Ebenezer Beesley Composed Nearly a Dozen Hymns in the Current Hymnbook and Conducted the Choir for Almost a Decade
Ebenezer Beesley composed 11 hymns in the current LDS hymnbook, including “High on the Mountain Top,” “Reverently and Meekly Now,” “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words,” “Welcome, Welcome, Sabbath Morning,” and more.
Additionally, Beesley contributed to the Church’s musical foundation when President John Taylor called him to oversee the creation of the Latter-day Saints Psalmody—the first LDS hymnbook to include both music and words.
From 1880 to 1889 Beesley was the music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He worked to expand the Choir’s library of sheet music. Not only did he ask missionaries in England and Europe to purchase additional music for him, he’d often take on the tedious task of copying sheets of music by hand.
In an effort to improve the quality of the Choir, Beesley began testing the voice and capability of perspective Choir members. He also put strict rehearsal attendance rules in place. From the minutes of the Choir dated November 4, 1881, comes this insight:
“At this practice it was carried by motion that in the future those members absenting themselves four practices of the Choir without sending a sufficient excuse would have their names stricken from the roll and that to rejoin they must be represented for membership.”
After stepping down from his role with the Choir, Beesley continued to be involved in music by conducting local choirs in Tooele and Lehi, Utah. He passed away in Salt Lake City in 1906 at age 66.
Below, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “High on the Mountain Top” during a session of general conference. For more details on the life of Ebenezer Beesley, listen to episode 30 of the Mormon Channel's History of Hymns series.