Latter-day Saint Life

25 Hymns You Didn't Realize Were Written by Prophets and General Authorities


Hymns are such an important part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They fill the room with the Spirit during meetings and often guide and inspire us in our everyday lives. The Church announced in June that a new hymnbookis in the works, so we thought we would take a look at some of our favorite hymns written by prophets and general authorities throughout Church history. 

Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th Prophet of the Church 

President Hinckley wrote the words to “My Redeemer Lives” (hymn 135) while Elder G. Homer Durham composed the music.

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My Redeemer Lives

Bruce R. McConkie, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 

During his 1972 talk “The Testimony of Jesus,” Bruce R. McConkie read the words to a poem he wrote called “I Believe in Christ.” The poem was set to music and is now a favorite in the hymnbook. 

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I Believe in Christ - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Parley P. Pratt, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles 

Parley P. Pratt was nicknamed the “poet-apostle” while serving his mission in England. He wrote many hymns throughout his lifetime, and seven are in our hymnbook today, including “The Morning Breaks,” “Truth Eternal,” “ An Angel From on High,” “Come, O Thou King of Kings,” “ Father in Heaven, We Do Believe,” “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” and “ Behold Thy Sons and Daughters Lord.”  

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Father In Heaven - BYUI Combined Priesthood Choir

Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th Prophet of the Church 

On a long train ride from Utah to Arizona, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote hymn 127, “Does the Journey Seem Long?” 

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Does the Journey Seem Long?

Lee Tom Perry, General Sunday School Board and Mission President 

Lee Tom Perry (son of apostle L. Tom Perry) wrote the words to hymn 169, “As Now We Take the Sacrament.” 

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As Now We Take the Sacrament - Acapella Arrangement

Marion D. Hanks, General Authority 

Marion D. Hanks served as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later a member of the presidency of the Seventy. He wrote the lyrics for hymn 198, “That Easter Morn.” 

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That Easter Morn

Charles W. Penrose, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Charles W. Penrose wrote the words for four hymns. These included “O Ye Mountains High” (no. 34), “God of Our Fathers, We Come unto Thee” (no. 76), "Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion" (no. 248), and "School Thy Feelings" (no. 336). 

John Taylor, 3rd Prophet of the Church 

John Taylor was known for his beautiful voice, which he used to comfort the prophet Joseph Smith singing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" in Carthage Jail. But John Taylor also wrote several hymns during his life, two of which are in the 1985 hymnal, “Go Ye Messengers of Glory” and “Go, Ye Messengers of Heaven."

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Go, Ye Messengers of Heaven

Edward Partridge, First Presiding Bishop 

Edward Partridge was the first Presiding Bishop in 1831 and wrote the words to "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise" (no. 41). 

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Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Orson F. Whitney, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Orson F. Whitney was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1906 until 1931. He wrote two hymns, "The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close" (no. 37) and "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" (no. 112). 

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Savior Redeemer of My Soul - Dallyn Bayles, Jenny Oaks Baker & Lyceum Philharmonic, #Hallelujah

Loren C. Dunn, General Authority 

General Authority Loren C. Dunn wrote the lyrics to "Testimony" (no. 137). 

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John A. Widtsoe, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

A prolific writer, John A. Widtsoe also wrote hymns, one of which, "How Long, O Lord Most Holy and True" is in the current hymnbook.

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Mormon Temples Hymn #126 How Long O Lord Most Holy and True

Russell M. Nelson, 17th Prophet of the Church

This song isn’t included in the hymn book, but the inspiring message it sends shows the type of life our prophet lives and accentuates his grateful attitude. The lyrics read: 

Our God is my maker;

Parents dear are my guide;

An angel wife, my true love;

children choice are my pride.

The Lord is my Light; 

His endless truth, my law.

My joy is in service to others;

My message is, my life.

David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Also not in the hymnbook but worth mentioning is "One by One," which features lyrics by David A. Bednar and music by Paul Cardall. Elder Bednar's words bear powerful testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for each person individually and He knows each of us personally. The last verse reads: 

One by one, one by one. 

Christ looked around Him and saw their tears. 

One by one, one by one. 

In his compassion, he calmed their fears. 

Jesus Christ healed each one brought forth unto Him. 

Then He blessed each precious child and prayed for them. 

The angels descended from heaven above, 

Encircling those little ones; each felt his love. 

One by one, one by one. 

He intercedes for each daughter and son. 

One by one, one by one. 

Strength from His grace gives us pow'r to become, 

One by one. 

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One By One - Music by Paul Cardall, Words by David A. Bednar (Nathan Pacheco, Lyceum Philharmonic)

The new hymnbook is sure to be inspired and full of uplifting songs. As part of the development process, Church leaders are asking for anyone who is musically inclined to submit hymns to be considered for the new hymnbook. If you don’t have a hymn to share, you can still voice your suggestions here

If you plan to submit your work, the deadline is July 1, 2019. For instructions on how to submit, click here

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