I speak not of the actual priesthood, but of the hymn. Number 320, set for men’s voices, is (I believe) the only hymn in the current book which is “approved” (i.e., has a notation at the bottom) for singing in rounds. Which we did today, in Sacrament Meeting. Logan Bobo led the first group. He took about a third of the priesthood; I had about two thirds for my group. (The numerical superiority of my contingent didn’t come close to hiding the fact that Logan has, by far, the best male singing voice in the ward.) I thought it sounded pretty good, though. It was especially nice for our heavily-convert ward, where the music tends to be extremely plain-vanilla. The Priesthood of Our Lord is a fun hymn with a catchy tune, and it’s too bad that it is exiled to a relatively unused part of the hymnal. It capability for singing as a round is a cute added bonus. I suspect that other hymns could be sung as rounds, despite the lack of “official” approval, which might also be fun. That might require a bit of tinkering, but is probably doable. (I know I’m no expert, and setting up something as a round might take a little work for me; I suspect that given 5 minutes, a pro like D. could probably arrange any hymn in the book as a round, The Wintry Day not excepted). Perhaps I can…
In an earlier post, Kristine mentioned the consternation felt by ward members who had to sing feminine-language hymns in a sacrament meeting. Was her experience an isolated incident? Grasshopper reports the result when his own ward sang (gasp!) As Sisters in Zion.
No history lesson today, just my favorite story about one of the hymns we’re singing. The LDS poet Emma Lou Thayne relates this story about her friend, Jan Cook, who moved from Salt Lake City to a remote part of Africa: “[Her husband’s] work had taken them and their three small children there, and any meetings attended were in their own living room with only themselves as participants. By their third Christmas, Jan was very homesick. She confessed this to a good friend, a Mennonite; Jan told her how she missed her own people, their traditions, even snow. Her friend sympathized and invited her to go with her in a month to the Christmas services being held in the only Protestant church in the area, saying that there would be a reunion there of all the Mennonite missionaries on the continent.
I don’t do great Sunday School lessons like Jim and Julie, but I do write short notes on the music for our ward bulletin most weeks. Mostly I shamelessly steal from Karen Lynn Davidson’s book on the hymns, but sometimes I plagiarize from other sources as well, and I occasionally have an original thought. I’m going to start posting my notes here, too, on the off chance that someone might find them interesting.
I made an exciting discovery some time ago. It seems that Adam-God lives on in the pages of the current LDS hymnal. I write, of course, of that well-loved favorite, “Sons of Michael He Approaches,” hymn 51.
Here’s your RDA of George Herbert: IESU Iesu is in my heart, his sacred name Is deeply carved there: but th’other week A great affliction broke the little frame, Ev’n all to pieces: which I went to seek: And first I found the corner, where was ‘I’, After, where ‘ES,’ and next where ‘U’ was graved. When I had got these parcels, instantly I sat me down to spell them, and perceived That to my broken heart he was ‘I ease you,’ And to my whole is IESU.
if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor a fragile heaen of lilies-of-the-valley but it will be a heaven of blackred roses my father will be (deep like a rose tall like a rose) standing near my (swaying over her silent) with eyes which are really petals and see nothing with the face of a poet really which is a flower and not a face with hands which whisper This is my beloved my (suddenly in sunlight he will bow, & the whole garden will bow) –e.e. cummings (as if you couldn’t tell ;>))
Here is a rule I think we can all agree on: No song shall be performed during a Stake meeting to promote temple attendance if said song has been used as the background music to a makeout scene in a nationally released movie.
O my chief good, How shall I measure out thy blood? How shall I count what thee befell, And each grief tell? Shall I thy woes Number according to thy foes? Or, since one star showed thy first breath, Shall all thy death?
Everyone listens to Handel’s Messiah at Christmastime, but it was originally performed at Eastertime, and the Easter portion of the piece has some gorgeous and infrequently performed gems, like the tenor aria “Behold and see if there be any sorrow” and the soprano aria that follows “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell.” So if you haven’t listened lately, dust off your CDs and listen to the WHOLE THING, not just the MoTab recording of the “highlights.” There are lots of good recordings out there, but I like Christopher Hogwood’s with the Academy of Ancient Music, because I like the chorus with boys instead of women. (yeah, it’s hard to be a feminist and early music critic at the same time!) I also like the clean sound of the smallish chorus, but if you want a big loud sloppy Hallelujah Chorus, you might not like this. I also LOVE Boston Baroque’s recording, which is even lighter and quicker, but it takes more getting used to if you’re used to Ormandy and MoTab. However, Handel is just the very very beginning–there is so much GREAT stuff in the world!! What follows is a self-indulgent and highly opinionated list of indispensable classical music for Easter. Please add your own favorites, criticize mine, commit to learning to like one new bit of classical music this Easter season!
In the chorister’s thread, some discussion has come up (okay, it’s been mostly me) about under-rated hymns. I think that this is an interesting enough subject to deserve its own thread.
Rather than hijack the discussion of Russell’s post, I’ll post my question separately: I wonder why we insist on a chorister every time we sing. In most cases no one is really following the chorister anyway; we follow the pianist. Having grown up a Protestant, I know that a congregation can have very good singing with no chorister.
Lest anyone miss it, here is a gem from Grasshopper that was hiding in the comments: Jonah was a prophet, swallowed by a whale. When he was on board, the ship just couldn’t sail. So they tossed him over, next thing that he knew, Nineveh repented, Jonah had to, too. Swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, won’t get away; Swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet, swallow the prophet; he’ll find the way. I hereby nominate this song and Kaimi’s “Put Potatoes with the Veal” (which I can’t find; what thread was it in, Kaimi??) as the inaugural entries in the Times and Seasons Satirical Song contest. Entries must fit with a hymn tune or Primary song from the LDS canon. Prizes will be awarded on the entirely rational and objective criterion of how much Diet Coke I splurt through my nose while reading the entries. Entries which cause lightning to strike my computer will be disqualified.
One of the recurring internet searches (on search engines such as Google) that brings people to this site is “If You Could Hie to Kolob Lyrics.” We get hits from variations of that search at least three or four times per week. So, in an effort to respond to this need and serve our readers, who apparently want to find these lyrics, here they are:
Last week, Kaimi made this Comment: “Possibly the greatest rock song of all time: Hotel california.” This was followed by a few expressions of incredulity, including this from cooper: “Hotel California??????? Ugh! Gross. Blech!” Kaimi defended his choice on grounds that the song had a great guitar solo, and he backed up his assertion with this ranking. When I heard Hotel California on the radio today, it reminded me of this exchange and started me thinking. Rock music can be rated along various other dimensions: best vocal (should we just agree by acclamation that Bohemian Rhapsody wins this?), best drum solo (anything by Keith Moon), best rock ballad (hmm, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd?), etc. How about the most inspiring rock song ever?
I was recently thinking about music in the church. To be specific, I was wondering about the church policy of not hiring professional musicians, but simply plugging the best available members into any slot where they can conceivably fit. I have been ward organist myself, despite my complete lack of training on the organ. Our current ward organist is Logan’s lovely and talented wife, who has also (I believe) had no formal organ training. This is not to critique her efforts (or my own); we have both done pretty well, I think, especially with liberal use of the Bass Coupler button. I have also, while living in New York, attended the Manhattan First Ward. The organist there is no mere pianist-pressed-into-service, but a bona fide, trained specialist in the instrument. The result — as anyone who has attended that ward can attest — is awesome. It is also, in my observation, the exception rather than the rule. The “Kaimi or Amy pressed into service” model seems to be predominant.
Greg’s recent post about hymns made me think again about an issue I’ve been reminded of every several months for the past two years. I live in the Bronx, and my ward has somewhat unusual demographics. It is probably 60% African-American, including the Bishop and First Counselor, which I had never seen in a U.S. ward before. It is also very much a mission-field ward, with maybe a third of its members having belonged to the church for more than four or five years. With the ward’s demographic mix and the members’ relative lack of church experience, subjects like Blacks and the priesthood are particularly sensitive. Two years ago, I was sitting in General Conference (priesthood session, as I recall) and we turned to page 59 to sing that old standard, “Come, O Thou King of Kings.” I had probably sung it dozens of times before, never really paying much attention. We sang along up to verse four. Suddenly the text seemed to jump out of the page at me. I was sitting next to a newly-baptized African-American member, and hoped that he would be paying little attention, as we sang: Hail! Prince of life and peace! Thrice welcome to thy throne While all the chosen race Their Lord and Savior own The heathen nations bow the knee And ev’ry tongue sounds praise to thee. The new member said nothing, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Nevertheless, I was…
A couple of weeks ago I was perusing that paragon of journalistic integrity, the New York Post (today’s cover: “JACKO: Now Get Out of This One!), and saw a phrase that I’d previously only heard sung (much too slowly) in church. The lead of George Will’s column was “Of capital punishment, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says: ‘It makes reason stare.’ Indeed it does.” First of all, what does this phrase from the early Mormon hymn “O My Father” mean? I guess I understand what its meant to convey, but it certainly is a curious turn of phrase. Has any thought *made* you stare before? If some thought is unreasonable, would personified reason just stare at it? Or perhaps reason is just blankly staring into space, totally flummoxed. Second, why have we as Mormons been so slow to introduce the unique lexicon of our hymns into a wider sphere? I would love to see the headline “Bush Hies to London;” or “UN Security Council Puts Shoulder to Wheel.” Lastly, I found it mildly refreshing that a prominent Mormon would so quotably criticize the death penalty. (The context, of course, was that Romney was appointing a commission to look into bringing the death penalty back to Massachusetts.) I don’t think I’ve ever heard such criticism from any other prominent Mormon, nor from much of the rank and file. Perhaps it’s an indication that recent publicity on the topic (Governor Ryan, Scott Turow,…