Seeking Songs of the Heart

The Church is embarking on a global hymnal, in which all the songs will be published in each language. A similar effort will apparently take place for the Children’s songbook.

You can participate in the survey seeking information on what hymns should stay and which should gracefully exit, and which hymns not currently in the hymnal should be added.

And each individual can submit up to five new songs by July 1, 2019.

The effort to select the final collection and prepare the hymnal in dozens of languages will take years, so no one need mourn the imminent loss of our familiar green hymnal.

Now go to – make your voice heard!

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

17 thoughts on “Seeking Songs of the Heart

  1. I was filling my assignment to help clean the building a couple of weekends ago, and recall thinking that some of our local hymnbooks were getting pretty ratty. I considered making sure the building rep put “reorder some hymnbooks” on the budget list, but then I had the thought that maybe it was about time for the church to revisit the hymnbook anyway, and our current library will probably survive until that time.

    And now here we are. I can recall when the green hymnbooks were the new hotness. It’s an odd experience to see a thing run through its entire life cycle, but I’m intrigued to see what sort of world melodic structures might make their way into the hymnal.

  2. Oh, and my sesquipedalian heart really hopes they go back to calling it a Psalmody. Okay, I don’t really hope that. But it *would* make me smile.

  3. Our home has shelves of different Bible versions and at least a full shelf of hymnals from different faiths. And in other faiths, the paper in the hymnals is thin, so they may have double or triple the number of hymns found in the current LDS hymnal.

    Looking forward to a family effort to cull through and find gems.

    Prediction that Phillip Bliss’s “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning” will get a SATB setting, building on Boyd K. Packer’s talk about the way his life was saved by lower lights. Also predict that President Monson’s favorite hymn from a past hymnal will make it into the new hymnal.

    I’d also like to see more hymns that discuss temple covenants. Happily, my husband has been writing hymn texts for years, so we should be able to fulfill our 5 hymn opportunity handily.

  4. If we could get “I Believe in Christ” to have a mandatory high tempo, opening hymn only status, I’ll consider letting it stay. It has a beautiful message but it can be a slog.

    Woops, just caught on fire. Gotta go….

  5. This coming Sunday we’ll be singing “O My Father” to the Irish tune Stephen Foster used for “Gentle Annie.” There’s a statement by Brigham Young talking about the fact that this tune was his preferred setting for Eliza Snow’s lyrics.

    The current “O My Father” setting is to the tune of “Oh My Redeemer,” the only set of Phillip Bliss lyrics that aren’t set to a Phillip Bliss tune (since he had died in the Ashtabula disaster).

    I adore how “If You Could Hie to Kolob” was set to Ralph Vaughan Williams’s arrangement of the tune Kingsfold. But I abhore how the current publication only includes “there is no end to race” as the last verse that isn’t pushed to the additional verses, since it’s so easy to misinterpret “there is no end to [the human] race” as “there is no end to [differential access to gospel blessings based on] race.”

  6. Are there copyright issues with IYCHtK? A number of the hymns in the current English book are “used by permission” or have other outside-the-church copyright notes. I wonder how many of those will get dropped as the new edition goes forward. There’s certainly plenty to choose from, though there’s a core couple-dozen that really ought to stay no matter what.

  7. And I agree with Anonymous: IBiC should be more of a triumphant march, not a slow dirge.

  8. Changing “race” to “grace” in IYKHtK would seem like a solution to the misunderstanding of the word “race”. I don’t think the change would alter the overall gist of the message.

  9. I disagree.
    Changing race to grace is a terrible idea.
    Race is only “human race”. Those not intelligent enough to know this deserve to be excommunicated all on their own.

  10. I can dig changing the lyric. It’s been done before. I believe the Hymnal version of “How Great Thou Art” has an altered lyric from the original, and there may be another but I can’t recall.

  11. I’ve alteady suggested changes to Families are Forever to reflect a more mature and complex world than the simple child’s world the somg was written for. And changes in the past saw changes like eliminating “you who unto Jesus” since it was too amusing homophonic with “Yoo Hoo! Unto Jesus…”

  12. I was gratified to see that the Deseret News article offered the example of returning “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” to the hymn book, after it was removed in the 1985 edition. The MoTab sings it regularly, and it is probably still in some of the hymn books in other languages. Mack Wilberg was a missionary in Korea in a singing group using the previous hymn book.

    Doing translation of hymns is much more difficult than straight text, because of the need to match syllables with notes and musical phrases and rhythms. In Japanese, words have more syllables than English, and the original translations added notes, which made it hard to sing together. After World War II, the Yanagida family in Nagoya did a new hymnbook that matched the music, a real achievement. It required doing a poetic parallel to the English rather than a full translation. So we can put together a hymnal that has the same song titles and same music, but the precise meaning of the words in each verse will have a much looser relationship. It us sort if like a Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle for hymn translations: the more you pin down either the music, the more variation in the lyrics, and vice versa. Because of the effort involved, this will tend to reduce the number of hymns in a unified hymnal across 90 languages.

    I would be interested in seeing original hymns in other languages being brought into English and other languages. We also should revisit the words of hymns that are already translations, such as “All Creatures of Our God and King”, whose original Italian is much more explicit about honoring God as the Creator, rather than admiring the created earth. And it would not hurt to make some of the current hymns easier to sing by adjusting the dynamic range of the parts.

    There are not enough adult songs honoring the Book of Mormon, baptism, the Holy Ghost, premortal life, the Vision (D&C 76), the restoration of priesthood by John the Baptist and Peter, James and John, and the Kirtland Temple theophany, and Moses and Elijah. The doctrine of theosis, becoming lije God, us standard theology for Orthodox Christians, and we might find some hymns ready made that teach it. There should be a hymn for the Liberty Jail experience and D&C 121-123. Doing family history research is a major effort, but not sung about. The coming if the Savior to the Nephites is the central message if the Book of Mormon, with drama that is the clinax if the Hill Cumorah Pageant, but has no hymn. Moroni 10:3-5 is a focus of conversion, but no hymn. Likewise Alma 32 teaches the meaning of faith, but has no hymn. We should align our hymns with the stories that we teach about Gospel principles. A new song about the First Vision should draw on the fuller picture we now have, and invite all to ask God for wisdom.

  13. Does the Hill Cumorah pageant have songs? If so, I wonder if there’s a song in there that can be lifted and hymn-ified.

  14. As for me, I intend in my comments to the Church to request that they change the tune for “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul” (currently difficult to sing and not all that great a tune anyway) to Rob Gardner’s version, which is graceful and lovely and fits the lyrics much better.
    Also, there’s this semi-hymn-like song called “Let Peace Then Still the Strife” with music by Mack Wilberg and lyrics by David Wygant which really should be adapted to use as a hymn. The MoTab has already sung it before, so it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.
    Some doctrinal themes I think could be added to in the hymnbook are glory (what is it, anyway?), the purpose of temple worship, and, as mentioned above, theosis. I feel that some of the passages of revealed scripture like Nephi’s psalm or Moses’ and Abraham’s visions of God are also great grounds for exploration. I intend to write some hymns with those themes over the next year, for sure.

  15. There are some hymns in the book that – in the 15 years I’ve lived in this ward alone – we have never sung. I’m going to go through and send the list in. I hate the funeral-dirge-sing-it-slow-so-we-can-nap hymns like IBIC. Get rid of them I say!! And yes, please, please bring back Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. That hymn makes me sigh with happiness.

  16. Single Sis: The dirge like tempo is the fault of the music conductor or keyboardist. The indicated tempo in the hymnal includes a range that is, usually, at the minimum end, faster than most keyboardists/conductors do it.

    That’s how I tell a piano/organ player who is from Utah. They play the hymns too slow.

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