These are a few of my favorite hymns

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I recall the time before we went to the three hour block meeting setup.

Primary on Wednesday, Sunday school was Sunday morning, and sacrament meeting was Sunday evening.

I have this strong memory of being at sacrament meeting with my dad. I was pretty young. Still the age where it was almost acceptable to lie down and fall asleep on my father’s lap during that late evening sacrament meeting. I remember we sat on the front left side of the chapel, right where the emergency exit leading outside was. There were these massive windows, going all the way up to the ceiling. On this particular evening, it was dark and the curtains were slightly opened. I remember looking out at the black sky in contrast to the streetlights that were on. I remember just wanting to fall asleep. The monotone pitch of the high councillor’s talk wasn’t helping either.

I also remember the hymns. Not because they were remarkable in any unusual way, but because we seemed to sing them all the time. The opening hymn was “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet”, followed by “In Humility, Our Savior” for the sacrament hymn. The rest hymn was “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” and we closed with “Let Us All Press On”. I think we sang those at least a couple of times a month.

Primary had it’s favorites. I recall “I am a Child of God”, “Give said the little stream”, “Reverently Quietly”, and “The Chapel Doors”.

The MTC also had their top ten favorites. It’s been a few years, but if my memory serves me correctly, I’d list the MTC top ten as:

  1. Called To Serve
  2. We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet
  3. The Spirit of God
  4. Joseph Smith’s First Prayer
  5. Because I Have Been Given Much
  6. Battle Hymn of the Republic
  7. I Know That My Redeemer Lives
  8. I Need Thee Every Hour
  9. Onward Christian Soldiers
  10. Come All Ye Sons of God

(These stand out because we seemed to sing them either in our class or in the “assemblies” we were always having)

Conversely, I don’t think I’ve ever sang #121 I’m a Pilgrim, I’m a Stranger.

In your neck of the woods, is your ward in a “Hymn Rut” ? Are there some old favorites that the ward music chairperson just can’t seem to let go of?

17 thoughts on “These are a few of my favorite hymns

  1. The ward we live in now has a better variety of hymns than any I have ever been in before. The music director seems passionate about not repeating a song twice in one month, which is nice. We even sang hymn 121 last year. I wish in priesthood opening exercises we sang a variety of the priesthood hymns, also, but we don’t.

    The choir director, OTOH, is content to do the same numbers for the Christmas performance every year. It’s a little boring.

  2. I am an anti-hymn-rut-Lehi-Nephi. I go looking for interesting hymns that aren’t familiar and we sing those.

    A talented pianist with a Ph.D in music was just called to our high council, so I no longer have to lean toward just songs everyone can sing a-cappella in our Stake PEC meetings. The whole book is open to me!

    Well, except “As Sisters in Zion.” We’ll leave that to the RS. ;)

  3. There is comfort in having hymns that remind us of our youth. Most choristers that I have seen in the last 20 years have moved to newer hymns, but I always enjoy the old standbys that remind me of my early childhood.

  4. Our music director is on a mission I am sure to pick songs no one knows so that she can make sure we are awake but instead of following her conducting, all our eyes are on the hymnals trying to read the notes and words and make them match. I miss being able to just keep my head up and sing a hymn by heart.

  5. Sometimes the Bishop will instruct the chorister as to what songs he wants sung. depending upon the subject matter of the talks for that day.

    I would love to attend a church where fun songs are sung and you can feel the spirit.

    The Spirit of God for example.

  6. “and sing a hymn by heart”

    Maybe the project for this year should be for everyone to finish memorizing the hymnal by the end of 2007.

  7. When I was ward chorister, I tried to include a lesser-known hymn about once every other week. If we’re not going to learn hymns we don’t already know, what’s the point of having them in the book? We could just have a 10-page pamphlet.

    I also made singing ALL the verses—including the ones not between the staffs—the rule, rather than the exception.

    I think I took the bishoric by surprise by doing things the way they’re supposed to be done in the handbook: Through the ward music chairman, I asked the bishopric to supply me with the themes for upcoming meetings, chose hymns appropriate to those themes, and submitted them for approval in advance. If the bishopric didn’t have a theme chosen, I would choose generic opening and closing hymns.

    I also tried to look beyond mere labels in choosing hymns. For example, I didn’t use “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth” as a sacrament hymn, because it’s mainly about the Second Coming, not as much about the Atonement, and not about the ordinance of the sacrament. However, I did once choose “Rock of Ages” as a sacrament hymn, because its words are entirely centered on Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

  8. “I also made singing ALL the verses—including the ones not between the staffs—the rule, rather than the exception.”

    I’ve thought for awhile if I ever became the chorister (ha ha), I would do the same thing.

  9. One of my favorite moments was when I had scheduled “O Say, What Is Truth?” and one of the speakers quoted its words in her talk—without our having spoken to one another. We both just thought of it based on the theme of the meeting.

  10. I’m partial to the hymns whose music was written many centuries ago. I don’t know for sure what the difference is between those hymns and the new ones, but the bass part on those classics is usually much more alive. I’m also a big fan of “If You Could Hie to Kolob,” not so much for the words (though I like them), but more for the music.

  11. Are you familiar with the tune formerly used for “If You Could Hie to Kolob”—the one used in the 1948 hymnal? It’s quite different. The current tune is a traditional English tune not composed for the hymn.

  12. I’m a ward organist and I suspect that sometimes the range of hymns may be dictated by what the organist is capable of playing. Even if people like “All Creature of Our God and King”, if the organist drops every second note and plays it slower than a funeral dirge that song probably won’t be sung. It took me quite a while before I was confident enough to play more than a handful of hymns. (And woe unto the bishopric member who changed the hymn mid-meeting to something I hadn’t been able to practice ahead of time!) Fortunately I’ve improved since then.

    Personally, I like to expand my ward’s exposure to new hymns by playing little-known ones as postlude or prelude often so that if they are chosen as congregational hymns people will recognize them more easily.

  13. I like to expand my ward’s exposure to new hymns by playing little-known ones as postlude or prelude often so that if they are chosen as congregational hymns people will recognize them more easily.

    An excellent idea. I will keep this in mind if I ever become ward organist or music chairperson.

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