(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!
*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!"