Three churches in Iowa celebrate Pioneer Day with hymns of the Restoration

By Terry Latey

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Aug. 4 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Performers at the "Hearts Knit Together in Love: A Celebration of Heritage Hymns” in the historic Kanesville Tabernacle. At the stand is Emily Spencer, who directed the musical performance and related stories of the hymns performed.

Terry Latey

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Hymns of the Restoration brought together members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with members of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Community of Christ Church in celebration of Pioneer Day.

This event, titled “Hearts Knit Together in Love: A Celebration of Heritage Hymns,” was planned by members of each church under the direction of Emily Spencer of Iowa City, Iowa. The event was in the historic Kanesville Tabernacle, on July 22 which was filled to capacity.

Many of hymns performed were selected on their historical significance to the early Latter-day Saint movement, a heritage that is shared and venerated by the three churches. Some of the hymns, such as “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and “How Great Thou Art,” were added to hymnbooks, as subsequent compilers continued to draw from the vast body of Protestant hymnody. The program also included recently written sacred music, including “I Walked with Angels,” written by Sister Michelle Myers and sung by Sister Alayna Graham, accompanied by Sister Martha Proctor, LDS missionaries serving at the Mormon Trail Center at the Historic Winter Quarters in Omaha, Neb.

The evening's songs were organized into four sets: important Restoration hymns, hymns sung at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, especially noteworthy hymns selected by Emma Smith and contemporary hymns that reflect the faith and values of pioneer forbears in the Christian hymnological repertoire today. Hymns performed were “The Spirit of God,” “Now Let Us Rejoice,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” “The Morning Breaks,” “Come Thou Fount,” “Redeemer of Israel” and “How Firm a Foundation.”

The program involved instrumentalists Barbara Sherer, of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, at the piano; and Kiska Schramm on violin and Jordan Schramm on cello, both of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also, adult and child company members of a currently running production called “Come Home to Kanesville” participated on several hymns.

The audience participated in much of the singing, as they were invited to join in on selected verses of 10 of the 13 hymns presented. Commentary on the background and significance of each hymn was related by director Emily Spencer.

The planning committee included Terry Latey, chairman, Emily Spencer and Rinda Evans, from the LDS Church; and Vicki Argotsinger and Ted Webb, from the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In the audience was Bob Smith, second great-grandson of Joseph and Emma Smith.

Plans are already being reviewed to organize a similar Christmas event and to repeat the hymn fest in 2013, for its third year.

Terry Latey is the Pioneer Research Library director at Historic Winter Quarters.

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