First 13 songs released for new hymnbook

6 years after the Church announced a project to revise its collection of sacred music, the 1st batch of new hymns is now available

Six years after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it is working to create a new hymnbook for members to use as part of their worship and gospel study, the Church has released the first batch of 13 hymns.

The new songs are immediately available to listen to and sing through the Church’s music website, the Sacred Music app and the Gospel Library app.

Songs released on May 30, 2024 include:

In a media event in the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle on Thursday, May 30, Elder Isaac K. Morrison, a General Authority Seventy; Primary General President Susan H. Porter; Elder Michael T. Ringwood, also a General Authority Seventy and the executive director of the Priesthood and Family Department; and Ed Krenicky, product manager for the new hymnbook, spoke about the process that led to today’s release and the role of sacred music in worship of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Elder Morrison and President Porter, along with Brooke Hirst, a member of the hymnbook committee, also joined the Church News podcast to discuss this first batch of songs.

President Porter said she has loved being a part of the project and seeing how everyone’s talents and inspiration have played a role in the final product.

“It has been this beautiful melding of everyone bringing their piece to the table to enrich the experience we have in our church meetings and at home — which is a big piece of this project — to do everything we can to make this music accessible for people to sing at home,” she said.

Elder Michael T. Ringwood, a General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Priesthood and Family Department, speaks at the Salt Lake City Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 30, 2024. The Church released the first batch of music as part of its ongoing hymnbook revision. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The 13 songs were released in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Each song has sheet music and audio recordings. The audio files include piano accompaniment, guitar accompaniment, and vocal with piano. Additional small batches will be released every few months between now and 2026. The same staggered release will take place in additional languages starting in the next couple of years.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed one of the new inclusions — “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” — in April 2024 general conference. The choir has also sung another of the new hymns in multiple times in the past — “It Is Well With My Soul.”

But the new hymns don’t have to be sung by a world-renowned choir to achieve the goals set forth for the new hymnbook.

“None of the goals is to sing beautifully,” said Krenicky. “When we sing the words of these hymns together, it’s about participation.”

Tabernacle Choir members sing during the afternoon session of the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Church anticipates releasing up to 500 songs as part of a single “Hymns — for Home and Church” volume that will include music for all ages in one location. The goal is to have all songs released in up to 50 languages by 2030.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” returns to the hymnbook in English after it was excluded from the 1985 hymnal. The hymn had remained in some language editions of the hymn book, however. President Porter said it was the most-requested song when Church members were asked to share which songs they want added to the new collection.

“We have seen miracles in this project — it is a miracle. We have gotten help where it’s just so wonderful that the help came at a point that we need that at most,” Elder Morrison said.

Since the beginning of this project, Church leaders have said the process has been guided by five principles:

  1. Increase faith in and worship of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
  2. Teach the core doctrine of the gospel with power and clarity.
  3. Invite joyful singing at home and at church.
  4. Comfort the weary and inspire members to endure in faith.
  5. Unify members throughout the Church.

When the Church announced this project in June 2018, leaders invited members to submit original songs to be considered for inclusion. Individuals responded by submitting more than 17,000 songs that were considered and reviewed by multiple volunteers who have helped the hymnbook committee narrow down the final list.

“There ended up being more than 160 members who participated in helping us review the new submissions, and it took a long time — a couple of years — to review all of those submissions and we’re still reviewing them and making decisions,” Hirst said.

In 1985, when the current version of the hymnbook was published, the Church was nearing six million members worldwide. Today there are more than 17 million members of the Church.

“The growth of the Church is just incredible, worldwide.” Elder Morrison said. “The last time we had a review, like this was in 1985, that is almost 40 years ago. This revision is just so needed and essential as a way of unifying all members worldwide.”

As the Church has grown, and as the hymns of the Church have become available in more and more languages, unity in singing sacred hymns has posed a challenge because not all hymns are available in all languages, and those that are have different hymn numbers in each language’s hymnbook.

President Porter recalled visiting a branch in Galilee with her husband, the late Elder Bruce D. Porter, a General Authority Seventy, where the hymns were sung simultaneously in four languages — English, Hebrew, Russian and German.

“Now, with this global handbook, every member of the Church will have the same hymnbook with the same hymn numbers,” she said. “It will be so unifying for all of us.”

Digital release features

In the middle of the project, the staff, committee, and volunteers had to figure out how to continue working through an unprecedented pandemic. For Krenicky, he said he saw the Lord’s hand guiding them as they navigated the unpredictable nature of that time period.

“It’s a testimony of the Lord’s work through the pandemic,” he said.

The digital release of these first 13 hymns provides an opportunity for Church members and friends of the Church to learn some of the new or recently added functionality on the Church’s music website and on the Sacred Music app.

“If you don’t have the Sacred Music app, I highly recommend that you add that to your phone because that has a richer music experience than just the Gospel Library does,” Hirst said.

For example, the Sacred Music app allows users to listen to curated playlists and create playlists of their own. Curated playlists include the annual youth albums, simplified hymns and songs, instrumental music, music from Church events and Christmas music, among others.

Within the app, music can also be searched by topic and downloaded directly to a mobile device to listen to when streaming isn’t an option.

The new hymns are included in a section titled “Hymns — for Home and Church” and mirrors the title of the eventual print version of new songs. Within that playlist are currently two sections of music — “Sabbath and Weekday” with nine songs and “Easter and Christmas” with four songs. The numbering for the first section starts at 1001. The second starts at 1201. This allows the current hymnbook to retain its numbering in all languages for the time being.

Value of children singing

At times, Church members may have felt that sacrament meetings were largely for adults and that Primary was the place for children to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ and to sing songs of praise. President Porter hopes that perception is changing.

“This will ... really reinforce and help us realize that the Lord wants to nourish every person He has invited His meeting, and that includes children,” she said.

President Porter shared that “Gethsemane” is an example of how children can feel the Holy Ghost as they sing the doctrinally powerful words of a song.

Sophia Andrade sings in Portuguese as she’s accompanied on guitar by Kristen Bromley, left, and Brady Bills while they perform "When the Savior Comes Again" during a media event held at The Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City for the First Release of Hymns of the Global Hymnbook on Thursday, May 30, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred

“I think we vastly underestimate the spiritual capacity of children,” President Porter said. “And to be in a congregation and see a little 4 year old singing with all their heart, ‘Gethsemane, Jesus loves me.’ And through this beautiful song, they are taught that Gethsemane is not so much about the suffering, but it’s about the evidence of God’s love for them.”

In the media event, Sophia Andrade sang “When the Savior Comes Again” in Portuguese. She was accompanied by two guitarists as she sang — underscoring the fact that guitar tabs are now available with the music, as well.

All of the songs that are released can be sung in sacrament meeting. The introduction to the new collection of hymns says, “These selections will include both hymns and children’s songs, all of which can be used at home, in sacrament meeting, and in other Church meetings.”

Testimonies of sacred music

While recording the Church News podcast, Elder Morrison bore his testimony of the importance of sacred music in uniting God’s children.

“I feel strongly that what we are doing now, which is sanctioned by the First Presidency and the [Quorum of the] Twelve is a way of communicating God’s love to all his children everywhere, in their own language,” he said. “Music and hymns bring us closer to the Spirit, bring us closer to God and Jesus Christ.”

President Porter shared her hope for the day when Heavenly Father’s children join together in song at the Second Coming of the Savior.

“I have loved that at the most important times in our world’s history, that there has been singing — at the birth of the Savior. And when He comes again, I look forward to joining in song with all of us at the Second Coming of the Savior and throughout eternity as we praise our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ for Their mercy, and Their love in song,” she said.

Elder Ringwood said “some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns,” citing the introduction to the 1985 hymnbook.

“There is no greater thing we can have in our homes than joyful music,” he added.

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