I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan. I'll follow him in faith. I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll honor his name. I'll do what is right; I'll follow his light. His truth I will proclaim.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

Friday, December 2, 2016

LDS Hymn #38


This hymn first came to my attention from the LDS pioneer movie Legacy. A woman begins singing it as a solo at the cornerstone ceremony for the Nauvoo temple in the film. At the time I didn't realize it was in the hymnbook. The song was one of countless melodies that stuck in my head (I am fairly good with tonal memory, thus, countless.....). And then one day I was looking in the hymnbook. I saw the title of that one and the melody immediately came to me. It's weird to realize you know a hymn without knowing you do! Of course, I didn't have the words memorized. Just the first couple of lines. And I still don't have all 4 verses memorized. But I am familiar that it is a hymn of the restoration and proclaiming the Gospel to the world, thus gathering Israel which has great reasons to rejoice. It is not one that is sung often in congregations today. So many of those.... :-(

From the history book
The first and last verse are to those who have heard the gospel. The second and third are to those who are searching for truth.  It used to be a hymn for the men, with the first line being "Come all ye sons." But the word was changed so it was move inclusive for congregations to sing it.

Lyrics

  1. 1. Come, all ye Saints of Zion,
    And let us praise the Lord;
    His ransomed are returning,
    According to his word.
    In sacred song and gladness
    They walk the narrow way
    And thank the Lord who brought them
    To see the latter day.
  2. 2. Come, ye dispersed of Judah,
    Join in the theme and sing
    With harmony unceasing
    The praises of our King,
    Whose arm is now extended,
    On which the world may gaze,
    To gather up the righteous
    In these the latter days.
  3. 3. Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel,
    And let your joys abound!
    The voice of God shall reach you
    Wherever you are found
    And call you back from bondage,
    That you may sing his praise
    In Zion and Jerusalem,
    In these the latter days.
  4. 4. Then gather up for Zion,
    Ye Saints thruout the land,
    And clear the way before you,
    As God shall give command.
    Tho wicked men and devils
    Exert their pow'r, 'tis vain,
    Since He who is eternal
    Has said you shall obtain.
  5. Text: William W. Phelps, 1792-1872. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.
    Music: John E. Tullidge, 1806-1873

Thursday, December 1, 2016

LDS Hymn #37

Hymn #37 - The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close



(For those not familiar with this tune, this arrangement is a little tricky though nice. The melody begins at 40 seconds.)

I believe I sang this one time in all my growing up years. But I remember it being "the long song." (Not from Doctor Who. :-) ) There are longer ones, but at sight, this seems very long. It is long by lines--using all 8. AND it is 4 verses in all those 8 lines. It also is not very fast. Ironically, leading the 2/2 time makes it, for the chorister, feel a bit fast. A lot of arm movement. Even though I only sang it once in those years (that I recall), I must have heard the MoTab choir sing it enough because it was one that I could hum most of the tune out of memory if asked. Then I spent many months with the hymn as one that my organ teacher wanted me to play, so I became much more familiar with its notes and chords. The words I do not know by heart, but they are lovely. Very poetic. And by an apostle! Verse 1 and 2 paint such a beautiful picture of nature that really anyone who has seen or can dream of winter can envision. Verse 3 and 4 refer more to the early Saints finding refuge in and later taming and shaping their mountainous, sheltering home--where I can vouch there are many wintry days!

I had our ward congregation sing this hymn earlier in the year. It was winter season. But we were 9am meeting time, so the counselor in the bishopric pointed out that even though the day was not closing, we were going to sing this beautiful hymn. It helps that he and his wife (the organist) are very musical and appreciate that I don't stick with the "oversung," only sung hymns. I am determined that if they went through such an effort in all the hymnal revisorings (my word), we might as well sing the 341 hymns put in there, and not the same 75 over and over again!

Favorite lines:
*Invites all wearied nature to repost
*Pale through the gloom the newly fallen snow Wraps in a shroud the silent earth below As tho 'twere mercy's hand had spread the pall, A symbol of forgiveness unto all.
*While, like the twinkling stars in heaven's dome, Come one by one sweet memories of home.
*Where hope and memory together dwell And paint the pictured beauties that I tell?
*The templed cities of the Saints now stand
*There is my home, the spot I love so well, Whose worth and beauty pen nor tongue can tell.

That last line, though there be truth in me having found a home in these often wintry mountains, brings back so much nostalgia and memories of the home(s) that I grew up in with my family. The tune for this song is the perfect one for recalling sweetness, tenderness, beauty, and memories. So though Verse 3 and 4 may be even more specific about a place, I do not find it taking away from the memories of the places I called home. Especially during the winter times that drove our family indoors and brought us together for many family-building moments.

I also liked writing about this after a couple of snowy days this week--the early snow days in early winter, before I've gotten sick of it!

From the history book:
Written by the apostle who also wrote the text for one of my favorite hymns (#112), Pres. Packer praised Elder Whitney as a "gifted and inspired poet." Thoughts that this hymn of nostalgia was included in hymnody because it is also about thankfulness for peace and blessings. This poem was first printed in 1899. The poem is written in nostalgia, as if someone is away from home and recalling it--in a way that only a place we love so dearly can be remembered. (Hence my beautiful memories of home when I was growing up.) This hymn was in the choir section of the 1950 hymnal, but congregations liked to sing it, too. (Not so much these days. "It's long!" ) They did change the word "savage" to "fearless" in verse 3--wise choice. 


Lyrics

  1. 1. The wintry day, descending to its close,
    Invites all wearied nature to repose,
    And shades of night are falling dense and fast,
    Like sable curtains closing o'er the past.
    Pale through the gloom the newly fallen snow
    Wraps in a shroud the silent earth below
    As tho 'twere mercy's hand had spread the pall,
    A symbol of forgiveness unto all.
  2. 2. I cannot go to rest, but linger still
    In meditation at my windowsill,
    While, like the twinkling stars in heaven's dome,
    Come one by one sweet memories of home.
    And wouldst thou ask me where my fancy roves
    To reproduce the happy scenes it loves,
    Where hope and memory together dwell
    And paint the pictured beauties that I tell?
  3. 3. Away beyond the prairies of the West,
    Where exiled Saints in solitude were blest,
    Where industry the seal of wealth has set
    Amid the peaceful vales of Deseret,
    Unheeding still the fiercest blasts that blow,
    With tops encrusted by eternal snow,
    The tow'ring peaks that shield the tender sod
    Stand, types of freedom reared by nature's God.
  4. 4. The wilderness, that naught before would yield,
    Is now become a fertile, fruitful field.
    Where roamed at will the fearless Indian band,
    The templed cities of the Saints now stand.
    And sweet religion in its purity
    Invites all men to its security.
    There is my home, the spot I love so well,
    Whose worth and beauty pen nor tongue can tell.
  5. Text: Orson F. Whitney, 1855-1931
    Music: Edward P. Kimball, 1882-1937

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

LDS Hymn #36



A Pioneer hymn! Technically, so is Hymn #35. This is our small tiny pioneer section, with crossover in our tiny Utah/Mountains section. This is a fun one to sing--very upbeat and praising of our amazing forefathers in our early Church's history. I am a lover of that history, and have great admiration of the many, many stories of those who crossed their plains for freedom, unity, and the right to live their faith. Sometimes I hear of converts to the Church, with no Pioneer ancestry, say that their stories do not matter to them, since it isn't their family. But it is their church's heritage and matters just as much. It matters to every single member--and there are far more of those having no Pioneer ancestry than those of us few who do. This hymn helps to illustrate how: "Stepping stones for generations Were their deeds of ev'ry day. Building new and firm foundations." And then an example to us: "Service ever was their watchcry; Love became their guiding star; Courage.... Ev'ry day some burden lifted, Ev'ry day some heart to cheer, Ev'ry day some hope the brighter." And then that wonderful praise: "Honor, praise, and veneration.... List our song of adoration." Ah! I love it!!!

Personal history: I once named a college paper based on the title of this hymn. Not intentionally, I just loved the phrase and my paper title worked so well with it. My professor wrote "great title" by it. Glad he appreciated it. Only at BYU could I get away with that! :-)

From the history book
She mentioned the importance of our Pioneer ancestry as well, and how this hymn honors it. Yay--same page! :-) Recalls a message by President David O. MacKay when he asked the Saints to try to think what it was for those Saints to enter a desolate, desert valley--and see what they have created today! I will admit I love to drive up along the Wasatch Front at night and look down on all the lights. To see the trees and parks that they were able to grow in the valley. To see the homes and buildings that they began with. We are still booming in growth all over the state (particularly in my county and its neighbors)--and it truly is a marvel that their hard work built up not only this state, but the Gospel around the world, too.

Lyrics

  1. 1. They, the builders of the nation,
    Blazing trails along the way;
    Stepping-stones for generations
    Were their deeds of ev'ry day.
    Building new and firm foundations,
    Pushing on the wild frontier,
    Forging onward, ever onward,
    Blessed, honored Pioneer!
  2. 2. Service ever was their watchcry;
    Love became their guiding star;
    Courage, their unfailing beacon,
    Radiating near and far.
    Ev'ry day some burden lifted,
    Ev'ry day some heart to cheer,
    Ev'ry day some hope the brighter,
    Blessed, honored Pioneer!
  3. 3. As an ensign to the nation,
    They unfurled the flag of truth,
    Pillar, guide, and inspiration
    To the hosts of waiting youth.
    Honor, praise, and veneration
    To the founders we revere!
    List our song of adoration,
    Blessed, honored Pioneer!
  4. Text: Ida R. Alldredge, 1892-1943. (c) 1948 IRI
    Music: Alfred M. Durham, 1872-1957. (c) 1948 IRI

Monday, November 28, 2016

LDS Hymn #35



I love this hymn! So much fun to sing and a pure beast to play! Syncopation, running notes, three flats. Sometimes the challenging hymn are quite the fun--even if I never have gotten it correctly all the way through. This could be considered another Mountain song where we found shelter in its height and beauty. Yet somehow growing up I was able to see beyond that when singing the song. The mountains were symbolic of any place where I found shelter from the trials and storms of life. That, and though not in Utah, I did grow up in a mountain state and very much enjoyed the beauty there.

From the history book
It was a choir hymn in the 1950 hymnal, but congregations liked it so much that they sang it anyway. The author was not LDS and her hills referred to mountains in Switzerland. Edward Sloan adapted Felicia's hymn, but after 1965 they dropped a verse mentioning "untutored Indian"--wise choice. I guess line 3 used to be a women's only part, since the 1985 hymnal added parts for bass and tenor. Another verse was left out in the 1985 hymnal as well. With the revisions of Felicia's original poem and what changes have been made over the years, I am very happy with the 4 verses we have now.

Lyrics

  1. 1. For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
    Our God, our fathers' God;
    Thou hast made thy children mighty
    By the touch of the mountain sod.
    Thou hast led thy chosen Israel
    To freedom's last abode;
  2. (Chorus]
    For the strength of the hills we bless thee,
    Our God, our fathers' God.
  3. 2. At the hands of foul oppressors
    We've borne and suffered long;
    Thou hast been our help in weakness,
    And thy pow'r hath made us strong.
    Amid ruthless foes outnumbered
    In weariness we trod;
  4. 3. Thou hast led us here in safety
    Where the mountain bulwark stands
    As the guardian of the loved ones
    Thou hast brought from many lands.
    For the rock and for the river,
    The valley's fertile sod,
  5. 4. We are watchers of a beacon
    Whose light must never die;
    We are guardians of an altar
    'Midst the silence of the sky.
    Here the rocks yield founts of courage,
    Struck forth as by thy rod;
  6. Text: Felicia D. Hemans, 1793-1835; adapted by Edward L. Sloan, 1830-1874
    Music: Evan Stephens, 1854-1930

Thursday, November 24, 2016

LDS Hymn #34


This was another "Utah mountain" hymn. I remember singing it once growing up. I immediately liked the tune. I still do. The text is more about finding retreat from the persecutions and tribulation that the early Saints had to flee, and there in those mountains find rest to regain the strength after being so battered the previous 15 years. I like the relief and rest one can feel in the hymn, and the tribute to the beauty they found in their refuge.

But I have a little personal issue with this hymn because of a false notion it can support. When I came out to Utah for college, I encountered people (not all, but enough) who felt or at least acted like Utah and the LDS members who lived there were better than the LDS members who lived outside of it. How they referred to themselves as Zion, not remembering or realizing that Zion is the Pure in Heart. It is not a place, it is a state of mind and being--how we as Saints all over the world should be. Yet the chorus of this song unfortunately promotes the idea that Utah is Zion. If we want to be technical, the only physical place that can be called Zion is in Missouri.

It has always irked me, being a non-native Utah LDS member when the Utah LDS members put themselves above those of us not from there. And claim that they are Zion and the best place to be. That the rest of us are "the mission field." (The mandate to proclaim the Gospel is to all the world, not everywhere but Utah. By the way. Once upon a time there weren't missionaries in Utah, but now there are so can we stop calling the rest of us the mission field? Thank you.) I have come to love being a Utah transplant because of the many temples, being close to attend General Conference, having members in my workplace(!!), have members who are my neighbors, having Church meetings so close, being able to have Gospel discussions outside of my home on an easy, daily basis. But I do not think I am better or more blessed than others outside of Utah. I miss my East coast...everything. This is where the Lord wants me now, and I am grateful and find its joys and beauties. But it does not make this the chosen place anymore! It served its purpose in giving us strength and rejuvenation, and allowed us to move on and up.

Thus, I appreciate this hymn for many aspects, but it also tends to rub me the wrong way at times. Just gotta be honest on that!

From the history book
Who knew--the hymn was written by a man who hadn't seen Utah, yet. He was serving a mission in England. Had been there for ten years, each year being promised if he served another year then he would be released and get to go to Zion. Originally he sang it as a person who had never been to Zion, but later changed a little to fit with those Saints who had gathered to Utah. The tune was "Lily Dale" and even used in a 1939 movie set in the American West. The tune was originally published in 1852. Matching of tune and text first appeared in 1880. I think my favorite thing in the book is that she mentions this song in the figurative text. And in that, I love the song! Seeing the Gospel as a mountain refuge, I can totally get behind that. Then the Zion chorus doesn't bother me in the least.

Lyrics

  1. 1. O ye mountains high, where the clear blue sky
    Arches over the vales of the free,
    Where the pure breezes blow and the clear streamlets flow,
    How I've longed to your bosom to flee!
    O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
    Now my own mountain home, unto thee I have come;
    All my fond hopes are centered in thee.
  2. 2. Tho the great and the wise all thy beauties despise,
    To the humble and pure thou art dear;
    Tho the haughty may smile and the wicked revile,
    Yet we love thy glad tidings to hear.
    O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free,
    Tho thou wert forced to fly to thy chambers on high,
    Yet we'll share joy and sorrow with thee.
  3. 3. In thy mountain retreat, God will strengthen thy feet;
    Without fear of thy foes thou shalt tread;
    And their silver and gold, as the prophets have told,
    Shall be brought to adorn thy fair head.
    O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free,
    Soon thy towers shall shine with a splendor divine,
    And eternal thy glory shall be.
  4. 4. Here our voices we'll raise, and we'll sing to thy praise,
    Sacred home of the prophets of God.
    Thy deliv'rance is nigh; thy oppressors shall die;
    And thy land shall be freedom's abode.
    O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
    In thy temples we'll bend; all thy rights we'll defend;
    And our home shall be ever with thee.
  5. Text: Charles W. Penrose, 1832-1925
    Music: H. S. Thompson, ca. 1852

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

LDS Hymn #33


This is not one we sang much growing up, even if I did live in the Mountain State. I think we automatically assumed this was "a Utah hymn," so we didn't sing it. But really anyone could enjoy and/or connect with the song because it just talks about the beauty of nature and how we can see God's hand in it all. So perhaps if you live in the desert with no mountains, you don't understand that. But you can understand wildflowers. Sunshine. Flowing rivers (yes, even in a desert). We just have to look around where ever we may be, see the beauty there, and know that God's hand is in that beauty. That was one of my first lessons I learned from moving as a child. I was not happy with our second move. The third was difficult. My fourth to college was one of the hardest. I had to learn to find beauty where ever I was. I started with nature, because I knew it would never fail me. And that was able to transition to finding beauty in the people and cultures around me. It made the subsequent moves much easier to make. So I enjoy this hymn now as I have learned to find that beauty and thank my Heavenly Father for it.

From the history book
"All Saints can join together in singing our gratitude for the beauties of our world." George Pyper describes the hymn as a literary gem as it brought together "two kindred spirits...both loving music, art, and God's beautiful outdoors."

Lyrics

  1. 1. Our mountain home so dear,
    Where crystal waters clear
    Flow ever free,
    Flow ever free,
    While thru the valleys wide
    The flow'rs on ev'ry side,
    Blooming in stately pride,
    Are fair to see.
  2. 2. We'll roam the verdant hills
    And by the sparkling rills
    Pluck the wildflow'rs,
    Pluck the wildflow'rs;
    The fragrance on the air,
    The landscape bright and fair,
    And sunshine ev'rywhere
    Make pleasant hours.
  3. 3. In sylvan depth and shade,
    In forest and in glade,
    Where-e'er we pass,
    Where-e'er we pass,
    The hand of God we see
    In leaf and bud and tree,
    Or bird or humming bee,
    Or blade of grass.
  4. 4. The streamlet, flow'r, and sod
    Bespeak the works of God;
    And all combine,
    And all combine,
    With most transporting grace,
    His handiwork to trace,
    Thru nature's smiling face,
    In art divine.
  5. Text: Emmeline B. Wells, 1828-1921
    Music: Evan Stephens, 1854-1930

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

LDS Hymn #32


I don't think I was familiar with this hymn at all until a couple or so years ago when I learned it as one of my hymns in my organ lessons. And that 2/2 time kills me! Even now looking at the tune I cannot quite hear it in my mind because I keep getting it the timing wrong. Yet the notes below the hymn say this one was in the first LDS hymnal. The text talks of the Restoration, and how throughout history this time was looked forward to. That it has finally come--so much to rejoice and be happy about. Being in this time with the fulness of the Gospel, my freedoms, and so many advances around us, I do feel truly blessed and feel to rejoice in it. But not that it is necessarily "Yay, I got to be born in this dispensation, at this time," but rather "I am so grateful for all that men and women did throughout history that led to such a blessed time that has so greatly blessed me and my life."

From the history book
The text first was printed 3 years after the Church was organized. The author Philo was a close friend of Joseph Smith's. Some lines had been changed by the 1950 hymnal. A couple of word changes and a sentence structure change occurred for the current hymnal. Seeing what they were, I agree with them! A little awkward in singing as well as understanding. Though it makes me wonder what Brother Dibble must think in heaven to see his words changed. Really the changes were there to go better with current times (meaning words) and ease of singing.

Lyrics

  1. 1. The happy day at last has come.
    The truth restored is now made known.
    The promised angel's come again
    To introduce Messiah's reign.
  2. 2. The gospel trump again is heard.
    The truth from darkness has appeared.
    The lands which long benighted lay
    Have now beheld a glorious day:
  3. 3. The day by prophets long foretold,
    The day which Abram did behold,
    The day that Saints desired so long,
    When God his great work would perform,
  4. 4. The day when Saints again shall hear
    The voice of Jesus in their ear,
    And angels, who above do reign,
    Come down to speak again with men.
  5. Text: Philo Dibble, 1806-1895. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835.
    Music: Ebenezer Beesley, 1840-1906