Monday, July 11, 2011

The Hymn Project: #267 How Wondrous and Great

How wondrous and great 
Thy works, God of praise!
How just, King of Saints, 
And true are thy ways!
Oh, who shall not fear thee
And honor thy name?
Thou only art holy,
Thou only supreme.

To nations long dark
Thy light shall be shown.
Their worship and vows 
Shall come to thy throne.
Thy truth and thy judgments 
Shall spread all abroad,
Till earth's ev'ry people
Confess thee their God.

 A very happy joyful tune, full of sweet, simple yet eloquent praise of God. I love the music of the 3rd line the best. What, you don't know what I mean? Go find a hymnbook and a piano! Or go to to listen!

Happy hymning!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Hymn Project: #301 I Am a Child of God

I am a child of God, 
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.

I am a child of God,
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I'll live with him once more.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.

I love that our hymnbook has a few children's songs in it.  There are such beautiful, simple truths in songs written for children, and as children of God, we are never truly all grown up in this life. We all need to help each other, young and old. Everyone has something to teach.

How have you helped someone to know they're a child of God? How did you get your testimony that you are a child of God? Or is this a new concept for you?

Happy hymning!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hymn Project: #223 Have I Done Any Good?

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give.
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

Will L. Thompson, the author of both words and music, was a determined fellow! He was turned down by other music publishers, so he started his own publishing company. What grit!

Now, for a personal gripe.  There are several common mistakes made in this song. One, in lyrics: You only get one mansion in heaven. Do you really need more than one?  One in music: Someone, somewhere, waxed creative with an arrangement of this hymn, I am sure, and in the second half of the verse, decided it would be awesome to add some ritardandos and fermatas. That's nice for a choir or small group, but those things DON'T work with congregations, unless your entire congregation is made up of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Everyone gets individual, and some are faster or slower, and it drags drags drags. It's a happy song! Sing it uptempo, and straight through as written. You'll see. /End rant.

It's a good song. Go do something like the hymn suggests! Report back and tell me what you did.

Happy hymning!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Hymn Project: #222 Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord

First, let me say, I have not been slacking. At least as far as hymn learning goes. But I've been too busy to blog! To reduce confusion, I will post date the ones I'm behind on, even though I'm doing all the posts in one day.

Hear thou our hymn, O Lord,
With thankful hearts we pray.
Help us thy will to follow now,
And walk the narrow way.

Keep thou our hearts aglow
With thy eternal word.
Give us thy S[irit ev'ry hour,
We ask thee gracious Lord.

Short, sweet and to the point.  Music and words by the same guy, Frank W. Asper.  He was a MoTab organist for a while (pre-Clay Christiansen?) and wrote 7 other hymns that I will be memorizing:

  • 132 - God Is in His Holy Temple - music[4]
  • 176 - 'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love - music[5]
  • 189 - O Thou, Before the World Began - music[6]
  • 222 - Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord - words and music[7]
  • 245 - This House We Dedicate to Thee - music[8]
  • 257 - Rejoice! A Glorious Sound Is Heard - music[9]
  • 323 - Rise Up, O Men of God (Men's Choir) - music[10]

Happy hymning!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Hymn Project: #34 O Ye Mountains High

O ye mountains high, where the clear blue sky
Arches over the vales of the free,
Where the pure breezes blow and the clear streamlets flow,
How I've longed to thy bosom to flee!
O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
Now my own mountain home, unto thee I have come;
All my fond hopes are centered in thee.

Tho the great and the wise all thy beauties despise,
To the humble and pure thou art dear; 
Tho the haughty may smile and the wicked revile, 
Yet we love thy glad tidings to hear.
O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free,
Tho thou were forced to fly to the chambers on high,
Yet we'll share joy and sorrow with thee.

In thy mountain retreat, God will strengthen thy feet; 
Without fear of thy foes thou shalt tread; 
And their silver and gold, as the prophets have told, 
Shall be brought to adorn thy fair head.
O Zion! dear Zion! home of the free, 
Soon thy towers shall shine with a splendor divine,
And eternal thy glory shall be.

Here our voices we'll raise, and we'll sing to thy praise,
Sacred home of the prophets of God.
Thy deliv'rance is nigh; thy oppressors shall die; 
And thy land shall be freedom's abode.
O Zion! dear Zion! land of the free,
In thy tenmples we'll bend, all thy rights we'll defend;
And our home shall be ever with thee.

Would it surprise you to know a topic for this hymn is Zion? Ha ha ha, I'd be surprised if you were surprised!  Doesn't this paint a great picture of Zion?  A place of refuge and safety, freedom and beauty. The worldly will dismiss and joke about it, but to the faithful, it will be most lovely. I can hardly wait!

Author tidbit: Charles W. Penrose almost spent more time serving missions in England than he did at home, but managed to parent almost 30 children, 15 of which lived to adulthood. Impressive!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Hymn Project: #3 Now Let Us Rejoice

Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation.
No longer as strangers on earth need we roam.
Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation,
And shortly the hour of redemption will come,
When all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

We'll love one another and never dissemble,
But cease to do evil and ever be one.
And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble,
We'll watch for the hour when the Savior will come,
When all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And none will molest them from morn until ev'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Jesus will say to all Israel, "Come home."

In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom,
And after the scourges and harvest are over,
We'll rise with the just when the Savior doth come.
Then all that was promised the Saints will be given,
And they will be crown'd with the angels of heav'n,
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden,
And Christ and his people will ever be one.

Another great by W. W. Phelps. He's super about writing hymns that talk about the Second Coming. Must've been on his mind a lot. Here's an interesting tidbit about his life: He was excommunicated and rebaptized twice. Never say the Lord doesn't give us second chances!

I like this hymn because it is so joyful, and positive. The early saints knew from personal experience what it was like to be "molest[ed] from morn until ev'n," and I'm sure the idea of any respite from that was lovely to contemplate. We don't always have the open opposition from people around us these days (though some do), but we each face opposition from the Adversary, and just from the basic challenges of mortal life, so we can find peace in that concept too.

Topics: Enduring to the End, Faith, Jesus Christ-- Second Coming, Joy (see also Cheerfulness), Millennium (see also Zion), Unity.

I think you can learn a lot from the topics a hymn relates to, especially if you haven't thought of it that way before. Try it! Then after you've discovered topics, you can find a scripture and start a chain for your scripture study.

Happy hymning!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Hymn Project: #227 There is Sunshine in My Soul Today

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky, 
For Jesus is my light.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus listening can hear
The songs I cannot sing.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is springtime in my soul today,
For when the Lord is near,
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flow'rs of grace appear.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope and praise and love,
For blessings which he gives me now,
For joys "laid up" above.
Oh, there's sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll. 
When Jesus shows his smiling face
There is sunshine in the soul.

I love this hymn. It has long been one of my favorites. The funny thing is, for the longest time I could never remember the first verse!  I knew all the others, but not the first. Ha! Well, I've fixed that now. I sing this song a lot. Sometimes I sing it because I have sunshine in my soul; sometimes I sing it because I want sunshine in my soul. :) And it rarely fails in making me happier, and sometimes, when I'm happy, singing it moves me to tears. Ah, emotions.

Here's an interesting tidbit for you.  These lyrics were written by a lady named Eliza E. Hewitt, who was an invalid for most of her life. And yet she continued to find joy through Christ! That is so inspiring. She also wrote a lot of other neat hymns. Look her up!

Topics: Gratitude, Joy, Music and Song

And it has an irregular meter! Yay!

Happy hymning!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Hymn Project: #340 The Star-Spangled Banner

What better way to honor the day than with a patriotic hymn and anthem?

Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, 
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, 
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep, 
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes ,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?  
How it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;

'Tis the star-spangled banner!  Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand 
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation! 
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I don't know about you, but growing up, I knew the words to this anthem, but I didn't really comprehend the meaning. It was just a bunch of words.  But you take it out of the music, and you can see there's a story in that first verse!  This wasn't written during the War for Independence, either. It was written during the War of 1812.  The American Patriotic Spirit had had time to soak in to every person who lived there; the flag meant something to them. They loved their country.  So to see it still waving over the fort in that early morning probably moved many people to tears, as this song still does today.

I have to say I also did not know the other 2 verses, and does that make me sad! They are so powerful and beautiful.  My favorite phrase I think, is in the 3rd verse: "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just." Yup. No elaboration necessary, I think. (If you want some, tell me in a comment, and I will.)

So while you're having your party or picnic, salute that star-spangled banner, sing this song, and remember why we celebrate today, and think about how you would respond to a call to defend it once more.

Happy Independence Day!

And happy hymning!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Hymn Project: #38 Come, All Ye Saints of Zion

Come, all ye Saints of Zion, And let us praise the Lord;
His ransomed are returning, According to his word.
In sacred song and gladness They walk the narrow way, 
And thank the Lord who brought them To see the latter day.

Come, ye dispersed of Judah, Join in the theme and sing
With harmony unceasing The praises of our King, 
Whose arm is now extended, On which the world may gaze,
To gather up the righteous In these the latter days.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel, And let your joys abound!
The voice of God shall reach you Wherever you are found
And call you back from bondage, That you may sing his praise 
In Zion and Jerusalem, In these the latter days.

Then gather up for Zion, Ye Saints thruout the land, 
And clear the way before you, As God shall give command.
Tho wicked men and devils  Exert their pow'r 'tis vain, 
Since He who is eternal Has said you shall obtain.

Wow! Isn't that amazing! I figured out this melody without the piano, and it was powerful, then I played it and... just, WOW!  I couldn't stop smiling while I was singing, and it almost moved me to tears.  A couple of my favorite phrases:

"The voice of God shall reach you Wherever you are found."
"Tho wicked men and devils Exert their pow'r 'tis vain, Since He who is eternal Has said you shall obtain."

And the way the music is written, it makes me feel like there should be an exclamation point at the end of each verse.

 New favorite! Lost treasure! Beautiful!

Of course, it makes sense that a hymn like this would be written by a man like William W. Phelps, who wrote so many great hymns. And it's interesting to not that this was included in the first LDS hymnbook, put together by Emma Smith in 1835.

Go check it out!

Happy hymning!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Hymn Project: #28 Saints, Behold How Great Jehovah

Saints, behold how great Jehovah
Hath his blessings on you shed.
Zion ev'rywhere is growing
As the gospel light is spread!

Out of all past dispensations, 
God is bringing into one
Ev'ry truth by prophets spoken,
For the last days have begun.

Rise and lift up Zion's standard;
Tell our Father's children now:
Heaven's blessed King approaches;
All men must before him bow.

 This hymn is in the section of the hymnbook called Restoration, which comprises hymns 1 through 61, also known as the Restoration Hymns.  These are hymns that were either popular at the time of the Restoration (or the beginning of our church in the latter days) or were written at that time for those saints.  I can only imagine that those already disposed to music would feel an increase of inspiration for hymns at that time, when there was such an outflowing, and it was so new.

The scriptures for this hymn are:
Doctrine and Covenants 64:41-42 For, behold, I say unto you that Zion shall flourish, and the glory of the Lord shall be upon her; And she shall be an ensign unto the people, and there shall come unto her out of every nation under heaven.
Doctrine and Covenants 133:37-38 And this gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.  And the servants of God shall go forth, saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come;

Related Topics:  Jesus Christ--Second Coming; Missionary Work; Restoration of the Gospel; Truth; Zion.

I love this hymn! It's short and sweet, upbeat, talks about the Second Coming (one of my favorite topics), and is just happy! It was also a good start for memorizing, since it's so short. :)

Happy hymning!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Hymn Project: A Beginning

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns.  --First Presidency Preface to the LDS Hymnbook 

The other day, my mom showed me a hymn that she remembered from her youth that hadn't been sung in a while.  (It was miraculously sung in church a couple of weeks later... what are the odds? The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways...)  It got me thinking about how many hymns are unfamiliar to me.  So I figured it out!

The final count, known to unknown was: 221 - 120! That's almost 2/3 that I know.

I categorized that by whether I knew the tune without playing. It was kind of hard on several of them to decide which category they should be in. I probably should have had 3 sections. Oh well. Hindsight and what not.

Now, I know a lot. I also know that the majority of our church members don't know as many as I do.  I didn't include lyrics in my decision because as an organist, I'm more concerned naturally with the music than the words, and I started young on that (at age 14 I was called to be ward organist).  And I know that the number and which of the hymns people know is a lot based on their age. I bet for the average youth, the statistic would at least be reversed, if not totally skewed in the other direction.  That is a tragedy! There are so many great hymns, both in music and message (341, in my opinion, haha) and we're all missing out! (If you know all the hymns, up to and including at least the first verse of every hymn in the hymnal, speak now, and I will humbly honor you... no? Thought not.)

So I've decided to learn them all!  My minimum criteria is as follows:

-Be able to play the hymn through without mistakes
-Be able to sing the melody without accompaniment
-Memorize the first verse
-Know the number of each hymn, and the hymn of each number

For those songs which I already meet the criteria for, I will:
-Memorize all the verses
-Learn all the parts, and memorize the alto

Yes, I think that is sufficient.  I will do a hymn per day, and in this way should be finished in just under a year.

As a way of tracking my progress, each day I will post about the hymn I learned, including the scriptures associated with it, the topics it applies to, and any interesting stories that might go along with them.

I'm both incredibly intimidated and excited about my new project. You don't have to crazy like I am, but I encourage you to also assess where you are in hymn knowledge, and endeavor to expand that, even by only one hymn.

P.S. To my friends of other faiths: Hey! We share some hymns! Look for those, especially. But you will see that most of our hymns praise Christ in some fashion or other. And of course I welcome all comments!

Happy hymning!