Category: Music and Poetry

“La Ofrenda”

“La Ofrenda” is a sacrament hymn written by José V. Estrada G. It is possible that it was based on “Venid Hermanos En La Fe” by Edmund Richardson or drew inspiration from similar places. It is one of the hymns that was only published in the 1912 edition of the Mexican mission hymnals.

“Venid Hermanos En La Fe”

“Venid Hermanos En La Fe” is another example of the prolific hymn writer Edmund Richardson. It bears some notable resemblances to “La Ofrenda,” another sacrament hymn written by José V. Estrada G., though the Richardson text was written first.

“La Voz de Jesucristo”

As mentioned previously, Edmund Richardson seems to have had a particular interest in linking indigenous Mexican peoples to the Book of Mormon narrative and “La Voz de Jesucristo” is the third example of this. For some relevant historical analysis, see the following posts:

¡Oh gente afligida!

Edmund Richardson seems to have had a particular interest in linking indigenous Mexican peoples to the Book of Mormon narrative. In many ways, however, his approach was a colonizing narrative in which the indigenous peoples were ignorant, benighted peoples in need of civilizing through the efforts of Euro-American Latter-day Saints. “¡Oh gente afligida!” is just one example of Richardson’s poetry on the subject, with “La Obra Ya Empieza” and “La Voz de Jesucristo” being two other examples. For some relevant historical analysis, see the following posts:

“La Obra Ya Empieza”

“La Obra Ya Empieza” was one of the original hymns included in the 1907 Himnario Mormón (the first Spanish-language hymnbook in the Church). Written by the prolific hymn-writing colonist Edmund Richardson, it was originally a text with no tune specified for singing. In the 1940s red hymnbook, it appeared with an unidentified tune for the first time. When the current hymnbook came out in 1992, this hymn was not included.

“Tened en Dios Confianza”

I have not been able to find out much about “Tened en dios confianza,” nor about its author, José V. Estrada G. On a more personal note, however, this was the first hymn that I worked with when I started contemplating the Mexican Mission Hymns Project around six years ago. The original music for the hymn that I wrote was even one of the five I submitted for consideration with the new hymnbook.

“Placentero nos es trabajar”

“Placentero nos es trabajar” or “Despedida” is one of the more popular hymns that is included in Latter-day Saint hymn books, written by a Latter-day Saint, but not in the English hymnal at this time. Hence, I’ve been consistent in pointing it out as a likely candidate for inclusion in the forthcoming hymnal. While I’ve talked about this hymn in the past, this post will serve two purposes—first, it is going to be where I pick up the Mexican Mission Hymns series. Second, it’s also a co-post for a recent interview with John A Gonzalez—the grandson of Andrés Carlos González, the author of the hymn—at the Latter-day Saint history blog From the Desk.

Hymnal Watch: February 2024

A YouTube channel called “For All the Saints” recently interviewed Ray Robinson—a member of the team that is creating the new hymnbook. There were several notable observations made by Robinson that I want to highlight:

Advent Songs in the Latter-day Saint Tradition

When I played handbells as part of the music ministry of a local Presbyterian church, I was surprised to learn that in the traditional liturgical calendar, most of December isn’t Christmas time. Instead, it is a season called Advent that looks forward to Christmas time. Christmas itself begins on Christmas Eve and lasts through January 7. And by the same token, I learned that Advent has its own music tradition while playing in the bell choir. What has surprised me, however, is that some of those pieces of Advent music have found their way into Latter-day Saint hymnals over the years. 

Book Recommendation: Satan is Real

The Country Music history podcast Cocaine and Rhinestones called this book “everything a Country Artist’s autobiography should be.”  Even if you aren’t into this particular genre (I was not and have no plans to read any anytime soon), this is a worthwhile read.  And despite the (content warning) constant cussing (including many “f-bombs”), I even felt the Spirit at one point.  Let me explain:

Top Gospel-Related Songs and Some Top Renditions

Orchestra of Angels I’m not a musical person. I was started on the classical guitar quite early and became decently proficient at it by the time I was in Jr. High, but I just didn’t have the fire to practice for hours like many in the music world have. I enjoy a good tune, but I can’t tell the difference between, say, Mozart and something a graduate student would write (I actually wonder if musicologists couldn’t without pre-existing knowledge of Mozart’s musical corpus and it’s emperors with no clothes all the way down, but I digress).  However, there is some music whose greatness is self-evident, and you don’t need musical training to recognize and appreciate how spiritually moving it is. Below is my own list, along with examples of moving renditions Come Thou Font The classic rendition of this we always listened to growing up, which is still my favorite, is the version in the BYU Choir’s Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns way back when. This was in the hymn book, but was taken out, and I hope the new one will have it in again.  Ode to Joy Piano Guys did a fun version of this, but it’s also worth listening to the full orchestral version. Hallelujah Chorus The Church put together the largest virtual Hallelujah Chorus of all time. Traditionally one stands for the Hallelujah Chorus. I heard it was because a king stood out of respect when it…

Mormonism in Mexico, Part 15: War

The Mexican Revolution impacted every Mexican, and that included the Mexican Latter-day Saints, some of whom did their best to stay out of the conflict, some of whom became casualties of war, and some of whom joined in the revolution.

The 1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns

At the start of each year, there is a whole collection of publications that enter the public domain. This year is a relatively big year for people interested in Latter-day Saint song books, since the 1927 Latter-day Saint Hymns, along with a few other song books (the 1927 edition of the Primary Song Book and some anthem collections) are now public domain.

Sacrament Meeting Hymns

Latter-day Saint sacrament hymns

Choosing music for sacrament meetings is an interesting responsibility sometimes. One of a few different challenges is that there are only 27 hymns specifically selected as sacrament meeting hymns, so there is a lot of potential for repetition.

Christmas Carols in the French Hymnbook

A few years ago, I talked about Christmas songs that are included in the various translations of the Latter-day Saint hymnbook that are not in the English hymnal.  I’m hoping to share the music and translations of those songs over the next few Decembers, starting this time with the music in the French hymnbooks.  In this case, there are three Christmas hymns in the hymnbook that appear in the French edition that aren’t in the English: “He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and “Sing We Now of Christmas“. He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child “He Is Born” (“Il est né le divin Enfant”) is a relatively well-known carol that is included in the French and Tahitian hymnbooks.  For the translation presented below, I’ve used the Samuel Bradshaw translation paired with the music from the French hymnal. Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” (“Es ist ein Ros entsprungen”) is a well-known German Christmas song frequently sung during the Advent season that leads up to Christmas. It is also one of the Christmas sonsg featured most frequently in Latter-day Saint hymnbooks outside of the English edition.  It is included in the German, Dutch, French, Icelandic, and Swedish editions of the hymnal.  I’ve elected to use the translation that I’m most accustomed to (the Theodore Baker translation) paired with the music from the French hymnal.  Given that the French…

“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 Note: This is a part of an ongoing series, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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…

“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: Note: This is a part of an ongoing series, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 grande claridad, El Elder…

Dios, bendícenos: Mexican Mission Hymns, Part 6

LNote: 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, a different translation by the same author was included as “Señor, despídenos” in the Mexican Mission hymnals (1907-1933), and the texts are not identical.  In addition, the hymn was written to be sung to Songs of Zion hymn 121, which was a tune used for “Guide Us, O, Thou Great Jehovah” rather than the “Go, Tell Aunt Rhody” tune used with the hymn most frequently (though it wasn’t uncommon for tunes to be switched around back then).  It was…

¿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, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 Zion, which was ELIZA…

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, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 cruel Se marcó…

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, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 Young (1887 – 1982),…

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

Note: This is a part of an ongoing series, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 ( 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 if there was a typo in the 1912 edition where it indicated which tune to sing the song to.   Figure 1. The text of “Padre Nuestro en el Cielo” in the 1907 Himnario Mormón. The author, Manrique González (1880 – 1976), was initially from Nadores, Coahuila, Mexico.  He left home when he was 14 years old, living first with an uncle in Torreon, Coahuila,…

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, the Mexico Mission Hymns Project. 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 otra vez, A que…

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…