“Policies and Announcements,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 108–9
The following letter from the First Presidency concerning the new Church hymnbook has been sent to priesthood leaders in English-speaking units throughout the Church.
We are pleased to announce the publication of a new Church hymnbook. We are confident that it will increase interest and participation in music in the Church.
The new hymnbook is now available from the Salt Lake Distribution Center. It will be available to overseas areas at a later date. This exciting event commemorates the publication of the Church’s first hymnbook in 1835, 150 years ago.
Old hymnbooks will become obsolete; you may sell them at a nominal cost to members for use in their homes. You may wish to retain a selected number of old hymnbooks for possible use by your choir.
You may order the new Church hymnbook from your distribution center. We encourage all units to purchase it as soon as practical.
When the Lord instructed Emma Smith to compile our first hymnbook, he indicated that “sacred hymns” are “pleasing unto me. … 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.” (D&C 25:11–12.) Hymns play an important role in blessing the lives of Church members. We encourage local leaders to—
1. Urge members to participate actively in congregational singing. Occasionally, assign sacrament meeting speakers to talk about the importance of worthy music and the value of singing hymns. (See the preface of the new hymnbook.) Encourage everyone, whether musically inclined or not, to participate in singing.
2. Encourage the use of the hymns. Find opportunities, such as firesides, programs, and other special occasions, to help members become acquainted with the new hymns. See that ward members become familiar with the features of the new hymnbook, such as the new topical index, the scripture references, and the “Using the Hymnbook” section. Encourage the use of hymns in priesthood and auxiliary opening exercises, classes, leadership meetings, youth meetings, and other Church gatherings. Urge organists and pianists to play the hymns and other appropriate selections as prelude and postlude music to enhance the reverence of our meetings. Encourage members to use hymns as musical numbers in sacrament meeting.
3. Promote a choir in every ward and branch. The choir is an excellent resource to help acquaint members with the new hymns. Encourage the choir to sing in sacrament meeting at least twice each month throughout the year and to use the hymnbook as their basic resource. Find a convenient time for the choir to rehearse without conflicts in ward and stake schedules. Involve youth in the choir. Invite Relief Society, priesthood, youth, and children’s choirs from the ward to perform the hymns in sacrament meeting.
4. Encourage parents to provide uplifting music in their homes and to sing the hymns with their families. Urge families to have a copy of the new hymnbook in their homes. Perhaps families could occasionally sing their favorite hymn as a musical number in sacrament meeting.
5. Encourage members to memorize their favorite hymns as a source of personal strength and increased spirituality.
We appreciate your support of increased hymn singing in the Church.
The following items are from the September 1985 Bulletin.
Book of Mormon Placements. The Book of Mormon has great converting power. All members of the Church should be anxious to participate in selling at cost or placing the book with those who are not yet members of the Church. Priesthood leaders and members are encouraged to distribute the Book of Mormon through every honorable means so that more nonmembers can be exposed to this sacred volume of scripture. Members have been very resourceful in developing their own means to place the Book of Mormon and should be encouraged to do so. Some of the more common means of distribution are—
1. Direct gifts from a member to a nonmember friend (perhaps for a birthday, anniversary, holiday, graduation, or other special occasion)
2. The family-to-family Book of Mormon program
3. Placement in libraries
4. Display at fairs, exhibits, visitors’ centers, firesides, and other hosted events
5. Placement in hotels, motels, professional offices, commercial book stores, transportation centers (bus, train, or airline terminals), or other public places. All such placements should be with the permission of the owner or proprietor.
Seventies quorums and stake missions may be assigned to supervise and promote the distribution of the Book of Mormon in their area.
Using Hymns. The use of hymns for prelude music and for basic repertoire for choirs, as well as for congregational singing, is encouraged. Attention is called to these statements: “Hymns are appropriate as prelude music, and may be used in addition to other suitable repertoire” (Guidebook for Organists, p. 6); “Every ward and branch in the Church should have a choir that performs regularly. We encourage choirs to use the hymnbook as their basic resource” (“First Presidency Preface,” Hymns, 1985, p. x.) Members of the Church are also encouraged to use hymns to bless their personal lives and their homes.
The “First Presidency Preface” includes the following statement concerning music in the home: “Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel. Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music” (p. x.)