There are 28 designated sacrament hymns in the current hymnal within the page range of 169 to 197. Given that we sing one per week, for 52 weeks, basic math tells us that sacrament hymns will be repeated almost twice per year — more than six times the average frequency of other hymns.
Two of the 28 Sacrament hymns are duplicate texts with different music. And others (such as 178, O Lord of Hosts, or 189, O Thou Before the World Began) are rarely sung. That leaves an awful lot of weeks each year for I Stand All Amazed, There is a Green Hill, and Jesus, Once of Humble Birth. With so much repetition, there is a risk that Sacrament becomes auto-pilot. Part of the music director’s job is arranging hymns to help the congregation reflect on the meeting.
Are there other options for Sacrament hymns?
The hymn book states that, “the Sacrament hymn should refer to the sacrament itself or to the sacrifice of the Savior.” In addition, Sacrament hymns are traditionally solemn and reverent. Are there other hymns that fit the bill?
A few obvious candidates stand out. The first is #146, Gently Raise the Sacred Strain. I was actually surprised to notice that this one isn’t in the sacrament section. Several wards that I’ve been in have used this one regularly in the rotation. It’s the only hymn outside of the 169-197 range that is listed under the topic Sacrament in the index.
Another is #197 itself, O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown, which the hymnal designates primarily as an Easter hymn, but which does double duty very nicely.
Other choices include #136, I Know that my Redeemer Lives, and #134, I Believe in Christ. I’ve heard 136 used as a Sacrament hymn before (it worked well, I think).
Beyond that, we have . . . what? Clearly, many hymns are out. Other Easter choices, like Christ the Lord is Risen Today or All Glory, Laud and Honor, are probably too bouncy for Sacrament. It would never be appropriate to use Scatter Sunshine as a Sacrament hymn.
A few other, perhaps unorthodox suggestions which might also fit the bill of focusing on the Savior’s sacrifice, and having a reverent tone, include:
#111, Rock of Ages.
#117, Come Unto Jesus.
#100, Nearer, My God, to Thee.
#108, The Lord is my Shepherd.
#308, Love one Another.
What other hymns outside of the normal range might make good Sacrament hymns?