Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

History of the Hymns: The Complete Collection

When the latest version of the hymnbook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was published, the First Presidency prefaced the book by declaring: 

Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.
Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.
We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations (“First Presidency Preface,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [1985], ix).

In 1830, when the Prophet Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma, was instructed to choose sacred hymns for the restored Church, the Lord revealed, “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 and Covenants 25:12).

For years the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s blog has covered the history of many of our beloved hymns, including hymns that may not have been in past or current Church hymnals. With the announcement of plans for an upcoming new hymnbook, it seems appropriate to compile all of our hymn history blog posts into one.

In a few years’ time, as the new hymnbook is published, stories of new—and perhaps returning—hymns will be revealed. As the Choir increases its repertoire to include new hymns, we will continue to share videos and the stories that inspired the music.

For the first time, here is the complete collection of our hymn history blog posts (click the links below to read more):

“Master, the Tempest Is Raging”: A Hymn about the Storms of Life
“Count Your Blessings” Is a Reminder to Be Grateful
The History of the Latter-day Saint Hymn “O My Father”
“Jesus, Once of Humble Birth”: A Poetic Reflection of the Savior’s Life
“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”: The Perfect Hymn for Missionaries
“The Iron Rod” Was Written by Two Sunday School Workers
How a Different Tune Popularized the Hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob”
“Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” Performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
“My Redeemer Lives”: A Hymn by Gordon B. Hinckley and Lifelong Friend G. Homer Durham
“Israel, Israel, God Is Calling”: An Invitation to Come unto Christ
“Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” Is an Invitation to Engage in the Work of the Gospel
The Story behind “Softly and Tenderly (Jesus Is Calling)”
The Inspiring Story behind the Song “Love One Another”
Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Sing “Come unto Jesus”
The Story behind “I Believe in Christ”: The Powerful Testimony of Bruce R. McConkie
The Story behind the Hymn “Rock of Ages”
“This Is My Father’s World”: The History and Lyrics
The History of the Hymn “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise”
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
The History of “God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand”
“Nearer, My God, to Thee”: The History and Lyrics
I Stand All Amazed - Video and Lyrics
“Amazing Grace”: Mack Wilberg’s Arrangement of the Famous Folk Hymn
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s Remarks on the Choir Singing “O Divine Redeemer”
Insights to “Come, Come, Ye Saints” from the Journal of the Man Who Wrote the Lyrics
Behind the Scenes with Janice Kapp Perry: “What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?”
“More Holiness Give Me” Author, Phillip Bliss Led a Life of Music
“I Need Thee Every Hour”: A Hymn of Great Comfort
Mack Wilberg’s Arrangement of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”: The History and Lyrics
Temple Dedication Hymn: “The Spirit of God”
The Story behind “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
The First Principal of Weber State University Wrote the Lyrics to “Hark, All Ye Nations”
Joseph Townsend Wrote the Lyrics to “Choose the Right”—The CTR Ring was Introduced Nearly 30 Years after His Death
The History and Mystery of “How Firm a Foundation”
The History of Ensign Peak and a Scripture from Isaiah Led to the Lyrics to “High on the Mountain Top”
John Henry Newman Writes the Lyrics to “Lead, Kindy Light”
Two People Who Lived Nearly 200 Years Apart Gave Us the Lyrics to “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”
James Montgomery Wrote “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” Which Is Based on Psalm 23, As Well As Other Hymns You Sing Weekly
The History and Lyrics to “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”
“Lord, I Would Follow Thee”: Lyricist and Composer Discuss the Hymn
“Abide with Me; ’Tis Eventide”: A Product of the American Civil War
President Spencer W. Kimball Contributed One Word to the Lyrics of This Favorite Children’s Hymn
“Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee”: A Famous Hymn with a Famous Author
The Lyrics to “All Creatures of Our God and King” Are 800 Years Old
The Original Title of “Praise to the Man” Was Simply “Joseph Smith”
The Lyrics to “How Great Thou Art” Were Written after a Preacher Was Caught in a Violent Midday Thunderstorm
“Redeemer of Israel” Was Originally Published in the First Issue of the Church’s First Newspaper
6,000 Hymns Were Submitted for 1985 Hymnbook
Plans for New Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook Announced