This is one of the hymns that has reached into various aspects of my life. It is often sung in our congregations and as the Choir & Congregation hymn in General Conferences. So, by 6th grade, when band expectations were crushed and I looked forward to days of choirs in Junior High, I was fairly familiar with this hymn. It became more profound to me when my sister who made it into the prestigious PHS a cappella choir was singing the school alma mater--and it was to this hymn's tune. But my brothers told me it was the Junior High alma mater's tune as well. I made it into 7th grade choir and it was the first song we learned. So then when it would come up in church, Kiersten would quietly sing the words to the high school alma mater and I would quietly sing the junior high's. It was in no disrespect to the hymn. It was because we had taken to that fabulous tune and loved that it intersected in our spiritual and secular lives.
By 10th grade, I had made it into the prestigious a cappella choir and learned those words. I suppose something about memorizing the Jr High alma mater, and then the High School alma mater, within a year or so I had also memorized the hymn as well. What was another set of words? So this was one of the first hymns that I was consciously aware that I knew by memory. (Also one of the first I could play out of the regular hymnal.) Sometime by the end of high school or early college days, I paid attention to those words I had memorized--and they have come very close to my heart. A lover of temples and temple ordinances, verse 3 especially resonated. But a song about singing? And rejoicing? And our Savior coming again when we can "live in love and peace?" All sung to a tune that is all about praising, joy, and exultation--which tune had also come to have a meaning of honor, begun by my alma mater singing. I would have to say that this is one of my favorites. Even though it became one of the "oversung" in college, I chose instead of being annoyed to glory in the words I knew by heart and letting their meaning sink even more into my singing praises.
From the history book
I love this line: "What response other than song could so well reflect the emotions and gratitude of the followers of Jesus Christ?" Agreed!! The tune is a Spanish folk melody which many Christian denominations used in their hymnals. (Thus now surprising that m 2 alma maters were set to this tune; even more so when one knows that my Jr High choir director who wrote that alma mater was LDS for some years.) The tune was already well known when the text was written by Brother Wallis, first printed in 1884.
LyricsAnd for those curious about my alma mater words.
(And yes, the student body ALWAYS joined in on that last part like that. Even when we would "sing" it at church, our whole family liked to sing that line. And it is true. I will forever love PHS even if I only had one year. It was one of the best years of my life.)
Jackson Junior may you grow
For as we reap we needs must sow.
Jackson Junior proud and true
Your students love to strive for you.
So here we pledge our loyalty
Forever singing young and free
Jackson will make history
What e'er you ask
We give to thee!