“Preparation Underway for New Church Hymnbook—Saints Invited to Submit Music and Texts,” Ensign, Mar. 1974, 73
The Church Music Department is beginning the preparation of a new hymnbook and Saints throughout the Church are encouraged to participate in its compilation, according to Elder O. Leslie Stone, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and managing director of the department.
“It is anticipated that it will take a long period of time to collect, evaluate, and review material to be considered. Committees of the department will review past hymnbooks as well as other material that may be suitable for use.
“In addition,” said Elder Stone, “composers, authors, and poets of the Church are encouraged to submit their best efforts to the department for consideration.”
Here are the guidelines:
1. Composers should provide their own texts; cooperative efforts between text writers and composers are permitted. However, text writers may submit their material without music.
2. Hymns of the restoration are encouraged, including hymns that extend the range of subjects in the current hymnbook. Especially needed are sacrament hymns, as well as hymns about the priesthood, home, family, and other subjects that are especially meaningful to the Saints.
3. The hymns should be submitted in proper form: texts typed or legibly hand printed, music in good legible manuscript (preferably ink) with only one hymn per page.
4. Manuscripts should be mailed to the Church Music Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Material not accepted will be returned only if return postage is included. (In areas where United States postage cannot be obtained, manuscripts will be returned if so requested.)
5. In non-English-speaking areas of the Church, manuscripts may be submitted in the language native to the author.
6. Material accepted will become the property of the Church. Composers and authors who have their work accepted should expect their material to be edited or adapted as needed.
7. Suggestions and ideas for a new hymnbook from the members of the Church are welcomed.
Elder Stone said that based on past experience, “only a relatively small number of hymns submitted will qualify for the new hymnbook. In order to avoid unnecessary work and disappointment, we recommend that those Saints desiring to submit materials first consult local composers and writers who are qualified to give needed guidance and suggestions.
“Even the most talented composers and writers, who have had years of experience, often create acceptable hymns only after many tries, and after much revising and refining,” Elder Stone said.
The first LDS hymnbook, entitled A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints was published in 1835. It was a vest pocket ediyion measuring three inches by four and one-half inches and contained 90 hymn texts, 39 of them written by LDS poets. Since that time there have been at least a dozen major revisions or editions in English, and many hymns have been translated into some 25 languages.
Emma Smith compiled the first hymnal after the Prophet Joseph received revelation instructing her to collect hymns to be used by the restored church. (D&C 25:11–12.) She then published the following notice in the Times and Seasons, November 1, 1840:
“… it is requested that all those who have been endowed with a poetical genius, whose muse has not been altogether idle, will feel enough interest in a work of this kind, to immediately forward all choice, newly composed or revised hymns. In designating those who are endowed with Poetical genius, we do not intend to exclude others; we mean all who have good hymns that will cheer the heart of the righteous man, to send them as soon as practicable directed to Mrs. Emma Smith, Nauvoo, Illinois.”
Elder Stone concluded “Our department, with our advisers Elders Mark E. Petersen and Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve, would like to echo Emma Smith’s invitation by offering our encouragement to ‘… all who have good hymns that will cheer the heart of the righteous man. …’”