Hymnals

Left to right: Replica of A Collection of Sacred Hymns, selected by Emma Smith, 1835; Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal, 2013; Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985; Worship Hymnal, Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 2011; The Baptist Hymnal, 1991. Hymnals displayed in an LDS Church meetinghouse in front of the painting “Mary and the Resurrected Lord” by Harry Anderson.

Over the centuries and throughout the world, preachers, poets, and musicians have composed lyrics and set them to music for churchgoers to sing.

“It has been recorded that over 400,000 hymns have been identified around the world,” wrote J. Spencer Cornwall in his book “Stories of Our Mormon Hymns.” “The creators of these hymns are to be revered, such as Charles Wesley, an English hymnist, writing 6,500 hymns.”

The definition of a hymn is a religious song specifically written for the purpose of prayer and addressed to deity. The word “hymn” is derived from the Greek word “hymnos” which means “a song of praise.” A writer of hymns is known as a “hymnodist” and the singing of hymns is called “hymnody.” Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books.

“A hymnal is for the congregation,” reads The Baptist Hymnal. “Congregations not only influence what they will sing, but they also are shaped by what they sing.”

Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal reads: “Collections of hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs give voice to the church’s core beliefs and theological convictions. Their texts are ‘compact theology’ and the selection of hymns and songs ... shape the theological thinking and ultimately the faith and practices of the church.”

Inspirational music, an essential part of church meetings, gives courage and moves parishioners to righteous action.

According to the preface of the 1895 edition of Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, Jesus Christ, creates a feeling of reverence, unify members and provides a way for members to offer praises to the Lord … build testimony, move members to repentance, do good works, comfort the weary, console the mourning and lift spirits.”

An examination of these and other books shows the commonality of hymns shared among the various Christian churches in Cache Valley.

In reviewing the four hymnals “The Presbyterian Hymnal,” “The Baptist Hymnal,” “Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and “Worship Hymnal,” Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church selected the following hymns as a sampling of the hundreds that are common among the four Christian churches listed above.

n ”How Great Thou Art,” written by Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940) and translated into German, Russian and English by Stuart K. Hine, who added two original verses. The music is based on a Swedish folk tune melody.

“Despite linguistic and musical revisions, this hymn continues to be a meaningful source of comfort to many people,” reads Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal. This hymn is ranked second after “Amazing Grace” on a list of the favorite hymns. Scriptures attributed as inspiration for this hymn include Psalms 8:3-9 and 9:1-2; and Deuteronomy 33:26.

This hymn is found in The Baptist Hymnal on Page 10; Catholic Hymnal on Page 578; LDS Hymnal on Page 86; and Presbyterian Hymnal on Page 625.

n ”Christ The Lord Is Risen Today,” written by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788; music by Lyra Davidica, 1708.

“This hymn was originally printed without the alleluias. This Easter text was written during the first year following the author’s life-changing conversion experience, yet it already shows his enduring emphasis on the theme of love. This lively Welsh tune sets it well,” reads the Presbyterian Hymnal.

Scripture: Matthew 28:5-6.

Found in: Baptist, page 159; Catholic, page 496; LDS, page 200; and Presbyterian, page 245.

n ”How Firm a Foundation.” Words credited to Kirkham, then George Keith, and later to Robert Keen, 1787. Music attributed to J. Ellis, 1889.

“This soul-satisfying hymn since 1773 was in almost every hymnbook which has cheered the drooping spirits. It was the favorite hymn of President Andrew Jackson who sung it at his deathbed. It was sung at the funerals of General Robert E. Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson,” Cornwall writes in “Stories of Our Mormon Hymns.”

Scriptures: Isaiah 43:1-2 and the Epistle of Paul.

Found in: Baptist, Page 338; Catholic, Page 687; LDS, Page 85; Presbyterian, Page 463.

n ”Now Thank Thee All Our God.” Words: Martin Rinkhart, 1586-1649. Music: Johann Cruger, 1598-1662.

“This hymn was originally a short grace before meals, based on the apocryphal book of Ecclesiastius sung on occasions for rejoicing. The composer has written 25 hymns. The author was a schoolmaster then rose up to became the arch-deacon,” Cornwall writes.