“Doing good often means getting one’s hands dirty, engaging in unpleasant things, and coming out of the battle worn and scarred. The battle for the public good is neither about holding onto or giving up everything, it is about knowing when to do much, when to hold back, a little, and when to do nothing at all.” ~Ignacio M. García Note: This is a part of an ongoing series. To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: Padre Nuestro en el Cielo by Manrique González was one of the earliest-published Spanish hymns in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was published in the 1907 Mexican Mission Himnario Mormón (p. 57, see Figure 1) and in the 1912 editions of the Himnos de Sion (p.44). It was cut from subsequent editions of the hymnbook (1927 onwards). Textual changes between the two editions it was included in are minor, consisting solely of punctuation alterations (see Table 1). According to the 1912 edition, the hymn was to be sung to the tune of hymn 37 in the English-language Songs of Zion, which was “We are Sowing” by H. A. Tucket (22.214.171.124 D). Oddly, the hymn tune fits two verses of the hymn at a time, but there are 5 verses of the hymn, which doesn’t work out math-wise. In addition, the syllables do not completely align with the music as written. As a result, I wonder…
Category: Mormon Arts
Arts – Music – Poetry – Cinema – Television
La Proclamación: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 1
“I know for myself that Joseph Smith was a prophet because I have applied the simple promise in the Book of Mormon: ‘Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ’ (Moroni 10:4). In simple words, look up.” ~Adrián Ochoa Note: This is a part of an ongoing series. To start at the introduction, follow the link here. The Text La Proclamación, by José V. Estrada G., is one of the few hymns original to Mexico that have survived up to the present (1992) Spanish-language hymnbook in the Church. Also called “La voz, ya, del Eterno”, it was was initially included as hymn 51 in the 1912 Himnos de Sion (Mexican Mission) (see Figure 1), and was included in all subsequent editions of that collection, the 1942 Himnos de Sion that was published by the Church (Hymn 252), and the 1992 Himnos (Hymn 145). In the original hymnal, it was intended to be sung to hymn 53 in Songs of Zion, which was “Improve the Shining Moments” by Robert B. Baird (the tune still used today). The text itself has had a few edits over the years, particularly for the 1992 Himnos (see Table 1). Figure 1. “La Proclamación” in the 1912 Himnos de Sion. Table 1. Variations in text of La Proclamación over the course of Church Publications. Changes from the 1912 edition are bolded. 1912 1942 1992 1. La voz, ya, del Eterno, Nos llama…
Announcing a Mexico Mission Hymns Series
I’m excited to announce a new project that I’ll be sharing on Times and Seasons over the next few months – my Mexico Mission Hymnody project. A few years ago, a future new edition for the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was announced. While working on what would become my first post on Times and Seasons, I talked a lot with friends about what the next hymnal might look like. Virtually all of my friends who had served in Spanish-speaking missions mentioned loving a song that didn’t have any English equivalent – “Placentero nos es trabajar”. I mentioned it in passing as something that might be added in an update to the hymn book in my 2018 post on the subject. I followed up in early 2019 with a post specifically about Spanish-language hymns that might find their way into the next hymn book. While researching for the latter post, I came across an article by John-Charles Duffy and Hugo Olaiz that detailed the history of the Spanish-language hymnals in the Church. One thing that stood out to me in the Duffy and Olaiz article was that there were 23 hymns written originally in Spanish and published in the hymnbooks that were prepared for use by the Church in Mexico, either in the original 1907 edition or the subsequent 1912 edition. As described in the article: Hymn texts were produced by American missionaries, Anglo saints…
Ghostwriter to the Prophet
I suspect that if we really knew and experienced the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for ourselves, we might be surprised by who were the most influential members in shaping the developing Church. In a recent From the Desk interview, Bruce A. Van Orden discussed one candidate for that last that tends to get overlooked – William Wines Phelps. Best remembered for his contributions to the hymnals of the Church, he was also an important publisher and author of Church literature, sometimes acting as a ghostwriter for Joseph Smith. What follows here is a copost (a shorter post with excerpts and discussions) to the full interview. Bruce A. Van Orden described some of W. W. Phelps’s contributions and background: In D&C 57, W. W. Phelps was called as “printer unto the church” and to dedicate his writings to building the Kingdom of God. More than any other man up through 1845, he was the major writer of gospel themes in the church. He was also instrumental in leading the Missouri saints ecclesiastically from 1832 to 1838 and in being one of Joseph Smith’s key scribes. Consequently, I claim that W. W. Phelps was one of the 10 most influential Latter-day Saints in the Church’s first 15 years. … W. Phelps penned twenty-five hymns entirely by himself. More surprisingly, he adapted in various ways another thirty-seven pieces, making sixty-two in all where his words are…
Of Flags and Symbols of the Church
The state of Utah is looking into creating a new flag. I was interested, so looked into best practices for flag making (vexillology) and found a handy guide from the North American Vexillological Association that suggested five basic principles of flag design: Keep it simple (the flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory) Use meaningful symbolism (the flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes) Use 2-3 basic colors (limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set) No lettering or seals (never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal) Be distinctive or be related (avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections) An example of a good flag is New Mexico, with two colors (red and yellow) and very simple (sun symbol) while Utah is a bad example, with a complicated seal on a blue background (just like 14 other states in the United States of America). I enjoy pondering, and after designing a few ideas for a Utah flag, I’ve been musing on what a flag for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could look like. Obviously, the most likely path forward would be to just use the official symbol of the Church (the Christus with the arch around it and the cornerstone beneath) and use that as a flag. The simplified…
Jesus in Recent Latter-day Saint Art
At the Mormon History Association conference this weekend, Anthony Sweat shared a funny story during his presentation on “A White Jesus and a Global Church.” Apparently there were some individuals who were visiting BYU from Saudi Arabia to observe teaching at the institution. During a class that Dr. Sweat was teaching, the Saudis saw a print of the famous Del Parson Jesus the Christ painting. They asked through an interpreter who the painting was depicting. Dr. Sweat explained that it was Jesus, and the Saudis busted up laughing and started chattering. Confused, Sweat asked the interpreter what they were saying and the interpreter explained that they were laughing about Jesus being portrayed as a white American mountain man. Dr. Sweat asked them about what they thought Jesus looked like and they responded that he probably looked like them, which probably isn’t far from the truth. In his presentation, Anthony Sweat went on to discuss the history of how Jesus has been portrayed and ultimately made the point that the traditional European iconography of Jesus as European in appearance is well-established and doesn’t need to go away, but that there does need to be more diversity in depictions of Jesus available for a global church. I’m not going to rehash the whole issue of Jesus’s complexion again, but I am interested in some of the artwork that has been produced in the Church in recent years that provide a different vision…
“As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ”
Of all the Christmas carols in the English hymnbook, the one with the longest association with the Church’s hymnals is “Joy to the World.” It’s probably fitting, then, that the “Come, Follow Me” materials for this week reference it. The reading material for the week is the document “The Living Christ,” published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve on 1 January 2000, “as we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago.” The document covers the mission of Jesus Christ before, during, and after his mortal life. In one section, it states that: “We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.” Asides from some nice references to the Biblical texts behind George Frideric Handel and Charles Jennens’s Messiah (which President Gordon B. Hinckley was fond of quoting), this paragraph is brought up in the “Come, Follow Me” manual because it addresses the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: “Christmas is a time both to look back on the day Jesus Christ was born and to look forward to the day He will come again. … It might … be interesting to read, sing, or listen to Christmas hymns that teach about…
“They saw the Lord”
What does Jesus look like? It’s a question that we can only guess the answer to or speculate about, but one that does come up in a religion that embraces using artistic depictions of members of the Godhead. In general, the scriptures fail to describe his physical appearance in any detail. Joseph Smith documented several visions where he described seeing Jesus and God the Father, though nothing definitive about their appearances comes from the documents on the subject. History and archeology give us some clues, all of which are interesting to explore. At the end of the day, however, we do not really know what Jesus looks like. Several visions are recorded by Joseph Smith, including the dramatic appearance in the Kirtland Temple recorded in Section 110. Contemporary, first-hand accounts of the 1820s First Vision include the appearance of Jesus, though little in the ways of details. In 1832, Joseph Smith wrote that he saw “a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day” and that “the <?Lord?> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord.” In 1835, he gave little more detail, only noting that “a personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar of flame … another personage soon appeard like unto the first.” The 1838/39 account that is canonized in the Pearl of Great Price today describes them as “two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air.” In 1842, he made…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 76: The Vision
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 76, The Vision of the Celestial Kingdom — plus, was Joseph Smith a poet?
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 71-75: Criticism, Consecration and Proclamation
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 71-75, addressing Criticism, Consecration and Proclamation
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 67-70: The Lord’s Witness, Inspiration, and Parenting
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 67-70, addressing The Lord’s Witness, Inspiration, and Parenting
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 63: Rebelliousness and Signs—The Lord is in Control
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 63, addressing rebelliousness and signs, but concluding that the Lord is in control
Why Mormon Literature is Vital
Last night poet and author James Goldberg, current president of the Association for Mormon Letters (AML), gave a short but masterful Presidential address as part of the AML’s annual conference. His poetic style and urgent message is quite powerful, despite being just 12 minutes long. Please watch this and let me know what you think! I hope to post some thoughts during the week.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 60-62: Missionary Work
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 60-62, addressing missionary work and the Lord’s support for us.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 58-59: Timing of Blessings, Sabbath Day
The end is always a new beginning. The arrival of the first Latter-day Saints in Independence, Missouri was both an end and a beginning. They accomplished the goal of gathering to Zion, but then realized that now they had to actually build Zion—a process that has, in a variety of ways, continued ever since. For the Saints at that time, the revelations contained in D&C 58 and 59 show the process of realizing that the new beginning of Zion contained a new set of struggles, and struggles that were very different from what they expected. For us today, these sections point out, symbolically, at least, that we are also facing struggles in our process of building Zion. And in these sections we find two different messages about the blessings we often expect. First, we learn that blessings don’t come automatically—God is not a vending machine. Instead, blessings come according to God’s timing. And second, we learn that by keeping the Sabbath, we will receive both temporal and spiritual blessings. The Timing of Blessings The Saints who lived when the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants were written faced a lot of struggle and suffering. These trials were often seen as necessary to their salvation, and the blessings they would receive were expected only in the future, if not in the next life. Eliza R. Snow captured this view in the following poem, written in late 1843 during her stay…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 51-57 — Temporal Zion
By going in order through the Doctrine and Covenants, the Come Follow Me lessons sometimes show the concerns of the Church at a particular point in time. The seven sections included in this lesson are quite varied, but all demonstrate temporal concerns — where to put all the immigrants arriving in Kirtland, how members should share what they have, how should church members fulfill the command to gather to Missouri and who should be doing the printing of Church publications. But despite these temporal concerns, in these sections there are clearly spiritual lessons which are germane to the temporal needs and directives. These include learning to become a faithful, just and wise steward, and learning to be pure in heart. Being a Faithful Steward Eliza R. Snow is likely considered to be a faithful steward by most Church members. But like most of us, she had to make the decision to follow the gospel. She wrote about that decision in the following poem, and of the stewardship responsibilities that came with that decision. When I espous’d the cause of truth by Eliza R. Snow (1841) Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”-Matt. 7:14 When I espous’d the cause of truth, The holy spirit, from on high, Promply instructed me, forsooth, To lay my youthful prospects by. I saw along the “narrow way” An ordeal, which the saints…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 49-50 — Marriage, Falsehood & Edification
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 49-50, addressing marriage, identifying falsehood & edification through spiritual gifts.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 46-48 — Welcome, Spiritual Gifts, History and Sharing
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 46-48, addressing being welcoming, spiritual gifts, keeping a history and sharing the lands we own.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 45 — Standards and Zion
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 45, addressing the raising of gospel standards and establishing Zion.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44 — Law, Consecration and Revelation
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 41-44, addressing the law, consecration for supporting the poor, and the role of revelation.