The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hymns

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hymns

This article is about LDS church hymns in general, for the book, see Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1985 book)

Latter-day Saint hymns come from many sources, and there have been numerous hymn books printed by the Church since its organization in 1830. The singing of hymns is an important part of worship in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Historical overview

In July 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from God for Emma Smith, his wife, wherein she was directed to make a collection of hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ:

And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.[1]

Due to persecutions and the constant uprooting of the Church in those early days, Emma Smith was not able to fulfill this assignment for several years. However, in the mean time, other Saints continued to write, arrange, and collect hymns.

The first hymns of the LDS Church were published by William Wines Phelps in June, 1832 in Independence, Missouri. These appeared as text only (no music) in The Evening and the Morning Star, the Church’s semimonthly newspaper. Many of these lyrics were written by William W. Phelps, while others were borrowed from various Protestant sources. The very first of these hymns published by Phelps was “What fair one is this”.

On July 20, 1833 a mob destroyed the Church’s printing office in Independence, and the publication of the Star was moved to Kirtland, Ohio – the headquarters of the Church at that time. In December, 1834, The Evening and the Morning Star was replaced by a new publication: The Messenger and Advocate. Phelps continued to write and collect hymn texts, with assistance from Frederick G. Williams and others.

1835 hymnal

Title page of Collection of Sacred Hymns, 1835.

On September 14, 1835, at a meeting of the High Council and the Presidency at Kirtland, Emma Smith was again counseled to begin compiling a hymnbook:

It was further decided that Sister Emma Smith proceed to make a selection of Sacred Hymns, according to the revelation; and that President W.W. Phelps be appointed to revise and arrange them for printing.[2]

It appears that final publication of the new hymnal may have been pushed back into early 1836. The book is tiny - just 3" by 412" in size. An indication of the poverty of the Saints in Kirtland at that time is that the hymnal was published in "sexadecimal" form, the least expensive publishing format for books in those days: sixteen pages were printed on both sides of a single sheet, which was then folded, cut, and sewn into the leather binding. Thus, the entire hymnbook could be printed on just four large sheets of paper. The completed hymnal contained ninety hymns, but only the words were included. As a result, today it is difficult to determine which tunes were used with many of these hymn texts.

Many of the hymns which had previously been published in The Evening and the Morning Star were inserted into the 1835 hymnal as a block, almost exactly in the same order as their earlier publication. Eleven of the hymns were also published in The Messenger and Advocate between December 1834 and January 1836:

E&MS Date 1835 Number M&A Date 1835 Number
1:1 Jun 1832 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 1:3 Dec 1834 63
1:3 Aug 1832 7, 8, 9 1:9 Jun 1835 23, 24
1:4 Sept 1832 11, 12 1:10 Jul 1835 41, 57
1:5 Oct 1832 13, 14 1:11 Aug 1835 43
1:6 Nov 1832 15 1:13 Oct 1835 26, 28
1:9 Feb 1833 16,17 1:14 Nov 1835 65
1:10 Mar 1833 18 2:16 Jan 1836 71, 90
1:11 Apr 1833 53
1:12 May 1833 19
2:13 Jun 1833 20, 21
2:14 Jul 1833 22
2:15 Dec 1833 29
2:19 Apr 1834 30, 31, 32
2:20 May 1834 33

Although the book was printed in 1836, it is still referred to as the “1835 hymnal” because of the publication date on the title page. The Kirtland printing of the LDS hymnbook was probably very small - perhaps 500 copies at most. Today, original copies of this hymnbook are extremely rare; less than a dozen are known to exist. On December 5, 2006 an original 1835 LDS hymnal was sold at Christie’s Auction House in New York City for $273,600.[3]

Nauvoo hymnal

In 1841, Emma Smith published at Nauvoo, Illinois an expanded version of her 1835 hymnal. This new hymnal contained 304 hymns (340 pages before the index), still in words-only format. Editions of this hymnal are also very rare – in 2007, Swann Galleries in New York auctioned one (along with a first edition of the Book of Mormon) for $180,000.[4]

Manchester hymnal

Title page of Collection of Sacred Hymns, 1840.

In 1840, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and John Taylor published a words-only hymnal for the Church in Manchester, England. This “Manchester Hymnal”, or "Small Hymnal", as it came to be called, was by far the longest-lived of all LDS hymnals, with 25 editions published between 1840 and 1912. Over the years, publication of this hymnal moved from Manchester to Liverpool, and finally to Salt Lake City. As more hymns were added, the book grew from 323 pages in 1840 to 456 pages in the 1905 edition. However, it was still a words-only hymnal; the tunes were sung from memory.

1844 hymnal

In 1844, G. B. Gardner and Jesse C. Little published a small hymnal in Bellows Falls, Vermont. This unofficial hymnbook is unique in early LDS history, because it was the first LDS hymnal (and the only one until 1889) to include music with the words. This hymnal includes tunes for 18 of the 90 hymns found in the 1835 hymnbook. In addition, another 17 hymns were printed without music. Hymn number one in this hymnal, “The Spirit of God”, may be the very first LDS hymn ever published with musical notation.

The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody, 1889.

The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody

After 1844, the first official LDS hymnbook to include music was The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody, published in 1889. At that time, many of the familiar LDS hymns that are sung today were finally fixed in place - but not with the tunes that were sung back in 1835.

The Psalmody was a conscious effort by the leaders of the LDS Church to develop a hymn style of their own. Budding composers in the Church were encouraged to submit new tunes to fit the new and old lyrics. Most of the old tunes were cast aside without ever having been committed to print, and the memory of them was quickly lost.

The Psalmody was intended to be a supplement to the "Manchester Hymnal". Each hymn in the Psalmody was cross-referenced by page number to the "Manchester Hymnal", so that either hymnbook could be used during worship services.

In many respects, the Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody represented a high-water mark in LDS hymnody. By today’s standards many of the hymns are quite challenging, even for choirs, let alone congregational singing. They were very high-pitched, sometimes ascending above the staff to a high g’ or a’ in the soprano parts. The tenor parts were written on a separate staff above the soprano and alto lines, making accompaniment difficult. Still, the 330 hymns in the 1889 Psalmody show tremendous skill in composition and originality. Ninety-five of them are still in use in the 1985 LDS hymnal, including these favorites:

  • The morning breaks, the shadows flee
  • High on the mountain top
  • An angel from on high
  • Awake, ye Saints of God, awake
  • We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet
  • Come, listen to a Prophet's voice

About half of the new hymn tunes that were composed for the Psalmody were written by members of the Church Music Committee, which included Evan Stephens, George Careless, Ebenezer Beesley, Joseph Daynes, and Thomas C. Griggs. These men were accomplished musicians, composers, and Tabernacle Choir conductors. Many of their Psalmody hymn tunes have a pronounced "instrumental" feel, as if they were more suited for organ performance than choir or congregational singing.

Songs of Zion 1908.

1908 Songs of Zion

In 1908, nine mission presidents of the Church collaborated to produce a simpler hymnal with music and text. It was published in Chicago by the Northern States mission and contained about one hundred gospel hymns such as "Do What Is Right," and "Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel."

Deseret Sunday School Songs 1909.

1909 Deseret Sunday School Songs

In those long-ago days before correlation, the church auxiliaries were free to publish their own curricula and hymnbooks. In 1909 the Deseret Sunday School Union published the first completely modern hymnal of the church, with two-staff notation instead of the old three-staff format of the Psalmody. Deseret Sunday School Songs outlasted the Psalmody and was more popular because the tunes were more "singable"; it introduced such favorites as "Oh, how lovely was the morning", "Improve the shining moments", and "Choose the right". Of the 295 hymns in the Deseret Sunday School Songs, 120 still appear in the 1985 LDS hymnal.

1927 hymnal

For a brief period in the early 1900s, there were four different hymnbooks in use in the LDS Church:

  • The Manchester hymnal
  • The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody
  • Songs of Zion
  • Deseret Sunday School Songs

In 1927 the LDS Church Music Committee decided to combine the best of the first three of these hymnals into one volume. The result was called Latter-day Saint Hymns. It contained 421 hymns, of which 128 still survive in the 1985 LDS hymnal. The Deseret Sunday School Songs continued as a separate hymnal until 1948 because it was used in Sunday School opening exercises.

1948–1950 hymnals

In 1948, an updated version of the 1927 hymnal that combined it with the Deseret Sunday School Songs was published under the title Hymns: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The 1948 edition included 391 hymns. Shortly after its publication, the Church Music Committee issued a slightly revised version in 1950. The differences between the 1948 and 1950 editions were as follows:

1948 Hymns No. 1950 Hymns No.
Angels from the realms of glory 5 As swiftly my days go out on the wing 5
Cease, ye fond parents, cease to weep 9 In hymns of praise 9
Come, O thou King of kings 19 Come along, come along 19
Come, labor on 20 Come, O thou King of kings 20
From all that dwell below the skies 38 Each cooing dove 38
Father of light 39 The first Noel 39
Good Christian men, rejoice 52 From all that dwell below the skies 52
Hail to the brightness of Zion's glad morning 57 Guide us, O Thou great Jehovah 57
Hark! The evening hymn is stealing 58 Have I done any good in the world today 58
I heard the bells on Christmas day 72 There is a land whose sunny vales 72
I need thee every hour 78 Beautiful Zion, built above 78
Mid pleasures and palaces 107 For our devotions, Father 107
Mine eyes have seen the glory 109 Precious Savior, dear Redeemer 109
Lead me into life eternal 110 Choose the right 110
O Lord responsive to thy call 138 O my Father, thou that dwellest 138
There is beauty all around 170 Dearest children, God is near you 170
I wander through the stilly night 171 Now to heaven our prayer 171
We gather together 182 Hail to the brightness of Zion's glad morning 182
Though in the outward Church below 183 Awake! O ye people, the Savior is coming 183
Rejoice, ye pure in heart 185 Mid pleasures and palaces 185
Sometime we'll understand 267 Not now, but in the coming years 267
Proud? yes, of our home 278 Rest, rest for the weary soul 278
Sometime, somewhere 286 Unanswered yet? the prayer 286
Thou dost not weep, to weep alone 294 I wander through the stilly night 294
Ye simple souls who stray 298 The Lord imparted from above 298
Sometime we'll understand 334 Not now, but in the coming years 334
Rock of Ages 338 Come, lay his books and papers by 338
Who are these arrayed in white 343 Reverently and meekly now 343
Sometime we'll understand 375 Not now, but in the coming years 375
Ye simple souls who stray 387
Who's on the Lord's side 388
This earth was once a garden place 389

1985 hymnal

In 1985, the Church issued a new hymn book titled Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Numerous translations have been made for use around the world; these are substantially the same as the English version, with slight differences in national anthems, etc. The English edition contains 341 hymns.

Some new hymns were placed in this book, which had not been published by the worldwide church up until this time, such as "Called to Serve" and "How great Thou art", as well as familiar songs that have been used in the Primary such as "I Am a Child of God", "Teach Me To Walk In The Light" and "Families Can Be Together Forever".

Others were left out of the book. The Church did not give particular reasons for leaving out any particular hymn, just saying that the spirit was followed in the selection and there were too many hymns to be included into one book. For example, some of the hymns were about Utah and its mountains, which, while meaningful to Church members living there, would not be as appealing to a worldwide church. Others such as "Oh Give Me Back My Prophet Dear" and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" were missed by some members.

Of the ninety hymns included in the 1835 edition, twenty-six still survive in some form in the current 1985 LDS hymnal. However, only five of the original hymns are probably still sung to their original tunes. These are:

Redeemer of Israel (1835 #6; 1985 #6)
Joy to the World (1835 #15; 1985 #201)
This Earth Was Once a Garden Place (1835 #23; 1985 #49)
From Greenland’s Icy Mountains (1835 #74; 1985 #268)
O God! Our Help in Ages Past (1835 #86; 1985 #31)

In particular two of the most popular and iconic Mormon hymns, "Come, Come Ye Saints" and "Praise to the Man," are set to quite different tunes than the originals. Revivals of the old tunes in recordings of traditional Mormon hymns have generated interest and appreciation, as in the "Return to Nauvoo" collection by the FiddleSticks group[5] and the "Parley P Pratt" collection by Roger Hoffman.[6]

List of LDS Hymnals published, 1835–1985

Below is a list of all known LDS hymnals published since 1835, both "official" and unofficial.

Title Edition Date Location Compiler Number of Hymns
A Collection of Sacred Hymns 1835 Kirtland, USA Emma Smith, WW Phelps 90
1838 NYC?, USA David W. Rogers 90
1839 East?, USA Benjamin C Ellsworth 114
Manchester Hymnal 1 1840 Manchester, England Parley P. Pratt, BY, JT 271
Manchester Hymnal 2 1841 Manchester, England Parley P. Pratt, BY, JT 271
A Collection of Sacred Hymns 1841 Nauvoo, USA Emma Smith 304
1841 East?, Canada Christ. Merkley 19
1843 Boston, USA John Hardy (Unofficial) 155
Manchester Hymnal 3 1843 Manchester, England Hiram Clark, Thos Ward 271
A Collection of Sacred Hymns 1844 Bellow Falls, VT, USA J.C. Little, G.B. Gardner 47
Manchester Hymnal 4 1844 Liverpool, England Reuben Hedlock, T. Ward 272
1845 Pittsburg, USA Sidney Rigdon 182
1845 Bellow Falls, VT, USA Charles A. Adams 106
Manchester Hymnal 5 1846 Liverpool, England F.D. Richards, O. Spencer  ?
Manchester Hymnal 6 1847/8 Liverpool, England Orson Spencer 283
Manchester Hymnal 7 1848 Liverpool, England Orson Pratt  ?
Manchester Hymnal 8 1849 Liverpool, England Orson Pratt 283
Manchester Hymnal 9 1851 Liverpool, England Franklin D. Richards 296
1853 England John Lyon (Unofficial) 8
Manchester Hymnal 10 1854 Liverpool, England Orson Pratt 296
Manchester Hymnal 11 1856 Liverpool, England Franklin D. Richards 322
1857 Liverpool, England John E Tullidge 38
Manchester Hymnal 12 1863 Liverpool, England George Q. Cannon 331
Manchester Hymnal 13 1869 Liverpool, England Albert Carrington 330
Manchester Hymnal 14 1871 Salt Lake City, UT, USA George Q. Cannon 345
Manchester Hymnal 15 1871 Liverpool, England Albert Carrington 344
Manchester Hymnal 16 1877 (1887) Liverpool, England (USA) Franklin D. Richards 344
Manchester Hymnal 17 1883 Salt Lake City, UT, England 345
Manchester Hymnal 18 1884 Liverpool, England John Henry Smith 345
Manchester Hymnal 19 1889 Liverpool, England George Teasdale 352
Manchester Hymnal 20 1890 Liverpool, England George Teasdale 356
Manchester Hymnal 20 1891 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 369
Manchester Hymnal 21 1894 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 370
Manchester Hymnal 22 1897 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 370
Manchester Hymnal 23 1899 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 370
Manchester Hymnal 24 1905 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 383
Manchester Hymnal 25 1912 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 385
The Songs of Zion 1918 Salt Lake City, UT, USA Joseph F Smith 269
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 1 1889 Salt Lake City, UT, USA Careless, Beesley, Daynes, Stephens, Griggs 330
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 2 1896 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 354
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 3 1906 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 367
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 4 1908 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 367
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 5 1912 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 367
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 6 1915 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 367
Latter-day Saints' Psalmody 7 1920 Salt Lake City, UT, USA 367
Latter-day Saint Hymns 1927 Salt Lake City, UT, USA General Church Music Committee 421
Hymns, Church of Jesus Christ 1948 Salt Lake City, UT, USA General Church Music Committee 387
Hymns, Church of Jesus Christ 1950 Salt Lake City, UT, USA General Church Music Committee 389
Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ 1985 Salt Lake City, UT, USA General Church Music Committee 341

Below is a sampling of some of the LDS hymns that are no longer included in the 1985 hymn book.

  • "All Hail the Glorious Day"
  • "Arise, My Soul, Arise"
  • "As Swiftly My days Go Out On the Wing"
  • "Author of Faith, Eternal Word"
  • "Awake! O Ye People, the Savior is Coming;" words by W.W. Phelps
  • "Beautiful Zion for Me" by Charles W. Penrose
  • "Blessed Are They That Have the Faith"
  • "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light"
  • "Bring, Heavy Heart, Your Grief to Me"
  • "Captain of Israel's Host"
  • "Come All Ye Saints and Sing His Praise" by Lorin F. Wheelwright
  • "Come, Dearest Lord"
  • "Come, Go With Me, Beyond the Sea"
  • "Come, Hail the Cause of Zion's Youth"
  • "Come, Lay His Books and Papers By" (a song written to the memory of Karl G. Maeser)
  • "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
  • "Down by the River's Verdant Side"
  • "Each Cooing Dove"
  • "Farewell, All Earthly Honors"
  • "For Our Devotions, Father"
  • "Give Us Room That We May Dwell"
  • "Glory Be to God in the Highest"
  • "Hark! Listen to the Trumpeters"
  • "Hark, Ten Thousand Thousand Voices"
  • "Hushed Was the Evening Hymn"
  • "I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath" by Isaac Watts
  • "Land of the Mountains High" by Evan Stephens (this song is also known as Utah, We Love Thee; it was the official state song of the State of Utah for many years, until it was replaced as such by Utah, This is the Place, at which time it was redesignated as the official state hymn)
  • "Let Each Man Learn to Know Himself"
  • "Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains"
  • "Lo! On the Water's Brink We Stand"
  • "Lord of All Being, Throned Afar" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Lord, Thou Wilt Hear Me" by Isaac Watts
  • "M.I.A., We Hail Thee"
  • "'Mid Pleasures and Palaces"
  • "Not Now, But in the Coming Years"
  • "O Awake! My Slumbering Minstrel" words by Eliza R. Snow
  • "O Happy Homes Among the Hills"
  • "O Happy Home! O Blest Abode"
  • "O'er the Gloomy Hills of Darkness"
  • "Oh Give Me Back My Prophet Dear" (this song laments the deaths of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum), written by John Taylor with music by George Careless
  • "On the Mountain's Top Appearing"
  • "One Sweetly Solemn Thought"
  • "Rest, Rest for the Weary Soul"
  • "Sacred the Place of Prayer and Song" by Evan Stephens
  • "Shall We Meet Beyond the River"
  • "Sister, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely" words by Samuel F. Smith
  • "Stars of Morning, Shout for Joy"
  • "Sweet Is the Hour When Thus We Meet" by Evan Stephens
  • "Take Courage, Saints, and Faint Not by the Way"
  • "There is a Land Whose Sunny Vales" (a song about Utah)
  • "The Seer, Joseph, The Seer" words by John Taylor
  • "Think Not, When You Gather to Zion" words by Eliza R. Snow
  • "The Lord Imparted from Above" (this song is about the Word of Wisdom; words by Eliza R. Snow and music by George Careless)
  • "Thou Dost Not Weep Alone" words by Eliza R. Snow
  • "Though in the Outward Church Below"
  • "Unanswered Yet? The Prayer"
  • "Up! Arouse Thee, O Beautiful Zion"
  • "When Christ Was Born in Bethlehem" words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "When Dark and Drear the Skies Appear"
  • "When First the Glorious Light of Truth" words by William Clayton
  • "We'll Sing the Songs of Zion"
  • "What Voice Salutes the Startled Ear?"
  • "With All The Power of Heart and Tongue" by Isaac Watts
  • "Ye Children of Our God" words by Parley P. Pratt
  • "Ye Chosen Twelve, To You are Given" words by Parley P. Pratt

Contemporary hymns

Many Latter-day Saint hymns are well known traditional Christian hymns; others deal with items of doctrine unique to the doctrine of the Church such as the pre-mortal existence, the Latter-day prophets, and the Book of Mormon. Others draw their subject matter from the history of the Church, including themes such as the Restoration and the pioneer experience. Some of the unique Latter-day Saint hymns such as "Come, Come, Ye Saints" are gaining popularity in the repertoires of other Christian choirs.

The Primary has its own songs, included in the Children's Songbook. Some of these songs are gaining popularity with adults as well.

Some other songs which are occasionally sung by choirs, (though usually not by the whole congregation in a meeting) include "O Divine Redeemer", the Christmas carol "O Holy Night" and "Faith in Every Footstep", a song specifically written for the 150th anniversary of the Mormon pioneers' journey.

Congregations also sing patriotic hymns of their respective countries, as they may or may not be included in the language-specific edition of the hymn book.


See also

  • Category:Latter Day Saint hymnals

External links

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