Hymn 95

November 23, 2008 | 13 comments
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On the sweetness of Mormon life.

Last Sunday I took our toddler out to the foyer for a few words. She got them, cried, calmed down, and I was saying hello to a few latecomers when the rest hymn started. I could barely hear it out there but it drew me like a magnet. When I walked into the chapel into the full sound of the congregration singing hymn 95, a new hymn to me, it was like walking through the veil into the celestial room.

The last few weeks church hadn’t done much for me. That changed. Our two high councilmen spoke strongly with the Spirit. Bishop got up and tried to say a few words at the end. But he was too moved to talk. He worked at speaking for awhile. Finally he said, ‘anyhow,’ and closed the meeting.

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13 Responses to Hymn 95

  1. Inlandia on November 23, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I, too, have dreaded going to church since early October, and it only became worse the closer to the election. It wasn’t that I couldn’t wear my Obama button (j/k), it was the fact that Sacrament Meeting was no longer a refuge from the world. It was mirroring the battles of the world, and even the hymns we sang (Onward Christian Soldiers and other patriotic songs were the theme one week) seemed to support the air of discord.

    Today in RS we sang Sweet Is the Peace the Gospel Brings for the opening song, and Sweet Hour of Prayer for the rest hymn. Since I was the pianist, I couldn’t weep then, but it felt as if these songs were another layer of healing for what we’ve been through–whether it was viewed as was Saints against the World, or even Saints against Saints.

    Three years ago my mother and I stood shoulder to shoulder in the little downtown church in Alexandria, VA, celebrating a Christmas Eve service with a local congregation. Her grandfather had been an organ maker, and played the organ at his services in Bloxwich, England before joining the LDS church. The hymn we were singing was the traditional setting for O Little Town of Bethlehem (not the one we’ve all grown up with, but instead the tune to “I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly”–try it, you’ll love it).

    My 78-year old mother sang the first verse flawlessly. When I realized she wasn’t singing the next verses, I asked her if she was okay. “I can’t see them with my old eyes,” she said. Since then I’ve been trying to memorize the hymns against the day when I, too, will age and lose the ability to see clearly the words. But the unseen benefit is being able to really *sing* the words, to that I gain the full impact not only of the familiar tune but the joined effect of both the poetry and the melody. I’ve say thanks a lot to my English grandfather, not only for our entry in the LDS community, but also for the contribution made by him and his fellow saints, one that helps me today.

  2. Zat on November 23, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    In all my years going to meetings I’ve never heard the term “rest hymn.” What is that?

  3. jks on November 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Zat, the hymn in the middle of the talks is sometimes called congregational hymn, intermediate hymn or rest hymn. I’m the ward music director and I don’t know what to call it. We don’t have an organist so each week I let the various volunteer pianist/organist people choose the hymns and they call it all three of those.

    Inlanda, I love singing O Little Town of Bethlehem to I Saw A Mighty Angel Fly music. My family does it every Christmas Eve. We grew up with that tune on some sort of Vienna Boys Choir Christmas record.

    Adam, I’m glad you appreciated the hymn music today. As a music director for Sac. Mtg, I thank you on behalf of all Sac. Mtg. music directors.

  4. Hunter on November 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    “Now Thank We All Our God” is a well-known Lutheran chorale – one of the precious few in our hymnal from that august tradition. The hymn drew you in, Adam, because it’s such a great piece of music. The words ain’t bad, either. [wink]

  5. Hans on November 24, 2008 at 2:52 am

    The English setting of “O Little Town” is from the old Oxford Book of Carols, edited by the English composer and folklorist Ralph Vaughan Williams. A number of years ago I had my ward choir sing the arrangement of that tune by Vaughan Williams with a descant by Thomas Armstrong. It appears in “Carols for Choirs”, Volume 1, edited and arranged by Reginald Jacques and David Willcocks, Oxford University Press, 1961.

    #4. “Now Thank We All Our God” is a well-known Lutheran chorale – one of the precious few in our hymnal from that august tradition.”

    We could use more Lutheran chorales in our Hymnbook.

  6. john on November 24, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Singing in our ward is problematic because few people know the hymns anymore. We need to bring back song practice. Also, we have only one good organist in the entire ward. if she isn’t there, we’re out of luck.

  7. Adam Greenwood on November 24, 2008 at 11:22 am

    John,
    no one in our ward knows the hymns at all. The hymn was powerful because of the beauty of the words and the music and because of the spirituality of the service.
    I would like it if our wards knew more songs and were better at singing, though I doubt song practice would make the difference. Maybe. In any case, sometimes its good to appreciate that the glass is half full or a quarterfull without ranting about the half-emptiness.

  8. Mark B. on November 24, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    I’m surprised that Now Thank We All Our God would be unknown. There were only two “thanksgiving” hymns in the old hymnal (Now Thank We and Come, Ye Thankful People Come) and the number has been increased by just one in the current hymnal–Prayer of Thanksgiving.

    With two or three Sundays around Thanksgiving and only two or three hymns to choose from on that theme, one wonders what the music directors in all the wards and branches all over the world have been choosing to sing instead.

    Besides, I’d have thought that AG, in a previous lifetime, would have been with Friedrich der Grosse, as his Prussians ravaged central Europe, always giving appropriate thanks to God with “Nun danket alle Gott.”

  9. Adam Greenwood on November 24, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    How right you are about my past, Mark B. I always use that line on the hotties, in fact. “Why fight it, XX? ” I say, “In our past lives you were Central Europe and I was a Prussian.”

  10. Mark B. on November 24, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    You’re confusing “ravaging” with “ravishing,” AG.

    But, then again, the Prussians weren’t all that good at English.

  11. Researcher on November 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    “one wonders what the music directors in all the wards and branches all over the world have been choosing to sing instead” (8)

    Probably “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “Because I Have Been Given Much.”

  12. namakemono on November 24, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    #8 With two or three Sundays around Thanksgiving and only two or three hymns to choose from on that theme, one wonders what the music directors in all the wards and branches all over the world have been choosing to sing instead

    um, we don`t have Thanksgiving here (Japan), or in any of the other 2 countries I have been to church in – isn`t it only the USA and Canada that do?

  13. Keith on December 27, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    It is by grace you are saved, not through works lest anyone should boast. I wonder how the cult of mormonism gets around that verse? Satan has clever arguments but only those who truly wish to be deceived are. True Christians know the Shepherds voice, and I mean Christ ,not the instrument of Satan John Smith.

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