We are going fishing with the coolest member ever this P-day, so I
don't have much time, but I did want to send out this lengthy letter,
because I thought it would be fun. So I'll write personal emails again
next week. Sorry. But this one is fun.
The other day during personal studies I was looking at Preach my
Gospel to notice that one of the studies it offers outlines the
doctrine found in the hymnal and songbook. It made me think about the
power of music and lyrics. In the doctrine and covenants it says that
"the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be
answered with a blessing upon their heads." (D&C 25:12) truly, when we
sing, we are giving our praise unto God. It is this scripture that
stuck into my mind, and made me wonder about some of the things in the
hymn book and over church songs.
I decided that as a missionary I need to use my special witness of
Christ. I have been called as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
I and Elder M are his representatives for the people of Round
Rock. We are given a special calling to preach repentance and testify
of the church of Jesus Christ. My mind came to one of my favorite
children's songs, which testifies gently but powerfully of the Jesus,
who is the Christ. Who is the only begotten Son of God. My testimony
of Christ and his atonement is the most important power I have in the
world, and it is yours too.
He Sent His Son, Children's Song book 34
"How could the father tell the world of love and tenderness? He sent
his son a newborn babe, with peace and holiness. How could the father
show the world he pathway we should go? He sent his son to walk with
men on earth that we may know. How could he father tell the world of
sacrifice and death? He sent his son to die for us, and rise with
living breath. What father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have
faith have hope, live like his son, help others on their way. What
does he ask? Live like his son"
Along with my special witness of Christ is a truly special witness of
Christ, an apostle of his church. The hymnal is filled with prophets
of God in these latter days who have poetically described their
knowledge of truth. These names include Orson F. Whitney (The Wintry
Day Ascending to its Close, a strange one, but pretty), Bruce R.
McConkie (I Believe in Christ), Gordon B. Hinckley (My Redeemer
Lives), and the most recent apostle who has a song in the hymnal? Lee
Tom Perry. His is a slow and pondering tribute to the emblems of
Christ that we can take every week- the sacrament. It is a great poem
As now we take the sacrament, Hymnal 169
"As now we take the sacrament our hearts are turned to thee. Thou son
of God who lived for us then died on Calvary. We contemplate thy
lasting grace, thy boundless charity. To us the gift of life given for
As now our minds review the past we know we must repent, the way to
thee is righteousness the way thy life was spent. Forgiveness is a
gift from thee we seek with pure intent. With hands now pledged to do
thy work we take the sacrament.
As now we praise thy name with song, the blessings of this day. Will
linger in our thankful hearts, and silently we pray. For courage to
accept by will, to listen and obey. We love thee lord our hearts are
full. We'll walk thy chosen way."
This is a simple song, one that I can't help but the chills when I
listen to the Mormon tabernacle choir sing. It is simple and shows the
love of god better than most songs. The power of God is real, he is
there. And this is a striking little rhyme that is too profound to be
anything else but true.
I Feel my savior's love, children's songbook. 74
"I feel my savior's love. In all the world around me. His spirit warms
my soul through all I do and say.
I feel my savior's love. It's gentleness enfolds me. And when I kneel
to pray, my heart is filled with peace.
I feel my savior's love and know that he will bless me. I offer him my
heart; my shepherd he will be.
He knows I will follow him. Give all my life to him.
I feel my savior's love. He love he freely gives me."
Who are some of the authors in our hymnal? What words get sung in the
halls of the church? Joseph Smith, William W. Phelps, and... Rudyard
Kipling? Yes, the man who wrote the Jungle Book and one of my favorite
short stories is also in the hymnal. Most people are familiar with the
song right after it, "Press Forward Saints", but "God our Fathers,
Known of Old" slips right in there. It skips in there. Other
interesting authors in the church songs- Francis Scott Key (n. 340),
St. Francis of Assisi (n. 62), Karl Maeser's wife (n. 269 cs), and
Henry Longfellow (n. 214)
God our fathers, known of Old (n. 80)
"God of our Fathers, known of old, lord of our far flung battle line,
beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine: Lord God
of Hosts, be with us yet. Lest we forget, Lest we forget.
The tumult and the shouting dies; the captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, an humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet. Lest we forget, lest we forget.
Far-called our navies melt away; on dune and headland sinks the fire.
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of
the nations, spare us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget."
You know who else is in the songbook? Every famous musician from the
classical era ever! Including George F. Handel, Felix Mendelssohn,
Franz Schubert, Johan Sebastian Bach, and the ever impressive
Tchaikovsky. Some of my favorite musicians from the golden age have
navigated their way into quite a bit of the church's singing canon.
This one itself comes from the one and only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
I pledge myself to love the right, children's songbook 161
"I pledge myself to love the right, the good, the fair, the true. To
keep my faith in honor bright in everything I do"
The last one I'll out on is one from W.W. Phelps. I was best friends
with Corey, Conner, and Aaron Phelps back in California. We were a
bunch of little rascals back in the day, but man did we have some fun
together. Turns out, they are direct descendants to this man, W.W.
Phelps. He himself has a great story of his journey into and out of
and back into the church, and I like to read about it at times. It
shows that hardship will happen, choices will be made, and even though
it's hard to go back, if it is worth it, then we need to do it. The
cost of discipleship may be at any size, but it will always be enough.
This sing in patrician was chosen because I remember a couple in that
little Linden Ward back in California. The wife had this beautiful
voice that was so nice, but her husband was tone-deaf. It was
hilarious to hear him sing it, because he could never hit the high
note. He would get sharp and run over it. Good times. Also, the lyrics
show the different Christian culture the lds church is a part of. Now
is the day of salvation, and now we are in oppression. We are the
opening into the gates of heaven. Members of the church have such a
powerful grasp of the gathering of Israel compared to many other
Christian Faiths, and it is fun to read this from a Protestant point
to of view.
Now let us rejoice, hymnal n. 3
"Now let us rejoice in the day of Salvation. No longer as strangers on
earth need we roam. Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation
and shortly the hour of redemption will come!
We'll love one another and never dissemble but cease to do evil and
ever be one. And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble we'll watch
for the day when the savior will come.
In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah to guide thru these last
days of trouble and gloom and after the scourges and harvest are over
we'll rise with the just when the savior doth come
Then all that was promised, the saints will be given and none shall
molest them from morn until ev'n. And earth shall appear as the garden
of Eden. And Christ and his people will ever be one."
I got to go catch me an alligator gar now with Brother Martin, but I
promise I will get back to you on an individual basis within the
coming weeks. I might even have time to write to my mom and pop right
Elder Richard Hall