Preacher Henry Ward Beecher said he would trade the fame of kings to be the one who wrote the hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul."
Some feel the same way about Luacine Clark Fox's hymn, "Love One Another."I know.
I'm one of them.
"Love One Another" is a simple, elegant hymn in waltz time. The text comes from John -- Christ's admonition to "love one another as I have loved you."
The words are filled with grace.
The melody is graceful.
And the hymn writer herself, I found, is gracious.
Over the years I've met many writers. And I've discovered that generous, large-hearted songs and poems are at times written by narrow, petty people. That isn't surprising. Expecting artists to live up to the ideals of their art, of course, is unrealistic and unfair.
But when it does happen, it's worth noting.
And it happens with Luacine Clark Fox.
If you know her hymn, then you know her.
Like her song, it's that simple.
At age 84 and housebound, Luacine Fox still manages to maintain a tender heart and a buoyant spirit.
The tender heart comes from her mother, she says. Her mother loved to write for children.
The lightness of spirit, however, is a surprise gift from dad -- the legendary LDS leader, J. Reuben Clark.
"Daddy taught me about integrity and taught me to do research," she says. "And I always knew I was expected to do the best I could. I guess that was the lawyer in him. But he'd also say to me, 'Luacine, don't take yourself so seriously.' Sometimes he'd even add a little 'spice' to it."
President Clark lived long enough to hear "Love One Another."
He enjoyed it.
And he also likely enjoyed the story behind it.
In 1958, the stake asked Luacine to write a cantata for stake conference. She says she "took the bull by the horns," went next door to use her father's piano and began composing "Psalm of Easter."
The second song was "Love One Another."
"When I saw the words in John, I knew I had just what I wanted," she says today. "And as I sat there thinking about the words, a melody came to me. I had this crazy form of shorthand that I'd worked out for myself when a melody came to me. And I wrote down the melody for 'Love One Another' without a single change."
The ease of it all troubled her, however. So she called Roy Darley, the Tabernacle organist, and played the tune for him.
"I said, 'Roy, have I taken this from some place?' "
He assured her he'd never heard it before.
Today, she has an explanation.
It came so easily, she says, "because it really wasn't my song. It's the Lord's song. He just gave it to me."
The "Psalm of Easter" cantata is now out of print (though an ambitious choir director might be able coax Jackman Music into finding a copy).
And her other works -- "Christmas Cantata," "There Came a Star," "The Morning Breaks" -- are equally hard to come by.
But "Love One Another" has taken root in the LDS culture and blossomed. It grows more loved with each passing year.
"The simplicity of the melody matches the simplicity of the thought," explains Jerold Ottley, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. "And simplicity often carries more power than complexity."
That's true of hymns. It's also true of people.
If you doubt it, you need to meet Luacine Clark Fox.