What is the definition of a Christian? Google defines a Christian as, “a believer in Jesus Christ and His teachings.” Most of the time we are called Mormons, but officially, we are Latter-day Saints, and the name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are a few songs that we sing in our hymnbook about Christ.
I Stand All Amazed
Charles H. Gabriel, 1856–1932, wrote this hymn. He wrote an estimated 7,000-8,000 gospel songs. Many are available and can be found in 21st-century hymn books. He writes under several pseudonyms, including Charlotte G. Homer, H. A. Henry, and S. B. Jackson.
An excerpt from his bio:
His musical talent was well recognized in his boyhood home of Wilton. There is one folklore story, that the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilton (Pastor Pollock or McAuley) once saw Gabriel walking in town early in the week. He asked Gabriel if he knew a good song to go along with his sermon. The pastor shared the sermon topic and by the end of the week, the boy had written a song for that Sunday – words and music. The Rev. N. A. McAulay was a pastor at the Wilton church for many years, and it is also said that young Gabriel wrote the music for one of McAulay’s songs. The song, “How Could it Be,” was later published in Songs for Service, edited by Gabriel, with the music being credited to “Charles H. Marsh,” possibly one of Gabriel’s pseudonyms.
Eventually, he served as music director at Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, San Francisco, California (1890-2). While working at Grace Church, he was asked to write a song for a mission celebration. He wrote “Send the Light,” which became his first commercial song. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, and in 1912 he began working with Homer Rodeheaver publishing company.
Gabriel was married twice, first to Fannie Woodhouse, which ended in divorce, and later to Amelia Moore. One child was born to each marriage. He died in Hollywood, California. Gabriel wrote an autobiography titled Sixty Years of Gospel Song (Chicago, Illinois: Hope Publishing Company, undated). He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1982.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
This is one of my favorite hymns because His love has made such a difference in my life. The first time that I really listened to the words of this hymn I was 16 years old. I had been pulling away from God because of some events that had taken place in my life. Namely being sexually assaulted. I had gotten mad at God because I didn’t know why that would happen to me.
For some reason this song really stuck in my mind. Especially the line, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.” I was confused for a long time and I thought that God would never love me but now that I am older and able to look at the situation with clearer eyes, I can see the love that He has for me.
All Creatures of Our God and King
The text for this song was written by St. Francis of Assisi, 1182–1226; trans. by William H. Draper, 1855–1933. Saint Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named Francesco. He was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon, and preacher. He is one of the “most venerated religious figures in history.”
An excerpt from his bio:
Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis on 16 July 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated Patron saint of Italy. He later became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.
He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan to put an end to the conflict of the Crusades. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the Order. Once his community was authorized by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. Francis is also known for his love of the Eucharist.
In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas live nativity scene. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 he received the stigmata during the apparition of Seraphic angels in a religious ecstasy making him the first recorded person in Christian history to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. He died during the evening hours of 3 October 1226, while listening to a reading he had requested of Psalm 142.
All creatures of our God and king
Lift up your voices and with us sing
Thou burning with golden beam
Thou silver moon with softer gleam
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,
This hymn speaks to me as I marvel at the beauty of the world and all His creations. I’m the type of person that would be happy planning every second of my day. I don’t usually take time to notice what is around me. If I could, I would be content to just curl up with a good book and get lost in the words.
I have never really taken the time to marvel at the trees, animals, water, etc. I’ve never noticed how truly beautiful the world outside is. The words in this hymn remind me to take a minute and appreciate the beauty of the world that I live in.
I Believe in Christ
The text was written by Bruce R. McConkie, 1915–1985. “Bruce Redd McConkie (July 29, 1915 – April 19, 1985) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1972 until his death. McConkie was a member of the First Council of the Seventy of the LDS Church from 1946 until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles” (Bruce R. McConkie).
An excerpt from his bio:
His testimony, given often in conference sermons in his characteristic booming voice, was a moving testament from one called to bear special witness of Christ. Writing of Jesus Christ, Elder McConkie said:
“Let it now be written once again—and it is the testimony of all the prophets of all the ages—that he is the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, the promised Messiah, the Lord God of Israel, our Redeemer and Savior; that he came into the world to manifest the Father, to reveal anew the gospel, to be the great Exemplar, to work out the infinite and eternal atonement; …
“And now let it also be written, both on earth and in heaven, that this disciple … does himself also know the truth of those things of which the prophets have testified. For these things have been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit of God, and he, therefore, testifies that Jesus is Lord of all, the Son of God, through whose name salvation comes”(Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–73, 1:876).
I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign
’Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,
To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: “Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be.”
I like this song because it talks about how Jesus loved us so much that He made a way for us to return to Him. He pays the price of justice because of His mercy – the Atonement. He showed us the way. He is the ultimate example for us to follow to get back to Him.
This song helped when I was injured. I was in a lot of pain and had to stay in bed most of the time because I couldn’t move. Because I know that He is there for all of us, it helped me put my trust in Him during a time that was hard.
How Great Thou Art
The text was written by Stuart K. Hine, 1899–1989. The hymn “How Great Thou Art” is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg (1859–1940) in Sweden in 1885. It was translated into German and then Russian. Stuart K. Hine translated it into English from the Russian and added two verses of his own to the hymn.
An excerpt from his bio:
Stuart K. Hine was born in 1899 in Great Britain. In much of Stuart’s earlier years, he and his wife were missionaries in the Western Ukraine of Russia, where they evangelized as Christian workers and singers. In 1931, Stuart K. Hine and his wife returned to Britain and conducted gospel campaigns throughout Great Britain.
During those years, Stuart published many songbooks and wrote many of his beloved gospel songs. Stuart retired from the active ministry but continued to publish his songbooks and his music and contributed the majority of his income to various missionary endeavors around the world.
Stuart K. Hine’s most popular composition is “How Great Thou Art,” which is recognized in many polls as the number one Hymn in America. Among his other compositions are “Can There Be One,” “O Savior Mine?”, “Faith Is The Bridge,” and “What Can Cleanse My heart?” Mr. Hine died in 1989.
And when I think of God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
When I hear this song my mind goes to how I developed my relationship with Christ and how I really came to know of Him. Like I have said in previous paragraphs about what happened to me when I was 16 years-old. I really began a good relationship with Christ when I was in college. I started to count the good things in life instead of focusing on all the bad stuff that happened in my life.
It is true, “I scarce can take it in.” It is beautiful that He loves me so much that He takes everything from me. That He understands perfectly what I went through and knows perfectly how to comfort me. Once I had a relationship with Christ, I noticed that even if I had a really bad day I could still feel His love. I didn’t feel lost from Him anymore.
The words of this hymn were written in the 12th century. Sadly the author is unknown. So, for this hymn, I will talk about the music composer. The hymn is a Silesian folk song. This version of the song is arr. by Darwin Wolford, b. 1936.
An excerpt from his bio,
Darwin Wolford is a composer, organist, and former music professor. He was Director of Organ Studies at Brigham Young University–Idaho before his retirement in 2004.
Wolford was born in 1936 in Logan, Utah. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, his Master of Music degree and his Ph.D. in organ composition from the University of Utah. He began piano lessons at the age of eight and studied piano with Irving Wasserman. During college, he studied organ with Robert Cundick and Alexander Schreiner and composition with Leroy Robertson, John LaMontaine, and Ned Rorem.
He has published more than 350 compositions for choir, orchestra, organ, piano, and other instruments. Wolford’s works are among those heard performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Wolford is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served for many years as a member of the General Music Committee. He was a member of the Executive Hymnbook Committee and assisted with the publication of the 1985 LDS Hymnbook. He also helped prepare the LDS Children’s Songbook.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer the moonlight
And all the stars in heav’n above;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
And brings to all the world his love.
Fair are the meadows,
Fairer the woodlands,
Robed in the flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer.
He makes the sorrowing spirit sing.
Lord of the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Thee will I honor, praise, and give glory,
Give praise and glory evermore!
I love this song for how much it talks about the Savior and just reveling in the fact that He loves us. I love having this song in the hymn book because we spend so long thinking about who Christ is that we forget we can come to know Him through hymns. This hymn is such a good example to me of who Jesus Christ is and that He loves us.
How Firm a Foundation
The text for this hymn is attributed to Robert Keen, ca. 1787. Included in the first LDS hymnbook, 1835. This hymn has a bit of mystery attached as to who the author really is. It is attributed to “K” in the original publication which is believed to be Robert Keen.
An excerpt from the hymns bio:
“How Firm a Foundation” is a hymn so well known and loved that it was sung during the funerals of U.S Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. It was sung by American troops engaged in the Spanish-American war on Christmas morning in 1898. It was a favorite of General Robert E. Lee and also sung at his funeral. And yet, with all its notoriety, the author is somewhat of a mystery. The hymn is attributed to “K,” in the original publication.
First published in 1787, in a book titled A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, much of the text of the hymn is straight from The Bible, such as Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2, 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Hebrews 13:5. John Rippon edited the book, and it is believed that the “K” might refer to John Keene, who was the cantor at Rippon’s church. Others have associated “K” with Kirkham, or John Keith. The hymnbook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints credits the text to Robert Keene.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
The verse that I am sharing from this hymn is one of my favorite verses of the hymn. I like this verse because a lot of stuff has happened to me in my life. The bad stuff that has happened to me has shaken me and has tried to get me away from Christ. But like the song says, “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose. I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes”.
Lord, I Would Follow Thee
The text for this hymn is written by Susan Evans McCloud, b. 1945. Susan is an author, novelist, poet, hymn writer, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
An excerpt from her bio:
Two of McCloud’s hymns appear in the LDS Church’s 1985 hymnbook. One of these, “Lord I Would Follow Thee,” has also been recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Lines from this hymn have been quoted in the LDS community, and it has even been called “one of the best-loved songs in the LDS Church.” McCloud wrote her other hymn, “As Zion’s Youth in Latter Days,” with the goal of giving strength to a “vacillating youth.”
McCloud has also contributed to film music used by the seminaries of the LDS Church.
McCloud has published more than 45 books. Since the late 1970s she has published nearly one novel annually, many through the publishers Bookcraft or Scribe Publishing. Her novel Black Stars Over Mexico was a best seller in January 1985. Brigham Young: An Inspiring Personal Biography was partly developed as a result of her 30 years as a docent at the Beehive House.
McCloud’s poetry first appeared in the Ensign magazine in 1972.
Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown,
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior, may I learn to love thee—
Lord, I would follow thee.
I like this hymn a lot because it does a good job of showing the process we go through to become like Jesus and learn to love others just as He loves everybody. I also love the part that Jesus will give us the strength to overcome what we have to go through in life.
This hymn made me really think about my great grandmother. She always would put others before her. She was always trying to help someone in need. She was good at that. She was so good at being Christ-like.
Abide with Me
The text was written by Henry F. Lyte, 1793–1847. Henry F. Lyte was an Anglican divine, hymnodist, and poet.
An excerpt from his bio:
Lyte’s first composition was Tales in Verse illustrative of Several of the Petitions in the Lord’s Prayer (1826), written at Lymington and commended by John Wilson in the Noctes Ambrosianae. Lyte next published Poems, chiefly Religious (1833), and in 1834, a small collection of psalms and hymns entitled The Spirit of the Psalms.
After his death, a volume of Remains (1850) with a memoir was issued, and the poems contained in this, with those in Poems, chiefly Religious, were afterward published in one volume (1868). Three of Lyte’s best-known hymns are paraphrases of psalms, published in The Spirit of the Psalms: “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven” (Psalm 103), “God of Mercy, God of Grace” (Psalm 67), and “Pleasant are thy courts above” (Psalm 84).
Lyte’s best-known hymns are:
- Abide with me! fast falls the eventide
- Jesus, I my cross have taken
- Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
- Pleasant are Thy courts above.
Of these hymns, “Abide With Me” is the best known. According to the traditional story given in the Remains, Lyte wrote it a few hours after conducting the final service at his church, which was probably 5 September 1847. More likely the hymn was actually written in July or August of that year. Lyte himself created for the hymn what his biographer has disparaged as “a dull tune.”
When Hymns Ancient and Modern was published in 1861, the editor, William H. Monk—whose three-year-old daughter had just died—composed his own tune, “Eventide,” for Lyte’s poem. The hymn became a favorite of George V and George VI and was sung at the former’s funeral. The hymn also inspired Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener and General Charles “Chinese” Gordon, and it was said to have been on the lips of Edith Cavell as she faced a German firing squad.
Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens. Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day.
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!
I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!
This hymn has a very special place in my heart. After I faced a difficult time I listened to this song all the time. I felt a peace that was really hard to come by after feeling lost for so long. And turning to Christ, I found that peace. I found that by letting Christ be my “guide,” I was letting go of the pain and learning to trust Him. Now, this did not happen right away. I worked and worked on it. In fact, I am still working on it today.
These Mormon musicians try every day to make music besides the hymns that uplifts people and brings them closer to Christ: