The dissolution of the hymnbook committee in the late 1970s brought the work of preparing a new collection of hymns for the worldwide Church to a halt. Approximately five years later, the First Presidency instructed Michael F. Moody of the Church’s Music Division to proceed with the creation of a new hymnbook. Virtually all members of the previous committee were not included on the new one. Instructions were given for the hymnbook committee members to put their own music training and tastes aside and focus on what congregations in the Church needed and wanted. As one adviser pointedly stated, he felt that the committee had “only one disability: they knew too much about music.”
To fulfill their mandate, Moody’s committee used the previous committee’s work as a starting point, but worked to test out the hymns in congregations and fireside groups to evaluate them. They also smoothed out difficulties from previous hymnbooks by simplifying keys, modernizing the music notation (most notably the bass clef), slightly adjusting wording and music when necessary, and removing many of the rarely-sung and obsolete hymns. The committee aimed “to select music that people would want to hum as they walk down the street and go about their daily work.” The ultimate goal of the LDS hymnbook was to both appeal to the masses and maintain the Church’s distinct identity. The result was a highly serviceable, largely beloved and thoroughly Mormon hymnal that conformed to the general vision of the Correlation Department in the 1980s.
This hymnbook was the first Mormon hymnal to be translated and disseminated worldwide from Church headquarters. The general approach was to select a core group of approximately 100 hymns from the English hymnal that were included in every LDS hymnal, then allow a language-specific committee to select approximately 100 more. The results often were mostly based off the 1985 English LDS hymnbook, with relatively few hymns outside of the selection in the 1985 hymnal being included. Examples include “Placentero nos es trabajar” (“How Pleasing It Is to Work”) and “Si la via es penosa en a lid” (“If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not”) in the Spanish hymnbook and “Noël nouvelet” (“Christmas Comes Anew”) in the French hymnbook. Through this process, the hymnbook has been published in approximately 40 languages.
After 30 years, however, it has been determined that it is time to develop a new hymnbook for the Church. In June 2018, the Church announced that it would be compiling a new hymnal and children’s songbook. According to Elder Ronald A. Rasband, “we desire to offer a consistent core collection of hymns and songs in every language that reflects the diverse needs of the global Church in our day.” We are still several years away from the project being completed, and it will remain to be seen what the results are. But, as historian Michael Hicks observed, “To dismantle a greatly loved hymnbook and construct a new one in its place requires the wrenching of a whole culture of worship. And to attempt that is to confront fundamental questions of human experience: what to salvage and what to throw away.” The forthcoming hymnal will likely be a mix of decisions that each of us agree with and disagree with, but will hopefully be well-suited to the needs of Church members around the world in our day.
“Press Forward, Saints” is one of the many hymns included for the first time in the 1985 hymnbook. Commentators have noted that very few hymns in the LDS tradition have been based specifically off the Book of Mormon or other restoration scriptures. Most have been hymns based on the Bible or focused on specific topics rather than restoration scripture verses. Marvin K. Gardner wrote this hymn based off 2 Nephi 31:20 after hearing it mentioned in a talk during a stake conference.
“I Am a Child of God” was one of several children’s songs adapted from the previous LDS children’s songbook. Inclusion of children’s songs is a relatively rare phenomenon in Christian hymnals, but is embraced by Latter-day Saints because children attend the entire sacrament meeting.
“Si la via es penosa en a lid” is the Spanish version of “If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not”, which was included in previous LDS hymnbooks (i.e. the Deseret Sunday School Songs) but not in the English 1985 hymnal. It has, however, found its way into translations of the LDS Hymns, as selected by the language-specific committees.
 Hugh W. Pinnock, quoted in Kathleen Lubeck, “The New Hymnbook: The Saints Are Singing,” Ensign 15 (September 1985): 9.
 Quoted in Lubeck, “New Hymnbook,” p. 9.
 See Hicks, “How to Make (and Unmake) a Mormon Hymnbook.”
 Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 110-111.