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!


Marc and Liz Anson said...

I did the same thing with the songs in the Children's song book. AMAZING experience!

I also started it with the Hymn book too but got side-tracked when we move . . . maybe it's time to start it up again.

AZSongbird said...

What a super idea! If my memory wasn't so fuddled, I would attempt something of the sort. As it is, I am glad that I know as many hymns and as many verses as I do from my growing up years and from when I have lead music as an adult. I will work on one for a while, anyway.

God bless!