds, the winds their revels keep!

    Go to this site to hear the tune and sing along with the words:


  150. The Mighty Richard
    January 17, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    Has anyone mentioned ‘Master the Tempest is Raging?’

    The refrain:
    Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
    Or demons or men, or whatever it be
    No waters can swallow the ship where lies
    The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies
    … is utterly unsingable. I always have to stop and catch my breath during, ‘They all shall sweetly obey Thy will …’

    ‘Be Still My Soul’ is on my list for an entirely different reason. In one of my misson areas, the BP *insisted* that BSMS be sung every week, either in Priesthood opening excercises or Sacrament meeting. Audible grumbles sifted through the congregation whenever it was announced.

  151. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    :) Greg, I know you’re kinda jesting, but I appreciate it all the same. Just think of the me as the Van Halen of organists — the louder it is, the happier the congregation.

  152. D. Fletcher
    January 17, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    The problem with “Be Still My Soul” is that the words (which are lovely and relevant) don’t match the music, which is more about fortitude. It’s Finlandia, a nationalistic symphony by Sibelius.

  153. January 18, 2005 at 12:27 am

    I REALLY REALLY like what Alex Boye did with both “Because I have been Given Much” and “Did you Think to Pray?” Clever resettings. Hot tracks. Love it!


  154. Hans Hansen
    January 18, 2005 at 2:11 am

    Finlandia: really more symphonic poem, rather than a symphony.

  155. January 18, 2005 at 9:33 am

    I play the songs for this year’s Primary presentation whenever the kids in my CTR-7 class are coloring or working on artsy projects (it’s supposed to both 1. get them to learn the songs and 2. get them to stop talking so loudly they disturb the class on the OTHER SIDE of the stage). Yesterday one of the little girls said, “can you please turn off the music?” Turns out she hates music. She said she would rather hear screams than music, if she were in the other classrooms. And then she told me she didn’t care about singing in October, because she can lyp-synch (her words exactly: “I can lip-synch, so I don’t care”).

    Meanwhile, our ward chorister is (I think) trying to not just get us to have heard every hymn in the book, but to actually learn many of the less-played ones. It’s really funny… this is the only ward I’ve been in where nearly everyone can at least sing the first verse of most of the songs. Of course, getting to verse 2 usually means losing about two-thirds of the singers… singing in our sacrament service is always an adventure.

    (our RS presidency is trying to do the same thing with the womens’ songs and our practice and opening/closing hymns… it doesn’t work as well with just 40 women, compared with 200 men, women, and children together)

  156. Ana
    January 18, 2005 at 12:02 pm

    So many good, funny hymn stories!

    “In Our Lovely Deseret” is one I cannot sing with a straight face because of an experience in a children’s choir in Oklahoma in about 1984. My brothers and their friends sang “Hark, hark, hark” in full seal-barking style, time after time. That poor choir director! Now of course, I can’t hear the darn thing without thinking of little boys barking like seals. Just as well.

    I was ready to chuck all the marching hymns (“Let Us All Press On,” “Onward Christian Soldiers,” etc.) until I discovered that my little boys really get a kick out of marching to hymns!

    “How Great Thou Art” and “I Believe in Christ” would have to be voted off if I were the sole voter. They are just so LONG and repetitive!

    Last week in sacrament meeting, my 5yo son was on my lap during the sacrament hymn. He turned to me and loudly said, “Don’t sing it so PRETTY, Mom.” LOL … too much vibrato, I guess.

  157. danithew
    January 18, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    Sometimes estimation of a hymn can rise quite a bit due to a particular experience. When in the mission there was a hymn I would routinely mock, called something like “Mi Padre Celestial Me Ve” or something like that. I’ve tried to find it online but I can’t. I”m not even sure it’s in the Spanish hymnal these days.

    Anyway, for whatever reason I thought the music to this hymn was lousy.

    Then one day I visited a member of the church who told me a story about how he was kidnapped and tortured for three days (probably by government agents). Afterwards he was being led into a forested area while blindfolded and he knew that he was about to be killed. As they walked him to what was to be his final resting place he began singing the words of this hymn, which say something to the effect of: “My Heavenly Father sees the pain that will overcome me, he sees, he sees.” There are more words about justice or peace or torment being calmed. Whatever it was, this man’s tormenters were not happy with the hymn’s message and told him to shut up. He kept singing. Instead of killing him they left him alone in the middle of the jungle and he was eventually able to untie himself and leave.

    This member of the church was convinced that the words of the hymn scared his kidnappers into a remembrance that God sees everything and that this saved his life.

    Obviously I never saw this hymn the same way again and it became one of my favorites. I still have the music and some of the words in memory but I need to pull it out again. I’ll try and find the words and put them up later if some other ex-Guatemalteco-misionero doesn’t beat me to it. :)

  158. Kaimi
    January 18, 2005 at 1:03 pm


    On my mission, we sang pretty much the same songs every Sunday in every ward and branch.

    Asombro me da (I Stand All Amazed) and Secreta Oracion (Secret Prayer) were on the program (figuratively speaking; of course there was no real program) for probably ~75% of the sacrament meetings I attended. Te Damos Senor Nuestras Gracias (We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet), Jesus es mi Luz (The Lord is my Light) and Soy un Hijo de Dios (I Am a Child of God) were also heavily represented.

    There wasn’t a lot of musical diversity. But after serving in a few areas that had keyboards, I did get pretty good at playing Secreta Oracion . . .

  159. danithew
    January 18, 2005 at 1:07 pm


    Did you ever get to sing the Guatemalan national anthem? Guatemalans were always proud to tell me that they had the second most beautiful national anthem in the world (I was never even aware of the contest that took place). Still, the music and words (as I recall faintly) were quite beautiful.

    We had a period of time where our mission president asked us to encourage the members of the church to sing their national anthem with pride.

  160. Mark B.
    January 18, 2005 at 1:20 pm

    I don’t mind having the national anthems in the hymnal. I just wonder one thing and wish another. I wonder why the other English speaking countries don’t get equal treatment in the English hymnal, esp. the Canadians.

    And, I wish that they would never be sung in a worship service.

  161. Floyd the Wonder Dog
    January 18, 2005 at 1:53 pm

    Our former Stake President was a former Mission President. *His* song was Called to Serve. We must have sung that song three times a week for nine (?) years. Any song sung too often looses it’s impact. That is why Mark Twain said that we should be judicious in our use of curse words.

    I want to go back to singing *the world has no use for the drone*. Why did they change that line? Too many lazy people quit going to church?

  162. John
    January 18, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    Regarding comment 161, a Sunstone panel I attended which discussed the hymn changes included in the 1985 hymnal said that the drone line was dropped because it was scientifically incorrect. The world does have a use for the drone–reproduction.

  163. Hans Hansen
    January 18, 2005 at 3:58 pm

    Ah, congregational singing! Remember in the old hymnal before they changed that line in “How Firm A Foundation”, where you could sing “Yoo-hoo unto Jesus”? My ward had a hard time with “We’ll Sing All Hail To Jesus’ Name”, which usually sounded like “We’ll SIng All Hell”. Then of course there was “Thy Spirit Lord Has Stirred Our Souls” where somehow the reference to Mt. Sinai sounds like “cyanide”. And, not to forget, when I was a teenager in MIA, we would sing “The Vulture Hymn” (you know, “Carrion, Carrion”).

  164. Hans Hansen
    January 18, 2005 at 4:11 pm

    If you would like to hear the National Anthem of Guatemala click on this link:


    Personally I like the Norwegian National Anthem, “Ja, vi elsker dette landet”. You can hear it here:


  165. MDS
    January 18, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    I miss “Die Sach ist dein, Herr Jesus Christ!” by J.M. Haydn, which was a staple in the Paderborn branch, directly loudly and enthusiastically by the late, great Walther Christensen.

    Come Thou Fount was quoted quite regularly by Elder Maxwell. It would be a shame if that weren’t included in the next hymnal, but I think the popularity it has experienced in the past decade will ensure its spot.

    I also agree that size should not be an issue in assembling the next hymnal. There is room for all. Of course, greater effort can and should still be made to sing many of the lesser-known hymns from the current version. I was in a meeting fairly recently where a lesser-known hymn was sung, and the priesthood leader who was conducting repproved the brother who had selected the hymn, telling him that from that point forward, he was to choose only well-known hymns, as we clearly couldn’t feel the spirit when singing something as unfamiliar as what had just been sung. I wanted to say something, as I love the doctrine of the hymn in question, but bit my tongue.

    The Germans tend to sing their version of In Our Lovely Deseret, Maessigkeit ist Schoen und Gut, fairly often, and very enthusiastically. I have fond memories of blowing the trumpets of temperance.

  166. married to an expat
    January 18, 2005 at 5:08 pm

    Re: #88 “there is no king” Mark, it is tradition to sing replace King with Queen if the current monarch is a woman. I believe the official words aren’t changed because it would be awkward to entitle it “God Save the King/Queen whichever the case may be.”

    Regarding learning lesser known songs, my MIL once outlined to me a very obvious but apparently little-known plan to teach a congregation a new hymn. First, have the ward pianist/organist play it as part of the prelude/postlude each week for at least a month. Concurrently, teach it to the ward choir or small group and have them perform it in sacrament. Then introduce it in RS music time. Finally, put in on Sacrament meeting program and make sure to include it in regular rotation. Hey presto, the congregation will know a new song.

  167. January 18, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks married to an expat. I was making fun.

  168. Dan Richards
    January 18, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    The most recent (1996) German LDS Gesangbuch has the following paragraph in the “Using the Hymnbook” section:

    National Anthems
    There are no national anthems in the Gesangbuch, but the national anthem can be sung with the approval of priesthood leaders. Members can stand while singing the national anthem in church meetings, depending on local customs and the direction of priesthood leaders (my translation).

    We sang the German national anthem (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit) in the Zwickau ward to mark the first anniversary of German reunification in October 1991. Photocopies were distributed to the congregation (of suitable size to be pasted into the hymnbook), and the bishop briefly addressed the song’s troubled past before we sang it. I enjoyed the experience. Germans take their hymns rather seriously, and I heard rumors that the updated German hymnal was repeatedly delayed to allow for inclusion of hymns *not* included in the updated English hymnal. For instance, we have #74 Komm, du Quelle jedes Segens, a very, very close translation of “Come, Thou Fount” (which may belie the text’s alleged doctrinal incorectness). We also have #30 Morgensterne, jauchzt vor Freud, which some may recognize as “Stars of Morning, Shout for Joy,” #164 in the previous (blue) English hymnbook. The Christmas section includes #129 Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (“Lo, How a Rose”), #132 O du fröhliche (“O Sanctissima”?), #140 Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, all zugleich(“Let All Together Praise our God”), and, my favorite, #130 Tochter Zion, freue dich, with music from Handel’s oratorio “Joshua.” There are also a number of hymns which have not, to my knowledge, been translated into English, like the aforementioned #80 Die Sach ist dein, Herr Jesu Christ, #194 So jemand spricht, ich liebe Gott, and #124 Seele, dein Heiland ist frei. And, of course, you can find the original texts to such classics as “A Mighty Fortress,” “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” “Silent Night,” and others. It also contains the only hymn in the current English hymnbook written by a Church member in a language other than English, Sehet ihr Völker, now known as #264 “Hark, All Ye Nations.” (This is the answer to my trivia question from back in July.) If you dig hymns, the Gesangbuch is a must-have, and you can get it for a song at the nearest distribution center.

    Regarding previous comments about expanding the hymnbook–the trend seems to be toward contraction, rather than expansion. The 1985 English hymnbook has 48 fewer hymns than its predecessor, and the Gesangbuch lost 30 in revision. Is less really more? Why not keep all the hymns we have and see if we can add to them? (For each hymn, there has to be somebody out there who would miss it.) If we are going to axe one, though, I’d choose “Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy.” I liked until my wife pointed out that a listener could understand the text to be

    Some poor fainting, struggling semen
    You may rescue, you may save.

  169. January 18, 2005 at 10:41 pm

    Ouch! Dan, bad choice! President Packer would highly disagree. There’s a great story he relates that goes along with this hymn (Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy). To see the context, go to http://unicomm.byu.edu/about/foundation/documents/packer.htm and scroll down to the bottom of the first address. Read the story immediately preceding the recounting of the hymn.

  170. Kristine
    January 18, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    Dan, I thought I was the only person on the planet wicked enough to have thought that (and I wouldn’t have been remotely brave enough to post it)!

  171. Kaimi
    January 18, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    Yeah, Kris, but he pulled an Adam, trying to pass blame to his wife — “the woman showed me, and I did laugh.”

  172. Larry
    January 19, 2005 at 1:05 am

    Brightly Beams by a male quartet – heaven!

  173. Keith
    January 19, 2005 at 1:21 am

    “Onward Christian Soldiers was written for children to march into church.”

    I’ll leave it to those interested to look and see who wrote the music for this (think Gilbert and ____). But George Bernard Shaw refers to the hymn in his play “Androcles and the Lion” There are a group of Christians being marched to Rome and then to the coliseum to face death. On the way they are happy and laughing. Singing songs. Unafraid of death. The Christians are told to be more somber. They still laugh and sing.

    Then there’s this:

    THE CAPTAIN (speaking stiffly and officially) You will remind
    your men, Centurion, that we are now entering Rome. You will
    instruct them that once inside the gates of Rome they are in the
    presence of the Emperor. You will make them understand that the
    lax discipline of the march cannot be permitted here. You will
    instruct them to shave every day, not every week. You will
    impress on them particularly that there must be an end to the
    profanity and blasphemy of singing Christian hymns on the march.
    I have to reprimand you, Centurion, for not only allowing this,
    but actually doing it yourself.

    THE CENTURION. The men march better, Captain.

    THE CAPTAIN. No doubt. For that reason an exception is made in
    the case of the march called Onward Christian Soldiers. This may
    be sung, except when marching through the forum or within hearing
    of the Emperor’s palace; but the words must be altered to “Throw
    them to the Lions.”

  174. Last_lemming
    January 19, 2005 at 10:26 am

    There are also a number of hymns which have not, to my knowledge, been translated into English, like the aforementioned #80 Die Sach ist dein, Herr Jesu Christ…

    So how would you translate it anyway? “The thing is yours, Lord Jesus Christ…”


  175. Mike Parker
    January 19, 2005 at 1:03 pm


    1. While we’re cutting, can we sing some of the really good but unknown songs more often? I’m thinking of “Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses” (great message, okay tune) and “Oh Say, What Is Truth?”

    2. If we must cut, let us start with the Primary songbook, and begin with the horrid tunes composed for learning the books of scripture and the Articles of Faith. It’s much easier to sing the books of the Bible to “Praise to the Man.” In fact, there was an LDS duo back in the 60s or 70s that recorded just such a song — my sophomore seminary teacher used it on us:

    Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers
    Deuteronomy … Joshua, Judges, Ruth
    Samuel, Samuel, Kings, Kings, and Chronicles
    Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job
    Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
    Song of Solomon, Isaiah
    Jeremiah, Lamentations
    Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos
    (really fast this line)
    Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum
    Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah
    and Malachi

    Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, The Acts of the Apostles
    Epistle to the Romans, First Corinthians
    Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians
    Colossians, First Thessalonians, Thessalonians
    Timothy and Timothy, Titus, Philemon
    Epistle to the Hebrews
    Epistle of James
    Peter, Peter, John, John, John
    Jude, Revelation
    These are the books of the Old and New Testaments

  176. Dan Richards
    January 19, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Last Lemming–

    How’s this?

    The cause is thine, Lord Jesus Christ, the cause for which we stand

  177. Bryce I
    January 19, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    Another vote for keeping Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy. I used to sing this to myself as I rode my bike on my mission, alternating parts. It’s a great hymn for male voices.

  178. Mark B.
    January 19, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    Old time “Prairie Home Companion” fans who had the good fortune to be listening on the right Saturday evening may remember Garrison Keillor’s hilarious reminiscences of “one poor fainting, struggling semen” being sung one Sunday in worship service after a particularly memorable Saturday night at a motel down the road a piece from Lake Woebegone.

    Since then, I concentrate on singing “seamAn”–and hope nobody but Kristine and now all the rest of you are listening for the alternative.

  179. January 19, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Mark B, that’s one for the ages. As a deacon that hymn seemed to accompany submarine jokes as well. Like you, I overstate the A just to keep myself from snickering.

  180. Hans Hansen
    January 19, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Mike Parker:

    I remember singing the Books of the Bible in Seminary to the tune of “Now Let Us Rejoice”.

  181. Mike Parker
    January 19, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    It’s fun to switch tunes between hymns with the same meter. Try singing “The Spirit of God” (#2) to the tune of “Now Let Us Rejoice” (#3). Or vice versa.

  182. Hans Hansen
    January 19, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    One thing that a lot of people have been looking for is the original hymn tune for “The Spirit of God”. The minutes of the Kirtland Temple dedication indicate that the texts of “Spirit of God” and “Now Let Us Rejoice” were sung to a tune called “Hosanna”. The tune we have now, “Assembly”, dates from 1844 and may or may not have been the one used at the Kirtland Temple dedication. So far no one has been able to discover a hymn tune called “Hosanna” that was in use during the 1830s.

  183. This may not be suitable for Kristine
    January 19, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    Personally, I can never sing “Behold the Mountain of the Lord” without breaking up. It takes me back to a sacrament meeting of my youth. There I was, sitting at the sacrament table with my fellow priests. A new family had moved in to the ward, with 8 kids, the oldest aged nine. The mother, who had obviously had no chance to recover from so many consecutive pregnancies, was not very small. They deposited themselves on the front row, which they came close to filling. During the announcements, the mother bared both of her breasts and stuck a young infant on one, and a not-quite-as-young child on the other, and began to breastfeed them. As you can imagine, this was quite an eyeful for those of us on the stand and at the sacrament table, but like good priests, we did our best to stifle our laughter, with some success–until, that is, the brother conducting announced that our opening hymn that day would be No. 54, Behold the Mountain of the Lord. At this point, we lost it. We buried our heads in our hymn books and tried to crouch down behind the sacrament table so noone would see our reaction. We knew we weren’t being very reverent, and did our best to recover quickly. Later, we were thanked by the Bishopric for doing our best to keep the reaction subdued. They added that they, too, had been somewhat troubled.

    (Note: this is not an attempt to detour this thread to a discussion of breastfeeding in church, which I fully support)

  184. Kristine
    January 19, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    This may not be suitable, are you by any chance from the same ward as Aaron B.? Sounds like one of his stories. I love that hymn, but will probably have a hard time stifling guffaws the next time we sing it!

  185. Kristine
    January 19, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    “breastfeeding in church, which I fully support”

    no pun intended, I’m sure!

  186. Kaimi
    January 19, 2005 at 5:56 pm

    Kristine and this-may-not,

    I’ve always thought that supporting (no pun intended) breastfeeding in church — or for that matter, anywhere else — is a no-brainer for the guys.

    “Are you in favor of allowing women to bare their breasts in [whatever location]?”

    Um, yes. Duh.

  187. This may not be suitable for Kristine
    January 19, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    I have never met Aaron B., nor have I ever been accused of being a support garment.

  188. danithew
    January 19, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    In an earlier comment I mentioned a hymn that when sung, probably saved a Guatemalan’s life. It’s titled “Mi Padre Celestial Ve” and it is on page 147 of “Himnos De Sion” copyright 1942. The words are:

    Mi Padre Celestial me da
    Valor en toda tempestad
    Ye el me puede defender
    Mi luz en las tinieblas ser
    Mi luz en las tinieblas ser


    El ve, El ve, El ma que sobre mi vendra
    El ve, El ve, y las tormentas calmara.

    Mi Padre Celestial me da
    El balsamo que calmara
    Y con ternura y amor
    Mi alma cura del dolor
    Me alma cura del dolor


    Mi Padre Celestial me ve
    Temblar al perecer mi fe
    Mas el la fuerza me dara
    Que a mi alma guardara
    Que a mi alma quardara


    Mi Padre Celestial sabra
    La hora que me lllamara
    En esa hora de temor,
    Se tu mi guia oh Senor
    Se tu mi guia oh Senor

  189. Dan Richards
    January 19, 2005 at 9:43 pm


    In reviewing all my various hymnbooks last night, I found an English version of the hymn you mentioned. It’s in “Deseret Sunday School Songs,” (from the 1920s or 1930s, I believe) #248 “My Father Knows.”

    I know my heavenly Father knows
    The storms that would my way oppose;
    But he can drive the clouds away,
    And turn my darkness into day.

    He knows, my Father knows,
    He knows, I’m sure he knows
    The storms that would my way oppose;
    He knows, my Father knows,
    He knows, I’m sure he knows
    And tempers every wind that blows.

    I know my heavenly Father knows
    The balm I need to soothe my woes
    And with His touch of love divine,
    He heals this wounded soul of mine.


    I know my heavenly Father knows
    How frail I am to meet my foes;
    But he my cause will e’er defend,
    Uphold and keep me to the end.


    I know my heavenly Father knows
    The hour my journey here will close;
    And may that hour, O faithful Guide,
    Find me safe sheltered by Thy side.


    I’ve never heard this sung in English, but I heard a lovely rendition in German by a male quartet in the Erfurt ward.

  190. Hans Hansen
    January 19, 2005 at 9:56 pm

    I found the same song #248 “My Father Knows” in my Deseret Sunday School Songs book, only my copy is from 1909.

  191. Chad Too
    January 19, 2005 at 10:57 pm

    Once while serving as a ward chorister I took it upon myself to introduce some of the lesser-known hymns to the congregation. I tried to introduce them during Sunday School Hymn Practice time. As such, I had them scheduled out the hymns for sacrament meeting way in advance and the Bishopric had the list.

    Suddenly one Sunday the Bishopric in our singles ward was changed. The new Bishopric was sustained and the old Bishop was asked to share a parting testimony. He told how that morning, knowing what was about to happen, he had taken great solace in the fact that the opening hymn for Sacrament Meeting was “The Happy Day at Last Has Come.” He considered in divinely inspired until he looked at what I had scheduled for the closing hymn, “Have I Done Any Good?”

  192. Chad Too
    January 19, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    The Japanese hymnbook I used on my mission (circa 1987) had a hymn in it with the English title of “Oh I Dreamed Such a Pretty Dream, Mama.” Does it show in any of these old hymnbooks that you have Hans and Dan? As a country without a strong Christian tradition, I can’t imagine it was original to the Japanese Saints.

  193. danithew
    January 19, 2005 at 11:41 pm

    Dan Richards,

    Thanks for providing the English version. I had no idea that hymn originated in English. Perhaps I should have looked at the author’s name.

  194. Hans Hansen
    January 20, 2005 at 4:24 am

    The title is slightly different but “Oh, I Had Such A Pretty Dream, Mamma” by J.S. Lewis, is #184 in the Deseret Sunday School Songs, published 1909. It was apparently a popular song in the late nineteenth century, very sentimental.

  195. Cyril Miller
    January 20, 2005 at 8:43 am

    This has certainly been amusing reading. I only have one question for you all: what difference does it make what hymns are in the hymnbook if all of them are going to be (1) played like funeral dirges, and worse (2) sung like funeral dirges? With all too infrequent exception, that is all I ever see and hear at Church, alas. Raise your voice in song and people look at you like you’re nuts! If each of us posting here put half as much energy into worshipping through the songs we sing as we expend reading and writing this “stuff” (myself included, of course), the Lord would be totally flabbergasted and we would be richly blessed….as they cart us away to the LDS nut house.

  196. Hans Hansen
    January 20, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    Now you have hit on one of my pet peeves! As an organist with over 40 years experience in the church, I have always wondered why organists and directors do not follow the metronome markings that are given for each hymn. If they will pay attention to them you will not get “funeral” music. It drives me crazy sometimes to go to other wards and hear the hymns being played and sung so slow! I have always played the hymns at the speed indicated, if not faster.

    This did get me into trouble one time at a Lutheran church (I played for the Lutherans when I was going to school, earning money on the side). The pastor requested me to play “A MIghty Fortress”. Unfortunately I played it the way we have it in our LDS hymnal. The thing we have is a bastardized 19th century monstrosity. All of those fermatas were meant to be short breath marks and ends of phrases. The Lutherans sing it at least 2 to 3 times faster than us and it really moves! After I played it the pastor practically tore me a new one! He was exceptionally pissed and thought I was deliberately playing it slow to mock Lutherans.

    A number of years ago our Ward Chorister and Choir Director was the conductor of the Burbank Symphony (in southern California). If you were the Organist you did not dare to take your eyes off him because he rarely took each verse of a hymn at the same tempo and there could be variations in tempo within the verses too. He took most opening and closing hymns at faster tempos than indicated. The killer was when we did “Master the Tempest is Raging”, which he directed nearly 3 times faster than indicated, directing it in a fast 2 beat!

    BTW, a little off-topic, but did anyone notice the tune that the US Merchant Marine Band played in the Inaugural Parade? It was “A Life On The Ocean Wave”, better known to LDS as “Who’s On The Lord ‘s Side, Who?”

  197. Cyril Miller
    January 21, 2005 at 8:23 am

    Hans, I certainly enjoyed your post. I have to say I am still laughing at your “Mighty Fortress” story. Everytime I have ever heard that hymn, another song goes through my head: “Talk to the dead and the dead will talk to you….” It’s gratifying to know that somewhere in LDSdom there are congregations that truly worship through music — and have fun doing it (?). I am in no way a musician. I just want to “belt it out” sometimes to put some life into sacrament meetings. In the scheme of things, this is a little matter but “pet peeves” can be so irritating, can’t they? Thanks for sharing.

  198. Hans Hansen
    January 21, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    Here is another experience I had with “A Mighty Fortress”: at the same time that I was playing organ and directing the choir at the Lutherans (11AM service), I was playing organ for Catholic mass at 9AM. The first time I played for mass the Priest requested that I play “A Mighty Fortress” for the processional. After I pulled my jaw off the floor and asked him, “But Father O’Brien, isn’t that the competition’s theme song?”, the padre said, “Yeah, but I’ve always liked it!”

  199. Mark Martin
    January 21, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    I’m glad that the early “let’s fix the hymnal because we know better” tone in this thread changed along the way. I’ve enjoyed the humor, and the readily apparent conclusion that the hymns I despise are someone else’s salvation. If this blog produced the next hymnal, I’m certain that there would be just as many complaints as there have been for the 1985 edition.

    I’d like to see a future thread with people suggesting “Hymns from the 1985 edition that need more air time.” There are some gems in that green book that are rarely sung or heard, and I’d love suggestions for the “buried” hymns that are worth trying. Suggesting the best setting (i.e. home, congregation, or choir) may also be useful.

    Let me raise my objections to two of your picks!

    #168 As the Shadows Fall – for me it’s a beautiful piece that I love to play at home or sing on a Sabbath evening with friends. I agree that it’s not for congregations, though a choir could do it justice. Remember the preface (by the First Presidency, I think?) in the 1985 hymnal. We are encouraged to use the hymnal in our homes, during the week, etc. Not every hymn needs to be sung in sacrament meeting to be in the hymnal (e.g. The Star Spangled Banner).

    #40 Arise, O Glorious Zion – I *have* been in a ward that sang this hymn. (It was in Elyria, Ohio–not exactly an upscale or high-brow place.) I have heard a ward choir sing it well, and it’s quite nice when performed up to tempo. To boot, it’s even fun to sing the alto or tenor parts, given the considerable movement of the lines.

    To all,
    Knowing that the hymnal was not intended solely for Sunday worship services, I’m afraid we need to leave in many of the musicians’ least favorite hymns (or songs, as the case may be). Let’s not deny families the possibility of singing “How Great Thou Art” (for example) from the Church hymnal for family home evening, if they love that hymn. But by all means, music chairs/organists/etc., let’s program plenty of hymn variety in our worship services, so that the “sappy” hymns don’t take over our ward meetings. ;-)

  200. Kristine
    January 21, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    Mark, your wish is our command, here’s the thread on hymns that deserve more air-time:


  201. Dr. Zzyzx
    April 28, 2005 at 2:30 pm

    Have you noticed that BIHBGM has one of the most, if not *the* most restrictive copyrights in the book?–“I have been given much, I too must give, but you’d better not try to get it from me without written permission, because that’s prohibited!”

    Ring Out Wild Bells, minor key for what should be a happy time–New Years.
    “The year is dying in the night, ring out wild bells and let him die.” By the time you’re done with this depressing thing, you’re ready to cut your wrists instead of face the new year. In the hymn book, IMHO, only because Crawford Gates was probably on the hymn-choosing committee. “Well, Shoot Crawford, we gotta get at least a *couple* of your songs in here!”

  202. rocky warrin
    May 11, 2005 at 1:08 pm

    Us Lutherans have the best music – Bach and Luther wrote our hymns – we didn’t find them engraved on metal plates under a cabin!

  203. Dustin
    May 31, 2005 at 9:01 am

    Rocky – if you’re going to leave a comment about the Mormon Church, at least [get the facts straight.] First of all, the LDS hymns were not found on metal plates. And the metal plates, which were gold, were not found under a cabin. The LDS hymnal uses many hymns which are familiar to the protestant sects, such as “Abide with me” and “I need thee every hour.”

    [This comment has been edited to comply with T&S comment policies]

  204. Jonathan Green
    May 31, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    And, uh, Rocky, do you mind if we borrow a couple more of your hymns? I’ll trade you Evan Stephens for Michael Praetorius.

  205. Nate Oman
    May 31, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    It is a deal: The Lutherans get cool hymns and we get cool theology. Do they have Kolob?

  206. May 31, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    Luthern theology isn’t entirely uncool, Nate. And I like some of our own hymns too.

  207. Ike
    January 20, 2006 at 11:24 am

    As a latecomer (today) when Google pointed me this direction while seeking lyrics to “Behold the Wounds in Jesus’ Hands,” I haven’t read ALL entries in the dialogue/tribe regarding hyms, so will manage just one little bleat. I believe our church members should be comfortable enough with our theology to risk singing more hymns emphasizing grace. I believe we don’t hear enough, sing enough, or discuss enough regarding this topic. For heaven’s sake, the First Presidency gave “Believing Christ” as a Christmas gift to all employees in 1995. “Amazing Grace”, “Come Thou Fount,” come to mind, and, please, let’s sing “Oh Savior Thou Who Wearest” once in awhile instead of “I Am a Child of God.” I’m not disparaging that little song, but it seems to fall in everywhere when we are stumped for something to sing. I grant the former is more challenging, but perhaps if sung more often, it would not seem too daunting. Sorry to run on so.

  208. Kristin L. Davis
    April 11, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    I honestly think this thread should not exist. The thought and inspiration that goes into the hymnbook is remarkable, and is done by the leadership of the Church. There is a reason they don’t just let the lay members of the church take a vote. Besides, while criticizing the “trite phrases,” “musicality,” etc. of all these hymns, one might do well to re-read Pres. Packer’s talk on the “The Arts and the Spirit of the Lord”. The simpleness and purity of some of these hymns, though maybe not the most glorious or impressive renditions we’ve heard, still brings the Spirit. I think it is the heart of the listener, singer that matters.

    By the way, Come thou Font was taken out because of a copyright issue.

  209. May 15, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve never posted here before… sort of stumbled across this blog on accident. However, with regards to BIHBGM postings, I heard that there are serious restrictions on how and when that piece can be used because of copyright restrictions (restrictions that none of the other hymns are apparently under). He told me that is why you’ll never see a special arrangement of that hymn, because apparently the composer didn’t feel like following his own adage that he “too must give”. It’s interesting….

  210. Bill
    May 15, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    “By the way, Come thou Font was taken out because of a copyright issue. ”

    I don’t think that’s why, since it has been in the public domain for many years.

  211. May 16, 2006 at 4:17 am

    Re Hymn #40: Interestingly enough, we sang this in the ward I visited last Sunday. It is the first time in over fifty years of attending church that I have ever heard it sung. Maybe someone read your post, Kaimi, and wanted to protest its elimination from the hymnbook!

  212. Scott H.
    May 16, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    What a great topic!

    I can empathize with all or the comments made by fellow organists/pianists on this thread. Once, on my mission, I was asked to accompany my district in some banal Lex D. original piece. You know the kind – the 1,4,5 chord progression, broken chord arpeggios in the left hand, and a suspended fourth cadence to make it ‘edgy’? Anyway, this one had a piano interlude in A minor which was boring me to tears, and so I tweaked it. Okay, I replaced it wholesale with the introduction to Stairway to Heaven. The first time through, my companion was the only one who caught it. The second time, half the district figured out, and the third run through my district leader was the only one unaware. He knew something was up by the laughter, though, and soon found out what was going on. I was fulling intending to play the ‘revised version’ during the mission conference, but the DL beat me over the head with the spirit stick until I acquiesced.

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