I'm not the most musical person around (although I certainly know what I like to
listen to and have have fairly wide tastes, from Zap Mama to Mozart to Ian Tyson
to Enya to U2), so don't always feel qualified to comment on a topic like this.
LURKERS TAKE NOTE: but I'm not going to let that stop me from venturing an
opinion, even if it gets torn to shreds by those who know more about music than I
I've never been particularly impressed by the musical setting of "I Believe in
Christ," but maybe for an odd reason. It's not that it's ill-suited to the words
(although I don't think they are well-matched), it's that they're also ill-suited
to the *author* of the words, BRMcC. You'd think that they'd have given even a
relatively contemplative hymn by him some more, I dunno, "oomph" or something. I
don't mean a potboiler, but something with some more range and and the bass line
is, I'm sorry, emasculated to me.
You don't do either species a favour by calling a grizzly bear a panda.*
*actually the term "grizzly bear" was allegedly applied to Pres. Packer by Elder
Oaks, but I've never been one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Speaking of good stories, here's one I've told here before. You have Pres. Thomas
S. Monson personally to thank for "Hark all Ye Nations" (p. 264, I think). It was
always in the German hymnbook as "Sehet Ihr Völker!" and missionaries just loved
it. Elder Monson loved it, too, and he came to Germany often -- as most people
know by know, especially after the comments about the rededication of the
Freiberg Temple made yesterday, Elders Monson and Hinckley used to make numerous
trips behind the Iron Curtain in preparation for the day it would fall, and once,
in mid-1974, they were in Munich on their way to Dresden. We had a 2-zone
missionary conference planned, and Elder Monson worked with the APs and myself to
put together the program. He insisted that it close with Sehet Ihr Völker, saying
he knew of no other hymn that could leave missionaries with a dance in their step
and the spirit in their hearts at the end of a conference like that one. Later,
while we were talking alone (I was making preparations for a visit he was going
to be making to London on boy scout business) he said, "You know, there's a new
Music Committee that's been struck, and we hope to have a new hymnbook in 5 years
or so." This was totally news to me, but he continued, "and if I have any
influence -- and given that I'm the chairman, I might -- " and he broke into that
broad, infectious grin he's famous for, "'Sehet Ihr Völker' is going to be
translated into English and included in the new English hymnbook." Say what you
will about the hymn's musical sophistication, or lack thereof -- but if you can
get a roomful of 19-21-year olds to belt it out, you got a winner!
I actually worked a bit with the Music Committee because at first they wanted to
update the patriotic songs section at the back to represent the growth of the
Church in anglophone countries other than the US and the UK. I even sent them the
new words to O Canada! when it changed in the early 80s (it had too many "We
stand on guard for thee"'s, so one of them was replaced with "God keep our land
glorious and free") but by then they'd been overwhelmed by this approach. It
wasn't just Canada now, it was Australia (Advance Australia Fair), New Zealand
(God Bless New Zealand), South Africa (whose new national anthem is mixed:
English and Zulu!), Nigeria, Ghana...who am I missing? But you get the point. And
besides, "God Save the King[/Queen]" is actually the Royal Anthem*, not the
national anthem anyway, of any country except England (ie, not in Scotland), but
even in England, it's now more popular to use that as a royal anthem and use
"Land of Hope and Glory" as an unofficial national anthem (Jo, am I right?) More
comparable to "Hail to the Chief" in the US than "the Star Spangled Banner." So
they made add-in pages available, and Canadian units would order O Canada,
Aussies Advance Australia Fair, and so on. So outside the United States, in most
English-speaking countries, we have a hymn number you don't: 342.
*Also, singing the royal anthem can be politically problematic in some countries.
You'd be met with stone silence in a Quebec francophone ward or branch if you
tried to get them to sing it [even in French -- and anyway QEII is fluently
francophone, so that's not the issue per se], and even many anglophones would
rather not sing it. I don't find it offensive, but I just don't think there's any
room for a foreign monarchy in our country anymore. I'm not a republican, either
-- I like the constitutional monarchy, and my polisci prof at BYU, Stewart Grow,
said he preferred it, as a "honing" or "tweaking" of the US system, except that
it's eroding today (who's system isn't?) and becoming more "presidential" without
the checks and balances a true presidential system has. I date this back,
symbolically, to the day when Mila Mulroney, Bryan Mulroney's [Reagan/Thatcher
era] wife, insisted that her Mountie honour guardsman salute her as she entered
and exited her limo, as if she were an official of state/government when she had
no more authority in that sense than a bedbug, who might also share the prime
ministerial bed! We don't have a position called "first lady," but she wanted to
be a Canadian "Nancy Reagan." We have a head of state, who's the queen, or when
the queen's not in the country, the governor-general, who happens currently to be
a very delightful, classy and charming lady named Adrienne Clarkson (née Poy), an
immigrant from Hong Kong (our first immigrant GG). I call my position not
anti-monarchy, but anti-xenomonarchy. We should strengthen the position of
governor-general and take his/her appointment away from the prime minister and
turn it over to another body of some sort (even the moribund Senate -- give them
something useful to do for a change), or the assembled group of those who hold
the Order of Canada; that's been proposed before. We could even call her a State
President like they do in Germany and South Africa. Germany's president is
Johannes Rau, which is not a name that's well-known to many people, but he's
their head of state. The Kanzler (chancellor), the recently by-a-hair's-breadth
releected Gerhard Schröder, is the head of *government*, not the head of *state*.
In German Schröder is called der Bundeskanzler (the Federal chancellor) and Rau
is called der Bundespräsident (the Federal president).
Lastly, my one big complaint: they took out a hymn very few people remember,
"Tho' in the Outward Church Below," whose music was composed by Mozart himself,
and comes from The Magic Flute, although the hymn is sung more up-tempo than the
tenor aria, and to completely different words. In German it was "Noch Warten,
Herr, in Deinem Reich," and had a rumbling, spine-tingling bass line in the
chorus that I guess most men just couldn't master -- except, Jo, for the Welsh, I
presume, and certainly for German-speaking men, who seem to be more enthusiastic
hymn singers than their anglophone counterparts.
Gary Smith wrote:
> Well, as a tenor, I love the tune. The tenor's part is wonderful with
> great climaxes at just the right spots. It makes me feel like I'm soaring
> as I sing over the rest of the harmony. Wonderful.
> K'aya K'ama,
> Gerald/gary Smith gszion1 @juno.com http://www
> "No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he's free." -
> Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
> I love Elder McConkie, and I love the words to that hymn. But I think
> they could have found better music for it. The tune doesn't measure to
> the lyrics.
> Of course that is just my opinion, and it is just a matter of taste.
> John W. Redelfs
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Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and
falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
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nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.
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