History of Christmas carols in the LDS hymnbook

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  • KurtFK Littleton, CO
    Dec. 23, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    The first Christmas carol published by the LDS Church was "Mortals Awake! with angels join", number 77 in the 1835 LDS Hymnal. It was written by Samuel Medley. It is not certain which tune the Saints used in those days, but CHRISTMAS by George Frederick Handel is a likely candidate.
    "Mortals Awake" is also mentioned by Joseph Smith in the History of the Church v. 6 p. 134, when a group of Saints sang it outside the Mansion in Nauvoo early in the morning of December 25, 1843.

  • Hans in California Valencia, CA
    Dec. 23, 2011 12:36 a.m.

    "O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noel") was composed by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) in 1847 to a text by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877). The text was tranlated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893) in 1855. It is generally heard as a vocal solo, but it has been arranged for 3-part and 4-part choral singing by a number of people. Some of these arrangements may be still under copyright.

  • Jacob's Dad LOGAN, UT
    Dec. 22, 2011 10:35 p.m.

    Would Oh Holy Night ever make it into a new production of the LDS Hymnbook or does the owner of the rights of that hymn not want it there or is it more beautiful and meant to be sung as a solo in the Christmas program of most every ward in the church? It and Silent Night are always my favorites. I learned a lot from this article and will learn more from the book. I had no idea that Far Far Away on Judea's Plains was strictly LDS. Does that mean I have never heard it sung besides by an LDS production?

  • Hans in California Valencia, CA
    Dec. 22, 2011 10:00 p.m.

    The numbers for the hymns in the LDS Hymnbook are not page numbers; they're hymn numbers!

  • utesovertide Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 22, 2011 12:58 p.m.


    "But, hey its Christmas, and really matters little how we interpret or celebrate what Advent."

    I basically agree. I just wanted to point out that the article even has it a bit wrong by saying that W. W. Phelps made it a song about the Second Coming. It always has been. My previous example is just one of many within the song. You can also count Watts's original title for his words which was "The Messiah's Coming and Kingdom".

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 22, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    Its a pretty thin argument to put a millennial intent on the archaic English phrase is come When later in Phelps rendition he clarifies with the words unto us a child is born. But, hey its Christmas, and really matters little how we interpret or celebrate what Advent.

  • utesovertide Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 22, 2011 10:01 a.m.

    Actually, Isaac Watts intended Joy To the World to be a millennial hymn. Phelps's changes just made it more apparent.

    Watts's words "Joy to the world, the Lord is come" means the Lord is going to come again in old English. Watts did not intend it to be a song about the birth of Christ.

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 22, 2011 8:23 a.m.

    I sang Phelps version of Joy to the World all through my youth so when I first sang it outside Utah, I thought the rest of the carolers were out of their mind. I later learned that helps took a Christmas carol that for a couple of hundred years celebrated the birth of Christ and turned into a millennial song celebrating the second coming of Christ, but still sing it only at Christmas time celebrating, well you know. My interpretation of who lost their minds changed!