10 Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Latter-day Saint Hymns

by | Aug. 13, 2018


I Stand All Amazed

This Latter-day Saint favorite has undergone musical revision three separate times in various versions of the hymnal. 

In the 1909 hymnal, the tenors actually sang the melody line, with the women's parts singing harmony. Additionally, the women sang the lines "that he should care for me, / Enough to die for me" alone as the men repeated "wonderful, wonderful" and harmonized on "care for me" and "die for me."

In the 1950 hymnal, the chorus remained the same, but the melody was given back to the soprano line. 

Finally, in the current 1985 version of the hymnal, the chorus was simplified to make the song easier to sing, though some Saints still miss the unique patterns of the original arrangement. 

HYMNS FUN FACT: It used to be the music director's responsibility to decide which tunes the congregation would sing with which words.

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

Originally written as seven short verses in Emma's 1835 hymnal, the verses of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" were later combined to include two in each verse. However, this left one additional verse without a pair--this last verse instead became the chorus. 

HYMNS FUN FACT: The 1950 hymnal had a separate section for choir hymns.

Redeemer of Israel 

William W. Phelps originally adapted the lyrics for "Redeemer of Israel" from hymn text written by Joseph Swain, making slight modications to give the lyrics a more Latter-day Saint flair. You can compare the texts below:

Green—he same
Bluesimilar ideas

Swain's Text

O thou in whose presence
My soul takes delight,
On whom in afflictions I call,
My comfort by day
And my song in the night,
My hope, my salvation, my all.

Where dost thou at noontide
Resort with thy sheep,
To feed on the pastures of love,
For, why in the valley
Of death should weep,
Alone in the wilderness rove

O why should I wander
An alien from thee,
Or cry in the desert for bread,
My foes would rejoice
When my sorrows they see,
And smile at the tears I have shed. . . .

He looks, and ten thousand
Of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word,
He speaks, and eternity,
Fill'd with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of her Lord. 

Phelps' Revision

Redeemer of Israel,
Our only delight,
On whom for a blessing we call,
Our shadow by day
And our pillar by night,
Our King, our Deliv'rer, our all!

We know he is coming
To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Orin the lone wilderness rove?

How long we have wandered
As strangers in sin
And cried in the desert for thee!
Our foes have rejoiced
When our sorrows they've seen,
But Israel will shortly be free.

As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.

Restore, my dear Savior,
The light of thy face;
Thy soul-cheering comfort impart;
And let the sweet longing
For thy holy place
Bring hope to my desolate heart.

He looks! and ten thousands
Of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for his word;
He speaks! and eternity,
Filled with his voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

HYMNS FUN FACT: In 1873, the Sunday school would publish its own hymns in The Juvenile Instructor.

High on the Mountain Top 

Two verses of "High on the Mountain Top" that were in the 1950 hymnal were removed in the 1985 printing:

Then hail to Deseret! A refuge for the good,
And safety for the great, If they but understood
That God with plagues will shake the world
Till all its thrones shall down be hurled.
In Deseret doth truth Rear up its royal head;
Though nations may oppose, Still wider it shall spread;
Yes, truth and justice, love and grace,
In Deseret shall find ample place.  

HYMNS FUN FACT: A man named Evan Stephens composed 16 of the hymns--the most of any composer in the hymnal.

How Firm a Foundation 

Prior to the 1985 hymnal, the first verse of "How Firm a Foundation" ended with the phrase: You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled.  

However, because this phrase sounds awkward to modern-day Saints (and as some will admit, easily misheard as "Yoo-hoo unto Jesus!"), the 1985 hymn book committee rephrased it to be: Who unto the Savior

HYMNS FUN FACT: A separate "Manchester Hymnal" was published by European Saints in England and used until 1890.

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