The Oxcart, CS 219

Oxen

Oxen Pulling a Covered Wagon

Oxen were used frequently in the pioneer companies. It is estimated that half to two-thirds of pioneer wagons were pulled by oxen. They were preferred over horses or mules for several reasons.  Stanley P. Kimball describes some of these in “History of the Mormon Trail:”

In many ways the Mormons were very much like their contemporary Oregonians and Californians.  West of the Missouri River they shared trails, campgrounds, ferries, triumphs, tragedies, and common trail experiences of the day, with thousands of other westering Americans. 

“The Saints used all kinds of wagons and carriages, but mostly they used ordinary reinforced farm wagons, which were about ten feet long, arched over by cloth or waterproof canvas that could be closed at each end. 

“The pioneers used a variety of draft animals, especially horses, mules, and oxen.  They often preferred the latter when they were available, for oxen had great strength and patience and were easy to keep; they did not balk at mud or quicksand, they required no expensive and complicated harness, and they could live better on the sparse grasses of the high plains. “ [http://www.mormontrails.org/Trails/Summary/trailsum.htm]

A very thorough description of the use of oxen in pioneer companies can be found in the article written by Dixon Ford (an actual ox drover) and Lee Kreutzer called “Oxen: Engines of the Overland Emigration.”  

Oxcarts

Mormon Pioneers Travelling by Oxcart

Often the oxen pulled large covered wagons.  Sometimes they pulled smaller wagons called oxcarts.  The oxcarts were slow and extremely noisy because grease was not used at the wheel joints. Sufficient grease for such a purpose would not have been easily available, but, more importantly, the carts had open hubs that collected grit more readily when grease was applied. This grit quickly damaged the wooden wheels. The wood-on-wood grinding of axle inside wheel hub made the carts audible miles before they were visible on the horizon and the sound of their creaking, squealing wheels could still be heard long after they had faded from sight.

The song, “The Oxcart,” first appeared in church publications in a Children’s Friend magazine of July 1949.  Perhaps it had been an old pioneer song but, even in 1949, no one could remember who wrote the words or music.

Congregation Choir Arrangement

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

Listen to it here.  You will hear the enhanced piano doing the intro, then voices join in singing the melody, next the voices sing the countermelody and, finally, on the third verse, you will hear melody and countermelody together.

PURCHASE IT HERE.

In Our Lovely Deseret #307

In our lovely Deseret, Where the Saints of God have met,

There’s a multitude of children all around.

They are generous and brave; They have precious souls to save;

They must listen and obey the gospel’s sound.

This is very much an instructional song for the children of the church.  It was written by Eliza R. Snow (1804-1867), who, although having no children of her own, loved and cared for the many families around her.  As you can well imagine, with the very large families in those early days of the Church, there would definitely have been “a multitude of children all around.”

Unlike much of the instructional music and lectures directed to children of that day, this song has a decidedly positive tone.  Sister Snow first establishes that these children “are generous and brave” with “precious souls to save.”  In the second verse, she explains the need for following the word of wisdom: “That the children may live long and be beautiful and strong,” since they “are seeking to be great and good and wise.”  They are further described in the chorus as coming together “in innocence and love… with happy hearts and cheerful faces.”

Having established a positive tone, Sister Snow goes on further in verses three and four to teach the children not to lose their tempers, to control evil passions, to be polite, to treat others well, to be kind, to pray and to love and serve the Lord – in short, just about everything a well-trained young child should know.

Spencer W. Kimball 1895-1985

President Spencer W. Kimball was one of those children.  He recounted his fondness for this instructional song in a talk given in the April 1978 conference:

“I remember the song “In Our Lovely Deseret,” which Sister Eliza R. Snow wrote. She composed many of our songs. I can remember how lustily we sang:

Hark! Hark! Hark! ’tis children’s music,

Children’s voices, O, how sweet,

When in innocence and love,

Like the angels up above,

They with happy hearts and cheerful faces meet.

“I am not sure how much innocence and love we had, but I remember we sang it, even straining our little voices to reach the high E which was pretty high for children’s voices. I remember we sang:

That the children may live long,

And be beautiful and strong.

I wanted to live a long time and I wanted to be beautiful and strong—but never reached it.

Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise.

And I learned to despise them. There were people in our rural community who were members of the Church who sometimes used tea and coffee and sometimes tobacco. The song goes on:

Drink no liquor, and they eat

But a very little meat

“[I still don’t eat very much meat.]

They are seeking to be great and good and wise.

And then we’d “Hark! Hark! Hark” again, “… When in innocence and love Like the angels up above.” And then the third verse went:

They should be instructed young,

How to watch and guard the tongue,

And their tempers train, and evil passions bind;

They should always be polite,

And treat ev’rybody right

And in ev’ry place be affable and kind.

“And then we’d “Hark! Hark! Hark” again.

They must not forget to pray,

Night and morning ev’ry day,

For the Lord to keep them safe from ev’ry ill,

And assist them to do right,

That with all their mind and might

They may love him and may learn to do his will.

And then we’d sing, “Hark! Hark! Hark” again. I was never quite sure whether the angels were limited in their voice culture as we were, but we were glad to take the credit [https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/05/strengthening-the-family-the-basic-unit-of-the-church?lang=eng].”

History

Eliza R. Snow 1804-1887

Eliza R. Snow (1804-1887) was born in Beckett, Massachusetts, but moved with her family to Mantua, Ohio, when she was only two years old.  Mantua, Ohio, happened to be located only four miles from Hiram, Ohio, where Joseph Smith took up residence for a time.  During that period, her family became very interested in the new Church he had organized.  Her mother and sister joined first, then Eliza, and then her brother, Lorenzo, who later became the 5th President of the Church.

Eliza was the first secretary of the Relief Society organization when it was formed in Nauvoo in 1847, with Emma Smith as President.  Eliza served as secretary for the three years following and took copious notes of the organizational process, as directed by the prophet Joseph Smith.  Later, she used these notes to re-establish the Relief Society in the Utah Territory.  She was called as the second General Relief Society president in 1868 and spent many years travelling around Utah helping Bishops establish the Relief Society organization in their wards.  She served as General President of the Relief Society until her death in 1887.

Eliza R. Snow was a wife of Joseph Smith and, after his death, married Brigham Young.

George F. Root 1820-1895

George F. Root (1820-1895) was a very popular composer of the day.  He had already achieved much fame prior to the Civil War (1861-1865) but composed 35 well-loved songs for and about that conflict.  His song “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” was one of these.  With its catchy tune and poignant lyrics describing the thoughts of a captured Union soldier, it was sung often by the Union soldiers:

In the prison cell I sit,

Thinking, Mother dear, of you,

And our bright and happy home so far away;

And the tears they fill my eyes

Spite of all that I can do,

Though I try to cheer my comrades and be gay.

Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching;

Cheer up, comrades, they will come,

And beneath the starry flag

We shall breathe the air again

Of the freeland in our own beloved home.

This is the tune that Eliza R. Snow used to carry the lyrics of “In Our Lovely Deseret.”  The tune was also used for “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and, across the ocean, for “God Save Ireland,” an Irish rebel song which served as an unofficial Irish national anthem for Irish nationalists from the 1870s to the 1910s.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate, enhanced accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

The countermelody is designed for voice or instrument and can be sung by itself or in combination with the original melody.  Here is a sample of the countermelody being sung as the piano plays the original melody.  You will hear one verse with just the enhanced piano, then a second verse with enhanced piano and vocal countermelody:

PURCHASE IT HERE.

Here is a sample of the SATB accompaniment (the one in the hymnbook) being played on the organ while the enhanced accompaniment is played on the piano and the countermelody comes in on the oboe.

PURCHASE IT HERE.

Jesus Said Love Everyone, CS 61

This little song contains a simple yet profound message – and one that is often very difficult to live by:

“Jesus said love everyone: Treat them kindly too.

When your heart is filled with love, Others will love you.”

If only we could all live by these words all the time!  Wouldn’t the world be a happy place?

Since that doesn’t always happen, the next best thing is to teach this message to children while they are young, that it might be incorporated into their thinking and way of living.  What better way to teach it than through the words and melody of a pretty little song like this?

Jesus taught: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22: 39).

Jesus also taught that we shouldn’t just love our neighbours and friends.  We should love everyone, even those who are hard to love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5: 44).

Children can learn to be kind and learn that the love they send out to the world will come back to them somewhere somehow.  And they will, at least, be happier.

History

Moiselle Renstrom (1889-1956) was a teacher who had the gift of becoming “as a little child” (Graham: We Shall Make Music, p. 85).  She wrote several books of children’s music: Merrily We Sing, Musical Adventures, and Rhythm Fun.  These books have been used widely by early childhood teachers for over sixty years.  They are still available at Amazon and other book sources – even after all these years.

Sister Renstrom wrote thirteen of the songs included in the Children’s Songbook.  Many of her songs, such as Once There Was a Snowman, Little Seeds Lie Fast Asleep, Two Little Eyes and Rain is Falling All Around encourage children to pretend and move with the music.  Sister Pat Kelsey Graham, who was on the selection committee for the Children’s Songbook, states that [Sister Renstrom’s] works required no changes.  “She knew the range for children’s voices, wrote so that it was easy to play, taught well with her rhymes, and was doctrinally accurate” (Ibid).

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument, such as flute, violin, oboe, bells or the upper part of the piano.  Some of your Primary children may be capable of adding this countermelody on the instrument they are learning.

Listen to it here with vocals performing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

This is a very short, simple song.  For variety and a bit more of a challenge, you could lengthen the song as we have done in the sample by singing it the first time through with the original melody, the second time with the countermelody and the third time with both together.

Alternatively, you could have an instrument play with the children singing the second time through.  To make things easier for the children, you could have an adult soloist (perhaps a teacher?) sing the countermelody.

As with all our Congregation Choir arrangements, the enhanced piano part is not enhanced so much that it is difficult for the average pianist to play.  Hours of practice are not required!

From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise #297

Singing is a big part of our Church meetings.  Young children in Primary learn the basics of the gospel and feel the stirrings of testimony through the songs they sing. They feel the good spirit of these songs and they love them.  When my husband was the Bishop of our ward, he would interview children ready to graduate from Primary and ask them what their favourite part of Primary was.  Invariably, they answered that it was the songs.  They loved singing the Primary songs.  We have many beloved hymns as well that help us learn and express our beliefs.

We are blessed to sing the same hymns and Primary songs wherever we live in the Church and many of us sing them often in our homes.  These songs bring a wonderful spirit of goodness to our homes.  We express our faith through them and we teach our children with them.

The blessings we sing about in the first verse of this hymn include faith, peace, scriptures, and living prophets.  In the second verse we are told:

“God’s truths protect the hearth from wrong when error’s ways allure,

Lift minds from self to nobleness, Keep thought and action pure.”

Learning the hymns can keep us safe at home and away from home.  Boyd K. Packer learned about the protecting power of hymns from his brother shortly after WWII.

“My brother, Colonel Leon C. Packer, was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A much decorated B-24 pilot, he became a brigadier general in the Air Force.

“…[H]e told me how he was able to hold himself together under fire. He said, ‘I have a favorite hymn’—and he named it—‘and when things got rough I would sing it silently to myself, and there would come a faith and an assurance that kept me on course’” (Boyd K. Packer: The Spirit of Revelation, October 1999).

In a later talk, President Packer gave further advice on this subject:

Choose a favorite hymn or song… one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. There are many beautiful songs to choose from. Seek the guidance of the Spirit in making your selection. Go over the song in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a simple song. Now use this as the course for your thoughts to follow. Make it your emergency channel.

“Whenever you find shady actors slipping from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this CD, as it were. It will change your whole mood.

“Because the music is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will slip shamefully away. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light. In due time you will find yourself humming the music inwardly, almost automatically, to drive out unworthy thoughts” (Boyd K. Packer: Worthy Thoughts, Worthy Music, April 2008).

History

Vernald W. Johns (1902-1999), the writer of this hymn text, reported that “the thought of the joy the gospel brings to those who live its principles, as felt in our own and other families, provided the title line that had to be expanded.  Because I am a music director in the Church, it was natural for me to think of joyfulness in terms of song.” (Karen Lynn Davidson: Our Latter-day Hymns, p. 299).

Composer G. William Richards (1918-2005), who served as a member of the 1985 Hymnbook Executive Committee, reported that in the work of that committee “many texts were passed around each week which had been submitted without tunes.  This one was circulated for a month or so and appeared to be an orphan, so I took it home with me one night”(Ibid).  He soon had the music written and submitted it anonymously.  A simple and dignified hymn tune, Brother Richards gave it the name DYRENG because his wife’s home in Manti, Utah, the Dyreng home, “had many glad songs arise in it” (Ibid).

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used  with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

PURCHASE our arrangement with vocal countermelody here.

PURCHASE our arrangement with instrumental (flute in this sample) countermelody here.

 

 

 

 

 

Love at Home #294

Mother’s Day is fast approaching.  The hymn LOVE AT HOME is always appropriate on this sacred occasion when we celebrate our mothers.  I call it a sacred occasion because I am remembering a conversation I had with my daughter this week.  She is about 38 weeks pregnant and taught her last day of school for a while last Tuesday.  She mentioned that it really was time she stopped working.  She said that a couple of the other teachers had called her a “goddess.”  I asked what they meant by that term and she said that people like to call pregnant women “goddesses.”  As I thought about it, I decided that was a good term for a very pregnant woman.  Pregnancy, such a close partnership with God, is a sacred state.  President Thomas S. Monson seems to agree with me on that point – see quote #20 below.

Twenty Favourite Quotes About Mothers

  1.  Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever (Unknown).
  2. A Mother’s greatest masterpiece is her children (Unknown).
  3. A Mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take (Cardinal Mermillod).
  4. And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3: 20).
  5. Being a mother means that your heart is no longer yours; it wanders wherever your children do (Unknown).
  6. Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed (Linda Wooten).
  7. Mother: One person who does the work of twenty – for free (Unknown).
  8. The only thing better than having you for a Mom is my children having you for a Grandma (Unknown).
  9. Be kind to the women. They constitute half the population and are mothers to the other half (Gordon B. Hinckley).
  10. God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers (Jewish Proverb).
  11. MOM turned upside down spells WOW! (Unknown).
  12. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world (in whom there is often such an inner sense of spirituality) will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world (Spencer W. Kimball).
  13. All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to my angel mother (Abraham Lincoln).
  14. Mothers are like buttons; they hold everything together (Unknown).
  15. My children are now all grown. Some are in their 60s. But when they call and I answer the phone, they say, “How are you?” And before I can answer, they ask, “Is Mother there?”  (Gordon B. Hinckley).
  16. Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; … yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56:45–48).
  17.  I never knew how much love my heart could hold until someone called me Mommy (Unknown).
  18. In the end, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life (Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard).
  19. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:26–27).
  20. May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one (Thomas S. Monson).

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used  with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

PURCHASE the arrangement with vocal countermelody here.  LISTEN to it below.

PURCHASE the arrangement with instrumental countermelody here.  LISTEN to it below.

Did You Think to Pray? #140

A prayer in the morning sets the tone for the day.  For me, it makes the day go more smoothly.  Even though I’m generally in a big hurry in the morning, anxious to get crossing things off my list, any time spent in prayer is certain to be returned later on through greater efficiency and greater purpose.  That’s why I find the advice in this hymn very applicable – and very wise.

The first verse of DID YOU THINK TO PRAY? describes the protecting power of prayer.  “Did you sue for loving favour as a shield today?”  Before you left your room this morning, did you pray that your family would be kept safe?  Did you pray for their physical protection and the protection of correct choices?  King David recognized the need for this in morning prayers:  “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up… For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield” (Psalm 5: 3, 12).

The second verse speaks of the calming power of prayer.  “Did you plead for grace, my brother, that you might forgive another who had crossed your way?”  Did you ask for a forgiving heart?

The third verse speaks of the power prayer has to soothe sorrow, as the Balm of Gilead soothes wounds.  Balm of Gilead was a healing ointment made from the resin of bushes that grew in Gilead.  Prayer is a healing ointment to the sorrow of our souls.

Bruce D. Porter said the following in a BYU talk:

“I am deeply thankful for the gift of prayer, which is surely among the greatest of gifts given by our Father in Heaven to His children on earth. Prayer is the ordained means by which men and women, and even little children, come to know God. It is our channel of communication with heaven. It is a priceless privilege.

“My mother grew up in the small town of Liberty, Utah. When she was young, in the 1930s, her ward had an organist who could play only one hymn. The congregation sang other hymns a cappella, but at least once every Sunday they would sing, “Ere you left your room this morning, Did you think to pray?”

“I especially love the third verse of the hymn:

When sore trials came upon you,

Did you think to pray?

When your soul was full of sorrow,

Balm of Gilead did you borrow

At the gates of day?

[“Did You Think to Pray?” Hymns, 2002, no. 140]

“I think of ‘the gates of day’ as the opening to a realm of eternal daylight—gates of prayer that connect us with our heavenly home and the realm of glory where God and Christ dwell. When we pray, we borrow strength, love, and light at the very door of eternity.  (https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-d-porter_did-you-think-to-pray/)

Remember that Christ is at the door knocking.  He wants to help us in every way he can but he waits for us to ask.  Asking first thing in the morning gives us so much help for each challenging event that we might encounter through the day.

History

Mary A. Pepper Kidder (1820-1905) was the daughter of Daniel Freeman Pepper. She belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church and lived most of her life in New York City.

Mary was blinded as a teenager but, fortunately, had her sight restored after a few years.  Being blind for several years and not knowing whether sight would ever return would be no small thing.  Perhaps it was that very challenge that helped her develop her inward sight – and skills as a poet.

Mary married Ellis Usher Kidder in 1844 and together they had three children.  Ellis was a printer in a music publishing business.  During the civil war, he enlisted as a 40-year-old private and, although surviving several battles, died of dysentery.  Mary was left to provide for her three children, who still lived at home.  What had once been merely a hobby became her livelihood as she took to writing hymns, temperance songs and patriotic songs for a living.

Tragedy struck for her soon after the war when her twelve-year-old son drowned.  It struck again when her only daughter died at the age of 38.  She seems to have had a close relationship with her surviving son and his wife. (http://drhamrick.blogspot.ca/2012/11/did-you-think-to-pray.html)

Mary Kidder clearly knew much of the sad and challenging parts of life.  She would have known too the importance of arming herself with the protecting and guiding power of prayer each and every morning.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used  with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; oboe in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

PURCHASE this arrangement with vocal countermelody here. Computer vocals sing the countermelody in our sample.

PURCHASE this arrangement with instrumental countermelody here.  An oboe plays the countermelody in our sample.

Come Unto Jesus #117

Christ’s love is truly unconditional.  He loves us just as we are – saint, sinner, weak, strong, careless or burdened with cares.  He loves us and extends to us that ever-present welcome: “Come unto me.”  With outstretched arms, he beckons us to come, to partake of his love, to lay our burdens at his feet, to learn of him and become like him.

“[Christ] doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26: 33).

Spencer Kinard beautifully expresses some considerations on this topic in “The Spoken Word”:

“One of the most frequent words in Christ’s vocabulary was a small one – come.  The gestures which we associate with him echo that same idea.  Arms outstretched in welcome, his entire being said, ‘Come.”  This is not a restricted invitation for the few, for the elect, for those who somehow deserve it; he made it open and for all, no matter how weak or afraid or hesitant… Come follow me, in fact, was the message of his life.

“Come.  It is an immediate appeal, admitting no excuses. We who say to the Lord, ‘I am too busy.  I am too tired.  I will work you in at another time,’ have missed the point.  There is not a mortal being who is not burdened with cares that threaten to absorb him altogether.  All are preoccupied, all busy…

“Come.  It is without qualifications.  Not come when we are perfect.  Not come when we have no doubts or smudges, when life is uncontested and we have no problems.  Nor is it an invitation to come only when life is at its darkest – only in time of dire need.  It is a simple, ‘Come now.  Come as you are.’

“He knows that if we will come to him in pain, we will leave in joy.  If we come in confusion, we will leave in clarity.  If we come in darkness, we will leave in light.  So he offers the invitation and leaves it extended with a kind of divine hopefulness – until we respond” (A Time for Reflection [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1986], pp.113-14).

The words of this hymn beautifully tell us:

Come unto Jesus

… He’ll ever heed you

…He’ll surely hear you

…He’ll safely guide you

…Ever he calls, “Come to me.”

If we believe him and follow his words, we will be able to find joy, no matter our trials.  Come Unto Jesus… just come.

History

Orson Pratt Huish (1851-1932) was born In Blaenavon, Monmouthshire, England, to James W. Huish and Helen Niblet.  He was named after Orson Pratt, who was the president of the British Mission at the time.  When Orson was nine years old, he travelled with his mother and siblings to join his father in St. Louis, Missouri.  From there, they travelled with the Job Pingree Company of Mormon pioneers to Payson, Utah, where they settled into a life of farming and ranching.

In 1880, Huish formed the “Huish Band” with four of his brothers and one sister.  They performed throughout the Utah Territory, often playing for dances. Previously, Orson had performed with the band of John D. Stark, another resident of Payson, Utah.  I am sure he must have also known Joseph L. Townsend, another hymn writer of about the same age, who also lived in Payson, Utah. Joseph L. Townsend is the writer of ten hymn texts in our LDS hymnal.  Payson must have been quite a musical town in those years!  It probably still is.  🙂

Orson Pratt Huish seemed to have been full of creativity and business drive.  In addition to forming the band with his siblings, he operated general stores at various times in Moab, Utah; Eugene, Oregon; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He also opened a drugstore called Huish Drug.  He was trained in commercial photography and operated a photography business.  He was also a painter of some note and is listed in “Artists of Utah” by Olpin, Seifrit and Swanson (1999).

In his spare time (!!!), Orson Pratt Huish managed to write over 300 songs.  Three of his hymns are contained in our current hymnal and much of his music is still widely available.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used  with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

PURCHASE this arrangement with enhanced piano accompaniment and vocal countermelody here.

 

PURCHASE this arrangement with enhanced piano accompaniment and instrumental countermelody here.

Beauty Everywhere, CS 232-233

“Beauty Everywhere” is another song that helps us recognize and rejoice in the beauties of the world around us – skies, leaves, flowers, birds, etc.  This gratitude for the beauties in nature is just a start, however.  The verses also mention love, life and God in his heavens.  In the chorus, we are encouraged to have hearts “full of thanks for all he gives to [us].”

Gratitude is an important element in our church.  Roughly 25% of our sacrament meetings – our testimony meetings – are dedicated to feeling grateful.  Much of every prayer we utter is dedicated to gratitude.  And Heavenly Father doesn’t just want to hear this gratitude for his sake.  He requires it for our sakes.  He knows that we will be happier if we recognize and express gratitude for all we have.  Gratitude builds as we become more aware of our abundance.  As we become more grateful, we will find more and more things to be grateful for.

As Alma lovingly taught his son, Helaman, “… when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37).

A similar quote from Tecumseh (1768-1813), a Shawnee Native American Leader says,  “When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself” (As quoted in A Sourcebook for Earth’s Community of Religions (1995) by Joel Diederik Beversluis).

History

President Hinckley paid tribute to Matilda Watts Cahoon (1881-1973), writer of this song text, at a celebration of the new hymnbook in 1985.  He declared (with the usual twinkle in his eye, I’m sure):

“She somehow coaxed a tune out of me as a part of the boy’s chorus in junior high school.  She was a great and delightful and lovely teacher” (LDS Church News).

Matilda Watts Cahoon was a teacher in Utah’s public schools for thirty-nine years, the first woman delegate to the state legislature from Salt Lake County, and a member of the Primary general board from 1913-1939.

Mildred Tanner Pettit (1895-1977), composer of the music for this song, was also a member of the Primary general board for a time and collaborated often with Sister Mildred Cahoon on songs and programs.  She also wrote the music for “I Am a Child of God.”

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

LISTEN to it here with a flute playing the countermelody:

verse 1: voices singing melody

verse 2: voices singing melody and flute on countermelody

PURCHASE it here.

My Heavenly Father Loves Me, CS 228-229

Robin Singing

I love this song!  It has a beautiful melody and a beautiful message.  God loves us and he has given us a wonderful world to enjoy – because He loves us.  If we focus on the beauties of the world around us, we are bound to see them – because they are there.  They are there, in fact, in rich abundance.  And we will be happy if we see them.

When we sing this song, we are reminded of the great gifts our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us – the wonder of birds that sing lilting songs from the marshes and the trees, a blue sky with ever-changing clouds and colors, rain that replenishes the earth and wind that brushes our cheeks.  We have the velvet of a rose to touch and smell, eyes to see such wonders, magical sounds to hear and a mind and heart that allow us to fully participate in and enjoy the God-given life we have here.  What a wonder it all is!  How blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much.  That is why I love this song.  It reminds me of all this and makes me happy.

History

Clara W. McMaster, 1904-1997

Clara W. McMaster (1904-1997) was the eleventh child in her family and grew up singing and playing the piano with a large group of siblings, parents, relatives and friends.  She said:
“I’m grateful that as a child we had an orchestra, and a chorus in our family.  It was easy because we had no radios, TV, or movies.  I was born on a farm, and I knew the sounds in the barnyard.  When I was called to the Primary general board, I was told that the children needed a song to teach them that their Heavenly Father loves them.  I didn’t really know how to do that.  The Lord answered my prayers through the song of a bird.  All I would have to do to write this song was to bear my testimony.  This was my way of saying to the children that my Heavenly Father loves me.  It wasn’t my song.  It was something brought into my heart many years ago.  I’m grateful that the children still want to sing my song” (Graham: We Shall Make Music, p. 179-180).

Sister McMaster also said that “Music is a rich gift of God, and it is in the world to make the lives of His children happier and better” (Graham: We Shall Make Music, p. 180).

Sister McMaster was a member of the Tabernacle Choir for twenty-two years and served for fourteen years on the Primary general board.

Congregation Choir Arrangement

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.  Perhaps a flute playing the countermelody would be a nice reminder of the bird song that first brought this song into being.

Listen to it here with voices singing the countermelody:

verse 1: melody (with enhanced piano accompaniment)

verse 2: countermelody

verse 3: both melodies together

PURCHASE it here.

Though Deepening Trials #122

History

Eliza R. Snow (1804-1887), writer of this hymn text, grew up in Mantua, Ohio, a town located only four miles from Hiram, Ohio, where Joseph Smith took up residence for a time.  During that period, her family became very interested in the new Church he had organized.  Her parents and sister joined first, then Eliza, and then her brother, Lorenzo, who later became the 5th President of the Church.

Eliza’s parents put great stock in education and Eliza was a star pupil.  She was an accomplished poet even before she joined the Church.  Later, as a member of the Church, she became known as “Zion’s Poetess.”  She wrote hundreds of poems, some of which were set to music, becoming beloved hymns of our faith.  Some of these include:  “Great is the Lord;” “Again We Meet Around the Board;” “Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake!” “How Great the Wisdom and the Love;” “The Time Is Far Spent;” “In Our Lovely Deseret;” “Though Deepening Trials;” “Behold the Great Redeemer Die;” “Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses” and “O My Father.”

Eliza was the first secretary of the Relief Society organization when it was formed in Nauvoo in 1847, with Emma Smith as President.  Eliza served as secretary for the three years following and took copious notes of the organizational process, as directed by the prophet Joseph Smith.  Later, she used these notes to re-establish the Relief Society in the Utah Territory.  She was called as the second General Relief Society president in 1868 and spent many years travelling around Utah helping Bishops establish Relief Societies in their wards.  She served as General President of the Relief Society until her death in 1887.

No one knew better than Eliza R. Snow the trials faced by the early members of the Church.  She was there facing them too.  She was one of the first women to leave Nauvoo in the bitter cold of February, 1846.  Childless herself, she helped others with their families.  She helped the sick and assisted new mothers.  She wrote poems of consolation to those who had lost loved ones and kept a daily journal.  One of her journal entries records: “I saw a funeral train following to its wilderness grave, a little child of Brother Gurley. It was a lonely sight—my feelings truly sympathize with those who are call’d to leave their dear relatives by the way.” (Ensign 1973) 

“Though Deepening Trials” is a hymn of encouragement and faith.  I was surprised at first to note that it is marked to be sung “Cheerfully,”  but such was Eliza’s attitude.  Some excerpts include:

“Though deepening trials throng your way, press on, press on, ye Saints of God!

“Though tribulations rage abroad, Christ says, ‘In me ye shall have peace.’

“This work is moving on apace… The ‘little stone,’ must fill the earth.”

Our trials are different than those she faced, but we can certainly look to the example of Eliza R. Snow in bearing them with faith, hope and good humor.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

“Though Deepening Trials” with vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

“Though Deepening Trials” with instrumental countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today #200

History

This hymn, written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) over 250 years ago, expresses the joy of the great miracle that was the resurrection.  Christ, though dead, was alive again.  Several of his friends saw him and great was their rejoicing.  He had risen, just as he said he would.

Charles Wesley was the youngest son and 18th… yes, you read that right… 18th!!… child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley.  He was a prolific hymn writer, having no less than 6500 (you read that right too… 6500!) hymn texts to his credit.  Many of them have survived to this day and are still in common usage in our meetings.  The original hymn text of this hymn, published in 1739, had no “Alleluia’s.” They were added to fit in with the chosen tune and seem extremely appropriate as a happy exclamation point to each line.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangement below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in this instance) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

LISTEN to our arrangement of this hymn, with vocal countermelody in this sample.  PURCHASE it here.

Nay, Speak No Ill #233

What is gossip?

What is gossip?  How does it differ from a genuine concern for the welfare of others and a kindly interest in what is going on in your friends’ lives?  These are questions that I have wondered about as I have listened to lessons on avoiding gossip.  Ok… so what do our prophets and apostles have to say about gossip?

In his conference talk of April, 2010, Elder M. Russell Ballard makes the definition of gossip perfectly clear:

“… a faithful daughter of God avoids the temptation to gossip or judge one another” (M. Russell Ballard, April 2010).

So now we know – gossip is judgment, usually of a negative nature.

President Monson tells us more about gossip and the courage it takes to NOT do it:

May I speak first about the courage to refrain from judging others. Oh, you may ask, ‘Does this really take courage?’ And I would reply that I believe there are many times when refraining from judgment—or gossip or criticism, which are certainly akin to judgment—takes an act of courage.

“Unfortunately, there are those who feel it necessary to criticize and to belittle others. You have, no doubt, been with such people, as you will be in the future. My dear young [and older]  friends, we are not left to wonder what our behavior should be in such situations. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior declared, “Judge not.”1 At a later time He admonished, “Cease to find fault one with another.”2 It will take real courage when you are surrounded by your peers and feeling the pressure to participate in such criticisms and judgments to refrain from joining in” (President Monson, April 2009).

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

So, the answer to my earlier question is: yes, we are to be concerned and loving about the welfare of our friends, but, no, we are not to judge them.   As my mother often said, “You never know what they are going through.”  We help where we can.  We remain positive in our language and actions.  This is the difference between caring concern and gossip.

History

We do not know the identity of the writer of this hymn – someone very wise is all we know.  He or she gives us some excellent counsel.  I particularly like the third verse:

Then speak no ill, but lenient be to others’ failings as your own.

If you’re the first a fault to see, Be not the first to make it known,

For life is but a passing day; No lip may tell how brief its span.

Then, oh, the little time we stay, Let’s speak of all the best we can.

We can replace gossip with speaking “the best we can” of others – as we would have them do for us.  I’m sure we all know friends who never, or rarely, speak ill of people.  Don’t you find you trust them more?  You know that there is little chance they will be gossiping about you when you’re not there.  Other friends, who regularly find fault with others, are probably just as enthusiastically finding fault with you to those others.

Congregation Choir Arrangements of NAY, SPEAK NO ILL

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

“Nay, Speak No Ill” with vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

 

“Nay, Speak No Ill” with instrumental (flute in this sample) countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

 

Conclusion

Social media makes it so easy to anonymously hurl criticism and abuse, and quickly jump on the judgment bandwagon. It is very tempting when we are with a gossipy friend to be the same way.  We need to be better than that.  We need to be positive and find the good – there usually is some – in those around us.  That is Jesus’ way.

 

Love One Another #308

“As I have loved you, Love one another.     

This new commandment: Love one another.

By this shall men know Ye are my disciples,

If ye have love One to another.”

This hymn quotes very closely John 13:34-35, a beautiful scripture which clearly shows Christ’s love for us.  There are other scriptures which tell us similar words and teach us the importance of this commandment.  In Mark, we learn that, not only is this a commandment, but it is the second most important commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12: 30-31).

As N. Eldon Tanner told us, “We cannot love God without loving our neighbor, and we cannot truly love our neighbor without loving God. This applies to you and to me, and if each of us applies it to himself, we need not worry about the other” (N. Eldon Tanner https://www.lds.org/ensign/1972/10/love-one-another?lang=eng).

Easier said than done! Loving in this complete and unselfconscious way seems to come much more naturally to children than to us adults.  We remember our little grudges and grievances too well, and are often too concerned with ourselves to show our love to others.  I was talking to a friend yesterday who does substitute teaching in elementary schools in our city.  She remarked on how much she enjoys being in kindergarten.  “The children come up to me and tell me they love me,” she said.  This must be one of those areas in which we should be more like small children!

History of LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Luacine Clark Fox is the daughter of J. Reuben Clark, who was a counsellor to President David O. McKay.  She tells the story of how this hymn came to be in “We Shall Make Music” by Patricia Kelsey Graham:

“It is always my habit to pray before doing any writing or composing.  This I did while in the process of working on “Psalm of Easter,” from which “Love One Another” is taken.  In searching the scriptures, I came to the words of the Saviour at the Last Supper wherein he gave his new commandment to love one another.  I knew that I had found the theme I wanted.  As I jotted down the words in my notebook, taken from John 13:34-35, the melody to accompany them came into my mind, and I wrote it down as well.  The final result of words and music was exactly the same as had come to me initially, with no variation whatsoever.  It is my witness that whatever is of worth in the song came from the Lord” (We Shall Make Music, p. 124).

Congregation Choir Arrangements of LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Listen to our arrangement with a violin playing the instrumental countermelody.  PURCHASE it here:

 

LISTEN to our arrangement with our vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE it here:

 

Suggestions for Use

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate, enhanced accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

This short hymn could be extended nicely with our very pretty countermelody.  It might be performed as follows:

Verse 1: original melody with organ accompaniment

Verse 2: Countermelody sung by soloist (voice or instrument) with enhanced piano accompaniment.

Verse 3:  Melody, countermelody, piano and organ all together.

Sister Fox had many requests through the years for a second verse to this popular song.  She eventually complied with this verse:

“Thus spake the Saviour unto His disciples.

Thus speaks the Saviour unto us all.

May we endeavor, now and forever, This sacred counsel – to recall” (We Shall Make Music, p.124).

Conclusion

This beautiful hymn that recounts Christ’s teachings on love is very appropriate any time of the year, but especially near Valentine’s Day, and also during the Easter season, since that is when He taught these words.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Stand for the Right, CS 159

“Our prophet has some words for you, and these are the words, ‘Be true, be true’” (Stand for the Right, CS 159).  It has ever been so.  Prophets from the beginning have encouraged their followers to be true and faithful, unwavering in the path of righteousness.

In a talk given to the youth of the Church in 2000, President Hinckley presented his “six B’s,” six areas of advice for youth.  They include:

1. Be grateful.

2. Be smart.

3. Be clean.

4. Be true.

5. Be humble.

6. Be prayerful.

In discussing #4 Be True, he said:

Many of you are descendants of the pioneers, who died by the hundreds and thousands in testimony of the truth of this work. If they were to look down upon you, they would plead with you: “Be true. Be loyal. Be ‘true to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished.’” They would say, “Faith of our fathers, holy faith, we will be true to thee till death” (Hymns, nos. 254 and 84).

“And those of you who may not be descended from pioneer ancestry, you belong to a Church which has been made strong by the loyalty and unwavering affection of its members through the generations.

“Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right, and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. You know when you are giving strength to the right cause. Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true, my beloved associates in this great kingdom.”  (https://www.lds.org/new-era/2001/01/a-prophets-counsel-and-prayer-for-youth?lang=eng)

History of STAND FOR THE RIGHT

Words and music for this song were written by Joseph Ballantyne (1868-1944).  He was the son of Richard Ballantyne who founded the Sunday School of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Joseph studied music and was the chairman of the music committee for the Deseret Sunday School Board.  During this time, he wrote many children’s songs, including “Jesus Once Was a Little Child” (music), “Little Purple Pansies” (music), “Oh, Hush Thee, My Baby” (words and music), “Shine On” (words and music), and, of course, “Stand for the Right” (words and music).

“Stand for the Right” was first printed in The Primary Song Book  in 1939.  The prophet at that time, the one Brother Ballantyne may have had in mind when he wrote this song, was President Heber J. Grant.  Like President Hinckley, President Grant spoke of his pioneer parents when he talked about being true and faithful.

“I have never heard and never expect to hear, to the day of my death, my favorite hymn: ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints’ … but what I think of that wonderful journey of Brigham Young and his band of Pioneers, those who followed him, and my heart goes out in gratitude beyond all the power with which God has given me to express it, that my father and my mother were among those who were true to God, and who made those sacrifices for the conviction of their hearts, because of the knowledge that they had that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith is his Prophet.” (President Heber J. Grant in Conference Report, Oct. 1922).

Congregation Choir for Primary Arrangements of STAND FOR THE RIGHT

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an embellished piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

Listen to it here with vocals performing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

This is a very short, simple song that most Primary children know quite well already.  For variety and a bit more of a challenge, you could lengthen the song as we have done in the above sample by singing it the first time through with the original melody, the second time with the countermelody and the third time with both together.

Alternatively, you could have an instrument play with the children singing the second time through.  To make things easier for the children, you could have an adult soloist (perhaps a teacher?) sing the countermelody.

As with all our Congregation Choir arrangements, the embellished piano part is not embellished so much that it is difficult for the average pianist to play.  Hours of practice are not required!

Conclusion

The ninth of the ten commandments tells us to not bear false witness against our neighbours.  The thirteenth article of faith reminds us that “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent…”  Being true has been part of our belief system since the very beginning and will continue to be so forevermore.  Being true includes more than simply being honest.  It includes being faithful and loyal to ourselves, our family, our Church and our God.

Nephi’s Courage – Flipchart

Here is our flipchart for “Nephi’s Courage.” Each phrase is a link to a picture suggestion at lds.org that will help the children learn and understand that phrase.  Download them and print them out, adjusting the orientation and percentage as necessary so that the picture fills the entire page.  We include also a pdf of the text, with each page corresponding to a picture. When learning the song, you can start with the picture and the text together, and gradually just use the pictures.  Then, as you continue to learn the song, you can take away some of the pictures.  Or you could write key words on the pictures instead of using the text pages.  Or you could just use the pictures for the cues.  You can also download these picture cues to a tablet or other mobile device.  You will see that option when you get to the pictures.

Verse 1

The Lord commanded Nephi to go and get the plates

From the wicked Laban inside the city gates.

Laman and Lemuel were both afraid to try.

Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:

Chorus (use the one picture for the entire chorus)

“I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.”

Verse 2

The Lord commanded Nephi to go and build a boat.

Nephi’s older brothers believed it would not float.

Laughing and mocking, they said he should not try.

Nephi was courageous. This was his reply:

Chorus (use the one picture for the entire chorus)

“I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.”

Verse 3

The Lord gives us commandments and asks us to obey.

Sometimes I am tempted to choose another way.

When I’m discouraged, and think I cannot try,

I will be courageous, and I will reply:

Chorus (use the one picture for the entire chorus)

“I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.

I will go; I will do the thing the Lord commands.

I know the Lord provides a way; he wants me to obey.”

Once again, here is the pdf of the text.  Each page of text goes along with one picture.  Our 12″x12″ Picture Presenter is a fabulous tool for displaying 8.5″x11″ pictures either horizontally or vertically.

MainIntroPicturePresenter2 rszd

As a Child of God – Flipchart

Here is our flipchart for “As a Child of God.” Each phrase is a link to a picture suggestion at lds.org that will help the children learn and understand that phrase.  Download them and print them out, adjusting the orientation and percentage as necessary so that the picture fills the entire page.  We include also a pdf of the text, with each page corresponding to a picture. When learning the song, you can start with the picture and the text together, and gradually just use the pictures.  Then, as you continue to learn the song, you can take away some of the pictures.  Or you could write key words on the pictures instead of using the text pages.  Or you could just use the pictures for the cues.  You can also download these picture cues to a tablet or other mobile device.  You will see that option when you get to the pictures.

Verse 1

I came to earth with power to choose.

Good choices bless me and my family too.

Chorus

As a child of God, I receive special light:

The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.

Verse 2

I feel so safe and happy because

Such feelings of peace come from family love.

Chorus

As a child of God, I receive special light:

The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.

Verse 3

In my own home I’ll happily serve

I’ll strengthen my family by my good works.

Chorus

As a child of God, I receive special light: 

The Holy Ghost helps me to know what is right.

Once again, here is the pdf of the text.  Each page of text goes along with one picture.  Our 12″x12″ Picture Presenter is a fabulous tool for displaying 8.5″x11″ pictures either horizontally or vertically.

MainIntroPicturePresenter2 rszd

Choose the Right #239 – Flipchart

Here is our flipchart for “Choose the Right.” Each phrase is a link to a picture suggestion at lds.org that will help the children learn and understand that phrase.  Download them and print them out, adjusting the orientation and percentage as necessary so that the picture fills the entire page.  We include also a pdf of the text, with each page corresponding to a picture. When learning the song, you can start with the picture and the text together, and gradually just use the pictures.  Then, as you continue to learn the song, you can take away some of the pictures.  Or you could write key words on the pictures instead of using the text pages.  Or you could just use the pictures for the cues.  You can also download these picture cues to a tablet or other mobile device.  You will see that option when you get to the pictures.

Verse 1

Choose the right when a choice is placed before you.

In the right the Holy Spirit guides;

And its light is forever shining o’er you,

When in the right your heart confides.

Chorus

Choose the right! Choose the right!

Let wisdom mark the way before.

In its light, choose the right!

And God will bless you evermore.

Verse 2

Choose the right! Let no spirit of digression

Overcome you in the evil hour.

There’s the right and the wrong to every question;

Be safe thru inspiration’s pow’r.

Chorus

Choose the right! Choose the right!

Let wisdom mark the way before.

In its light, choose the right!

And God will bless you evermore.

Verse 3

Choose the right! There is peace in righteous doing.

Choose the right! There’s safety for the soul.

Choose the right in all labor you’re pursuing;

Let God and heaven be your goal.

Chorus

Choose the right! Choose the right!

Let wisdom mark the way before.

In its light, choose the right!

And God will bless you evermore.

Once again, here is the pdf of the text.  Each page of text goes along with one picture.  Our 12″x12″ Picture Presenter is a fabulous tool for displaying 8.5″x11″ pictures either horizontally or vertically.

MainIntroPicturePresenter2 rszd

When I Am Baptized – Flipchart

Here is our flipchart for “When I Am Baptized.” Each phrase is a link to a picture suggestion at lds.org that will help the children learn and understand that phrase.  Download them and print them out, adjusting the orientation and percentage as necessary so that the picture fills the entire page.  We include also a pdf of the text, with each page corresponding to a picture. When learning the song, you can start with the picture and the text together, and gradually just use the pictures.  Then, as you continue to learn the song, you can take away some of the pictures.  Or you could write key words on the pictures instead of using the text pages.  Or you could just use the pictures for the cues.  You can also download these picture cues to a tablet or other mobile device.  You will see that option when you get to the pictures.

Verse 1

I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain

And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.

Chorus

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.

I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

Verse 2

I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,

And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.

Chorus

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.

I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

Once again, here is the pdf of the text.  Each page of text goes along with one picture.  Our 12″x12″ Picture Presenter is a fabulous tool for displaying 8.5″x11″ pictures either horizontally or vertically.

MainIntroPicturePresenter2 rszd

I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus – Flipchart

Here is our flipchart for “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.” Each phrase is a link to a picture suggestion at lds.org that will help the children learn and understand that phrase.  Download them and print them out, adjusting the orientation and percentage as necessary so that the picture fills the entire page.  We include also a pdf of the text, with each page corresponding to a picture. When learning the song, you can start with the picture and the text together, and gradually just use the pictures.  Then, as you continue to learn the song, you can take away some of the pictures.  Or you could write key words on the pictures instead of using the text pages.  Or you could just use the pictures for the cues.  You can also download these picture cues to a tablet or other mobile device.  You will see that option when you get to the pictures.

Verse 1

I’m trying to be like Jesus;

I’m following in his ways.

I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

Chorus (use one picture for the chorus)

Verse 2

I’m trying to love my neighbour,

I’m learning to serve my friends.

I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.

I try to remember the lessons he taught.

Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

Chorus

Once again, here is the pdf of the text.  Each page of text goes along with one picture.  Our 12″x12″ Picture Presenter is a fabulous tool for displaying 8.5″x11″ pictures either horizontally or vertically.

MainIntroPicturePresenter2 rszd

Father in Heaven #133

“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace” (Psalms 29:11)

The message of this hymn is peace, something we wish for in our hearts, our families and our world.  This hymn is a prayer, as many hymns are, and begins with a very traditional phrase for beginning prayers: “Father in heaven…”

The first verse speaks of the love our Father in Heaven has for us and thanks him for “peace abiding.”  The second verse requests peace in the heart of every follower, “Peace in thy world, and joy to hearts despairing.”  The third verse calls on the God of our fathers to “strengthen every nation in thy great peace where only is salvation.”  As cultures and countries clash, we so fervently pray for this, just as Angus Hibbard did over 200 years ago.

There is a dip to the minor key in the second phrase of each verse:

Hear these thy children thru the world resounding…

Peace in thy world, and joy to hearts despairing.

In thy great peace where only is salvation.

Each of these phrases begins in the major key and dips to the minor key in measures 6-8.  This lends a definite poignancy to these important phrases.  “Hear these thy children”… please hear these thy children.  “Peace in the world, and joy to hearts despairing”… please, dear Father, bring joy and peace to the despairing hearts.  “In thy great peace where only is salvation”… the only place for true peace is in thy salvation.

I love how the minor key makes those phrases stand out and you just feel them so much more!

History of “Father in Heaven”

Angus S. Hibbard (1860-1945), writer of this hymn’s text, was a pioneer in the telephone industry.  In 1886, he went to New York to become General Superintendent of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. In 1893, he became General Manager of the Chicago Telephone Company (predecessor of the Illinois Bell Telephone Company).  He held that position until 1911 and retired in 1915.  Mr. Hibbard was very ingenious as a leader in the development of the long-distance phone service, creating several inventions to increase its capabilities and performance.  He even designed the original logo of the Bell Telephone Company, the blue bell sign, still in use today.

Friedrich F. Flemming (1778-1813), composer of the music for this hymn, was a physician in Berlin, Germany, and wrote music for a men’s choral society there.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

FATHER IN HEAVEN – with vocal countermelody – PURCHASE HERE

FATHER IN HEAVEN – with instrumental countermelody – PURCHASE HERE

You can also purchase our arrangements of this hymn as a BUNDLE HERE.  This bundle includes 15 copies of the full score with vocal countermelody, 10 copies of the full score with instrumental countermelody, 10 copies of the vocal countermelody score only, 5 copies of the instrumental countermelody score only, unlimited piano practice mp3 tracks and unlimited vocal practice mp3 tracks.

Conclusion

Angus S. Hibbard’s business was communication, and in that he excelled.  No matter how marvellous the inventions of his day, or ours, we can see that he knew that prayer rose above them all as the greatest form of communication, and the greatest path to peace.

The Wise Man and the Foolish Man, CS 281

Old Church Perched on Stone in The Middle of Norwegian Fjord at sunset storm.

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,  I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27).

A Sure Foundation

When we think of our homes, we generally think of the color, the style, the number of bedrooms or the furniture.  We don’t often think of the foundation, yet that is perhaps the most important aspect of our homes; it determines our home’s stability.

In the April 2013 General Conference, Bishop Dean M. Davies recounted his experience during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.  As he drove home from work during that earthquake, he saw buildings tumbling all around.  Some stood firm; some didn’t.

He described what we need to build strong foundations in our personal lives and ended his talk with these words:

“I humbly testify that by anchoring our lives to Jesus Christ and to His Atonement and by carefully following His plans for our happiness, including daily prayer, daily scripture study, and weekly partaking of the sacrament, we will be strengthened, we will experience real personal growth and a lasting conversion, we will be better prepared to successfully withstand the storms and calamities of life, we will experience the joy and happiness promised, and we will have the confidence that our lives have been built upon a sure foundation—a foundation that will never fall.”

(April 2013 General Conference: “A Sure Foundation,” Bishop Dean M. Davies)

Congregation Choir for Primary Arrangements

In our sample, you will first hear an introduction, then one verse with our enhanced piano accompaniment, then a second verse with our enhanced accompaniment AND our countermelody for voice or instrument.  PURCHASE HERE.

I have always felt that this song is not really finished.  Therefore, I have added two additional verses that finish it off better for me.

Suggested Verse 5

So I will build my house upon the rock,

[rest – could do an extra fist bump on the rock here] I will build my house upon the rock,

[rest] I will build my house upon the rock,

And the rains will come tumbling down.

Suggested Verse 6

The rains will fall, and the floods will come up,

The rains will fall, and the floods will come up,

The rains will fall, and the floods will come up,

And my house on the rock will stand still!

I use the future tense for these verses, as the children’s lives are still mostly ahead of them.  These verses also allow for a little more discussion of the metaphors in this song: the trials (rains, floods) which might lead us to despair (wash us away) if we don’t have firm testimonies built upon “the rock” of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

 

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful #202

oh-come-all-ye-faithful-1Of all the beautiful Christmas hymns, “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” stands out as a favourite among favourites.  Stately and joyous, it calls all of the faithful to – figuratively speaking – come to Bethlehem and worship the Christ child.  With the shepherds, we come, praising and adoring.  With the “choirs of angels” and “all [the] citizens of heaven above,” we come, rejoicing and singing.  We adore the Christ child, not just because of who he is but because of the plan that he is bravely implementing.  “Now in flesh appearing,” he has come, ready to take on the sins of a sinful world and make it possible for us to return to our Father in Heaven, if we choose to do so.  This is the plan that  dramatically began that day that he was born.

Oh, Come, Let Us Adore Him – and the Plan!

Sister Linda K. Burton, in her talk at the 2015 First Presidency Christmas Devotional speaks of this hymn and the plan it began:

“… If [my husband and I] were to make a list of our favorites, near the top would surely be “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful.” Its “joyful” and “triumphant” lyrics beckon us to “come,” “behold,” and “adore” our Savior, Jesus Christ—the “King of angels.” I feel certain that, as premortal spirits learning of the plan of salvation, we not only beheld and adored but also shouted for joy when He voluntarily and humbly offered Himself as the Savior of the world. In five of the most profound words ever uttered, He meekly said, “Here am I, send me.” (2015 First Presidency Christmas Devotional)

In her talk, Sister Burton presents two Christmas memories, one of the Christmas her Grandfather passed away, and the other of the Christmas she was diagnosed with cancer.  She expresses love for her Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and how it became so much more personal during those two Christmases.

“As much as I love everything about Christmas, the only things that seemed to matter were my eternal marriage, my family, and my faith in and testimony of my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the plan.” (2015 First Presidency Christmas Devotional: Linda K. Burton, “Let Us Adore Him – and the Plan!)

Along with Sister Burton, the plan of happiness has become much more personal to me this Christmas season.  My very dear husband, the guy who patiently loves and supports me in all my various projects and life dramas,  was involved in a serious car accident a couple of weeks ago.  It could have been so much worse and in those first few minutes after the accident, I came face-to-face with the idea of a life without him.  What a terrible prospect!  Luckily, he is doing fine, but I am more grateful than ever for the plan of happiness that conquers all – and for my eternal companion.

History of “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful”

john-francis-wade

John Francis Wade, 1711-1786

After decades of searching, no one has reached any definite conclusion on who wrote this hymn.  It first appears in manuscripts from the eighteenth century and is not seen before that time.  Since these earliest manuscripts bear his signature, most people believe it was written by John Francis Wade (1711-1786), an English hymnist who fled England after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion to teach music in the school for British Roman Catholic exiles in Douai, France.  It is even thought that it may have been a coded rallying cry for the Stewart cause.

Originally written in Latin, the English translation of “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” was made by Frederick Oakley and William Brooke in 1841.

Credit for the music also generally goes to John Francis Wade.

Conclusion

Those who know… know.  Those who know the significance of the Christ Child’s birth know what a miraculous and important event it was.  The choirs of angels knew.  The shepherds knew.  The wise men knew.  Mary and Joseph knew.  We know too.  We faithful believers know – and we have been issued a royal invitation in this hymn to come.  Behold him and adore him.  Recognize what he did for you and embrace his plan forevermore as the one way back to live with him and our family in heaven.  Recognize the joy in this marvellous plan of happiness and “sing in exultation.”  We are so blessed.

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It Came Upon the Midnight Clear #207

it-came-upon-the-midnight-clear-1It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heav’n’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

“My favorite part of the Christmas story as told in Luke 2 has always been the bit with the angels and shepherds. I love to imagine the shock that must have been on those poor shepherds’ faces, and bewildered conversation that must have occurred afterward. “Did you just…? Did that really…? An angel???”

“But not just one angel: an entire multitude! It’s as if they could scarcely wait for the first angel to announce the “good tidings of great joy” before they suddenly burst on the scene, “praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14) The day had finally come! The Only Begotten of the Father had been born! What excitement there must have been on the other side of the veil!

“And yet “the world in solemn stillness lay.” Yes, some noticed the signs of His birth: wise men in the East (see Matthew 2), Nephites in the Americas (see 3 Nephi 1), and I’m sure there were others about whom I hope to someday learn. On the whole, though, the Christ-child came into the world pretty simply and quietly.

Still thru the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing,
And ever o’er its babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

“The world continued on as it always had, and Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). He was eventually rejected, accused, crucified by the people He was born to save. The Son of the Everlasting God lived and died and lived again, and so few even knew He existed at all. His name is known throughout the world, but the “babel sounds” of busyness, selfishness, pride, and fear frequently drown out His message of love, hope, faith, and forgiveness.

But the blessed angels sing on. They know who He is. They know what He has done. And they know what is to come.

For lo! the days are hast’ning on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heav’n and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

“Someday the entire world will know Him too. All will join the heavenly throng in singing glory to God. Joy and peace and love will abound. The “weary world” will be renewed and the “sad and lowly plains” will be exalted. Christ will be King.

“Until then, we will add our humble hallelujahs to those of the heavenly host. Just like those angels who simply had to share the good news with someone, we know who He is. We know what He has done. And we know what is to come.

What a glorious song to sing.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving #93

prayer-of-thanksgiving-1LDS Daily happened to feature the history of this hymn on their site as well this week:

“Many Christian faiths, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, enjoy singing the hymn “Prayer of Thanksgiving” as a way to celebrate the season of gratitude. It is more widely known as “We Gather Together.” But did you know the story behind this hymn? If not, it will definitely inspire you.

The hymn was originally written by Adrianus Valerius, a Dutch poet and composer. Written in 1597, the hymn celebrated the Battle of Turnhout and the Dutch victory over Spain. The Dutch people were just one of seventeen provinces fighting for independence from Spain during the Eighty Years’ War. Under Spanish rule, Dutch Protestants were not permitted to worship together.

Thus, the line, “We gather together…” held special significance for the Dutch people. The hymn represented their determination to come together and worship God according to their faith. It also speaks of the very real liberation from political tyranny.

The English text was written by Theodore Baker in 1894 and is still used today. The hymn first appeared in America in 1903 and has been popular ever since. It especially became relevant as America fought two World Wars, due to the themes of escaping oppression and tribulation found in the lyrics.”  

(LDS Daily November 23, 2016)

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Congregation Choir Arrangements are beautiful, simple and versatile.  They can – quite simply – adapt to whatever musical circumstance you find yourself in at home or at church.

Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING with organ, alternate piano and vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING with organ, alternate piano and instrumental countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Conclusion

Reading the history of a hymn like this makes me realize again just how blessed we are to live in a free country, where we can gather together as often as we like, openly worshipping our God in the manner that we choose.  Sometimes it might feel like we’re always at the church, but how preferable that is to not being able to gather together at all!  We can teach our children about the gospel in our homes and in our churches.  We can share the gospel with others in public places, free from oppression.  May we all appreciate this blessing more, use it more and protect it more, that it might be ours forever.

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The First Noel #213

the-first-noel“The First Noel” has a seemingly simple message – yet, at the same time, it is the most significant and awe-inspiring message the world has ever heard: Jesus, our Saviour, is born!  The Son of God has come to redeem the world from sin and to teach us what we need to know to return to live with him.

“The First Noel” tells of a humble birth proclaimed by angels sent from the realms of glory – so perhaps not such a humble birth after all!  A new star lit the night sky. This most significant birth was hidden in a humble place.  The shepherds (and wise men) had to search for him.  Over two thousand years later, we still have to search – we have to seek him out.  We search his word and we seek his answers for us.

History of “The First Noel”

“Every year, people sing songs like “The First Noel” at Christmas, and many wonder what a “noel” is. In French, joyeux noel means “Merry Christmas.” Our modern English word comes from the Middle English nowel, which Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defined as “a shout of joy or Christmas song.” The roots of the word are the French noel (“Christmas season”), which may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Since Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, it was natural for people to refer to the celebration as the “nativity” or the “birth.”

Another possible root for noel, also from the French, is the word nouvelles, meaning “news.” As the popular carol says, “The first noel the angels did say / Was to certain poor shepherds. . . .” The meaning of “news” certainly makes sense in that context; however, the early usage and definition of noel seem to focus more on the idea of birth, and that is probably the more accurate meaning.

There are very few records giving the details of the earliest Christmas practices, but at least as early as the 4th century, some Christian groups were celebrating natus Christus on December 25. Since their almanac referred to the day as “the birth of Christ,” it would be natural to see derivative words like nael and noel used in the same way.

In the Middle Ages, several English carols began with nowell, and French carols similarly used noel. Since early songs often used the first word as the title, a “noel” came to refer to any song about the birth of Christ. Because of this, the word now carries the dual meaning of a Christmas song and the Christmas celebration itself.

Our English carol “The First Noel” was first published in a book titled Carols Ancient and Modern, edited by William Sandys in 1823. The message of the song is the joyous pronouncement that the King of Israel has been born. When we sing the song or wish someone a joyous noel, we are following the example of the angels, announcing the good news that Jesus Christ was born, not just for Israel, but for all mankind, so we could receive forgiveness of sins through Him”  (What is the Meaning of Noel? https://gotquestions.org/Noel-meaning.html).

When “The First Noel” was first published in 1823, it contained nine stanzas.  We use only the first two in our LDS hymnal.  Three of the later stanzas continue the story with a description of the wise men:

“And by the light of that same star 

Three wise men came from country far;

To seek a King was their intent,

And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,

O’er Bethlehem it took its rest,

And there it did both stop and stay,

Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three,

Full reverently upon the knee,

And offered there, in his presence,

Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.”

(Davidson: Our Latter-Day Hymns, p. 225)

Clearly, we do not include these verses in our hymnal since we know the wise men did not visit Jesus in the stable, but were witnesses of his safe arrival at a later time in another place.

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

The vocal and flute countermelodies demonstrated here provide an exciting, additional layer to the hymn.  Such a tremendous message, from angels no less, deserves a high and beautiful “angelic” layer.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

With vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

With flute (or violin) countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Conclusion

The joy of the Christmas season is still here in our hearts over two thousand years later, yet its message is one that is becoming more muted in the world around us.  The wondrous message of the birth of the Saviour of the world is one that we must proudly proclaim, in word, deed and song.  We must carry forth that simple yet significant message the angels first proclaimed to shepherds on a hillside outside Bethlehem, that it will not be forgotten: “Born is the King of Israel!”

Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus, CS 36

samuel-tells-of-the-baby-jesus-1Samuel’s Warnings

Samuel was a prophet like Paul, Alma and Jonah who was not allowed to leave a wicked people – even though they had rejected him – without a proper warning.  Like Jonah, he was compelled to return and complete the warning.  God loves all His children, even the wicked ones, and wants to save them if at all possible.  In Old Testament times, He wanted desperately to save the city of Sodom, and, if Abraham could have found even ten righteous souls, the city would have been left untouched.  Heavenly Father and Jesus are on our team, cheering for us and wanting so much to see every last one of us return to live with Them.

Samuel the Lamanite had come to Zarahemla to call the Nephite people to repentance and had, in fact, spent several days there doing just that.  But he came to the attention of the authorities and was run out of town.  He was going to leave it at that and go home but “the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helaman 13:3).

Upon his return to Zarahemla, “they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 13:4).

Part of what the Lord put into his heart was a detailed description of events in the New World at the time of Christ’s birth.  In five years from that time, Christ would be born, and the Nephites would know when that event happened because there would be a day, a night and a day “as if it were one day and there were no night” (Helaman 14:4).  There would be new stars and signs in the heavens as well.

Samuel the Lamanite also described the events at the time of Christ’s death – much more somber events than those at the time of His birth.  Samuel clearly called the people to repentance and described the serious consequences if they chose to ignore his warning.

We Choose Our Consequences

Mark E. Petersen, a former member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, said of Samuel the Lamanite:

“One of the great prophets of ancient times was Samuel the Lamanite. I like the way he taught. He was plain and straightforward in his manner of speech. He did not mince words, nor did he leave the people wondering what he meant.

As he spoke from the walls of Zarahemla, calling the Nephites to repentance, he told them bluntly that if they refused to live the gospel, condemnation would come upon them, and he made it clear that they would have no one to blame but themselves.

‘Remember, remember,” he said, “that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself’ (Hel. 14:30).

Then he said that, since we have free agency, we can choose the good or the evil, life or death; but he declared that in the end we shall most certainly receive exactly what we ourselves have chosen.”

(Ensign, November 1982, Believers and Doers)

History of “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus”

This is such a delightful Christmas song, partly because it is simply delightful and partly because it is so unique.  There are not many Christmas songs that deal with Christmas in the New World among the Nephites – in fact, this is the only one I know.  Does anyone know any others?  Please comment down below in the comment section if you do.

mabel-jones-gabbott

Mabel Jones Gabbott (1910-2004)

Mabel Jones Gabbott (1910-2004), writer of the text, was the chairperson of the Hymnbook Text Committee for the 1985 Hymnbook.  She wrote the text for four hymns in that hymnbook and sixteen songs in the Children’s Songbook.  She said, “I love to hear children sing” (Friend, Oct 1985, 14).

grietje-terburg-rowley

Grietje Terburg Rowley (1927-2015)

Grietje Terburg Rowley (1927-2015) wrote the music for this song.  She said, “Every Christmas our family reads the Christmas story from the New Testament.  We also read in the Book of Mormon about the first Christmas in America.  We try to imagine how the people felt about Jesus’ birth.  I tried to make the music sound a little like both Jewish and Indian music” (Graham, We Shall Make Music, 68).  I think she achieved the sound she wanted very well.  The minor key of the music in the verse section gives it a Jewish sound.  The chorus moves back into the relative major key and has the drum beat flavour of native North American music.  She has also said that she likes to write songs that are easy to sing, easy to play and easy to remember” (Friend, Oct 1986, 45).   Like Sister Gabbott, she must have loved to hear children sing – she  played the piano in Primary for twenty-five years!

I had the pleasure of speaking to Sister Rowley by telephone a year or two before she passed away.  At that time, she was still writing a hymn every day.

Congregation Choir Arrangement of “Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus”

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

Listen to it here with an oboe (more Middle-Eastern sound) playing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

Three Suggestions for Using this Arrangement:

  1. Use the enhanced piano to add a nice touch to Christmas singing of this song, either at home or in Primary.
  2. Add an instrumental countermelody to the children’s voices singing the main melody.  Verse 1 could be just the children singing with the piano, followed by an interlude verse with just the instrumental countermelody and the piano, and verse 2 could have the children’s voices on the main melody, the piano and the instrumental countermelody all together.
  3. Some of the children or an adult soloist could sing the countermelody.

Conclusion

What a wonderful song to include in your Christmas repertoire!  I am certain that nothing will help your children remember the story of Samuel the Lamanite better than this song.  The lively, joyous chorus is a great time to bring out all your rhythm instruments – shakers, bells, drums, sticks, whatever – the children will love adding their percussion to the strong beat of the chorus.  Great fun can be had by all as we remember Samuel the Lamanite!

 

Count Your Blessings #241

Count Your Many Blessings; Name Them One by One

count-your-blessingsfbrszdThis is the season of gratitude… of Thanksgiving.  When we stop to count them, we may be quite surprised at just how many blessings we do have. In a conference talk given in October, 2010, President Monson tells the story of a boy named Gordon who lived on a farm with his family many years ago.  They all worked hard and generally had a good harvest stored away for the winter when Thanksgiving time rolled around each year.  They, quite literally, counted their blessings each Thanksgiving day.

On Thanksgiving morning [their father] would take them to the cellar with its barrels of apples, bins of beets, carrots packed in sand, and mountains of sacked potatoes as well as peas, corn, string beans, jellies, strawberries, and other preserves which filled their shelves.  He had the children count everything carefully.  Then they went out to the barn and figured how many tons of hay there were and how many bushels of grain in the granary.  They counted the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and geese.  Their father said he wanted to see how they stood, but they knew he really wanted them to realize on that feast day how richly God had blessed them and had smiled upon all their hours of work.  Finally, when they sat down to the feast their mother had prepared, the blessings were something they felt.  Gordon indicated, however, that the Thanksgiving he remembered most thankfully was the year they seemed to have nothing for which to be grateful.

The year started off well: they had leftover hay, lots of seed, four litters of pigs, and their father had a little money set aside so that someday he could afford to buy a hay loader—a wonderful machine most farmers just dreamed of owning. It was also the year that electricity came to their town—although not to them because they couldn’t afford it.

One night when Gordon’s mother was doing her big wash, his father stepped in and took his turn over the washboard and asked his wife to rest and do her knitting. He said, “You spend more time doing the wash than sleeping. Do you think we should break down and get electricity?” Although elated at the prospect, she shed a tear or two as she thought of the hay loader that wouldn’t be bought.

So the electrical line went up their lane that year. Although it was nothing fancy, they acquired a washing machine that worked all day by itself and brilliant lightbulbs that dangled from each ceiling. There were no more lamps to fill with oil, no more wicks to cut, no more sooty chimneys to wash. The lamps went quietly off to the attic.

The coming of electricity to their farm was almost the last good thing that happened to them that year. Just as their crops were starting to come through the ground, the rains started. When the water finally receded, there wasn’t a plant left anywhere. They planted again, but more rains beat the crops into the earth. Their potatoes rotted in the mud. They sold a couple of cows and all the pigs and other livestock they had intended to keep, getting very low prices for them because everybody else had to do the same thing. All they harvested that year was a patch of turnips which had somehow weathered the storms.

Then it was Thanksgiving again. Their mother said, “Maybe we’d better forget it this year. We haven’t even got a goose left.”

On Thanksgiving morning, however, Gordon’s father showed up with a jackrabbit and asked his wife to cook it. Grudgingly she started the job, indicating it would take a long time to cook that tough old thing. When it was finally on the table with some of the turnips that had survived, the children refused to eat. Gordon’s mother cried, and then his father did a strange thing. He went up to the attic, got an oil lamp, took it back to the table, and lighted it. He told the children to turn out the electric lights. When there was only the lamp again, they could hardly believe that it had been that dark before. They wondered how they had ever seen anything without the bright lights made possible by electricity.

The food was blessed, and everyone ate. When dinner was over, they all sat quietly. Wrote Gordon:

“In the humble dimness of the old lamp we were beginning to see clearly again. …

“It [was] a lovely meal. The jack rabbit tasted like turkey and the turnips were the mildest we could recall. …

“… [Our] home … , for all its want, was so rich [to] us.”

(Thomas S. Monson, The Divine Gift of Gratitude, November 2010 Ensign)

History of COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

johnson-oatman-jr

Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922)

Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1922) wrote the words to this hymn.  He had grown up listening to his father sing hymns – and loving the experience.  His father, also named Johnson Oatman, had a great booming voice and was in much demand as a singer.  As a young child, Johnson Jr. would often share a hymnbook with his father at church as they sang together.

Johnson Oatman Jr. wanted to contribute to the Methodist faith of his father.  He had a missionary zeal that he thought could be satisfied if he became a preacher.  As it turned out, he was not a great preacher.  Nor did he have a voice like his father’s.  He was thirty-six years old when he discovered his own gift – and the best way for him to share his faith.  He began writing hymns… an average of over 200 hymns a year for over 25 years… five thousand hymn texts in all, many of which became very popular and are still in use today.  Turns out he was quite successful in sharing his and his father’s faith in his own way.

edwin-o-excell

Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921)

Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921) composed the music of this hymn.  His father, also a great singer, was a minister in the German Reformed Church in Pennsylvania where Edwin grew up.  Edwin became a bricklayer and a plasterer, and eventually a teacher of country singing schools.  From there, he went on to become a choir director in a Methodist Church and eventually worked in musical evangelism for many years.  He wrote many songs and was considered one of the great song-leaders of his day. “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” is another of his musical compositions.

Congregation Choir Arrangements of COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original one found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the organ part for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

In the music samples below, you will first hear the organ alone doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS with enhanced piano and vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS with enhanced piano and flute countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Conclusion

The second verse of this hymn suggests that if we are ever “burdened with a load of care” we can “count [our] many blessings” and find that “ev’ry doubt will fly, and [we] will be singing as the days go by.”  Imagine that – singing!  A total turnaround!  We may not always get a total turnaround in our perspectives but it can be surprising – in a very positive way – to realize how greatly the Lord has blessed our lives.  Though the scope of the blessings may be surprising, the change in our attitudes as we consider these blessings might be even more surprising.

Christmas Bells, CS 54

 History of Bells at Christmas Time

The ringing of bells can be traced back to pagan times when noisemakers were used to scare away evil spirits in the night.  Some of those noisemakers were bells, but bells were too pretty and fun to play to just be used as noisemakers.  Gradually, they became a happy part of many Christian celebrations, Christmas in particular.  The bell sound became even more impressive as bells were incorporated into the structure of church buildings themselves.  Bells in a church steeple can be heard for miles around as they herald the arrival of the season and mark special Christmas services.

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Church Bells

The Bells on Temple Square

Golden handbells on table with sheet of notes

Handbells

The Bells on Temple Square is a group of 32 handbell musicians, formed under the direction of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  They perform with the Tabernacle Choir in concert and on recordings.  They also present two concerts of their own every year in the Tabernacle.  The 2006 Christmas concert of the group attracted an audience of 15,000 people, a record attendance for a handbell concert.

The Bells on Temple Square handbell group was officially begun in 2005.  It seems the group has been around longer, but prior to that time, they had to borrow bells and did not have such official status.  In 2005, they received a donation of a 7-octave set of English handbells, a 6½-octave set of handbells, and two 6-octave sets of hand chimes and were then well equipped to become an independent handbell-ringing group of musicians.

History of CHRISTMAS BELLS, CS 54

This little Christmas song lends itself very well to the addition of handbells.  It includes a lovely optional descant for voice or instrument, which can be performed with handbells.  Our mp3 sample below demonstrates the use of handbells with this piece.

Laurence Lyon, writer of the hymn text and music, received a doctorate in composition from the Eastman School of Music. Brother Lyon has more than one hundred published compositions, many of which have been performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but this was his first composition for children.

When Brother Lyon was a graduate student, he was in the middle of composing a very complicated orchestral piece when the words and music of this little song just came into his mind.

“In the midst of doing this complex writing, this little tune just popped out of my head and onto the piano, accompaniment, words and all… Then, before I could continue on to my viola concerto, another melody, which seemed to fit the first melody, also seemed to want to be written down.  I sang the second melody with the first, and they fit” (Elaine Cannon, Our Children’s Songs, p. 36).

It would appear that this song had a mind of its own and pretty much demanded to be written.

Our Arrangement of CHRISTMAS BELLS

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part which also has a very bell-like quality.

Listen to it here with handbells playing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

 3 Ideas for Using this Arrangement

  1. Use the enhanced piano to add a nice touch to Christmas singing of this song, either at home or in Primary.
  2. Add an instrumental countermelody to the children’s voices singing the main melody.  The children could sing the song through once with just the enhanced accompaniment.  The second time through an instrumental descant could be added.
  3. Some of the children or an adult soloist could sing the countermelody.

PURCHASE top-of-the-line Kidsplay handbells from our website here.

Conclusion

Handbells have been an important part of the Christmas season since, well… since before there even was a Christmas season… since pagan times!  They can lend a very special, festive sound to many Christmas songs, but particularly this one which is all about Christmas bells.  Children at home or in Primary do not have to learn anything new or hard to enjoy participating in the performance of this piece.  Younger ones can simply sing the main melody.  Older children or adults can add the enhanced piano part and the descant, whether sung or performed with instruments.  With relatively little effort, you can have a memorable and fun Christmas performance.

Abide with Me; ‘Tis Eventide #165

abide-with-me-tis-eventide-for-fbOn the Road to Emmaus

This beautiful hymn references the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They are walking, discussing the recent events surrounding the Savior’s crucifixion and resurrection, when, unbeknownst to them, the resurrected Saviour joins them on their journey.  “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him” (Luke 24:16).

Jesus asks them what they are discussing.  Surprised that he is not aware of the recent events in Jerusalem, they suppose him to be a stranger to the area.  They describe the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ ministry and crucifixion and say, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done” (Luke 24:21).

The men approached their village of Emmaus and, when Jesus appeared to be continuing on, they entreated him, “Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them (Luke 24:29).

As they were having supper together, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:31).

Abide with Me

Although generally expected to be soothing and restful, night time can occasionally be lonely and frightening.  Our prayers in those hours may be more urgent than prayers in the daytime when we have plenty of distractions and don’t find ourselves alone with our thoughts – and alone with our imaginations!

Verse one of ABIDE WITH ME; ‘TIS EVENTIDE speaks of the “welcome guest” that the Saviour is in those night time hours, just as the Saviour himself was a welcome guest in that home in Emmaus.  Verse two speaks of “Thy walk today with me has made my heart within me burn, as I communed with thee.”  The men of Emmaus spoke almost those same words, “Did not our heart[s] burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:32).  Verse three describes the immense loneliness we feel if we “cannot commune with thee nor find in thee [our] light.”

The chorus of this hymn is a poignant pleading to the Saviour to stay the night.  The notes of the word “Savior” soar to a D and then then to an E as the heartfelt request is made twice: “O Savior, stay this night with me; Behold, ’tis eventide.”

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, enhanced piano accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This enhanced piano accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

Congregation Choir arrangement with vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Congregation Choir arrangement with violin countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Conclusion

The companionship of the Saviour is indeed a wonderful thing.  It is a comfort and solace at some times – particularly at eventide.  It can enlighten and expand our understanding at other times. “The darkness of the world, I fear, would in my home abide” (verse 3) without it.

In his talk at the conclusion of the April 2002 General Conference, President Hinckley quoted the first verse and chorus of ABIDE WITH ME; ’TIS EVENTIDE and said:

“That pretty well sums up the feelings of our hearts as we return to our homes.

May the Spirit of our Lord accompany us and remain with us. We know not what lies ahead of us. We know not what the coming days will bring. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the polar star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.”  (President Gordon B. Hinckley: “We Look to Christ,” General Conference April 2002)

Once Within a Lowly Stable, CS 41

2008-away-in-a-mangerI know it’s early still, but I’m sure that most of you music leaders are already thinking about Christmas music.  ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE is a lovely little Christmas song found in the Children’s Songbook.

History

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Patty and Mildred Hill

This Christmas song was written by Patty S. Hill (1868-1946) and Mildred J. Hill (1859-1916), a sister songwriting team.  Patty generally wrote the words and Mildred composed the music, but for their most famous song, “Happy Birthday to You,” they are both credited with writing the music.  The original version of this song was called “Good Morning to You.”  People seemed to much prefer it as “Happy Birthday to You,” which was another version of the song suggested by the Hill sisters.  According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language.

Patty and Mildred were raised in Anchorage, Kentucky, two of the six children of Rev. William Wallace Hill and Martha Jane Smith.  Reverend and Mrs. Hill firmly believed that their four daughters should acquire professions.  This was a radical idea in the late 1800’s.  Patty went on to become a leader in the early-childhood education movement and Mildred became a musician and composer. Together they wrote books of early childhood music.  One of these, “Song Stories for the Sunday School,” published in 1899, contained the song, ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE.

Congregation Choir for Primary Arrangement of ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE

Our Congregation Choir for Primary arrangement of this song includes an enhanced piano part and a countermelody that could be used for voice or any appropriate instrument.

Listen to it here with a violin playing the countermelody.  PURCHASE it here.

Three Suggestions for Using this Arrangement

  1. Use the enhanced piano to add a nice touch to Christmas singing of this song, either at home or in Primary.
  2. Add an instrumental countermelody to the children’s voices singing the main melody.  Verse 1 could be just the children singing with the piano, followed by an interlude verse with just the instrumental countermelody and the piano, and verse 2 could have the children’s voices on the main melody, the piano and the instrumental countermelody all together.
  3. Some of the children or an adult soloist could sing the countermelody.

Conclusion

Our arrangement of ONCE WITHIN A LOWLY STABLE is simple but beautiful.  The children don’t have to learn anything new or hard.  They can simply enjoy singing this song as they always do and, with the addition of any of our various parts, a special musical performance is created.  We hope you enjoy it.

Now Thank We All Our God #95

joy-and-gratitudeJoy and Gratitude

October 2016 General Conference Messages on Joy and Gratitude

Many of us may still be on a spiritual high, having experienced an uplifting General Conference weekend just a few days ago.  How wonderful it is to hear from our leaders – good men and women who care so deeply about the gospel and about us – and want us to succeed happily in our lives.  We are very blessed.

A prevalent theme in the conference was joy and gratitude.  President Monson spoke on “The Perfect Path to Happiness.”  That perfect path is, of course, the gospel path.  Following it will lead to happiness here in this life and in the life hereafter.

President Russell M. Nelson spoke on “Joy and Spiritual Survival.”  He encouraged us to recognize the joy in our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be.  There is always some joy to find when our focus is on God’s plan of salvation.  “The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives,” he said.  Joy can be a powerful force in our lives.

Bishop Dean M. Davies reiterated that theme in his talk, “The Blessings of Worship,” as did President Henry B. Eyring in his talk, “Gratitude on the Sabbath Day.”  President Eyring told us that the Sabbath Day allows us so many opportunities to be grateful and to serve others.  As we serve, our gratitude increases.

History of NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD #95

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Martin Rinkhart, 1586-1649

Canadian Thanksgiving next weekend gives some of us another opportunity to consider our blessings and cultivate our attitude of gratitude.  Our hymn of the week, NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD, is a very stately and moving hymn of thanks.  Martin Rinkhart (1586-1649), the writer of this hymn text, would have agreed with President Nelson about finding joy and feeling gratitude even under the most trying conditions. This is what he did as a Lutheran minister in the city of Eilenburg, Saxony (Germany), during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The Thirty Years War was a horrendous time for the German people, as you can imagine living through thirty straight years of war would be. Eilenberg in particular was hard-pressed to maintain its existence and the existence of its people. Because it was a walled city, a flood of refugees had poured through its gates seeking protection. Toward the latter part of the war, the Swedish army laid siege to the city so food was in very short supply and, coupled with so many extra people, the situation was dire in terms of disease and famine. All the pastors in the city except Martin Rinkhart had fled or died. He alone was left to perform up to 50 funerals a day, including that of his own wife. So what was there to be thankful for, you wonder?

Eventually, the Swedes outside the gates of Eilenburg (Germany) demanded a huge ransom. Martin Rinkhart left the safety of the city walls to plead for mercy. The Swedish commander, impressed by his faith and courage, lowered the demands and the period of suffering soon ended. Rinkhart wrote this hymn to celebrate the end of the Thirty Years War. It is a testament to his faith that he could write such a hymn of gratitude to God after what he had experienced. The first line tells us that we should thank God “with hearts and hands and voices” – in short, with everything we are and everything we can do. That is certainly what Martin Rinkhart did, and I’m sure he would agree with President Eyring on the point that service increases gratitude. Martin Rinkhart gave service in huge measure, and undoubtedly saw miracles and felt the hand of God many times during the suffering of the Thirty Years War. Like the one leper of ten (Luke 17:17), he remembered to say thank you.

Congregation Choir Arrangements of NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

With Vocal Countermelody:  PURCHASE HERE

With Violin Countermelody:  PURCHASE HERE

Suggestions for Use of These Arrangements

Since there are only two verses, the countermelody, whether vocal or instrumental, could be used to add to the length of the hymn.

v. 1  – SATB voices with organ accompaniment

v. 2  – Countermelody (vocal or instrumental) with enhanced piano accompaniment

v. 2 again – SATB voices, Countermelody (vocal or instrumental) with enhanced piano and organ SATB

Conclusion

We have the magnificent example of Martin Rinkhart to show us that we can be grateful and find joy even in times of extreme distress.  In NOW THANK WE ALL OUR GOD, he encourages us to have “ever joyful hearts” and to thank our God with “hearts and hands and voices.”  Through word and deed, we can thank our God.  Three hundred and sixty-eight years later, President Nelson and President Eyring clearly agree with Martin Rinkhart’s advice.  Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Now We’ll Sing with One Accord #25

singing-our-historySinging Our History

The really neat thing about this hymn (included in the first hymnbook of 1835) is that it was written while Joseph Smith was still alive.  William W. Phelps (1792-1872), writer of the text, was recording everyday happenings, and paying tribute to a man yet living.  In fact, the second half of verse two was originally written in the present tense – of course – since Joseph was alive and well, living and working among the people he loved – and the people who loved him:

Even Joseph he inspires:

Yea, his heart he truly fires,

With the light that he desires

For the work of righteousness.

These lines in our hymnbook today are in the past tense.

wm-w-phelps

William W. Phelps

There is much optimism in this hymn and an expectation that Joseph would live much longer to continue his work.  He did live nine more years after the writing of this hymn and accomplished more in those nine years than most men would in a lifetime.  The original version of the fourth verse contains the phrases “Precious are his years to come,” and “He will triumph o’er his foes.”  Today these lines read “Precious are the years to come,” and “They will triumph o’er their foes.”  Ultimately, these lines are true in both cases.  The years since that time have indeed been precious, filled with great success for the Church.  Joseph did triumph o’er his foes.

Originally, this hymn text was eight short verses.  Today it has been combined to create four longer verses. Brother Phelps used a somewhat unusual rhyming scheme for this text… unusual but really cool.  Hymns generally have an ABAB rhyming scheme, but this one has an AAABCCCD pattern for each of the four verses.  In the original, of course, this would have been AAAB for each of the eight verses.  Because the 4th and 8th lines of each verse do not rhyme with anything else in the verse, they really stand out and the message is starkly emphasized.

Music

joseph-j-daynes

Joseph J. Daynes

We continue to sing and contemplate our history as we consider the music of this hymn.  It was written by Joseph J. Daynes (1851-1920), the first organist in the Salt Lake Tabernacle and the first accompanist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  He served in that position for thirty years.  The really amazing part of this story is that Brigham Young selected Joseph Daynes to be the organist when Joseph was only eleven years old.

Several years prior to this time, President Young had begun work on the Salt Lake Tabernacle and he wanted to install a huge organ there – one of the largest ever built.  Remember – we’re talking about an outcast community of Mormon pioneers who had come to live in the deserts of Utah –  Indian country – the middle of nowhere.  How were they going to build such an organ?  Fortunately, the Lord does provide.  Among the converts of the Church was Joseph H. Ridges, a man born in England who later moved to Australia where he became proficient as an organ builder. President Young delegated Brother Ridges to build the organ and three or four men were selected as assistants.  As the organ was being built, people frequently asked President Young who was going to play it?  His standard reply was that the Lord would provide an organist.  And the Lord did.

Young Joseph J. Daynes was an English convert to the church who travelled across the plains with his family, arriving in Salt Lake City in 1862.  Joseph and his father, John, were dedicated musicians – so much so that John had brought with him – across the plains no less – several musical instruments, including a folding Harmonium and a “Melodeon,” a small one-rank pump organ.  Each night on the plains after the company had settled, John would lead some singing while Joseph played the pump organ.  What a blessing for that company.

The night they arrived in Salt Lake City was no different in that way.  They had their usual evening singing. This time, however, Brigham Young was there to hear them.  He had come to welcome the company, as he did with all the newly-arrived companies of pioneers.  He was very impressed with the young man playing the small pump organ and said, “There is our organist for the great Tabernacle organ.” While the Tabernacle and organ were being built, the young musician was sent to New York for a course of study.  He returned in time for the formal debut of the organ in the newly-completed tabernacle and was the official organist (from the age of 16) for the next thirty years.  During that time, he composed anthems, marches and numerous hymns, five of which are still included in our hymnbook.

Joseph J. Daynes’ music for NOW WE’LL SING WITH ONE ACCORD complements William W. Phelp’s text very nicely.  The final non-rhyming phrase in each verse is accentuated further by a driving melody.  The first and third phrases in each verse are sung in unison by all four parts to emphasize the fact that we are all singing “with one accord.”

Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate piano accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate piano accompaniment could be used with the organ SATB as a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to this sample.  You will hear an organ introduction, followed by organ and piano for one verse – and organ, piano and voices for the second sample verse.  PURCHASE THIS MUSIC HERE.

Listen to this sample.  You will hear an organ introduction, followed by organ and piano for one verse – and organ, piano and flute for the second sample verse.  PURCHASE THIS MUSIC HERE.

Conclusion

Although at times antagonistic to Joseph Smith and the Church, William W. Phelps was mostly an ardent supporter and close friend.  His inspired writings have provided us with some of our most beloved hymns, fifteen of which are included in our current hymnbook.

It is also thanks to Joseph’s ability to forgive that we have these hymns.  William W. Phelps was one of the dissenters who gave evidence against Joseph Smith, resulting in Joseph being sent to Liberty Jail.  Being a great man, Joseph was capable of great forgiveness. When Phelps asked for his forgiveness, Joseph freely and completely gave it.  Because of this generosity of spirit, Phelps was able to resume working for the Church rather than against it.  His poems were made into hymns which bless the lives of millions of members to this day.  “The Spirit of God,” another hymn by W.W. Phelps, is sung at every temple dedication.

We are fortunate to have such a wealth of hymns that take us back to those early years.  We are truly singing the testimony of William W. Phelps who lived and worked so closely with Joseph Smith as the Church was being organized.  We are also singing the testimony of Joseph J. Daynes who crossed the plains as a young boy, and lived and worked with Brigham Young.  We are singing our history.

Do What Is Right #237

choose-the-right-then-do-it-1Choose the Right – Then Do It!

In the April 2016 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson gave us some good advice about making choices.  He told us that “as we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day – whether to make this choice or that choice – if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.”  He also encouraged us to “ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong” (April 2016 General Conference).

Does choice imply action?  We know that President Spencer W. Kimball didn’t feel that knowledge necessarily implied action.  President Kimball, after hearing a performance of “I Am a Child of God” several years after it was published, requested that “teach me all that I must know” be changed to “teach me all that I must do.”  Changing that word reflected a principle that President Kimball believed in:

“Celestial life may be had by every soul who will fulfil the requirements. To know is not enough. One must do. Righteousness is vital and ordinances are necessary” (Spencer W. Kimball in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 94; or Improvement Era, June 1964, 496).

In an October 1975 Conference address, Robert L. Simpson gave us further insight into President Kimball’s philosophy:

“Prominently displayed on President Kimball’s desk is a slogan which reads simply, “DO IT.” With this inspired leader, personal convenience comes second. Everything is done to meet the Lord’s convenience. His example for work has become legend and establishes an example for us all to follow.

Knowing and choosing may not always equate to doing.  We must make sure that we follow through on our good choices and actually do what is right.

History of DO WHAT IS RIGHT

george_q-_cannon

George Q. Cannon, 1827-1901

George D. Pyper commented as follows in Stories of Latter-day Saint Hymns: “[“Do What Is Right”] is one of those soulful poems adopted by the Church – a waif in the realm of song.  How it came to be included in our hymn book is told by Assistant Church Historian, A. William Lund.  He says that in a conversation with the late Duncan M. McAllister, which occurred just before Brother McAllister’s death, the latter said that while George Q. Cannon was presiding over the British Mission, on one occasion he attended a conference in Scotland and there heard sung for the first time, the hymn ‘Do What is Right.’ He was so impressed with it that when the twelfth edition of the Latter-day Saints’ hymn book was published in 1863 under George Q. Cannon’s direction, this hymn was included in the collection, but no one had any knowledge of who wrote it.

“‘Do What Is Right’ cannot be classified as a sacred hymn, and it is doubtful if the author ever considered it as such… But if it is not a message of divine truth there never was one written.  It is a simple sermon and contains admonitions that appeal to the Mormon heart.  George Q. Cannon recognized its value when he heard it in that Scottish conference.  He saw in it a message of hope; a song of promise; an urge to be ‘faithful and fearless,’ and one that fitted in with Mormon philosophy… It is a beloved, adopted child in Mormon hymnody” (Pp.85-86).

Congregation Choir Arrangements of DO WHAT IS RIGHT

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

With vocal countermelody In the second verse.  PURCHASE THIS ARRANGEMENT HERE.

With violin countermelody in the second verse.  PURCHASE THIS ARRANGEMENT HERE.

Conclusion

I love these two lines from DO WHAT IS RIGHT:

“Angels above us are silent notes taking/ Of every action; then do what is right.”

I can imagine beautiful angels solemnly watching… sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping… and taking notes on their shiny white clipboards.  Maybe they use some very high-tech shiny white iPads.

“And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.  God will protect you; then do what is right.”

Don’t you love the phrase “stout hearts?”  Definitely has a Scottish ring to it.  We all need stout hearts from time to time, don’t we?

Choose the right, then do it!  You may need a stout heart to do it, but it will be worth it.  Those angels will be taking notes on their shiny white iPads.

Come, Ye Children of the Lord #58

Come, Ye Children of the Lord2 #58 - crpd

Anticipating the Second Coming… Joyfully!

This hymn speaks of the joy that will be ours when the Saviour returns to the earth, when peace and love will abound and “sin will cease.”  We will be so happy that we will sing – a lot!  Each verse of this hymn mentions singing:

v. 1  Let us sing with one accord.

Let us raise a joyful strain…

v. 2  Oh, what songs we then will sing…

v. 3  We will sing the songs of praise; We will shout in joyous lays.

Each verse also mentions the removal of sin from the earth:

v. 1  On this earth when it shall be cleansed from all iniquity.

When all men from sin will cease…

v. 2  When in splendour he’ll descend, Then all wickedness will end.

v. 3  Earth shall then be cleansed from sin.

Each verse also mentions the love and peace that will ensue after the Saviour comes:

v. 1  … And will live in love and peace

v. 2  Oh, how joyful it will be/ When our Saviour we shall see!

Oh, what love will then bear sway/ When  our fears shall flee away!

v. 3  All arrayed in spotless white, We will dwell ‘mid truth and light.

Ev’ry living thing therein / Shall in love and beauty dwell; Then with joy each heart

will swell.

Prepare for the Second Coming

So… we are given a clear message in this hymn.  There will be much singing and rejoicing when the Saviour comes again, when sin is removed from the earth and we can all live in peace.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  And, indeed, it will be.  The only catch is that we will have to endure many sad events before that happy time happens.

In his talk, “Thy Kingdom Come,” from the April 2015 General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen tells us:

“We live, brothers and sisters, in the days preceding the Lord’s Second Coming, a time long anticipated by believers through the ages. We live in days of wars and rumors of wars, days of natural disasters, days when the world is pulled by confusion and commotion.

“But we also live in the glorious time of the Restoration, when the gospel is being taken to all the world—a time when the Lord has promised that He “will raise up … a pure people” [Doctrine and Covenants 100:16] and arm them “with righteousness and with the power of God” [1 Nephi 14:14].

We rejoice in these days and pray that we will be able to courageously face our struggles and uncertainties. The difficulties of some are more severe than those of others, but no one is immune. Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said to me, ‘If everything is going perfectly for you right now, just wait.’”

In his talk, “Preparing for the Second Coming,” given in the April 2004 General Conference, Elder Dallin H. Oaks recounts the accelerating pattern of natural disasters – earthquakes, floods, tidal waves, hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards – in the past few decades.  Then, of course, there is the increase in war and rumours of war.  And he was speaking twelve years ago… it has only gotten much worse.

Elder Oaks advises us:

“What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?

“If we would do those things then, why not now? Why not seek peace while peace can be obtained? If our lamps of preparation are drawn down, let us start immediately to replenish them.

“We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.”

What would we do differently if we knew the Saviour was coming tomorrow?  Maybe we should do it today.

History of COME, YE CHILDREN OF THE LORD

James H. Wallis

Our hymns spring from the hearts, minds and souls of amazing people.  James Hearknett Wallis (1861-1940), the writer of this hymn text, was no exception.   He was born in London, England, the third of 12 children, and baptized a member of the church in 1877.  There is no mention of his family joining the church, so he may have joined alone – at the tender age of 16.  He served several missions and apprenticed in the printer’s trade. He found work at a newspaper in Liverpool, where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Todd.

In 1881, James and Elizabeth joined a party of Mormons emigrating to Utah.  They were married in Salt Lake City shortly after their arrival.  They then moved to Paris, Idaho, where James became the editor and publisher of the Paris Post.  Over the next twenty years, he owned and/or managed quite a number of newspapers throughout Idaho and Utah.  He also studied law and earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Nebraska in 1896.

He then went on to become one of the more aggressive Dairy, Food and Sanitary Commissioners the State of Idaho has ever seen.  There were reports of him throwing out sub-standard food from train dining cars and seizing sub-standard milk to feed to the pigs.  Meat could no longer be displayed in open trays with no protection from flies and wind-blown contaminants.  Milk had to be properly handled and dairy barns had to be kept clean with this Sanitary Commissioner in charge!  Although his methods may have offended some at the time, he became famous nationally.  The New York Times printed a long interview with him (June 1, 1913) entitled “Fly Man Boosts Buzzless Boise.”

Along the way, he was also ordained a bishop by George Albert Smith and served as bishop of the Vernal First Ward.

Meanwhile, at home, James and Elizabeth had 16 children!  James does not appear to have been a man who did anything half-way.

This hymn text was set to a Spanish folk melody.

Our Arrangements of COME, YE CHILDREN OF THE LORD

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

With enhanced piano accompaniment (that goes along with the organ, if desired) and vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE IT HERE.

With enhanced piano accompaniment and flute/violin countermelody (flute in this sample).  PURCHASE IT HERE.

Conclusion

James H. Wallis appears to have had tremendous zeal for all he did throughout his life.  That characteristic zeal is evident in this hymn text.  What joy we will have… oh, the songs we will sing!… when the Saviour comes again.

I conclude with the words of Elder Oaks:

“We have faith in the future, and we are preparing for that future. To borrow a metaphor from the familiar world of athletic competitions, we do not know when this game will end, and we do not know the final score, but we do know that when the game finally ends, our team wins. We will continue to go forward “till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”  (History of the Church, 4:540)  [April 2004 General Conference]

The Light Divine #305

The Light Divine #305 rszd

Photosynthesis within us… see if you can say that quickly five times!  How precious is that light that dwells within each of us!  This hymn teaches us that just as the light of God rests on the face of brook and flower and tree and causes them to grow, it also rests in the heart of every child.

The light of God rests on the face

Of brook and flow’r and tree

And kindles in our happy hearts

The hope of things to be

************************************

The light  of faith abides within

The heart of every child;

Like buds that wait for blossoming,

It grows with radiance mild.

Sunlight provides the energy that plants use in order to grow.  This process is called photosynthesis.  It allows that budding and blossoming of every plant.  This hymn suggests that a similar light exists within the heart of every child… the light of faith.  If photosynthesis can trigger growth within a plant, what might a divine light trigger within the heart of a child?  Or the heart of anyone?

In his closing message to the young women of the Church at the 1995 General Young Women Meeting, President Gordon B. Hinckley said this:

“Some of you may feel that you are not as attractive and beautiful and glamorous as you would like to be. Rise above any such feelings, cultivate the light you have within you, and it will shine through as a radiant expression that will be seen by others.

“You need never feel inferior. You need never feel that you were born without talents or without opportunities to give them expression. Cultivate whatever talents you have, and they will grow and refine and become an expression of your true self appreciated by others.” [https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1995/04/the-light-within-you?lang=eng]

In D&C 46, we also read about this: “11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.”

We are not all the same, but we are all given divine gifts of the spirit that will bless our lives and the lives of those around us.  It is our sacred opportunity to discover what these gifts are as we travel through life.

Verse three and the chorus of THE LIGHT DIVINE are a prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking him to continue to touch our hearts with His light.

History of The Light Divine

This song was written for a Primary chorus, with words by Matilda Watts Cahoon (1881-1973) and music by Mildred T. Pettit (1895-1977).  These two ladies collaborated on numerous songs for Church programs.

A meeting was held on September 3, 1985, to celebrate the completion of the new hymnbook.  President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke on that occasion and paid tribute to Matilda Watts Cahoon, who was one of his boyhood music teachers:

“She was my music teacher in junior high school.  The only claim I have to musical fame is that I was a part of the boys’ chorus in junior high which won two district championships of the Salt Lake and Granite school districts.  Since then I’ve forgotten how to read music and all about it, but I do hold up my hand to Matilda Watts Cahoon who somehow coaxed a tune out of me as a part of the boys’ chorus of that junior high school.  She was a great and delightful and lovely teacher.” [Davidson: Our Latter-day Hymns]

Matilda Watts Cahoon was a music teacher in Utah and Nevada.  After the death of her husband, she obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah.  She taught in the public schools for 39 years, was the first woman delegate to the state legislature from Salt Lake County and served from 1913-1939 on the Primary General Board.

Mildred T. Pettit served in the Primary for 35 years, four of those on the Primary General Board.  During that time, she wrote many programs and 145 songs for children. She and Sister Cahoon were a prolific songwriting team.  Sister Pettit also wrote the music for “I Am a Child of God.”

Congregation Choir Arrangements

  • with enhanced piano and flute or violin countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.

Suggestions for Using Our Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

There are many ways these arrangements could be used with this hymn.  Here is one suggestion.

v. 1  Sing through as written in the hymnbook

v. 2  Sing the verse part as written in the hymnbook.  Add the countermelody (vocal or instrumental) on the chorus

v. 3  Add a countermelody all the way through, or just on the chorus again.

If you want voice and instrument countermelodies together, we suggest just using the vocal arrangement for both.

Conclusion

Photosynthesis within us!  So much is possible when the light of truth and faith touches our hearts.  We see God’s “unseen purposes” for ourselves and others.  We can reach our best potential.

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam CS 60

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam CS 60

One of my favorite scriptures is found in the Sermon on the Mount.  There Jesus tells us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  How profound is that one small scripture.  Jesus tells us that there is light, that we have it within ourselves, and that we can share it with others in many ways.  We can spread the light of the gospel message through our words and through our deeds.  We can be the light that others follow, the light on the hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14).

From the time we are tiny three-year-old “Sunbeams” we come to know this, and this children’s song is one of the first things that teaches it to us.

In a BYU address given on July 10, 2007, Sister Tina Taylor Dyches talks about the six years she spent as a Sunbeam teacher, and how she loved those little people.  After moving on to being the Valiant 9 teacher, she would often look at the six rows of children in front of her and think, “All of these children before me were once my Sunbeams!  They are all just grown-up Sunbeams!”

In fact, we never need to stop being Sunbeams.  We can spread the Gospel light throughout our lives.  Here are six ways to be a Sunbeam forever:

1. Smile

The simple act of smiling makes us happier. Smiling (even a fake smile) sends messages to our brains to provide a matching emotion.  How cool is that?!  So we don’t need to wait to feel happy before we smile.  We can smile first and then we will feel happy… or at least happier!

Smiling also encourages the world around us to view us as nicer people.  People are drawn to the sunshine of those who smile.  They will like us better and that will give us all the more reason to smile!

2. Be Grateful

The benefits of being grateful are endless.  We are definitely happier if we are grateful.  We feel more alive and live life more fully, thus making us better prepared to be grown-up Sunbeams.

President Uchtdorf suggests that we learn to be grateful even during times of trial.

It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?

Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be…

We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?  (General Conference, April 2014)

3. Be positive in our outlook and in our speech

One of the best ways of spreading sunshine is by radiating positive thoughts in our attitude and in our speech.  There is much more sunshine in seeing the good in the world and in building others up rather than brooding on negativity and tearing others down.

4. Take care of ourselves

We radiate sunshine more visibly when our faces glow with health and when we are energized by sufficient sleep.  If we follow healthy guidelines for eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep, our bodies just might let the world know that we are grown-up Sunbeams!

5. Read good books

Reading good books fills our minds with good thoughts and gives us worthwhile ideas to share in conversation.  Check out a site like goodreads https://www.goodreads.com where comments from others can help us determine the best books for us.

Keep in mind that the very best books are the scriptures.  The LDS Library app on our phones  makes it easier than ever to make daily scripture study a habit.  The scriptures are right there with us constantly, ready to read whenever we have a spare moment.  Two years ago, a friend of mine started a private scripture study group on Facebook.  Five of us share our thoughts about our scripture readings on a daily basis.  What a blessing that has been to me in keeping my commitment to read the scriptures daily.

6. Share the gospel

Our countenances can really shine as we share our testimonies.  We know we have the true gospel in our lives, we know the blessings this gives us and what a joy it is to speak of that with heartfelt fervour.  When the Spirit testifies of that truth to others, the glow radiates outward in a warm, sunny embrace.

History of JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM

Nellie Talbot wrote the words for JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM in 1899.

Racking her brain for material for her Sunday School class in rural Missouri, she thought to herself, “How can you say there’s nothing to teach about when you have the sun and the sky and the trees and the flowers!” [www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/l/l/illbeasb.htm]

Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921), composer of “Count Your Blessings” (Hymns, 1985, no. 241) and the predominant arranger of “Amazing Grace,” wrote the music to the Sunbeam song, which was originally entitled “I’ll Be a Sunbeam.” [https://www.speeches.byu.edu/talks/tina-taylor-dyches_walk-children-light/]

The original version contained four verses, the ones we have in the Children’s Songbook plus these two:

I will ask Jesus to help me

To keep my heart from sin,

Ever reflecting His goodness,

And always shine for Him. [Chorus]

I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus;

I can if I but try;

Serving Him moment by moment,

Then live with Him on high. [Chorus]

In the same BYU devotional address of July 10, 2007, Sister Dyches gives more background on this song and relates an interesting connection between the song and an ancestor of hers.

Tips for Teaching JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM

I have never seen this song sung without the children enthusiastically bouncing upwards as they sing the syllable “-beam!”  The music just lifts them upward and they can’t seem to contain themselves.  Since jumping up can get a little chaotic, many people choose to attach sun-shaped cutouts on the ends of popsicle sticks or paint paddles.  These sun-shaped cutouts could have a picture of Jesus in the centre.  The children can lift them exuberantly on the appointed beat.  Or check out this picture.  The sun shape is made out of a sturdy plastic plate that frames the child’s face.  You could also attach a paint paddle to that sunshine frame to make it easier to hold up.

Congregation Choir Arrangement of JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM

Enjoy this fun new twist on an old favourite!  Listen to our new accompaniment for JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM.  It has more of a true accompaniment feel than the original as it does not follow the melody exactly.  PLUS… we add a countermelody for voice or instrument to add even more variety and interest in singing this song.  All in all, it does have a more grown-up Sunbeam sound.  🙂

Listen to our arrangement below.  You will first hear the piano play an introduction and the first verse with just the piano accompaniment.  For the second verse, computer vocals sing the countermelody.  It could also be done by an adult solo singer, a group of children, a flute, a violin or an oboe.

Conclusion

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Singing the hymns and Primary songs with heartfelt enthusiasm makes us clearly identifiable as grown-up Sunbeams.  “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam… I’ll be a sunbeam for Him!”

Come, Come, Ye Saints #30

Covered Wagon pic

All is Well

William Clayton (1814-1879), a member of the first company of Mormon pioneers to make the trek west to Utah, wrote the words to this hymn.  For two months, he worried about the health of his wife, Diantha, who had stayed behind in Nauvoo due to her pregnancy and poor health. When William finally heard of the safe arrival of their new son and Diantha’s recovery, he rejoiced and wrote this hymn. More than any other hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints” reminds us of our pioneer heritage.  Originally called “All is Well,” William Clayton’s new hymn eventually became known as “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”  The tune is from an English folk song.

Teachings of President Heber J. Grant

From the teachings of President Heber J. Grant, the son of pioneers, we gain a more in-depth understanding of this “pioneer anthem.”  To President Grant, this hymn was very personal.

The remainder of this blog is an excerpt from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 129–37.

From the Life of Heber J. Grant

“President Heber J. Grant’s favorite hymn was “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” an anthem of hope that inspired the early Latter-day Saint pioneers who journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley (see Hymns, no. 30). He felt that it was important for Church members to understand the hymn—particularly the fourth verse, with its message of hope regarding those who “die before [the] journey’s through” and those whose lives are “spared again to see the Saints their rest obtain.”

“The hymn reminded President Grant of his pioneer heritage. He said: “I have never heard and never expect to hear, to the day of my death, my favorite hymn, ‘Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear, But with joy wend your way,’ [without thinking] of the death and the burial of my little baby sister and the wolves digging up her body on the plains. I think of the death of my father’s first wife and the bringing of her body here for burial.”1 This story of Jedediah Grant, his wife Caroline, and their daughter Margaret exemplifies the hymn’s repeated message: “All is well!”

“In 1847 Jedediah Grant led a company of Latter-day Saint pioneers from Winter Quarters, Nebraska, to the Salt Lake Valley. Not long before the company arrived in the valley, his six-month-old daughter, Margaret, contracted cholera and died. Her body was buried close to the trail, protected only by a mound of freshly dug clay. Soon after that, Jedediah’s first wife, Caroline, died from the effects of cholera and severe fever. She whispered her final words to her husband: “All is well! All is well! Please take me to the valley—Jeddy. Get Margaret—bring her—to me!” Her husband replied: “Yes, yes, Caroline. I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best.”

“The company reached the valley three days later. Funeral services were held that evening for Caroline Grant. After a few days of rest, Jedediah set out to retrieve Margaret’s body. He was accompanied by his friend Bates Noble and by Brother Noble’s adopted daughter, Susan. One night as they camped, Jedediah expressed his trust in God’s will:

“‘Bates, God has made it plain. The joy of Paradise where my wife and baby are together, seems to be upon me tonight. For some wise purpose they have been released from the earth struggles into which you and I are plunged. They are many, many times happier than we can possibly be here. This camping ground should be the saddest of all sad places to me, but this night it seems to be close under heaven.’

“The three travelers reached the grave site the next morning. Susan recalled: “A few paces from the little grave we stopped hesitatingly, set down our things and stood with eyes fixed before us. Neither tried to speak. An ugly hole replaced the small mound; and so recently had the wolves departed that every sign was fresh before us. I dared not raise my eyes to look at Jedediah. From the way I felt, I could but guess his feelings. Like statues of the wilderness we stood, grown to the spot, each fully realizing that nothing more could be done. After several minutes of silent tears, we quietly withdrew, carrying away again only that which we had brought.”2

“About nine years later, funeral services were held for President Jedediah Grant, who had served as Second Counselor to President Brigham Young. President Heber C. Kimball, First Counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the congregation, telling of a vision that his friend Jedediah had received:

“‘He saw the righteous gathered together in the spirit world, and there were no wicked spirits among them. He saw his wife; she was the first person that came to him. He saw many that he knew, but did not have conversation with any except his wife Caroline. She came to him, and he said that she looked beautifully and had their little child, that died on the plains, in her arms, and said, ‘… Here is little Margaret; you know that the wolves ate her up, but it did not hurt her; here she is all right.’3

Excerpts from President Grant’s Conference Message of October 1919

“I remember upon one occasion, and I have often spoken of it, … that my father-in-law, the late Oscar Winters, said: “Heber, I believe that the young people of Zion do not thoroughly appreciate what Brother Clayton’s hymn meant to us, as we sang it, night after night, crossing the plains. … I want to tell you an incident that happened as I was coming to the valley. One of our company was delayed in coming to camp. We got some volunteers, and were about to go back and see if anything had happened, … when we saw him coming in the distance. When he arrived, we unyoked his cattle and helped him to get his supper. He had been quite sick and had to lie down by the road, a time or two. After supper he sat down on a large rock, by the camp fire, and sang the hymn, ‘Come, come, ye Saints.’ It was the rule in the camp that whenever anybody started to sing that hymn, we would all join with him; but for some reason, no one joined with this brother. His voice was quite weak and feeble; and when he had finished, I glanced around, and I don’t believe there were any of the people sitting there whose eyes were tearless. He sang the hymn very beautifully, but with a weak and plaintive voice, and yet with the spirit and inspiration of the hymn. The next morning we discovered that he was not hitching up his oxen; we went to his wagon, and we found that he had died during the night! We dug a shallow grave and laid his body in it. We then thought of the stone on which he had been sitting the night before when he sang:

“And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow too,
With the just we shall dwell.

“We then rolled that stone over in place as a headstone for his grave.”

“I noticed tears in Brother Winters’ eyes. He started, as if he was about to tell me something more, but he hesitated and did not. I subsequently learned that after he had been in the valley for some time he came from his home in the country to Salt Lake to meet his mother, only to learn that she, too, had died before her journey was through.

“Never can I hear this song, never can I read it, but my heart goes out in gratitude to my father and to my mother, and to thousands of those noble men and women who journeyed over the plains. Many of them, time and time again, crossed the plains to help others, enduring the hardships cheerfully, carrying out, in very deed, the teachings of this inspired hymn! I can never think of them but I am full of admiration and gratitude, and utter a prayer to the Lord to help me, as one of the descendants of that noble band, to be loyal, to be true, to be faithful as they were! In very deed, they were a band of men and women who, as the years come and go, will command greater and greater admiration and respect from the people of the world.  (President Heber J. Grant: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 129–37).

Listen to our Congregation Choir arrangements of this hymn:

With vocal countermelody.  Purchase here.

With flute/violin countermelody.  Purchase here.

They, the Builders of the Nation #36

 

Mormon Pioneers

Builders of Character and Country

The early Latter-day Saint pioneers were an indomitable lot.  They persevered where many would have given up.  They had faith where many would have doubted.  They built and prospered where many would have moved on.  In a conference address of 1909 (with many original pioneers present in the audience), Elder David O. McKay said:

“On the 24th of July, 1847, they were here in this valley.  What did they see?  You try to picture what they saw.  These words will call up the barren picture in the minds of pioneers who are with us today – God bless them and preserve then long with us for what they have done, that we might at least express our appreciation of their devotion to the truth… There was nothing inviting; in fact, they had been warned that nothing would grow… Yet, within a few feet of where we meet today, the prophet of the Lord said, ‘Here we shall build a house to God.’

“Now what do we see?  Just look at our city today, its climate modified, its fruit unexcelled, substantial and comfortable homes everywhere, towns and cities flourishing.  To whom are we indebted for all this?  The people of the Mormon Church, the pioneers of 1847 and of subsequent years.  They were builders, colonizers, benefactors to our nation, benefactors to humanity.” (Gospel Ideals, p.528)

What an amazing transformation of the Salt Lake Valley those pioneers saw in just one generation!  A true miracle transpired as the desert blossomed… a miracle wrought through faith, dedication and sheer hard work!

Tribute by President Ezra Taft Benson

President Benson also paid tribute to the early pioneers in a Conference talk of October 1976.  He spoke of the example bequeathed to us and challenged us to live up to it:

“Other great stalwarts who also pledged lives, possessions, and their sacred honor were the Mormon pioneers. This they did by covenant before God when they came to membership in His kingdom, ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places … even unto death.’ (Mosiah 18:9)

“They came—with indomitable faith and courage, following incredible suffering and adversity. They came—with stamina, with inspired confidence for better days.

“Yes, they came—first the main caravan of 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children on July 24, 1847. This trickle of immigrants was followed by the hundreds, then the thousands, all seeking a home in safety. Yes, they came and carved an Eden out of the desert. Their promised land has become our prosperous valleys.

“Today we live in a choice land, yes, a land choice above all other lands. We live amid unbounded prosperity—this because of the heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears, a heritage of self-reliance, initiative, personal industry, and faith in God, all in an atmosphere of freedom…

“Can we keep and preserve what they wrought? Shall we pass on to our children the heritage they left us, or shall we lightly fritter it away? Have we their faith, their bravery, their courage; could we endure their hardships and suffering, make their sacrifices, bear up under their trials, their sorrows, their tragedies, believe the simple things they knew were true, have the simple faith that worked miracles for them, follow, and not falter or fall by the wayside, where our leaders advance, face the slander and the scorn of an unpopular belief? Can we do the thousands of little and big things that made them the heroic builders of a great Church, a great commonwealth?” [https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1976/10/our-priceless-heritage?lang=eng]

Can we continue to build on the great heritage they left us?

History of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION

This hymn was written by Ida Romney Alldredge, an aunt of Michigan Governor, George W. Romney, and great-aunt to Massachusetts Governor, Willard Mitt Romney.  Sister Alldredge was born in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.  She moved with her husband, Lew Alldredge, to Douglas, Arizona, at the time of the Mexican Revolution.  They later settled in Mesa, Arizona.

Sister Alldredge wrote over 400 poems, as well as musical and dramatic works.  She is best known for the text of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION.

Alfred M. Durham wrote the music for this hymn.  He studied at the Juilliard Conservatory, then proceeded to teach music in Utah schools for forty-two years.  He was also a member of the Utah State Legislature for ten years.  In addition to this hymn, he wrote the music for three other well-known hymns in our hymnbook:

Sweet is the Peace the Gospel Brings #14

Again, Our Dear Redeeming Lord #179

Carry on #255

Congregation Choir Arrangements of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

Purchase here.

Purchase here.

 

The Star-Spangled Banner #340

The national anthem of the United States of America, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” has a remarkable and soul-stirring history.  It honours the flag that was a fighter too on that night that America became free.  I could tell you the story but I think the History Channel does a much better job in this short documentary.

————> CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO <—————

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original one found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the organ part for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

In the music sample below, you will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the vocal countermelody joins in for the second demonstration verse.  Purchase this arrangement here.

In the following sample, the countermelody is played by a flute.  Purchase this arrangement here.

God bless America!

O Canada #342

O Canada rszd

Leave My National Anthem Alone!

In June, 2016, the Parliament of Canada voted to make the words of our national anthem, “O Canada,” gender neutral by changing a few words in the second line of the first verse, “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command.”  This seems a relatively insignificant thing, but not really.  To me, history and tradition are important… not to mention being able to sing my national anthem from memory.  My other concern is that if they are able to change that, will they go after “God keep our land” in the fifth line next?

We cannot seem to leave our national anthem alone here in Canada.  For a more detailed discussion of this phenomenon, I will share here an article, written by Hammerson Peters, from the website Mysteries of Canada:

“On Monday, January 25, 2016, kids all over the country stood for the O Canada before morning announcements. Young men- like the Medicine Hat Tigers in Prince George, BC, and the Kindersley Klippers in Wilkox, Saskatchewan- removed their helmets for the Canadian National Anthem before battling the home team on the ice. And grey-haired bureaucrats in Ottawa, the Capital of Canada, discussed the fate of the O Canada before adjourning at 7:30 pm.

“On January 25, Canada’s House of Commons resumed, and with it the efforts of Liberal MP Mauril Belanger to make the Canadian National Anthem “gender neutral.” Belanger, who is suffering from ALS, has declared that he intends to reintroduce his bill to change our national anthem’s second line. Specifically, he wants to change true patriot love “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command”. The Ottawa-area MP argues that the current lyrics “in all thy sons” neglect to reflect the sacrifices and contributions of Canadian women.

“Belanger is not the first parliamentarian to take up the torch on this perceived issue. In accordance with the epidemic of political correctness that has taken this millennium by storm, left-leaning Canadian politicians have tried to “modernize” Canada’s national anthem for years. Some, like former Governor General Michaelle Jean, have championed Belanger’s crusade. Others, like former Toronto city councillor Howard Moscoe, fear the O Canada’s words “our home and native land” are exclusive to Canadian immigrants. Others still seek to remove the anthem’s religious references so as to not offend secularists and religious minorities.

“Many of us Canadians are strongly opposed to these proposed changes. We see the Canadian National Anthem as a fundamental element of our national identity. To us, the O Canada is something that should not be subject to change, lest we want to advertise to the world our country’s lack of pride in its lineage and lack of faith in itself.

“Proponents of Belanger’s cause present a solid counterargument, however. They remind us that the words “in all of us command” are actually closer to the lyrics of an earlier version of O Canada written in 1908. They argue that a “gender neutral” version would actually be more authentic than the version we have now. That counterargument raises a couple of questions: How many versions of our national anthem are there? When was our national anthem first written? What is the history of Canada’s National Anthem?

Canadian National Athem flag at sunset

“The History of O Canada

“The first version of The Canadian National Athem was written by French Canadian composer Calixa Lavallee. Lavallee wrote the piece in 1880, just thirteen years after Constitution.

“Lavallee lived a colourful life. He was born in a suburb of Montreal in 1841. His father, a master organ builder, taught him to play the organ at a young age. At 25, Lavallee left Canada for the United States. There, he won a music competition and ended up touring Brazil and the West Indies with a Spanish violin virtuoso. He returned to the United States just in time to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. In the Reconstruction Era following the war, Lavallee toured the United States with show companies. When he was not on the road, he took up residence in various cities, including Montreal, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City. He ended up settling down in Boston.

Calixa Lavallee composer of first Canadian National Athem

Calixa Lavallee

“Despite being an expatriate, Lavallee was considered by many to be a Canadian national musician. Like Edvard Grieg in Norway and Jean Sibelius in Finland, Lavallee performed and composed music which helped young Canada establish a national identity.

“In January 1880, the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec commissioned Lavallee to compose a tune for St-Jean-Baptiste Day. St-Jean-Baptiste Day is a Catholic Quebecois feast day on June 24 which celebrates the birth of John the Baptist. The tune was put to the lyrics of a poem written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier, a French Canadian judge and writer. Lavallee completed the song in time. It was performed for the first time on the evening of June 24, 1880, in Quebec City. It was entitled the “Chant national”.

“When translated literally from French to English, the Chant National Lyrics read:

Under the eye of God, near the giant river,
The Canadian grows hoping.
He was born of a proud race,
Blessed was his birthplace.
Heaven has noted his career
In this new world.
Always guided by its light,
He will keep the honour of his flag,
He will keep the honour of his flag.

From his patron, the precursor of the true God,
He wears the halo of fire on his brow.
Enemy of tyranny,
But full of loyalty,
He wants to keep in harmony,
His proud freedom;
And by the effort of his genius,
Set on our ground the truth,
Set on our ground the truth.

Sacred love of the throne and the altar,
Fill our hearts with your immortal breath!
Among the foreign races,
Our guide is the law:
Let us know how to be a people of brothers,
Under the yoke of faith.
And repeat, like our fathers,
The battle cry: “For Christ and King!”
The battle cry: “For Christ and King!”

“English Translations

“By 1908, a number of Canadian writers translated the Chant National from French to English. Among them was Dr. Thomas Bedford Richardson, Mercy E. Powell McCulloch, Wilfred Campbell, Augustus Bridle, and Ewing Buchan.

Robert Stanley Weir wrote English translation of O Canada

Robert Stanley Weir

“The only English translation to gain widespread acceptance was one written by Robert Stanley Weir, a Montreal judge and writer, in 1908. Weir wrote the O Canada lyrics in his summer home to mark the 300-year anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. He entitled the piece “O Canada”. His lyrics read:

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,

We stand on guard for thee.

Refrain

O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow,
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea;
Thou land of hope for all who toil!
Thou True North, strong and free!
(Refrain)

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years,
From East to Western Sea.
Our own beloved native land,
Our True North, strong and free!
(Refrain)

Ruler Supreme, Who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our dominion within Thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day
We ever stand on guard.
(Refrain)

“Revisions

“Weir’s lyrics have undergone a number of revisions over the years. The first revision took place in 1913. It was a small revision to the second line, which replaced “thou dost in us command” with “in all thy sons command”.

“Weir made the change himself without publicly disclosing a reason. Some historians suggest that Weir might have changed the lyrics in protest of the increasing fanaticism of the women’s suffragette movement. Whatever the case, the words “in all thy sons command” have since come to resonate with many Canadians as an homage to the 100,000 Canadian men who lost their lives fighting in the First and Second World Wars.

“Weir made further minor amendments to the lyrics in 1914 and 1916.

“In 1927, the O Canada was officially published in time for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. At the time, it was undoubtedly the most popular national song in French Canada. In English Canada, however, the Canadian National Anthem vied for popular supremacy with another patriotic song, The Maple Leaf Forever. The Maple Leaf Forever was written by Alexander Muir at the time of Confederation.

“In 1980, the anthem was modified again. It became the version we know today. It might surprise some Canadians to learn that there are actually four verses in the official anthem. Most of us are only familiar with the first verse. The additional three verses are slightly modified versions of the original verses written by Weir in 1908. These three are rarely sung. You can read all four verses at OhCanadaAnthem.com. The Oh Canada Lyrics first verse, the one most of us are familiar with, goes thus:

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

“The Canadian National Anthem

“On June 18, 1980, the House of Commons voted on a bill proposing O Canada as Canada’s official national anthem. The vote was unanimous; the bill was passed. Almost exactly a century after Routhier and Lavallee created the its first version, the O Canada was proclaimed the official national anthem of Canada.

“Since then, the anthem has become an integral part of Canadian identity. It has become as firmly rooted in Canadian culture as ice hockey, Mounties, and the Maple Leaf. It is sung daily in Canadian schools all over the country. It is played at sporting events and official ceremonies.

Team Canada fans singing the "Oh Canada" at hockey game.
“So, what do you think, Canada? Should we change a couple of words in our national anthem to make it more politically correct? Or should we keep it the way it is?”
My answer to that question?  Leave my national anthem alone!

I Am a Child of God #301

I Am a Child of God2 rszdThis coming Sunday we will celebrate Father’s Day.  On this special day, we recognize our earthly fathers and grandfathers.  In most cases, these are men who have cherished their families, and laboured hard to take care of them.  At church, we also often recognize the “father of our ward,” our Bishop.  This good man has been chosen to lead our ward – to consider each and every one of us as he directs the activities of our ward and seeks guidance in making callings.  Then there is that other Father, the Father of us all, our Heavenly Father.  Each one of us has a special place in His heart, since we are all his spirit children.  He knows us so well that he numbers the very hairs on our heads!

Luke 12: 6-7  Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?  But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

And we know God!  As President Ezra Taft Benson told us, “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.”1

We can be assured of a beautiful, loving relationship with our Father in heaven when we return to live with him.  We can work to establish and benefit from that beautiful, loving relationship even while we are still here on earth.  One of the things that has helped many members of our church come to know Him and to understand the relationship we have with Him is the Primary song, “I Am a Child of God,” an excellent Father’s Day hymn.

Our Heavenly Heritage

In his talk in the April 2016 General Conference, President Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy listed six times that prophets through the ages have taught us that we are children of a loving and living God:

1. When tempted by Satan, Moses rebuffed him, saying: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God.2

2. Addressing Israel, the Psalmist proclaimed, “All of you are children of the most High.3

3. Paul taught the Athenians on Mars Hill that they were “offspring of God.”4

4. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received a vision in which they saw the Father and the Son, and a heavenly voice declared that the inhabitants of the worlds “are begotten sons and daughters unto God.5

5. In 1995, the 15 living apostles and prophets affirmed: “All human beings … are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.6

6. President Thomas S. Monson testified: “We are sons and daughters of a living God. … We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power.”7

Elder Hailstorm concludes his talk by saying:

“In today’s world, no matter where we live and no matter what our circumstances are, it is essential that our preeminent identity is as a child of God. Knowing that will allow our faith to flourish, will motivate our continual repentance, and will provide the strength to “be steadfast and immovable” throughout our mortal journey.”8

History of “I Am a Child of God”

Few songs are as well loved as “I Am a Child of God.”  Written in 1957 by Naomi W. Randall, with music by Mildred T. Pettit, it touches our hearts in a very personal way. From nursery-aged toddlers to senior members of our congregations, it confirms to us that we are children of a loving Heavenly Father who knows and cares about each one of us.

Spencer W. Kimball, after hearing a performance of “I Am a Child of God” several years after it was published, requested that “teach me all that I must know” be changed to “teach me all that I must do.”  Changing that word reflected a principle that President Kimball believed in:

“Celestial life may be had by every soul who will fulfil the requirements. To know is not enough. One must do. Righteousness is vital and ordinances are necessary.”9

Sister Randall felt that making the change was a great teaching moment in the Church and was the way Heavenly Father wanted the song to evolve. President Kimball liked to say, “Naomi Randall wrote most of the words, but I wrote one!”

The words for a fourth verse, added later, are included in the Children’s Songbook but not in our hymnal:

I am a child of God

His promises are sure

Celestial glory shall be mine

If I can but endure.

Music of “I Am a Child of God”

Naomi Randall was preparing this song for the Primary conference of 1957.  She wrote the words and asked her friend, Mildred Pettit, to write the music for it.  Sister Pettit worked hard to prepare the music as the Lord would want it.  She knew how the music should go but re-worked the closing phrase several times, having her children sing it over and over, until she was sure it was right.  She and Sister Randall worked on the chorus together and had the song done within a week.

Our information does not indicate for sure who wrote the optional descant part, but it does give credit to Darwin K. Wolford, a member of the General Music Committee of the Church, for arranging this song in the Children’s Songbook. We are fairly certain it was Brother Wolford who created the descant which accompanies “I Am a Child of God” in the Children’s Songbook, and this lovely descant is the one that we use in our arrangement of the hymnal version.  We have transposed the key of D hymn arrangement into the key of C, as it is in the Children’s Songbook, so that the descant, when used with the hymnbook version, is not too high for most soprano voices.  When the accompanists and special performers use our arrangement in the key of C, the congregation members can still use their green hymnbooks.  Most of them will  probably not even be aware that there is a key change.

Congregation Choir Arrangement

Our Congregation Choir arrangement adds a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original one found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the organ part for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

In the music sample below, you will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the vocal countermelody joins in for the second demonstration verse.

Purchase I AM A CHILD OF GOD – with vocal countermelody – here.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

 

_____________________________________________

Footnotes:

1.  Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974 (1975), 313.

2.  Moses 1:13

3.  Psalms 82:6

4.  Acts 17:29

5.  D&C 76:24

6.  “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129.

7.  “Thomas S. Monson, “Canaries with Gray on Their Wings,” Ensign or Liahona, June 2010, 4.

8.  Mosiah 5:15

9.  In Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 94; or Improvement Era, June 1964, 496.

I Know My Father Lives #302

I Know My Father Lives rszdSubstance in Simplicity

I listened to two young Primary boys bear their testimonies last Sunday in Sacrament Meeting.  One spoke of the help his mother had given him in learning to repent, and expressed his love and gratitude to her.  This was a young boy of ten who doesn’t seem the gentle sort at all.  The other boy, aged nine, spoke of getting lost in a corn maze.  He went through the maze the first time with a group and must have felt confident that he could find his way.  When they were finished, he went back into the maze by himself to find another group.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the group or his way out the second time.  He spoke of the tears he shed as he felt so lost and then his joy at being found and shown the way.  He compared it in a very mature way to our situation here in this maze we call life.

The sweet, sincere testimonies of these two young boys touched my heart.  I could not have felt the spirit any stronger had I been listening to more elaborate talks on the same subjects.  Things do not have to be complicated.  Sometimes there is great substance in simplicity.

I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES is like that.  It is very short and simple, yet bears a poignant testimony:

“I know my Father lives and loves me too.

The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true,

And tells me it is true.

He sent me here to earth, by faith to live his plan.

The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me that I can,

And tells me that I can.”

In a very few words, we learn the essence of what we need to know to find our way here on earth.  We need to know that we were sent here by a loving Father in heaven who continues to love us throughout our sojourn here, and who has given us the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be a comfort and a guide to us.  Through faith, we can return to live with our Father again.  We need to know that He believes in us and knows we can do it.

We need to know He lives and to know Him.  As President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974 (1975), 313).

  • History of I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES

Reid Nibley’s purpose in writing this song was “to express a testimony as a child would.”

Brother Nibley was asked by Tabernacle organist, Robert Cundick, to write a song for the new children’s songbook.  As Brother Nibley tells the story, “He suggested several categories, and I was immediately drawn to ‘Testimony.’  The words ‘I know my Father lives’ came to my mind, and the music came almost simultaneously.  The remainder of the piece came very quickly, but I thought it was too simple, so I began working on it.  It became more and more complicated and less and less spontaneous.  After two weeks of struggling with it, I began to erase all the excess notes, and soon it emerged in its original form.  Thank goodness I had a big eraser.  I have been deeply touched when I have heard children sing this little song.  I have the feeling that it no longer belongs to me, but it is the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.” (Davidson: Stories and Messages of the Hymns, p. 304) (Friend, Oct. 1985, p. 15).

  • Music of “I Know My Father Lives”

This hymn is in the 1985 LDS hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook.  Brother Nibley was asked to write a different arrangement for the Children’s Songbook than the one in the hymnbook.  He chose to make a duet accompaniment.  One person plays the accompaniment, which is a series of broken chords harmonizing with the melody, while another person plays the voice/melody parts one octave higher.  I have never seen it actually done this way, since there are rarely two pianists available in our Primary.  Usually, the non-melody accompaniment is sufficient and the children are able to carry the tune without the melody parts.

  • Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original one found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the organ part for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

In the first music sample below, you will hear the organ alone doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the vocal countermelody joins in for the second demonstration verse.  In the second music sample, computer vocals perform the hymnbook part.  The piano joins in for the first verse and a violin countermelody for the second.  To make a longer number out of this short hymn, it could be performed as follows:

Verse 1: congregation and choir with organ part

Interlude verse: enhanced piano accompaniment with flute, violin or vocal countermelody

Verse 2: congregation or choir, organ part, piano part and countermelody

I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES with vocal countermelody.

Purchase it here.

I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES with flute/violin (in this case a violin) countermelody.

Purchase it here.

 

Praise to the Man #27

Praise to the Man rszdJoseph the Brave

  • William W. Phelps, Convert and Friend

“Praise to the Man” was written as a personal tribute to Joseph Smith by his friend and long-time associate, William W. Phelps. Brother Phelps had purchased a copy of the Book of Mormon from Parley P. Pratt in 1830, shortly after the Church was organized. After reading it, and meeting Joseph Smith later that year, he became convinced of the truthfulness of the gospel. In June of 1831, he traveled again to visit Joseph, who was by that time living in Kirtland, Ohio. During this second visit, Joseph received a revelation regarding William W. Phelps, a revelation which not only called upon him to be baptized, but gave him a future assignment in the Church:

D&C 55: Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant William… after thou hast been baptized by water… you shall have a remission of your sins and a reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands… And again, you shall be called to assist my servant Oliver Cowdery to do the work of printing…

Brother Phelps was indeed baptized shortly after hearing that revelation. His education and talent as a writer provided him with important tools for service in the rapidly growing Church. He worked tirelessly in various capacities, and sacrificed much of his and his family’s personal comfort to do so, often leaving his family for months at a time. He did much editorial work, establishing the monthly newspaper, The Morning and Evening Star, in Jackson County, Missouri. He was also a scribe and secretary for the Prophet Joseph Smith, and assisted Emma in preparing the first hymnal in 1835. He was an important poet of the early church. Many of his poems were set to music and adopted as hymns, fifteen of which are still in use in our current hymnbook:

The Spirit of God, 2 (Text)                                                                                                        

Now Let Us Rejoice, 3 (Text)                                                                                                 

Now We’ll Sing with One accord, 25 (Text)                                                                            

Come, All Ye Saints of Zion, 38 (Text)                                                                                     

Come, all Ye Saints Who Dwell on Earth, 65 (Text)                                                               

Come, Let Us Sing an Evening Hymn, 167 (Text)                                                                 

Joy to the world, 201 (Text alteration)                                                                             

Adam-ondi-Ahman, 49 (Text)

We’re Not Ashamed to Own Our Lord, 57 (Text)

Redeemer of Israel, 6 (Text adaptation)

Glorious Things Are Sung of Zion, 48 (Text)

Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, 146 (Text)

O God, the Eternal Father, 175 (Text)

If You Could Hie to Kolob, 284 (Text)

  • A Lesson in Forgiveness

Due to some financial improprieties, William W. Phelps was excommunicated in 1839. He became a bitter enemy of the Church and the Prophet, even agreeing to testify  against Joseph in court. Thanks to the efforts of Phelps and others, Joseph was incarcerated in several Missouri prisons, including Liberty Jail, during that period.

Two years later, having felt tremendous remorse for his actions, Brother Phelps wrote a letter to Joseph, humbly begging to be allowed back into the fold of the Church. Joseph’s response stands as a prime example of charity and forgiveness:

“Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal…

Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, For friends at first, are friends again at last.

Yours as ever,

Joseph Smith, Jun.” (Linton, Roderick J. “The Forgiving Heart.” Ensign, April 1995, p.15).

Phelps returned to full fellowship and continued to serve as secretary and scribe to Joseph. He spoke at Joseph’s funeral, and about one month later, the text of “Praise to the Man” was published in the Times and Seasons, a periodical published in Nauvoo. The first two lines of the second stanza were originally:

“Long may his blood, which was shed by assassins,

Stain Illinois while the earth lauds his fame.”

They were changed in 1925 to:

“Long may his blood, which was shed by assassins,

Plead unto heav’n, while the earth lauds his fame.” (Davidson: Our Latter-Day Hymns).

Phelps traveled with the Saints to the Salt Lake Valley. There he served as one of the first regents of the University of Deseret (later the University of Utah), and was a representative in the Utah legislature.  The stirring words of “Praise to the Man” are a powerful tribute from William W. Phelps to his dear friend, Joseph Smith. There is sadness in the hymn, and yet also joy and gratitude that Joseph completed his mission so well, and is now able to mingle in heaven with the prophets of old.

  • Scotland the Brave Melody

It is entirely appropriate that this song, written in tribute to Joseph Smith, should be set to the tune of “Scotland the Brave,” one of Scotland’s two or three unofficial national anthems (they don’t have an official one).  For one thing, Joseph had a strong Scottish heritage.  His maternal ancestors came from Scotland.  John Mack(e), the descendant of a long line of Scottish clergymen, was born in 1653 at Inverness, Scotland.  He emigrated to Salisbury, Massachusetts, in 1669 and was Joseph’s great-great-grandfather.

Like the lyrics of “Scotland the Brave,” the lyrics of “Praise to the Man” reflect a bloody history, passionate loyalty, enduring love and lofty sentiments.  Compare the choruses of the two:

Scotland the Brave                                                                 Praise to the Man

Towering in gallant fame,                                                             Hail to the Prophet,

Scotland, my mountain hame                                                      Ascended to heaven!

High may your proud standards                                                  Traitors and tyrants

Gloriously wave!                                                                              Now fight him in vain.

Land of my high endeavour                                                           Mingling with Gods,

Land of the shining river                                                                He can plan for his brethren;

Land of my heart forever                                                                Death cannot conquer

Scotland the brave!                                                                          The hero again.

The passionate loyalty that Joseph inspired (as with that inspired by one’s native land) brought out the best in people.  We see that in the case of William W. Phelps and many others.  As President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “There were so many… who when they first met Joseph Smith seemed ordinary and unpromising, but who under the power of the truths and priesthood that Joseph Smith restored became giants in achievement through their service to others.” (Hinckley, Gordon B. “Praise to the Man.” Liahona, Jan. 1984).  We see that growth in the people of our own wards and branches.  Hopefully, we occasionally see it in ourselves.

  • Congregation Choir Arrangements

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.  Our arrangements for this hymn include the sounds of Scotland.  You can almost hear the drums and bagpipes!

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

Praise to the Man with vocal countermelody

Purchase here.

Praise to the Man with flute/violin countermelody

Purchase here.

Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice #21

 Exciting News!!

We have a prophet on the earth today, just as in times past!  Just like Moses, Noah, Elijah – yes, a prophet just like that!  For some of us, this is not new news, but it is very exciting nonetheless, when you think about it.  We actually have someone living on the earth today who is the mouthpiece of God – who tells us what God would have us know.  Perhaps not in God’s exact words, but this man can give us the essence of God’s instruction to us.  In D&C 1:38 it tells us “… whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”  He will tell us what God wants us to know; he will warn us of what lies ahead.

  • History of “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”

This hymn expresses the determination of the three men involved in its writing to follow the prophet.  Two of them were faithful pioneers who helped settle the Utah area.  Joseph S. Murdock (1822-1899) was one of the original Utah pioneers, arriving in 1847 with the Ira Eldridge company.  He faithfully completed many church assignments throughout his life.

Joseph J. Daynes (1851-1920) was only sixteen years old when he was appointed to play the organ in the old Salt Lake Tabernacle.  He later moved on to playing the organ in the new Tabernacle for many years and was the one who organized the first organ recitals in that building.  He composed marches for the funerals of Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff, and wrote the music for five of the hymns in our hymnal.

Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985) was not a pioneer in the same sense as Brothers Murdock and Daynes but as faithful in following the prophet as anyone.  Elder McConkie became a General Authority in 1946 and an Apostle in 1972.  He was a scriptorian of the highest order.  He wrote many volumes of doctrinal material and wrote the chapter headings for our LDS editions of the standard works.

  • Verses 1-3

Verses 1-3 of “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice” were written by Brother Joseph S. Murdock.

Verse one makes the connection between the latter-day prophets and the prophets in biblical times.  “We’ve found the way the prophets went/ Who lived in days of yore.” Men like Moses led their people in treacherous times, knowing the end result but not every detail in between.  Moses felt very inadequate in his prophetic assignment.  He gave many reasons to the Lord for why he was not the man for the job.  He didn’t think the people would believe him; he was slow of speech.  “O my Lord, I am not eloquent… but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10).  The Lord didn’t remove the assignment but provided people to help him – his brother, Aaron, to help him speak; his father-in-law, Jethro, to help him delegate; his counsellors, Aaron and Hur, to hold up his arms when he was tired.

Mormon also said: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, nether them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Mormon 9: 31).

Joseph Smith said, “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 522).

Prophets are men, very wise and good men, who speak for God and lead us in the ways He would have us go.

Verse two of this hymn uses some favourite imagery of LDS hymns – that of the sun bursting forth on a cloudy day.  “The gloom of sullen darkness spread/ Thru earth’s extended space/ Is banished by our living Head, And God has shown his face.”  A living prophet to guide us does bring us out of sullen darkness and helps us indeed to know the face and word of God.

Verse three of this hymn recalls the words of Nephi in 2 Nephi 4:34 “I know that cursed is he who putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.”  Verse three expresses that thought like this: “’Tis not in man they put their trust/ Nor on his arm rely, Full well assured, all are accursed/ Who Jesus Christ deny.”  We are assured that this is the church of God, not of men.

Verses one through three appeared in Times and Seasons in 1843.  The tune by Joseph J. Daynes (1851-1920) was added and first appeared with the words in the 1889 Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody.

  • Verse 4

Bruce R. McConkie felt that this hymn was just not complete as it was.  One hundred years later he felt the need to finish it properly, so the message in the fourth verse must be important.  The fourth verse brings us back again to the hymn’s principal message: “Then heed the words of truth and light/ That flow from fountains pure.”  Those fountains pure are our prophets.  Elder McConkie admonishes us to heed their words “Till thine election’s sure.”  Follow the prophets always and forever to “Assure eternal reign.”  Yes, that is an important message.

  • Music of “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”

Brother Daynes composed a lively, toe-tapping melody for this hymn.  It is mostly SATB, but the last beat of measure 10 begins a driving unison phrase.  In unison, this phrase is strong and contains the essence of the message of each verse.

Verse 1:  “Who lived in days of yore.”  This verse is about the early prophets

Verse 2:  “The world has gone astray.”  This verse is about the gospel message breaking through clouds of darkness.

Verse 3:  “Let all my words obey.”  Rely on the words of God, not of men.

Verse 4:  “Assure eternal reign.”  Elder McConkie encourages us to stay faithful to make our calling and election sure.

The music breaks into harmony again at the last word of each of these phrases, giving us relief from the intensity of the driving unison before.

  • Listen to our Congregation Choir Arrangements of “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice”

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction in the first example.  In the second, SATB voices provide the introduction.  Then the piano joins in for one verse.  The SATB and piano are joined by the countermelody (either voice or flute) for the second verse.  Our mp3’s are for demonstration purposes only.  You may choose to use these arrangements in a different way, depending on the musicians in your group.  The countermelodies for flute/violin and voice are the same melody for this hymn, so could be used interchangeably on different verses.

  • With vocal countermelody

Purchase here.

  • With flute/violin countermelody

Purchase here.

God’s Daily Care #306

Hymns for Every Time of Day!

Many of our favourite hymns are based on a certain time of day.  The time of day generally provides a metaphor for the message, or helps set a mood.

Simple clock or watch on white tile wall displaying one o'clock

  • Mid-Day Hymns

Some of our hymns speak of the middle of the day such as I Have Work Enough to Do, Improve the Shining Moments, There is Sunshine in My Soul Today and I Need Thee Every Hour.  I Have Work Enough to Do presents a to-do list of all we need to accomplish each day “ere the sun goes down.” Improve the Shining Moments and There is Sunshine in My Soul Today are rousing motivator songs.  They have a lot of energy and encourage us onward in our day.  Let’s get that work done!  I Need Thee Every Hour is a gentler song that recognizes the need for God to be with us every day in every hour, whether things are going well  or not.

  • Evening Hymns

Many hymns speak of evening: Abide With Me;  Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide;  As the Shadows Fall;  Now the Day is Over;  Come, Let Us Sing an Evening Hymn;  The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close; Away in a Manger.  These are generally prayer-like songs.  “As the shadows fall,” our fears grow and we cling a little more tightly to the faith we have in our Heavenly Father to keep us safe through the night.  Some, such as Abide with Me! are speaking of not just the end of day, but the end of life.

  • Night-Time Hymns

There are hymns that speak of night time, not just evening.  Come Unto Him is set in “the still of night.” The stars are up and God is very near as the author receives answers to his prayers.  Most of our Christmas carols also describe an intense spiritual experience that happened in the night time as angels, shepherds and wise men bear record of that most holy event… the birth of the Savior of the world.

  • Morning Hymns

Then there are the morning hymns.  Oh, what hope we have then!  We have a new day, a fresh start, a time to accomplish all that we didn’t do yesterday and to do it so much better than we would have done it yesterday.  Some of these morning hymns are: The Day Dawn is Breaking; Hail to the Brightness of Zion’s Glad Morning; The Morning Breaks; Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning; That Easter Morn; Come Away to the Sunday School.  “The morning breaks, the shadows flee…”  We are ready and eager for the day.

That Easter Morn gives us not only a new day, but resurrection… a new life for all of us after death.  Several of the other morning hymns present the morning as a metaphor for the restoration of the gospel.  Such a fresh start!

  • God’s Daily Care

God’s Daily Care is another morning hymn.  However, in its very simple way, it is also a hymn that encompasses the entire day.  “As I watch the rising sun when the day has just begun, I am thinking of the love that comes daily from above.”  The second verse is a prayer of gratitude for the care our Father in Heaven takes of each of his children each day.  We are so thankful to be in His loving embrace.

Not much is known of the author of this hymn text, Marie C. Turk.  She lived in Arizona and wrote many poems for Lutheran publications.  She died sometime in the 1950’s.

  • God’s Daily Care – Music

The composer of the music for this hymn was Willy Reske (1897-1991).  Brother Reske was born in Germany and joined the church there in 1922.  He emigrated to America in 1926.  For thirty-three years, he was the resident organist/composer/conductor for St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manhattan, NY.  During that time, he composed hundreds of hymns, anthems and organ pieces.  He also accompanied silent movies in the 1920’s and wrote many theatre pieces as well as popular music in the 1920’s/ 1930’s genre.  Thy Servants are Prepared is another of his hymns included in our hymnbook.

God’s Daily Care is a very simple eight-bar children’s song, much like a folk song in nature.  The last four bars are simply a descending scale, with one small variation.  Brother Reske said of this song, “It is just a ‘little ditty,’ but if people love it and sing it, that is all that matters.” (Our Latter-day Hymns: Davidson)

  • Suggested Uses of Our Arrangements of God’s Daily Care

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

This short hymn could be extended nicely with our very pretty countermelody.  It might be performed as follows:

Verse 1: Congregation (or choir) sings melody, as indicated in the hymnbook.

Verse 2: Soloist or small group performs countermelody only.

Verse 2 (2nd time): Melody and countermelody are performed together.

Another option would be:

Verse 1: Congregation (or choir) sings melody, as indicated in hymnbook.

Verse 1 (again): Soloist or small group performs countermelody only.

Verse 1 (third time): Melody and countermelody are performed together.

Verse 2: Congregation (or choir) sings melody, as indicated in hymnbook.

Verse 2 (again): Soloist or small group performs countermelody only.

Verse 2 (third time): Melody and countermelody are performed together.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  Then the piano will join in for one verse.  The organ and piano are joined by the countermelody (either voice or violin) for the second verse.

PURCHASE the arrangement with vocal countermelody here.

PURCHASE the arrangement with flute/violin countermelody here.

 

Secret Prayer #144

Secret PrayerWhat Makes this Hymn So Fun?

Hans Henry Petersen (1835-1909), author of the hymn text and music, was born in Slagelse, Denmark.  He was raised as a Lutheran but joined the LDS church with his father in June of 1853.  He served as a missionary in Denmark and was later branch president in Svenstrup and district president in Copenhagen, all while still a young man in his twenties.

In 1862, Hans emigrated to America with his parents and five siblings.  While on the ship, he met and married Julia Maria Larsen.  She had joined the church in Helsingor, Denmark, and had been disowned by her parents for doing so.  What a story that must have been! Shipboard romance – and marriage – on the way to America!  Hopefully, someone kept a journal.  How happy Julia must have been to have a family again.

After reaching New York and then Nebraska, the Petersens became part of a wagon company travelling to Utah.  Hans was put in charge of a company of about 400.  Again, what a story that must have been!  For a young Danish man, literally fresh off the boat, to lead a company of hundreds of Saints across the American frontier in those days must have been a huge challenge.  But that is what Mormon pioneers did.  They were made of stern stuff, with a large dose of faith and an even larger portion of heavenly help.  He was not the only one accomplishing such heroic feats.  He was walking in the footsteps of many who had performed similar courageous tasks to bring their families to Zion, and many followed in his footsteps.  God was helping them.

Hans eventually settled in Hyrum, Utah.  There he became the stake choir director.  It was in that calling that he composed his most famous hymn, “Secret Prayer.”  This hymn demonstrates the Latter-day Saint attitude to prayer; that it is a very personal conversation with our Heavenly Father. In personal, secret prayer we do not use set prayers; we create our own.  Brother Petersen wanted us to know that prayer can help solve the problems of life… the “billows of despair” or the pathway strewn with snares.

This hymn has many of the characteristics of the American gospel song: the verse/chorus division, the dotted rhythms, the energy, and the answering harmony of the chorus.  In fact, it is this answering harmony of the chorus that makes “Secret Prayer” so fun.  In our arrangement, the countermelody for female voices follows that answering harmony, so women get to sing it as well.  It is a pleasure to hear the different parts respond to each other in this lovely and meaningful hymn. Whichever part we sing, we can join our voices with the energy and heart that will truly “unite [our] soul[s] with heav’n.”

Listen to our Congregation Choir arrangement with organ SATB, enhanced piano accompaniment and vocal countermelody.

Purchase it here.

Listen to our Congregation Choir arrangement with organ SATB, enhanced piano accompaniment and flute or violin countermelody.

Purchase it here.

We Ever Pray for Thee #23

We Ever Pray for Thee 350 x 274For Which Prophet Was This Hymn Written?

Our hearts were touched this past General Conference as we watched our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, appearing much less vigorous than in years past.  His talks were wonderful, as always, but he is clearly becoming more physically frail.

We have seen this before.  People outside our church might think it odd that we include a hymn in our hymnal about “the advancing years that furrow thy brow” but it has ever been thus with prophets.  They get older, just as everyone does.  Surrounding them are their counsellors, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other leaders who give them whatever support they may need.  These ready and willing assistants “hold up their hands” just as Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands when he tired (Exodus 17:12).

We love and revere our prophets.  They are senior apostles when they take on the mantle of prophet.  We appreciate their dedication in fulfilling this demanding calling at an age when most men would want to just take it easy.  And we pray for them.  We pray that they will have “comfort and cheer.”  We pray “that strength be given [them] to do [their] part.”  We pray that they will be “ever blest” and that “God will give all that is meet and best while [they shall] live.”  We ever pray for them.

The answer to the title’s question is Wilford Woodruff.  Evan Stephens (1854-1930) wrote the words for “We Ever Pray for Thee” in celebration of President Wilford Woodruff’s ninetieth birthday in 1897.  However, this hymn has been sung with just as much love and appreciation for each prophet since President Woodruff as it was sung for him.  Turns out it was written for all of them.

Listen to our Congregation Choir arrangement of this hymn with organ SATB, enhanced piano accompaniment and vocal countermelody.

Purchase it here. 

Listen to our Congregation Choir arrangement of this hymn with organ SATB, enhanced piano accompaniment and flute/violin countermelody.

Purchase it here.

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