Music Notes, July 11

I don’t do great Sunday School lessons like Jim and Julie, but I do write short notes on the music for our ward bulletin most weeks. Mostly I shamelessly steal from Karen Lynn Davidson’s book on the hymns, but sometimes I plagiarize from other sources as well, and I occasionally have an original thought. I’m going to start posting my notes here, too, on the off chance that someone might find them interesting.

Hymn #46: Since we sang American patriotic hymns last week, I thought it would be interesting for the rest of the month to sing some of the other national anthem tunes that are in our hymnbook. This hymn is set to the tune AUSTRIAN HYMN, by Franz Josef Haydn. It was originally an sung in celebration of the birthday of Emperor Francis II in 1797 (The first line was “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser…”) and it eventually became the German national anthem. It is still the official national anthem of Germany, but it is rarely sung, because the tune and the second verse of the anthem, which begins “Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles” was so frequently used in Nazi rallies and propaganda, and thus is a painful reminder of nationalism gone horribly wrong. It seems especially fitting to have a text about Zion set to this tune, as a reminder that we can look forward to a society of peace and righteousness, with Christ “himself to reign as King.”

The text was written by John Newton, whose most famous hymn text is “Amazing Grace.” He was famously wicked as a young man, a slave trader and “libertine,” according to his tombstone. After his dramatic conversion to Christianity, he was ordained to the Anglican priesthood, and, along with William Cowper (who wrote “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”) published the _Olney Hymns_, from which this text, based on Isaiah 33:20-21 is taken.

[Sources: _Our Latter-day Hymns_, Karen Lynn Davidson; The Harvard Hymnal, ed. John Ferris, notes by Carl Wolff]

Hymn #54: Although this text has immediate resonance for Latter-day Saints, with its references to “the mountain of the Lord” and “Zion’s hill,” it was written by a Scotsman who was not a member of the Church. Actually, there is some debate about exactly *which* non-Mormon Scotsman wrote it; both John Logan (1748-1788) and Michael Bruce (1746-1767) claimed at various times to be its author. Most scholars now agree that Michael Bruce is the author.

Emma Smith included this hymn in the second hymnal she compiled (1841). It was also included in an early Primary songbook. However, for many years it was matched with a difficult tune by Joseph Daynes, and was rarely sung. The current tune, by Leland Sateren, a contemporary choir director and composer, was discovered in a hymnal of the Community of Christ (formerly called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I hope you like it, because I do, and I feel duty-bound to make up for all the years this text languished unsung by singing it often in our Ward!

[Source: Karen Lynn Davidson, _Our Latter-day Hymns_]

Choir Anthem: “Worcester” by Abraham Wood

Abraham Wood (1752-1804) was a fuller (finisher of cloth) and sometime composer, who lived most of his life in Northborough, Massachusetts. He is reputed to have been among the first volunteers for the Revolutionary War. This work, and several others by Wood, were included in the Columbian Harmony, published in 1793. This work is in the style of William Billings and the so-called Yankee singing masters who composed the earliest “native” music in the American colonies. This would have been a congregational song, rather than a piece performed by a choir with a conductor, so we will perform it that way, both for the sake of historical authenticity and because we’re desperately short of altos (yes, that’s a hint! you know who you are).

The text is from Isaiah 52:7-8.

[Source: “Choruses from 18th-Century New England,” compiled by David P. McKay]

Next Week: 17 Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake!
176 ‘Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love
95 Now Thank We All Our God

Don’t forget that you can listen to the hymns at the new church music site, which can be accessed through It’s a great way to become familiar with new hymns, or practice your favorites.

18 comments for “Music Notes, July 11

  1. john fowles
    July 11, 2004 at 10:04 pm


    Great idea, both for your ward program and for this post! I absolutely love “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” First of all, I am a devotee of German literature and a huge fan of Germany and German culture and have always very much appreciated Hoffman von Fallersleben’s Das Deutschlandlied, which is the poem that constitutes the text of the German national anthem, and which is to this same Haydn tune, as you noted. But also, I find the text of this hymn, which is an ode to Zion, is very inspiring, especially the third verse:

    Blest inhabitants of Zion,
    Purchased by the Saviour’s blood;
    Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
    Makes them kings and priests to God.

    While in love his Saints he raises,
    With himself to reign as King,
    All, as priests, his solemn praises
    For thank-off’rings freely bring.

    I don’t know why, but a hymn to Zion to the tune of Das Deutschlandlied is particularly moving. I think it might have something to do with the Christian nature of German history and the Christian homogeneity that existed there for much of the modern period. What I mean to say with this is not a praise for homogeneity but rather that Newton’s text does wonderful justice to the tune and even to the idea of Germany, which so many German Christians historically saw as their Zion–a sort of Christian homeland. In some sense, Newton’s text nicely conveys something profound in the nature of the tune itself. It is interesting to note that Newton’s text to this tune predates von Fallersleben’s Deutschlandlied. Additionally, the hymn was added to the first LDS hymn book in 1835. Von Fallersleben wrote Das Deutschlandlied in 1841.

    You noted that Von Fallersleben’s poem’s first verse has given the tune its bad reputation as the Nazi’s national anthem. It is true that the Nazis emphasized the first verse over the other verses. But the first verse is also notorious because of the geographic description of Germany contained in it. This geographic description relates the breadth of location where ethnic Germans historically lived, from the Maas river in the West on Holland’s border to the Memel river which is in what is now western Lithuania. The Tuetonic knights settled in the Memel region as early as 1252 and built the Memel fortress. Many Americans do not realize the legitimate borders of Germany before WWII. The German province of Prussia extended over much of what is now Poland and reached into the Memelland, or western Lithuania. Germany was nearly twice as big as it is now (and this was before Hitler’s land grab to the east). Of course, before Bismark united Germany in 1871, “Germany” just meant “where ethnic Germans live,” and ethnicity was the only thing that united Germans, not national borders. Essentially, the first verse cannot be sung anymore not only because of its appropriation by the Nazis, but also because after WWII, the Soviets brutally cleansed the entire area east of the modern German border with Poland and they pushed into Germany. This is relevant here because many of the wards in current north-eastern Germany are full of members from as far east as Königsberg. Towards the close of the war, they were driven from their homes and lands and had to proceed to the West, to what was then the heart of Germany (but what is now the eastern part of the country) for refuge. Their story closely resembles the expuslion of the Saints, not from a religious standpoint but just from a tragic standpoint. They had to leave house and home in the late winter with nothing but a few possessions and the clothes on their back and walk 1000 miles to get to relative safety. I know many who were kids when they were driven out and they tell of siblings freezing to death on the way or dying of sickness and having to be buried in shallow graves or just left by the side of the road as casualties of war. This was the plight of over 3 million ethnic Germans (no one knows the upper limit of the exact number–this is a minimum). They are a living testimony to the emptiness of von Fallersleben’s first verse. Thinking of them makes Newton’s text so much richer for me, because we can put our faith in Zion rather than in a nationalistic homeland.

  2. Julie in Austin
    July 11, 2004 at 10:07 pm


    Thanks for doing this; it is fascinating. You should consider enabling our laziness by linking the hymns directly to the Church music site.

  3. Ethesis (Stephen M)
    July 11, 2004 at 10:27 pm

    I like this, and I’ll read it, just won’t have much to say or comment on.

  4. Kristine
    July 11, 2004 at 11:53 pm

    ” Additionally, the hymn was added to the first LDS hymn book in 1835.”

    Bauggggh! I accidentally looked at the next page and got the date for “Glorious Things are Sung of Zion” (btw, if you want a lesson on the je-ne-sais-quoi that distinguishes a good hymn text from a mediocre one, put those two side by side!).

    And thanks for the stuff on the Deutschlandlied–I didn’t really know anything about it, except from a really old book of German hymns that was being thrown out of a university library one day when I walked past–oddly (I guess) it has Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles as the second strophe, hence the mistake in my notes.

    We had refugees from Sudetenland in our branch in Marburg–they had horrible, amazing stories to tell.

    Thanks for the corrections and amplification, John.

  5. john fowles
    July 12, 2004 at 12:39 am

    Kristine: no corrections intended, just some fun extraneous information that I have floating in my head.

    About the verse number, I think that you might be right that in song version the controversial verse is the second verse. But in the original von Fallersleben text, “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” is the first line of the poem.

    Another bit of trivia: that line is actually quite poignant, properly understood in its historical context. All of us think of the Nazis when we hear it and thus think of Germany conquering everything–Germany “above” the rest. But when it was written in 1841, there was no Germany yet, much to the chagrin of millions of ethnic Germans. So it is actually an appeal for Germans everywhere to put Germany first, or above all others, in the sense that they needed to gain a national consciousness rather than maintaining loyalty strictly and exclusively to their state or principality.

    This state of things actually played a role in the founding of our own political system. The symptoms that lead to the need for an appeal like von Fallersleben’s to ethnic Germans greatly worried James Madison and Alexander Hamilton and contributed to their arguments in favor of the federal system set up in the new Constitution. In Federalist 19, Madison, with Hamilton’s assistance, closely examined the numerous sovereign German kingdoms, states, and principalities that together formed the loose confederacy of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (Das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation,) and concluded that it was a “political monster.” For example, nothing would have prevented Sachsen, one of the more powerful entities, from simply attacking another, weaker principality except for a weak appeal to the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna, despite the fact that the two entities were both part of the same confederation. So von Fallersleben’s controversial verse had a similar purpose to his own audience as Federalist 19 had to people who Madison and Hamilton hoped would become “Americans” based on their writings in the Federalist Papers and in the new Constitution.

  6. D. Fletcher
    July 12, 2004 at 12:55 am

    Sorry to be the bearer of sad words.

    “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” must never be sung in our Church, certainly not in Manhattan. A very good friend of mine, a convert from Judaism, has left the Church because of this hymn. It just isn’t worth it (music is all about familiarity, context, and that hymn’s music is ruined for me and for him for all time).

  7. john fowles
    July 12, 2004 at 1:15 am

    Well the Haydn tune is still the German national hymn, and the present day words (von Fallersleben’s third verse) are also quite inspiring. Modern-day Germany is very pointedly not Nazi, not much room for argument there.

  8. Kristine
    July 12, 2004 at 9:04 am

    D.–you’re right; it’s important to be careful. I’ve been in wards where I wouldn’t put this on the program, because there were WWII veterans, German immigrants, or Jewish converts who might have been offended.

  9. D. Fletcher
    July 12, 2004 at 10:42 am

    What we need for that hymn is new music. Perhaps I’ll write some.

  10. Kristine
    July 12, 2004 at 11:21 am

    Yes, D., I think that would be an ideal solution!! Send it to me when you’ve got it :)

    I still disagree that this music is permanently tainted. Like John, I believe that there is a potent lesson about redemption in the attempt to rehabilitate this tune with stirring words about unity and charity that transcends old boundaries and rivalries.

    Besides, if we try to remove everything that might somehow offend somebody, we could end up with nothing but “Because I Have Been Given Much.” Aaaargh!!

  11. Kaimi
    July 12, 2004 at 11:31 am

    What, Kris, you don’t like A-flat quarter-note mini-arpeggios under unison voices? Not to mention the long, drawn out suspended (fourth? second? I can’t recall which right now at work) at the end.

    (Hey, it would be kind of funny to put a bass voice — someone who’s capable of singing above mid-bass clef, of course — onto that little arpeggio, wouldn’t it? A nice loud voice with the words, singing to that strung-out chord. Or for that matter swap it up to a (jumpy) soprano, and just have everyone else do ooohs under it. Sounds like the perfect arrangement for a stake conference . . .)

  12. D. Fletcher
    July 12, 2004 at 11:41 am

    In theory, I completely agree with you Kristine. But the power of music, in evoking visions — that music will always be tainted, I’m afraid. I think it’s best not to use it.

    Our hymnbook also contained a hymn-text sung to “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.” It’s actually great music, but it’s just silly to sing it in Church, regardless of the words.

    I actually think that it’s inappropriate to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in our Church, too. It evokes a baseball game.

    Someday I’ll send you my Sunstone Symposium piece about music in the LDS Church — why, in some cases, it’s more appropriate to sing Janice Kapp Perry ditties than play Beethoven sonatas.

  13. obi-wan
    July 12, 2004 at 12:44 pm

    Oh, I think it is entirely appropriate to sing that arrangement of “Columbia The Gem of the Ocean” in our Church, as long as you sing the original words rather than the current bowdlerized version:

    Up awake, ye defenders of Zion!
    The foe’s at the door of your homes!
    Let each heart be the heart of a lion
    unyeilding and proud as she roams.
    Forget not the trials of Missouri,
    Haun’s Mill, and the slaughter at Nauvoo.
    When the god-hating foe is before you,
    stand firm and be faithful and true! (chorus)

    Shall we bear with oppression forever?
    Shall we tamely submit to the foe?
    While the ties of our children they sever
    and the blood of our prophets shall flow?
    No! The thought sets the heart wildly beating!
    Our vows with each pulse we renew
    ne’er to rest to our foes are retreating
    and to be ever faithful and true! (chorus)

    Though assisted by legions infernal
    the plundering wretches advance,
    with the aid of the regions eternal
    we’ll scatter their troops at a glance.
    Soon the Kingdom will be independent
    in wonder the nations will view
    the despised ones in glory resplendant.
    Then let us be faithful and true! (chorus)

    It’s particulalry appropriate for the Fourth of July, if you bear in mind that the original “god-hating foe” (not to mention the “plundering wretches”) was the Unites States Army.

  14. July 12, 2004 at 1:21 pm

    Kristine, this is great stuff, and as you can tell from the intelligent responses heretofore, something for which there is an audience. Thanks very much.

  15. Kristine
    July 12, 2004 at 1:53 pm

    Huzzah, obi-wan! While we’re at it, I think we should reinstate the second verse of the US national anthem–what’s July fast & testimony meeting without standing to sing “their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution…”?

  16. Anton Rytting
    September 26, 2004 at 10:52 am

    This is only tangentially related to the post above, but I thought you might know where I should look. I am also a great fan of Karen Lynn Davidson’s book, but I wish there were a similar resource telling the stories of the hymn-texts translated into non-English languages. Thanks to Sister Davidson (and many before her) we now have copious knowledge as to how our English texts came to be. But what of, say, the Spanish Hymnal, or the French, German, or Tongan? Do we even know who the translators of these hymns are? Are there any original LDS-written hymns or songs in, say, Spanish or Portuguese (whether official or not), and how would one find copies of them? If you have any insights into these questions; I’d love to know — write me at [email protected].

  17. Adam Greenwood
    September 26, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    This is merely a tradition, so probably not helpful to you at all, but everyone in our mission believed that ‘Oid el toque del clarin’ in the spanish hymnal was originally written in Spanish by a saint.

  18. Kaimi
    September 26, 2004 at 6:46 pm

    What about the other non-English ones? (Si la via es penosa, and I think Hay un Hogar Eterno?)

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