Sunday, February 5, 2017
LDS Hymn #62
One of my most favoritest of favorite hymns. When I am asked to pick JUST one (do people understand just how hard favorites are for passionate people like me?!), this is the hymn that I go with. Always having a thing for the "Alleluia hymns," this hymn stood out as a child. But then seeing its role in the LDS Church movie "Mountain of the Lord" when I was a tween (and thus watching that movie countless times for the many years following), it took on another meaning. I no longer wanted to just sing the hymns in Church. I wanted to sing them with feeling and testimony and the praise due to them--especially when they are praising hymns like this one! Joy of joys that this hymn in 3 flats (one of my hardest keys to play) with a random 3/2 time signature and accidentals scattered as well as ranges that my small hands cannot reach and is one of those fast upbeat hymns that I always struggle with is still one that I have managed to learn and be able to play. A true blessing from the Lord to help me be able to play one of my most favoritest of favorite hymns.
As my voice developed over time into a 3 octave range, I reveled in getting to sing high notes in Church, when often lower register hymns were chosen because not many--especially of our elder members--can hit those high notes. But oh the joy to praise in full, top voice those high notes of "Alleluia!" Just like my choir director Kelly DeHaan would talk about in our Sterling Singers choirsides. Sometimes one just has to bear their testimony fortissimo--and singing is the only way we're allowed to do so in our meetings. So why not embrace that opportunity when it comes?
Every time this song comes up, I possibly sing a little louder than any other hymn. Because it is perfect. Not only does it have those "Alleluias" scattered throughout the song, the words for a nature lover like me thrill me to the very core. (Yes, I know--I am waxing eloquent like Anne Shirley, but it cannot be helped--that is how beautiful songs and the glorious world Heavenly Father has created for us affect me.) But the words don't have to be just about the wondrous things in nature singing back to praise their Creator. Those parts of nature are symbolic of us, and how we can praise, too.
"Lift up your voice and with us sing"
"Make music for thy Lord to hear" (I adore that line)
"In praise rejoice"
"Find a voice"
"That gives to man both warmth and light"
We are also His creations. And we should join together as His children to praise and thank him for all that we are and have: in us as children of God, as human beings, and for the beauty of all that is around us--created for us. Truly it is a "How can I keep from singing" moment! And this song evokes and enables those emotions for me.
Because of copyright, I cannot share they lyrics or sheet music, which are also not on the LDS hymns page. But this is not a hymn singular to the LDS church. So many other religions know this, because it was the amazing St. Francis of Assisi who wrote it. (I don't really know much else about him, but he has always had a fond place in my heart for writing this hymn I love so much.) But I feel the video above helps in at least you getting to hear it, as well as some of the beauties of the world that they included with the video.
From the history book (excited to read this!)
"It is a joyous inventory of the blessings heaped upon us by a loving Creator as each of His creations is urged to join in a chorus of praise." So well said. St. Francis became weak and suffered periods of temporary blindness. He knew he would not live much longer, so he composed a hymn "declaring one final time his love for the simple things of nature and praising God for them. His feeling of unity with nature was all-inclusive and highly personal; the original version addresses the sun, wind, and fire as 'brothers,' the moon and water as 'sisters,' and the earth, as retained in our version, as 'mother.'" He added another stanza addressed to our sister death. "Such were his feelings of peace as his life closed."
The original hymn was in vulgar Latin, the language of the common people in St Francis' time. William Draper translated the version the LDS use in their hymnal, writing it for a schoolchildren's festival in England. He condensed the words and added in the "Alleluias" (woohoo!). The tune was first printed in 1623 in Germany, and its title translates to "Let us rejoice." Quite fitting.