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Best Non-Canon LDS Music


Sunday services in the Latter Day Saint church always involves music.  We have a canon consisting of a hymn book and a children’s songbook, but that’s not the only music you’ll hear in our meetings.  Most Sundays include a special musical number, from the choir or someone asked especially for that Sunday to provide music.  Special music doesn’t have to be from the canon, and can be from Latter Day Saint or other Christian composers.  Here are my favorites of the non-canon music: the music I consider the most beautiful (in no particular order)

I Heard Him Come I learned this song as a youth and have loved it ever since.  This song helps me understand the love Jesus has for each individual, however lowly, including me.  Written by Jeff Goodrich.

No Ordinary Man – This song describes how not everyone was converted by Jesus’ miracles, inviting us to understand Christ’s divinity.  Written by the one and only and much beloved Janice Kapp Perry.

O Lord My Redeemer – This song is about the crucifixion and saving mission of Jesus.  My husband sang this song on his mission, and it has been special to him ever since.  Written by Jeff Goodrich.

No Other NameI just recently learned this song with my stake choir, and instantly loved it.  The text comes from the scripture Mosiah 3:17.  The link only gives a brief sample, but believe me, this song is beautiful and moving.  My favorite part is when the altos come in with “He can save me.”  Written by Lynn S. Lund.

I Know that My Redeemer Liveth – You might think the sopranos overshadow the other parts in this piece, with their soaring melody, but this song really is a complete package.  I love how it builds to a thundering finish.  Written by Joseph M. Martin.

He is Not HereThis is a relatively difficult choir piece to learn, but worth it.  I’ve sung both alto and tenor, and loved both.  This song gives me chills every time!  It’s about the discovery that Jesus was no longer in the tomb, but had risen.  Written by Russel Nagy.

The Garden – Okay, so I’m kind of cheating by including this on the list, since it isn’t a song you’ll hear in church, but, rather, is an oratorio, like Handel’s MessiahThe Garden is an Easter oratorio and is an allegory about the Atonement.  Written by Michael McClean.

My Servant Joseph – All right, I’m cheating again.  This is an entire album of songs about the life and work of the prophet Joseph Smith.  It’s so beautiful that I couldn’t choose just one song as my favorite.  Written by Kenneth Cope.

Invocation – I can’t say enough about how beautiful this song is.  (It just needs to be sung by someone who’s not me, since it’s hard for me to not go flat on a cappella pieces.)  Its text is from Matthew 18:20: “Where two or three are gathered, in my name, there shall I be in the midst of them, in the midst of them that love me.”  Written by Claudia Bigler.

I Would Exhort You – This is my favorite piece from Oakland Temple Pageant: And It Came to Pass, though the rest of the songs are good, too.  Moroni shows Joseph where to find the plates, and then exhorts him to study them prayerfully as he translates them with this song.  Text is from Moroni 10:3-4.  The link is for the whole show; “I Would Exhort You” begins at 37:20.  Written by Whitney Groo, Jr.

Go Ye Now in Peace – This song is special to all performers in the Oakland Temple Pageant.  After each performance, we’d get in a circle and sing this song.  At the end, we would segue into “God Be With You Till We Meet Again,” from the hymnbook.  Even many years later, it’s still a very special song to me.  I don’t think the composer is LDS, but the importance of her song to many members merits its mention on this list.  Written by Joyce Eilers.

Those are my favorites.  What are yours?  I’d love to hear from other Christians as well about your favorite music for worship!



How My Fair Lady Should Have Ended

Image result for my fair lady

Here I go again, wading into truly controversial territory.  That’s me, fighting the good fight.

Eliza should have married Freddy.

Perhaps a little background is required, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the musical.  My Fair Lady was written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In it, Eliza Dolittle is a poor flower girl (meaning someone who sells flowers) with a thick Cockney accent, which in London means she’s little better than a beggar.  Henry Higgins is a phoneticist who encounters Eliza in the street.  On a dare from Colonel Pickering, Higgins decides to take on Eliza as a student, to transform her language and make her pass for a fine lady in London society.

He succeeds.  Meanwhile, Freddy Eynsford-Hill, a young socialite, has fallen in love with Eliza, and has professed his love to her.  In the end, however, Eliza decides to continue living with Henry Higgins.  Eliza made a serious error.  She should have married Freddy.  I shall now present the reasons why.

First off, Freddy is devoted to Eliza.  Granted, his song “On the Street Where You Live” is a bit of a stalker song, but Freddy seems much too innocent to really understand that.  Freddy is unashamed to admit to Eliza herself that he loves her.

On the other hand, Henry Higgins won’t even admit to himself that he cares about Eliza.  In his song “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” which he sings to himself, it is apparent that he does care about her, but he will only admit to being “accustomed” to her.  Ah, yes, that’s what every woman dreams of in a relationship with a man: to be with someone who is used to her.

Secondly, Freddy is kind and respectful, even deferential, to Eliza.  Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is rude, irascible, and tyrannical, and doesn’t appreciate the things she does for him.  He doesn’t recognize her achievements, claiming all success for himself, as seen in “You Did It.”  He excuses has appalling behavior by saying he treats all women that way.  Ultimately, Eliza is going to be happier with someone who treats her well.

Additionally, as Freddy’s wife, Eliza will have a place and future in society.  As a married woman, she will be respectable.  Living with Henry Higgins, on the other hand, is a very ambiguous position.  When he first introduced her to society, she was a charming novelty.  As others get to know her and her situation, however, she will not be so welcomed.  An unmarried woman, who is not a servant, living with an older man will not be a savory role in society.  Furthermore, Eliza is going to tire of being a novelty and will want a life with meaning, such as she could have as a wife and mother with Freddy.  I mean, Eliza isn’t going to sleep with Henry Higgins, is she?

You might say that Freddy will end up wasting his estate, and leave her for someone else.  We also have no evidence for that except for Henry Higgins’ assertion, and he’s jealous, so we can’t really trust what he has to say on the matter.

Finally, what will happen to Eliza when she grows old?  As Freddy’s wife, she would be entitled to an inheritance when he dies, and any sons she has would be obligated to care for her.  With Henry Higgins, she would have no official status.  Since she is an unmarried woman who is not part of his family, there is no assurance that she won’t be thrown out into the streets upon Henry Higgins’ death.

In summary, Freddy loves Eliza, treats her better, Eliza will have a better role in society with Freddy, and has more assurance of being taken care of in old age.

Also, Freddie is a much better singer.

Top 10 Disney Animated Musicals

If you are familiar with this blog, you know that I’m no stranger to controversy.  Today, however, I venture into truly contested territory: ranking Disney musicals.  Here, I rank them primarily based on the quality of their music as a whole, with story and animation considered only as tie-breakers.

These musicals were really hard for me to rank, because there are so many great Disney musicals, but if I’m going to make a top 10 list, then they have to be in some sort of order.

*Trigger Warning*

You may find I rank musicals lower or higher than you believe is warranted.  You may find that your favorite Disney musical has been snubbed.  You have been warned.

10. Tarzan – I put this one at the bottom since it’s not a proper musical, since the characters aren’t actually the ones doing the singing.  But Phil Collins and his songs are amazing, aren’t they?

9. Hunchback of Notre Dame – This is a seriously under-rated musical, both as a musical and as a movie, perhaps because it doesn’t have a princess or because it’s pretty dark for a kids’ movie.  If you want pathos, Hunchback has it in spades.  Granted, the singers aren’t as good as those in some of the other Disney musicals, but what songs has Disney ever created that are more emotive than “God Bless the Outcasts” and “Out There”?

8. Pocahontas -Pocahontas herself is clearly the star of this score, though the white settlers have some interesting songs.  This musical is also one of the few Disney musicals to get a memorable end credits song, “If I Never Knew You.”

7. Mulan – The songs are fresh and classic at the same time, with plenty of clever lyrics, as well.  The score has a good blend of silly and serious.  Plus, Donny Osmond.

6. The Little Mermaid – What teenager can’t relate to Ariel?  “Part of Your World” was my anthem.  Sebastian and his blues-y “Under The Sea” and “Kiss The Girl” are also crowd pleasers.

5. Frozen – Mind you, Frozen only made it onto this list on the strength of its music.  This movie was so overrated, and there are plenty of potholes in the story.  But you can’t deny that the music is really good, though fairly unoriginal.  The score is in a decidedly Broadway style.  Idina Menzel is always amazing, so Frozen was bound to sound good.  (Tangled is still a better movie!)

4. Aladdin – The score of Aladdin is playful, fun, and jazzy.  It has lots of clever wordplay, and is where I learned the phrase “nom do plume.”  Aladdin will also always be remembered, of course, for the beloved Robin Williams, who brought a lot of the fun to this musical.

3. Moana – These songs just keep moving.  You can’t help but be caught up in them.  The melodies are catchy and singable for the layperson but still complex enough to be interesting

2. Beauty and the Beast – (The original, not the shameless money grab that is the live-action remake) This is the classic Disney musical.  The songs are an integral part of the plot, both setting the scenes and showcasing character development.  Every subsequent Disney musical gets compared to this one, and for good reason.

1. Hercules – Hercules has everything you could want from a musical.  It has a stirring ballad, a sassy but poignant song from the leading lady, a funny character song, and an energetic and jazzy chorus.

What do you think the best Disney animated musicals are?  Ready…Set…Debate!

Upon reviewing my list, this article could also be appropriately titled “Alan Menken writes most of the best movie musicals.”

On a side note, here’s an interesting article about how Disney Saved Musicals for a New Generation.

Hymns in Common

Here follows a list of hymns that Catholics and Mormons have in common.  But first, a little background, because it amuses me to tell it:

My husband and I are historical reenactors.  We, along with our guild, portray the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Scottish games.  One of the things my husband and I do at these events is sing folk songs for our own amusement and for the patrons.  Since we don’t go to church on weekends with faire, we wanted to sing some hymns with one of our fellow reenactors.  He’s Catholic, and we’re Mormon.  So we had to figure out some hymns that we both knew.

So I called my mom to ask her to look in the hymnbook.  But she wasn’t home and couldn’t help me.   “Call your brother,” she said, so I did.  It must have sounded like a strange request.  I asked him to open the hymnbook to the index and start reading titles.  When he came to a title that my husband and I and our Catholic friend knew, we had my brother read out the lyrics to us and I wrote them down.

I’ve since created a songbook for use at faire with folk songs and hymns that we know or are trying to learn.  The hymns section began with that modest list.  Here I’ve expanded that list after some more research into LDS and Catholic hymnodies:

  • “All Creatures of Our God and King” Text: St. Francis of Assisi; Music: German folk tune
  • “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” Text: Theodulph of Orleans; Music: Melchior Teschner
  • “Angels We Have Heard on High” Text and Music: French carol
  • “Beautiful Savior” (Crusader’s Hymn) Text: Anonymous, 12th century; Music: Silesian folk song
  • “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” Text: Charles Wesley; Music: Anonymous; Lyra Davidica
  • “Faith of Our Fathers” Text: Frederick W. Faber; Music: Henri F. Hemy; Refrain: James G. Walton
  • “For the Beauty of the Earth” Text: Folliott S. Pierpont; Music: Conrad Kocher
  • “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” Text: Charles Wesley; Music: Felix Mendlessohn
  • “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” Text: Lewis D. Edwards; Music: Samuel Medley
  • “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” Text: Attr. to Bernard of Clairvoux; Music: John B. Dykes
  • “Joy to the World” Text: Isaac Watts; Music: George F. Handel, arr. by Lowell Mason
  • “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” Text: Attr. to John F. Wade; Music: Attr. to John F. Wade
  • “Once in Royal David’s City” Text: Cecil Francis Alexander; Music: Henry J. Gauntlett
  • “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” (the Doxology) Text: Thomas Ken; Music: Louis Bourgeois, from Genfer Psalter, 16th century
  • “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” Text: Joachim Neander; Music: from Stralsand Gesangbuch, arr. by William S. Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt

Songs that are not part of the official LDS hymnbook, but known among Latter Day Saints:

  • “O Come O Come Emmanuel” Text: Anonymous; Music: French tune, circa 1400s
  • “Be Thou My Vision” Text and Music: Ancient Irish hymn

Latter Day Saint official hymnbook and other music resources:  https://www.lds.org/music/library?lang=eng

Catholic Hymns:

This isn’t really meant to be an exhaustive list, but it was an interesting way to spend an afternoon.  What are your favorite hymns?  Share them in the comments below!

Imaginary Nerd Concert

I had the most amazing idea: a concert of songs from fantasy and sci-fi movies and t.v. shows.  Maybe it could even be a revue, with costumes and scenery and people acting stuff out!  Here’s my envisioned line-up:

1. “Storybook Love” – ending credits song from Princess Bride

2. “Going Through the Motions”Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling

3. “Jolly Sailor Bold”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (song starts at about 1:25)

4. “The Hero of Canton, The Ballad of Jayne Cobb”Firefly: Jaynestown

5. “Hey Ho To the Bottle I Go/The Green Dragon”  (medley)- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

6. “Lapti Nek” – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (the newer one, sung in Jabba’s palace)

7. “Funny Little Things”The Hobbit (1977 Animated film)

8. “Double Trouble”Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

9. “Hoist the Colours”Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

10. “Misty Mountains Cold”The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

11. “Walk Through the Fire”Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling

12. “The Ballad of Serenity”Firefly (theme song)

13. “Faith of the Heart”  – Enterprise (theme song – extended version)

13. “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (finale)

I tried to put the songs in an order that makes sense, according to theme and feel of the music.  I mean, come on, obviously, “Come, my love, I’ll tell you a tale…” is the perfect beginning, and “So long” is clearly the end.  (Which is kind of ironic, since the former is played during the ending credits and the latter during the opening credits.)

I also tried to keep it varied, with songs from a variety of franchises, hence only choosing two songs from Buffy the Musical.  When there were multiple choices from the same show, I chose the songs that I thought were the most iconic and/or most easily understood without context and, hence, best for a musical revue.

Some of these songs seriously need to be longer.  Hobbit drinking songs are pretty awesome.

Go ahead and hate on Enterprise if you want to.  Yes, the show sucked, but I loved the opening song.  Besides, there was nothing else to represent Star Trek.

What do you think?  What would you add, delete, or rearrange?  What song simply must be included?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Quest to Find My Favorite Music

I grew up on the golden oldies – the Beatles, the Carpenters, the Supremes, the Beach Boys, etc.  When a song came on radio, Dad was known to ask us kids “Who sings this?”  After awhile, we realized the answer would always be “the Beatles” because they were his favorite group, and he only asked us that question when it was one of their songs.

My parents, and especially my dad,  also have a certain fondness for one-hit wonders, so, not surprisingly, a lot of my favorite songs from childhood were one-hit wonders, like “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” by Edison Lighthouse, “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry, and “86705309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone.  (Fun factoid: that Tommy TuTone song is why phone numbers in T.V. shows and movies start “555.”  Someday I will work up the nerve to dial 867-5309 and ask for “Jenny.”)

Mom loves Neal Diamond and the Four Seasons, so you can add “Sweet Caroline” and “Oh What a Night” to that list of childhood favorites.  (I thought it was hilarious to hear my nephew singing along to “When the Sun Goes Down” at age 4.  Me singing along to “Oh What a Night” must have been a similar experience for the grown-ups!)

At church, of course there was hymn singing, and I had my first lessons in music theory.  I was also introduced to such wonderful classical music as Handel’s Messiah.  

Disney movies figured prominently in my childhood, giving me a predilection for fun, silly songs and heart-felt (if over-dramatic) ballads.

When I started voice lessons I fell in love with Broadway music, which I had already been introduced to thanks to Mom’s love of musicals.  Suddenly, most of my favorite songs were written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, like “A Lovely Night” or Lerner and Loewe, like “I Could Have Danced All Night.”  (Hmm…I’m noticing theme here…)  I was also introduced the the concept of singing in a language other than English, with some awesome Italian songs (I specifically asked to sing “Funiculi Funicula,” which was one of the most fun times I ever had performing.)

In high school I gained a taste for choral and chamber music, as I sang in the choir, and, later, the chamber choir.  We sang secular and sacred music, old and modern, and in several different languages (Spanish, German, Polish, Swahili, and two dialects of Latin).  One of the coolest (and most challenging) songs we ever sang was the Renaissance madrigal “Fire Fire, My Heart,” written by Thomas Morley (1557-1602).

Also in high school, a friend of mine introduced me to country music, (which my dad despised), and I wanted to hear more.  Once I started college, and was suddenly spending a significant amount of time alone in my car, driving, I started to listen to more country music.  Once I heard Sugarland, it was all over.  I was hooked.  Country music was all I listened too.

After college, my husband and I joined a historical reenactment group that reenacts the court of Mary, Queen of Scots in the year 1562 at Renaissance faires.  Since I love music and singing, I decided to research Celtic folk music so I could sing some songs at faire.

And I have a new favorite kind of music.  My iPod is full of songs from the Irish Rovers, Gaelic Storm, Old Blind Dogs, the Clancy Brothers, and, most especially, the High Kings.

This means that most everyone I know outside of faire has never heard of my favorite songs, and my favorite band (High Kings) lives in Ireland, so I will probably never get to hear them play.

It also means, however, that I have discovered some very interesting things, like the Orthodox Celts, Belgrade’s most popular Celtic group.  (Yes, I also found it interesting to hear the capital of Serbia has a “most popular Celtic group.”)

I think most of what appeals to me about Celtic folk is why I love Disney music – fun and silly songs, and heart-felt ballads.  My love for it is a little incongruous, since I’m a non-drinking happily married woman singing about alcohol and hookers, which has led to some funny stories, like a bartender threatening to cut my husband and me off, when we were in fact stone-cold sober.

It’s so much fun to discover new genres of music.  At some point, I will investigate classical music more thoroughly.  When I hear Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” I still think of the Starz commercial, which is a sorry state indeed.

What is your favorite music?  Why do you love it?  Share in the comments below!