Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Worst LDS Hymns



by A-Dub (bio)

The LDS hymnbook is pretty great. There are some amazing hymns that inspire and invite the Spirit when they’re sung. The first LDS hymnbook was published in 1835. The latest revision of the hymnbook was in 1985; before that was 1950. So, assuming we’re going to maintain the trend of a hymnbook update every 35 years, I want to start the ball rolling for the next revision in 2020.

I don’t think it needs to be a big revision. Honestly, I think we should just cut a few. Here’s my case, in order of which hymns should go first:

1. #307 - In Our Lovely Deseret

Read the full lyrics. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems like it’s about scolding little kids for romping around. This sounds more like a primary song than a full hymnbook hymn. Plus, the second verse is just painful:

That the children may live long
And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat
But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise

In the mission field, every time I brought an investigator to church I would cringe when we sung this hymn. I always pictured the investigators wide-eyed in the chapel thinking, "What the ...?" I DESPISE you tea and coffee!! Oh, and it's not enough to be "great" and "wise," the children must be "good" also. And beautiful. So all you ugly, weak kids must not be keeping the commandments.

2. #105 - Master, the Tempest Is Raging

I think it's mainly the chorus of this song that I object to. First, it just makes the song too long. But ... demons ... what? And the beat just makes it weird, almost like a totally different hymn from the rest of the song. I've never heard the ward sing this one and thought "Hmm ... nice job everyone." It's always terrible.

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will: Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.

3. #253 Like Ten Thousand Legions Marching AND/OR #248 Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion

It's nothing against either song or the lyrics or anything. It's just that we already have "Behold! A Royal Army," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "Carry On." Just how many army songs do we need? Plus, be honest, have you ever heard of or sung either of these? You wouldn't miss them.

4. #323 Rise Up, O Men of God (Men's Choir) OR #324 Rise Up, O Men of God (Men)

So, I'm all for a good priesthood meeting hymn. And I think it's fine that we have some hymns just for men and some just for women (e.g. As Sisters in Zion). But do we really need both of these hymns? The tunes are very similar and the lyrics are identical. So, why the two separate versions? When they were revising the hymnbook in 1985, I guess they were just like "Wow ... what do we do? This is such a great hymn, but a men's chorus would NEVER figure out how to sing this song correctly unless we have a version separate from the regular guys' hymn. I think it's critical to our salvation to have two."

5. #149 - As the Dew from Heaven Distilling

I have read through the lyrics to this song multiple times ... I still don't understand what this hymn is about. I think it has something to do with doctrine. I just read them again ... nope, still not sure. And more annoyingly, the note at the top of the hymn instructs us that we're supposed to sing this hymn "earnestly." Huh? How does that sound? Choir director - "Okay, that sounded great, but this time more earnestly!" I'm waiting to see Sister Johnson turn around during sacrament meeting and glare back at me accusingly while whispering to her husband "He's not singing earnestly."

As the dew from heav’n distilling
Gently on the grass descends
And revives it, thus fulfilling
What thy providence intends

Let thy doctrine, Lord, so gracious,
Thus descending from above,
Blest by thee, prove efficacious
To fulfill thy work of love.

Lord, behold this congregation;
Precious promises fulfill.
From thy holy habitation
Let the dews of life distill.

Let our cry come up before thee.
Thy sweet Spirit shed around,
So the people shall adore thee
And confess the joyful sound.

Let’s only keep the ones we need ... so which ones have I missed? And please, I don't mean to offend if one of these is your favorite hymn ... may you live long and be beautiful.

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