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Undiscovered

By Melissa Young

Recently a friend of mine quoted a hymn text that I didn’t recognize in a funeral talk:

Do thou, O Lord, anoint mine eyes
That I may see and win the prize.
My heart is full; mine eyes are wet.
Oh, help me, Lord, lest I forget.
So may my soul be filled with light
That I may see and win the fight,
And then at last exalted be,
In peace and rest, O Lord, with thee.

That’s lovely, I thought to myself. I wonder why I don’t recognize it. And then I saw the hymn title and realized why. It was #158, “Before The Lord, I Bow My Head.” Heartfelt apologies upfront if this is one of your favorites, but without any personal associations to endear it to me, it’s languished on my list of less-liked hymns. That repetitive bass line. I just can’t figure out how to love it.

But seeing my friend’s words shook me a little from my apathetic feelings about this hymn, because the text is quite contemplative and pretty. It’s unfortunate that I let my feelings about the music deter me from recognizing the beauty of the words.

This experience has sent me on a bit of a quest to find hymns, both music and text, that I’ve yet to fully appreciate. Tell me some of your favorites that are rarely sung.

And as fun as it might be to list unfavorites, I’d rather we not go there (even though I did–sorry!).

About Melissa Young

(Emerita) is a native of Utah and lives in Cache Valley, Utah, with her husband and three of her four children in their emptying nest. She has an MA in TESOL from Brigham Young University and currently volunteers with the English Learning Center.

31 thoughts on “Undiscovered”

  1. Jesus, Lover of My Soul for lyrics and music,
    Ye Simple Souls Who Stray for music.
    The Wintry Day for music and lyrics both, though no matter how hard I try, I can't keep a straight face in verse 4.

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  2. Hmm, unusual hymns might be dependent on where you live. My favorite is sung repeatedly in many places, but almost never in my current ward.

    'Praise to the Lord,
    the Almighty the King of Creation,
    O my soul, praise Him
    For He is thy health and salvation
    Join the great throng,
    Psaltery, organ and song
    Sounding in glad adoration!'

    I especially love the line "Denke daran,
    Was der Allmächtige kann." (Ponder anew what the almighty can do). When I'm discouraged, I belt it out and imagine trumpets behind me!

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  3. I love Hymn 162:

    Lord we come before Thee now,
    At thy feet we humbly bow.
    Do not Thou our suit disdain.
    Shall we seek thee, Lord, in vain?

    In Thine own appointed way,
    Now we seek Thee; here we stay.
    Lord from hence we would not go
    'Til a blessing Thou bestow.

    The music is lovely and melancholy, and the text so beautiful a plea to the Lord.

    I also really love the 4th verse to hymn 187, God loved us so He sent His Son. We sing that hymn a lot, but not always verse 4:

    In word and deed He doth require
    My will to His like son to Sire,
    Be made to bend and I, as son,
    Learn conduct from the Holy One.

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  4. Bonnie, I love that one too. Beautiful in every way.

    Matt, we just sang Jesus, Lover of my Soul in our ward choir set to a Bach chorale. The change in music brought out different feelings in the words for me.

    Michelle, there is nothing like a good anthem! I love Dr. Wilberg's arrangement of that one.

    Laura, I don't think I've ever heard #162. It's lovely. Thanks for introducing me to it.

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  5. #114 Come Unto Him is one of my all time favorites, but I haven't heard it sung in church since I left home for college about 20 years ago. I did use it as part of my lesson on prayer in Mia Maids a couple of weeks ago, though.

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  6. I love Where Can I Turn For Peace, #129, but for whatever reason our ward never sings it.
    Even when I'm feeling great and life is sailing smoothly, this hymn reminds me that in good times and bad the Savior is there.

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  7. I love 115, Come, Ye Disconsolate but I can't remember ever hearing it sung.

    Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;
    Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
    Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish.
    Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

    Joy of the desolate, Light of the straying,
    Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
    Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
    “Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

    Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing
    Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
    Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
    Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

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  8. One of my favorite hymns that I have yet to hear a congregation sing is hymn #115 – Come Ye Disconsolate. The tune is simple and pleasant, and the words I find quite beautiful and comforting. My sisters and I have sung this in three part harmony, and I have also performed a rendition of it in a number of places (Stake RS conferences, Sacrament meetings, retreats, etc.) on the guitar, trying to spread the good word of this under-represented hymn. It truly is a lovely piece. Also, the text is penned by the famed Irish poet, Thomas Moore.

    Another favorite (as someone mentioned above) is #335 – Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy, and I think it is a shame that many women are unfamiliar with it as we have only a men's choir version in our hymnal. I was in charge of the stake girls camp songbook this year and I tossed it in there with a slight change of lyric: "trim your feeble lamps, my sisters . . ."

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  9. The hymns often open my heart when it's closed to all other spiritual manifestations. I can hold it together through most of the meeting until the words of a hymn hit me and I'm sobbing. My kids don't understand it at all, that I can barely breathe through hymns with beautiful words, let alone sing.

    We sang Brightly Beams last Sunday and I was touched by the chorus, thinking of the many people who need just a gleam of hope in this dark world.

    'If You Could Hie To Kolob' is one of my lesser-liked favorites. It speaks of eternity and prompts me to open my mind to the greatness of God's promises. Yes, it's repetitive in the later verses, but that's kind of the point.

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  10. One of my "unknown" favourites is #50 – Come Thou Glorious Day of Promise. It's a gorgeous song, and the words are full of longing and supplication.

    I'm in my ward's choir, and while I'm not a great singer, I love lifting my voice with others' and learning more hymns. We sung an arrangement of "If you could hie to Kolob" and it had many in tears from the beauty of it.

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  11. I love #37: "The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close." Sang this to myself during my mission in Montreal, where it was winter 10 months of the year…and sure, it's about Utah, but for me it was just as much about Nebraska where my family was. I just love the combination of the melancholy lyrics and the harmonies.

    As an alto, I absolutely adore "In Humility, Our Savior." The harmonies give me chills. Same with "O Savior Thou Who Wearest A Crown." And "Our Savior's Love"–I could go on and on! I love our hymns.

    Though I kinda wish they'd publish a new version and get the rights to "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It was in the old hymnal, so I don't know what happened in 1985 when they released our current one!

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  12. A lesser known one I like is "Know This that Every Soul is Free." I haven't ever heard it sung by a congregation, but it sends such a good message.

    For this eternal gift is given
    That God will force no man to heaven

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  13. Oh, I love, love "Know This That Every Soul is Free." And "There is a Green Hill Far Away" always makes me cry. Strange how some lodge in your heart.

    I need to go play through some of these others that I'm not familiar with. Thanks!

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  14. I first heard "Beautiful Zion" sung on my mission and have loved it ever since.

    I also love "Now The Day is Over". I love the lullabye quality to the words/music.

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  15. "On this Day of Joy and Gladness" is one of my favorites, but it doesn't get sung very often. It's beautiful.

    I also like "Reverently and Meekly Now" (185) because the lyrics are so unusual. They are written from the point of the view of the Savior imploring us to be faithful to Him. The fourth verse always strikes me to the core:

    At the throne, I intercede;
    For thee ever do I plead.
    I have loved thee as they friend,
    With a love that cannot end.
    Be obedient, I implore,
    Faithful, watchful, evermore,
    And be constant unto me,
    That my Savior I may be.

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  16. That last line should say "That thy Savior I may be"

    I think some songs get a bit neglected because they don't fit into obvious topic or because they don't fit topics that are often used in Sacrament meeting. We don't sing many songs about Zion very much anymore. I also really like songs of praise and worship like "On This Day" or "Rejoice the Lord is King" or "Praise to the Lord", but it seems like we don't often sing songs just to praise God (we usually want the hymn to reflect the topic of the lesson).

    I think I'm the only one out there who doesn't feel much love for "If You Could Hie to Kolob" It just doesn't do anything for me.

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  17. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings is my all-time favorite and I am also sad that it is not in the current hymnbook.

    I LOVE In Our Lovely Deseret. I am always uplifted by it, and have often sung it when my children have thrown screaming tantrums as little ones, or shouting matches with each other as older ones.

    "Hark hark hark tis children's music, children's voices oh how sweet. When in innocence and love like the angels up above they with happy hearts and cheerful faces meet."

    Somehow this idea just cracks me up and gives me a better perception in those moments of difficulty as a mother. Also, the verses embrace to me so much of the peculiarity of our faith. I just think the hymn is awesome.

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  18. Ooh I love this topic!

    First has to be anything by Eliza Snow. O My Father is great (Heavenly Mother reference just makes it better). Most of them are so full of amazing doctrine and incredible poetry. In Our Lovely Deseret is a classic in another way, though: "Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise/Drink no liquor and they eat but a very little meat/They are learning to be great and good and wise!" Cracks me up every time. I feel so affectionate toward Sister Eliza when singing this song. It feels playful.

    I love the more melancholy songs best, though. O Savior Thou Who Wearest a Crown is an example, and Where can I Turn for Peace, Lead Kindly Light, and Be Still my Soul.

    For music, though, not much beats our the Ralph Vaughn Williams hymns — especially For All the Saints and All Creatures of Our God and King, both of which should be sung WAY more often.

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  19. It's funny as y'all name hymns that you love, but that 'rarely get sung' in your wards, I'm sitting here (as one of my ward's organists for the past 12 years) thinking, "We sing that one…and that one… and that one…" There are a few exceptions to that though — there are quite a few hymns that I just can't learn to play; they are too hard for my simple skills: "For All The Saints" is one of them, as is "The Wintry Day." Kellie, #50 is one that I learned to play two years ago. I have a goal to learn 5 new songs/ hymns each year, and it was one of them from that year.

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  20. I love LOVE the hymns- there's such power in them to teach and to comfort, to uplift and to praise. One that hasn't been mentioned yet that I think we should sing more often is "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"

    A Mighty Fortress is our God,
    A tower of strength ne'er failing.
    A helper mighty is our God,
    O'er ills of life prevailing.
    He overcometh all
    He saveth from the fall
    His might and power are great
    He all things did create
    And he shall reign forever more.

    Tangential Side Note: I studied German in college and was surprised to discover that A) The music for Ein Feste Burg in the German hymnal is much more rich than in the English hymnal (more difficult to play) B) There are 3 more verses in the German hymnal that aren't in the English one and C) Our text really doesn't mean what Martin Luther originally wrote. Like, at all. I know it says "adapted" at the bottom, but having a text that means something like "the old evil enemy means it earnestly now. Great power and much deceit are his armament. On earth there is no one like him." (the following verses then reaffirm God's power over Satan) instead of the last 5 lines we have now? "Adapted" seems like a huge understatement.

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  21. Love with all my heart this hymn of the restoration. And it seems we only sing it during General Conference. Words by Parley P. Pratt:

    The morning breaks
    the shadows flee
    Lo Zion's standard is unfurled
    The dawning of a brighter day
    Majestic rises on the world

    4th and 5th verses are my favorite:

    Jehovah speaks! Let earth give ear,
    And Gentile nations turn and live.
    His mighty arm is making bare,
    His cov'nant people to receive.

    Angels from heav'n and truth from earth
    Have met, and both have record borne;
    Thus Zion's light is bursting forth,
    To bring her ransomed children home.

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  22. "Before Thee Lord" was my grandmother's favorite hymn. I learned to play it on the piano as a child and was grateful for the meager bass. The verse you quote is tender to me, but I can't remember ever singing it in any meeting.

    Brightly Beams is another favorite of mine. Our Stake Presidency gave each of the bishops for Christmas last year a framed print of a painting Pres Monson mentioned in a talk (Apr 2001 conf, I think) where he called it "the Rescue" because it depicts the rescue of stranded individuals in a lifeboat in storm tossed seas. I always think of this painting when I hear the part of the hymn "but to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore. . . . some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save." To sing it in regular 4 part harmony, it works to sing it to the tune from Should you Feel Inclined to Censure–it's not technically the same tune name, it works.

    Another funeral song I love is "Each Life that Touches Ours for Good," I wish we would sing it on non funeral occasions more often.

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  23. Lead, Kindly Light. I used to listen to the BYU Men's Chorus sing that song (Mack Wilberg's arrangement is stunning) over and over and over again while driving to and from the temple (a four-hour drive; I was a temple worker). It was during a time in my life where much was uncertain, and singing with gusto in the sacred space (ht Andrea) of my car gave me great strength. I've already requested that that hymn be sung someday at my funeral. 😉

    I also love How Firm a Foundation. Verse 3 is especially powerful.

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