Wednesday, October 26, 2016
LDS Hymn #15
Mom once had us, in our ward choir back in DE, a hymn entitled I Sing the Mighty Power of God. I remember we members laughed a bit at the words and the not quite rhyming potential of some of them. Some time later, I heard Mack Wilberg's arrangement of that hymn. I loved the tune! The words seemed to go better, too. Soon after, I either heard or sang Hymn #15, and realized it was the same tune! I was so excited that we had a hymn to that tune because it is so fun to sing. Not always to play, but oh well. A few years later, I watched the Christmas special of a then-new favorite British show, and they sang this tune with the words of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. I loved that so much, that a few years later, when I became my ward's choir director, I took the Mack Wilberg arrangement of the tune, and put the Christmas carol's words to it. Absolutely loved the outcome.
Remembering that there is more to this hymn than the tune, I have looked at the words, too. It is about the Angel (Moroni) who came and brought the glad tidings that led to the Restoration of the Gospel. Mentions the many ways that message will affect us, bringing joy, calming doubts, chasing away fears. The message lets everyone know that it is Christ's Gospel, and He is our friend. (Always love it when Christ is referred to as our friend.) I really love this hymn--wish it was sung more!
From the history book
The text is not "of Latter-day Saint origin. It is an anonymous poetic rendering of the scripture in Revelation" 14:6-7. Its original tune in the 1950 hymnal was by George Careless, but it was labeled as a choir hymn because it was difficult to sing. The tune we sing today (the one I love!!) is often used in Protestant hymnals. O Little Town of Bethlehem can be sung to it as well. (Come to think of it, maybe that's what the cast on the show sang and I already knew those 2 Christmas hymns were interchangeable....) There were originally 5 verses, which totaled 2.5 verses in the new format/tune. So the music for half of the last verse had no words. "The solution was to rewrite the last verse...to make it twice as long, still basing the words on the passage from Revelation." Which makes sense while that last few words of the last verse are about missionary work--sharing those glad tidings the angel brought.