Only three months after the Church was officially organized, the Lord instructed Emma to make a selection of hymns to be used by the Saints:
"And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church.
"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" (Doctrine & Covenants 25:11-12).
Ever since Emma Smith compiled that first set of hymns in 1835, music has become an important part of LDS worship. Today, there are 341 hymns in the standard English hymnal, but we can each only have one favorite.
From Joseph Smith to President Russell M. Nelson, find out the favorite hymns of the prophets.
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"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"
It has long been assumed that "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" was one of Joseph Smith's favorite hymns. The song was quite new in his day. The text first appeared in an 1834 anthology as a poem titled "The Stranger," and the melody used to sing it was different from today's hymnal.
Before Joseph was martyred in Carthage jail, Elder John Taylor sang this melancholy tune to those present. A short time after he finished, Joseph's brother Hyrum requested that Elder Taylor sing it again. Elder Taylor later reported his response to that request, saying, "'Brother Hyrum, I do not feel like singing,' when [Hyrum] remarked, 'Oh, never mind; commence singing, and you will get the spirit of it.' At his request I did so."
Shortly after Elder Taylor finished singing, a mob attacked Carthage jail and murdered both the prophet and his brother.
Learn more in Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages.
If you enjoy the hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then you will enjoy Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages. In this volume you will find the stories of all the hymns in the 1985 LDS hymnbook, so far as those stories are known. Some of the hymns came about in ways that are quite dramatic and personal; others came into being under ordinary circumstances. And each of the more than three hundred hymns has a message all its own.