Sharing Time:

Gratitude for Music

By Pat Graham

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    For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me (D&C 25:12).

    It has been 150 years since the first Church hymnbook was published. Three months after the Church was organized, Joseph Smith received a revelation instructing his wife Emma to “make a selection of sacred hymns” (D&C 25:11). Emma’s first collection of ninety hymns, published in August 1835, measured 3″ x 4 1/2″ (8 cm x 11 cm) and contained only the words, which were sung to familiar melodies. It was not until 1889 that words and music were published together in an official third Church hymnbook.

    This year the Church published a new edition of its hymnbook. A larger book—6″ x 9″ (15 cm x 23 cm)—it contains 341 hymns. The new hymnbook has over 75 new hymns (including 10 Primary songs), 7 helpful indexes, brackets suggesting what part of the music can be played for an introduction, birth and death dates of composers and authors, and scripture references to help explain the messages of the hymns.

    We can express our gratitude for music by singing the hymns from our hearts. The words and music help us to learn the gospel and to feel the Spirit of the Lord in our homes and in our meetings.

    Here is an activity that will help you get acquainted with the new hymnbook. You can look for the answers by yourself or with your family or friends.

    Hymn Hunt

    1. What is the purpose of the hymnbook? (See the statement in it by the First Presidency, preface.)

    2. How would you lead/conduct “Called to Serve”? (Locate the hymn number in the alphabetical title index, read the time signature at the beginning of the hymn, then turn to “How to Use the Hymnbook” and find the correct beat pattern.)

    3. Name two songs about missionary work. (See the topical index under “Missionary.”)

    4. Look up the scripture references given for “The Spirit of God.” (See the lower right-hand corner of the hymn page.)

    5. Name three hymns by the same composer. (See the composer/author index.)

    6. About when was “Prayer of Thanksgiving” written? (See the lower left-hand corner of the hymn page.)

    7. Hum the introduction for “I Am a Child of God.” (Follow the brackets at the beginning and the end of the song.)

    Sharing Time Ideas

    1. Have someone dress like Emma Smith, and retell circumstances of first hymnbook. (See “Latter-day Saint Hymnbooks, Then and Now,” Ensign, September 1985, page 7.)

    2. Bring enough hymnbooks for older children. Divide into groups, and assign several questions to each group. Appoint music reporter for each group to tell what his group found.

    3. Devise your own Hymn Hunt. Have music committee of children plan questions in advance. Work in two teams and score points as correct answers are located.

    Photo by Wes Taylor