Church Updates Guidelines for New Hymnbook Submissions

Latter-day Saint women from Sierra Leone sing during church services | Church Newsroom
The Church has offered up some doctrinal guidelines for songwriters to adhere to as they create content.
Latter-day Saint women from Sierra Leone sing during church services | Church Newsroom

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ntrepid Latter-day Saint news followers might remember about a year ago, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced an effort to produce a new hymnbook as well as a process by which we, the lay citizenry of Mormonism, could submit our own original compositions as well as vote on existing songs that should be included in the updated songbook.

Now the Church has revealed a bit more information and some updates—“fine-tuning,” as it puts it, if you are into musical puns—about the effort.

One would think it obvious that new musical materials should serve the needs of Latter-day Saints as they embrace music as a form of worship, but Salt Lake wishes to remind everyone of the purpose behind the submissions and the ethos they should embrace:

  1. Increase faith in and worship of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
  2. Teach core doctrine with power and clarity.
  3. Invite joyful singing at home and at church.
  4. Comfort the weary and inspire people to endure in faith.
  5. Unify Latter-day Saints and others throughout the world.

Previously, the Church had stressed the importance of filling “doctrinal gaps” without elaborating on what that means. While that standard remains, we are now being reminded to teach core doctrine. Coupled with the reminder to have “joyful” singing at home, it is easy to see how these standards have evolved to fit around home-centered church, which was announced after the initial hymnbook effort was made public.

A PDF going into more detail about the purpose of submissions also lays out doctrinal areas that the Church wishes to cover in the new hymnal:

  • Praise and Worship
  • The Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • The Plan of Happiness
  • Gospel Learning and Revelation
  • The Family of God
  • Our Families
  • Priesthood Power and Authority
  • The Restoration of the Gospel
  • The Gathering of Israel
  • The Sabbath Day
  • The Second Coming

Curiously absent from this list is the Word of Wisdom, and if “In Our Lovely Deseret” gets nixed from the forthcoming iteration of the hymnbook, this author will be on a warpath! A warpath, I say!

The Church peeled back the curtain a bit on how “voting” has been going for existing songs to bring into the hymnbook. The results probably won’t surprise you. The most popular recommendation for inclusion at the time of writing is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” a classic that was repopularized by the non-Mormon Tabernacle Choir and has been sung numerous times even in General Conference since then.

Voters have also pushed to have “Amazing Grace,” a standard in Christiandom, included in the new book. It has never been part of the LDS hymnal. Also, the Primary lovers among us want “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” added, but you should probably get online soon and dilute that vote because singing it in sacrament meeting would be meh. And yes, I understand the irony in writing that sentence given the lyrical content of the song.

As a reminder, the new hymnbook aims to be all things to all Latter-day Saints around the world, meaning the content will be standardized. National anthems and similar songs will not be included in the new version, and every hymn that is included will have an equivalent translation in other versions (i.e. no more English hymnal being far and away the largest of the bunch).

Please do me a solid and vote in “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” using the same tune as “In Humility, Our Savior.” Its recording on the Tabernacle Choir album, The Sound of Glory, remains arguably the best thing the choir has ever done. Unfortunately, that recording is out of print, but you can watch a version from General Conference only a few years ago.

Those interested in submitting their own works have until July 1. You can learn more about the process at the Church’s website.

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