Category: Music and Poetry

“Final”, Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 9

“Our Savior, Jesus Christ, understands our pains and our afflictions. He wants to ease our burdens and comfort us.”[1] ~Moisés Villanueva Hymn Text: “Final”, by Joel Morales was included in the Spanish hymnals from 1912 – 1992.  The 1912 hymnal indicates that it is intended to be sung to the same tune as Songs of Zion, no. 168, which was “Ye Who Are Called to Labor” by Daniel B. Towner .  When printed with music in the 1942 hymnal, it was published with the tune of “A Happy Band of Children” by Edwin F. Parry.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any information about Joel Morales himself.     Table 1. Comparison of the hymn text in different editions of the hymnal 1912 1942 Ya suena la trompeta, Los justos llaman ya, Y Cristo se presenta, Los hombres juzgará. Ya suena la trompeta, Los justos llama ya, Y Cristo en su trono A todos juzgará. Serán las obras jueces, El mal á condenar; A justos dar la gloria, El bien á premiar. Serán las obras jueces, El mal condenarán; A justos dar la gloria, Lo bueno premiarán. En nube de la gloria, El Cristo ya vendrá; Del hombre la historia Escrita, El tendrá. En nube de la gloria, El Salvador vendrá; Del hombre la historia Escrita, él tendrá. La salvación eterna, A justos, les dará; El romperá las ligas, Y les libertará. La salvación eterna A justos, él dará, Eterna…

“Venid, Hermanos”: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 8

To the degree that members of the Church live the gospel and follow the counsel of the prophets, they will, little by little and even without noticing it, become sanctified. Humble members of the Church who conduct daily family prayer and scripture study, engage in family history, and consecrate their time to worship in the temple frequently, become Saints.[1]   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Venid, Hermanos” by José V. Estrada G. was published initially in the 1912 edition of the Mexican mission hymnbook, though it did not make the cut past the 1933 edition of the same hymnal.  It bears a similar name and the same author as the previous hymn discussed in this series (“Hermanos, Venid”), though it is a distinct hymn.  The original edition indicates that it was intended to be sung to hymn 87 from The Songs of Zion, which was “How Firm a Foundation.”  In this case, the same tune is used for “How Firm a Foundation” in the current hymnal.  It took me a bit to figure out how to do the translation, since rather than using an iambic meter (every other syllable is stressed), it uses a dactyl-based meter (every third syllable is stressed).

“Hermanos, Venid”: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 7

Problems form an important part of our lives. They are placed in our path for us to overcome them, not to be overcome by them. We must master them, not let them master us. Every time we overcome a challenge, we grow in experience, in self-assuredness, and in faith.[1] ~Horacio A. Tenorio Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Hermanos, Venid” by José V. Estrada G. was initially published in 1912 and continued to be published up through the 1942 hymnbook.  It was intended to be sung to the tune of Latter-day Saint Psalmody, 254, which was OMEGA by John Tullidge (“We’ll Sing the Songs of Zion”).  It was also published in the 1942 hymnal, though set to a tune by George Careless called SUPPLICATION (“O God, The Eternal Father”).  In the Latter-day Saint Psalmody, SUPPLICATION is the next page over from OMEGA, so it is possible that either there was a typo in the older hymnals or that both tunes were used interchangeably for the hymn and the latter won out later on (both tunes work for the text). Figure 1. “Hermanos, Venid” in the 1912 hymnal.   Table 1. Comparison of the text of “Hermanos, Venid” in various editions of the Spanish hymnal. 1912 1942 Se oyen por doquiera Anuncios y clamor, Que dicen á la tierra, Su pronta destrucción; Ya suena la trompeta, Con…

Dios, bendícenos: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 6

That complicated bond between my faith is what keeps me wondering, searching, discovering, and debating with myself, and through this I find a little of me each day, repeatedly learning that life has a purpose and that it has much to do with others and my relationship to the divine.  It humbles me when I begin to think that I’m very important and lifts me up when I convince myself that I’m not worth much.[1] ~Ignacio M. García   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Dios, bendícenos”, by Edmund Richardson, is an interesting example of a hymn where it’s not clear if it’s meant to be an original text, a translation of an existing hymn, or something in between.  It was published initially in 1907 and was included in every Spanish hymnal up through the 1942 hymnal.  In the 1992 Himnos, however, the translation of “Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessings” was published using the same title while the Richardson text was dropped from the hymn book, indicating that it might have been a translation or paraphrase of “Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessings” in the past hymnals.  There is a significant amount of overlap in ideas between the two hymns, similar meter, and the same number of verses.  On the other hand, the text was always attributed to Edmund Richardson as author rather than translator,…

¿Por qué somos?: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 5

Our Father knows and loves His children all over the world, from Boston to Okinawa, from San Antonio to Spain, from Italy to Costa Rica. In Ghana, President Gordon B. Hinckley recently thanked the Lord “for the brotherhood that exists among us, that neither color of skin nor land of birth can separate us as Thy sons and daughters.” … We come to this world in many colors, shapes, sizes, and circumstances. We don’t have to be rich, tall, thin, brilliant, or beautiful to be saved in the kingdom of God—only pure. We need to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. And we can all choose to do that regardless of where we live or what we look like.[1] ~Clate W. Mask Jr.   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: The hymn ¿Por qué somos? by Edmund W. Richardson was initially published in the 1912 edition of Himnos de Sion (see Figure 1).  It is one of the three hymns that were written originally in Spanish that are included in the 1992 Spanish hymnal.  The hymn has also been included in the Portuguese hymnal as “De que rumo vêm os homens”, though it is not included in the current hymnbook in that language.  The original publication indicated that it should be sung to the tune of hymn 50 in Songs of…

Santos, Dad Loor á Dios: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 4

What greater power can you acquire on earth than the priesthood of God? What power could possibly be greater than the capacity to assist our Heavenly Father in changing the lives of your fellowmen, to help them along the pathway of eternal happiness by being cleansed of sin and wrongdoing?[1] ~Adrián Ochoa Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: “Santos, Dad Loor á Dios” by Edmund W. Richardson was initially included in the 1907 Himnario Mormón (see Figure 1).  It was published in the 1912 edition of the Himnos de Sion, but was not included in subsequent editions of the hymnal.  Both of the hymnals that it was published in did not indicate a tune to which it was intended to be sung, though the John-Charles Duffy and Hugo Olaiz article indicates that it was sung to the tune of “O Jesus! the giver of all we enjoy” from the Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody (GOSHEN, by Ralph Bradshaw), which can be made to fit.[2]  There are a few textual variations between the 1907 and 1912 editions (see Table 1).   Table 1. Comparison of texts from the two editions in which “Santos, Dad Loor á Dios” was published. 1907  “Santos, Dad Loór á Dios” 1912 “Santos, Dad Loor á Dios” Santos, dad loór á Dios, Himnos elevad; Alaban al Señor Por Su gran bondád. Antes en la cruz…

Humildad: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 3

Oh, beloved brethren! Let us always remember the teachings of the prophets, let us always remember the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ which he brought us in the meridian of time.   Let us remember also his exhortations to our people here in the Americas, which are recorded in the Book of Mormon; let us keep watch so that these great treasures which have been left to us will not be buried as they were during the time of the great apostasy.  Strive to preserve them, to cultivate them, to convert our families into strong units in Zion.[1] ~Guillermo Torres   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: Humildad by W. Ernest Young was originally published in the 1912 editions of Himnos de Sion, and was included in the 1927 and 1933 editions of that book before being cut in subsequent editions. According to the 1912 edition, it was intended to be sung to the tune of hymn 223 in Songs of Zion, which was “Beautiful Isle” by J. S. Fearis.  It is notable as the only one of the 23 original hymns in the Mexican mission hymnals to have a verse-chorus structure. Figure 1. “Humildad,” in the second 1912 edition of Himnos de Sion.  Note: The author’s name is switched around slightly in the published text (Ernest W. instead of W. Ernest). The author, Walter Ernest…

Padre Nuestro en el Cielo: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 2

“Doing good often means getting one’s hands dirty, engaging in unpleasant things, and coming out of the battle worn and scarred.  The battle for the public good is neither about holding onto or giving up everything, it is about knowing when to do much, when to hold back, a little, and when to do nothing at all.”[1] ~Ignacio M. García   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. Hymn Text: Padre Nuestro en el Cielo by Manrique González was one of the earliest-published Spanish hymns in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was published in the 1907 Mexican Mission Himnario Mormón (p. 57, see Figure 1) and in the 1912 editions of the Himnos de Sion (p.44).  It was cut from subsequent editions of the hymnbook (1927 onwards).  Textual changes between the two editions it was included in are minor, consisting solely of punctuation alterations (see Table 1).  According to the 1912 edition, the hymn was to be sung to the tune of hymn 37 in the English-language Songs of Zion, which was “We are Sowing” by H. A. Tucket (8.7.8.7 D).  Oddly, the hymn tune fits two verses of the hymn at a time, but there are 5 verses of the hymn, which doesn’t work out math-wise.  In addition, the syllables do not completely align with the music as written.  As a result, I wonder…

La Proclamación: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 1

“I know for myself that Joseph Smith was a prophet because I have applied the simple promise in the Book of Mormon: ‘Ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ’ (Moroni 10:4). In simple words, look up.”[1] ~Adrián Ochoa   Note: This is a part of an ongoing series.  To start at the introduction, follow the link here. The Text La Proclamación, by José V. Estrada G., is one of the few hymns original to Mexico that have survived up to the present (1992) Spanish-language hymnbook in the Church.  Also called “La voz, ya, del Eterno”, it was was initially included as hymn 51 in the 1912 Himnos de Sion (Mexican Mission) (see Figure 1), and was included in all subsequent editions of that collection, the 1942 Himnos de Sion that was published by the Church (Hymn 252), and the 1992 Himnos (Hymn 145).  In the original hymnal, it was intended to be sung to hymn 53 in Songs of Zion, which was “Improve the Shining Moments” by Robert B. Baird (the tune still used today).  The text itself has had a few edits over the years, particularly for the 1992 Himnos (see Table 1).   Figure 1. “La Proclamación” in the 1912 Himnos de Sion.   Table 1. Variations in text of La Proclamación over the course of Church Publications.  Changes from the 1912 edition are bolded. 1912 1942 1992 1. La voz, ya, del Eterno, Nos llama…

Announcing a Mexico Mission Hymns Series

I’m excited to announce a new project that I’ll be sharing on Times and Seasons over the next few months – my Mexico Mission Hymnody project. A few years ago, a future new edition for the Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was announced. While working on what would become my first post on Times and Seasons, I talked a lot with friends about what the next hymnal might look like. Virtually all of my friends who had served in Spanish-speaking missions mentioned loving a song that didn’t have any English equivalent – “Placentero nos es trabajar”. I mentioned it in passing as something that might be added in an update to the hymn book in my 2018 post on the subject. I followed up in early 2019 with a post specifically about Spanish-language hymns that might find their way into the next hymn book. While researching for the latter post, I came across an article by John-Charles Duffy and Hugo Olaiz that detailed the history of the Spanish-language hymnals in the Church. One thing that stood out to me in the Duffy and Olaiz article was that there were 23 hymns written originally in Spanish and published in the hymnbooks that were prepared for use by the Church in Mexico, either in the original 1907 edition or the subsequent 1912 edition. As described in the article: Hymn texts were produced by American missionaries, Anglo saints…

Ghostwriter to the Prophet

I suspect that if we really knew and experienced the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for ourselves, we might be surprised by who were the most influential members in shaping the developing Church. In a recent From the Desk interview, Bruce A. Van Orden discussed one candidate for that last that tends to get overlooked – William Wines Phelps. Best remembered for his contributions to the hymnals of the Church,  he was also an important publisher and author of Church literature,  sometimes acting as a ghostwriter for Joseph Smith. What follows here is a copost (a shorter post with excerpts and discussions) to the full interview. Bruce A. Van Orden described some of W. W. Phelps’s contributions and background: In D&C 57, W. W. Phelps was called as “printer unto the church” and to dedicate his writings to building the Kingdom of God. More than any other man up through 1845, he was the major writer of gospel themes in the church. He was also instrumental in leading the Missouri saints ecclesiastically from 1832 to 1838 and in being one of Joseph Smith’s key scribes. Consequently, I claim that W. W. Phelps was one of the 10 most influential Latter-day Saints in the Church’s first 15 years. … W. Phelps penned twenty-five hymns entirely by himself. More surprisingly, he adapted in various ways another thirty-seven pieces, making sixty-two in all where his words are…

“As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ”

Of all the Christmas carols in the English hymnbook, the one with the longest association with the Church’s hymnals is “Joy to the World.”[1]  It’s probably fitting, then, that the “Come, Follow Me” materials for this week reference it.  The reading material for the week is the document “The Living Christ,” published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve on 1 January 2000, “as we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago.”  The document covers the mission of Jesus Christ before, during, and after his mortal life.  In one section, it states that: “We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him.”[2]  Asides from some nice references to the Biblical texts behind George Frideric Handel and Charles Jennens’s Messiah (which President Gordon B. Hinckley was fond of quoting), this paragraph is brought up in the “Come, Follow Me” manual because it addresses the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: “Christmas is a time both to look back on the day Jesus Christ was born and to look forward to the day He will come again. … It might … be interesting to read, sing, or listen to Christmas hymns that teach about…

Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 58-59: Timing of Blessings, Sabbath Day

The end is always a new beginning. The arrival of the first Latter-day Saints in Independence, Missouri was both an end and a beginning. They accomplished the goal of gathering to Zion, but then realized that now they had to actually build Zion—a process that has, in a variety of ways, continued ever since. For the Saints at that time, the revelations contained in D&C 58 and 59 show the process of realizing that the new beginning of Zion contained a new set of struggles, and struggles that were very different from what they expected. For us today, these sections point out, symbolically, at least, that we are also facing struggles in our process of building Zion. And in these sections we find two different messages about the blessings we often expect. First, we learn that blessings don’t come automatically—God is not a vending machine. Instead, blessings come according to God’s timing. And second, we learn that by keeping the Sabbath, we will receive both temporal and spiritual blessings.   The Timing of Blessings The Saints who lived when the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants were written faced a lot of struggle and suffering. These trials were often seen as necessary to their salvation, and the blessings they would receive were expected only in the future, if not in the next life. Eliza R. Snow captured this view in the following poem, written in late 1843 during her stay…

Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 51-57 — Temporal Zion

By going in order through the Doctrine and Covenants, the Come Follow Me lessons sometimes show the concerns of the Church at a particular point in time. The seven sections included in this lesson are quite varied, but all demonstrate temporal concerns — where to put all the immigrants arriving in Kirtland, how members should share what they have, how should church members fulfill the command to gather to Missouri and who should be doing the printing of Church publications. But despite these temporal concerns, in these sections there are clearly spiritual lessons which are germane to the temporal needs and directives. These include learning to become a faithful, just and wise steward, and learning to be pure in heart.   Being a Faithful Steward Eliza R. Snow is likely considered to be a faithful steward by most Church members. But like most of us, she had to make the decision to follow the gospel. She wrote about that decision in the following poem, and of the stewardship responsibilities that came with that decision. When I espous’d the cause of truth by Eliza R. Snow (1841) Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”-Matt. 7:14 When I espous’d the cause of truth, The holy spirit, from on high, Promply instructed me, forsooth, To lay my youthful prospects by. I saw along the “narrow way” An ordeal, which the saints…