2/11/2006

Amazing Grace Lyrics

An elderly lady in our ward died last week. My wife was her visiting teacher. My wife sings quite well, and this sister asked if she would sing the song 'Amazing Grace' at her funeral when she died. My wife did this, and did a fine job. In order to get the music and lyrics for this song we had to borrow a protestant hymn book. It made me wonder why this hymn is not in our hymn book.

In 1985 there was new edition of the LDS hymn book. Several songs were added, but not Amazing Grace. Since it is one of the most famous and most beloved Christian hymn in the world, there must have been an obvious reason that this hymn was not added to our hymn book at that time. Unfortunately that obvious reason escapes me at the moment. Any ideas? I wondered if there was anything in the lyrics that makes this hymn doctrinally incorrect. I have included the lyrics in this post below:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.

When we've been here a thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see

What is so wrong with these lyrics? I see that it emphasized the grace aspect of salvation. We know that grace is an aspect of salvation (2 Ne 10:24, 2 Ne 25:23). I suspect the reason this hymn was not added to our hymn book is because it symbolizes the idea of salvation by grace alone even though the lyrics don't say that obedience to commandments and ordinances are unnecessary. This hymn gets mocked sometimes, but when it is beautifully sung, like my wife did at the funeral yesterday, it is a wonderful hymn.

27 Comments:

At 2/11/2006, Blogger Ian said...

I have a particular fondness of the song as well. One time on my mission, someone played this song on the bagpipes. Needless to say, they couldn't play the pipes in the chapel, it would have been too loud. They were played in the hall.

Anyway, the lyrics do focus on grace without enduring, so that is most likely why we don't use it. I found a verse to the song one time that did mention enduring, but I can't find it. I think that a verse could be created or modified to make it more doctrinally correct.

I'm fine with it not being there though, it's not like my salvation depends on it. :-)

 
At 2/11/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Thanks Ian. This does fall in the unnecessary catagory. Modifying or adding a verse to round the song out doctrinally seems like a good idea to me.

 
At 2/11/2006, Anonymous Mark IV said...

I also love that hymn, and have also wondered why we don't include it in our hymn book.

Maybe it is because of our tendency to drag in our congregational singing? No doubt, it sounded wonderful when you wife sang it, but if my ward attempted that song, it would sound like we were playing it at the wrong speed!

 
At 2/11/2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought it was because it's too difficult for the average person to sing. Also it seems to me that it's a much better solo than a hymn.

--harpingheather

 
At 2/11/2006, Anonymous Naiah Earhart said...

Is there any chance it's a copyright issue?

 
At 2/12/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Mark IV and harping:

I doubt that the likely tempo or the difficulty level has anything to do with the ommission from the hymnbook, but thanks for your thoughts.

Naiah:

I am no copyright law expert, but the hymn was written in the early 1800's. Would the copywrite not have expired by now? It is sung in many protestant congregations, why would there be more of an issue with copyright for us? Also the well known hymn 'Rock of Ages' was included in our hymnbook. I would think 'Rock of Ages' and 'Amazing Grace' would be in the same kind of categorie.

I still think the main reason is that it is a symbol of salvation based on grace alone, even though I don't see that specifically in the lyrics.

 
At 2/12/2006, Blogger Mary Siever said...

It's one of my favourite hymns too (and one I enjoy singing to my baby to get her to sleep. She loves it too). I believe (though maybe this is hearsay) that the reason it isn't in the hymn book (or allowed tro be sung in Sacrament meeting) is because of it's primary focus on grace. However, I too don't see that somuch in the song either. I love it.

 
At 2/13/2006, Blogger Guy Murray said...

This is a great hymn. I have wondered as well why it's not included. I had a bagpiper play it at my father's funeral last month, as we left the chapel. It was extremely moving. Does anyone have any contacts with the department at the Church which compiles the hymns?

 
At 2/13/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Guy:

There is a man named Darwin Wolford who was a music teacher at Ricks (now BYU Idaho) that I believe had some input on hymns. He was my families home teacher for a while. Perhaps I could try and contact him where ever he is and see if he knows anything.

 
At 2/14/2006, Blogger RCH said...

~5 years ago I took a summer Institute class on Music in the Church. I could be misremembering, but I think the instructor mentioned that "Amazing Grace" *was* included in a 1920s version (or thereabouts) of the LDS hymnal.

I think the fact that it's out while others are in has more to do with space constraints and changing tastes over time than anything doctrinal.

Apparently "How Great Thou Art" caused a bit of a stir the first time it was included in an LDS hymnal (~1950s?) because it used to have the flavor that many now associate with "Amazing Grace" -- which is to say, very evangelical Protestant / fundie. It doesn't feel that way anymore to us simply because we sing it so much. I would love for "Amazing Grace" to get a second chance like that.

If anybody knows better than my vague years-ago recollections, please feel free to correct me, lol! And the rest of you take my assertions with a bit of salt. ;-)

 
At 2/14/2006, Blogger Eric Nielson said...

Thanks RCH. That would be interesting to know if AG really was in an LDS hymnbook once. For now I will consider that a rumor I suppose. But I feel that 'Rock of Ages' has the same protestant 'feel', is less popular and less loved than AG and of the two songs seems to me a less likely on to be in our hymnbook.

I am surprised that no one has yet to mention any lyrical objection in the hymn itself.

 
At 9/03/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This song gives me nightmares. Grace was the name of my first Pig. She was a good pig. A spider-pig at that!

Spider Pig

Spider Pig

Does what ever a spider can

Can he swing

From a web?

No he cant

He's a pig.

That is all i have tyo say on the matter.

 
At 3/10/2008, Anonymous Karl Christen said...

If anyone knows the background of the man who first wrote the hymn, they would then wonder why the Church does not include it in the hymn book. It's based on a Psalm in the bible, and John Newtons inward conversion to his faith. If there are members of the church who get in arms over the fact it mentions grace, then get a grip, because works are worthless without grace.

 
At 3/21/2008, Anonymous kjv3n1 said...

I find it amazing that people on this post want to change what grace is to match your form of belief. Perhaps if you stuck to the Bible and what Grace truly is, you wouldn't be messed up in your doctrines. You want to claim to be Christian, yet you want to change what Grace is and what it is that makes a person a Christian. Typical of LDS, change the Bible and change the hymns to fit your doctrine. We are to submit to God and His Bible, and not the other way around.

 
At 7/10/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a member of the church for 38 years. My mother is no longer a member because she says that the church teaches that you are saved by works and not grace. I disagreed and said the the church theaches that both are important. Nevertheless, when I stumble onto the fact the Amazing Grace was taken out of your hymnbook, it did cause me to ponder more seriously my mother's point of view. I still think that there is a balence and actions do speak louder that words. A true believer will willing yern to do his part. Nevertheless, I am always feeling like I fall short. I have felt damned for years. Perhaps Grace is not mentioned enough. It is a sorry condition for a saint to be in.

 
At 7/19/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We left the church because we never felt "good" enough. You wont find Amazing Grace in the Hymn book because LDS people are not wretches. I have nothing against the LDS church because my parents are very active... I simply think that it is wrong. Based on the previous poster, I would simply say to search out the doctorine and do what you feel is correct.

 
At 7/27/2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re for no christian songs that might let the mormon cultist see the light

 
At 1/29/2009, Anonymous Wellington Ribeiro said...

Hi, I'm a brazilian LDS and I love this song too.

Just a thought about, "The Gordon B. Hinckley funeral". It's says everything.

PS. Yes we are saved by works, and after the works are good enough(if we deserve) we will receive the grace from the Lord, and without that, we have no salvation. My best wish for every one.

 
At 3/16/2009, Blogger SJ said...

I don't think it has anything to do with our doctrine on Grace and Works. Being saved by grace is a fundamental principle of the gospel. No matter how good our "works" are there is a 0% chance of being saved ... it is essentially through grace that we are saved, our works determine to which degree.

Also, if you know the history of this song, John Newton a former slave, who said he became truly converted once abonding this profression changed many aspects of his life and devoted himself to "good works" including his support of the abolition.

I would love to see this hymn in the hymn book, it has been sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was on last years EFY CD.

 
At 3/16/2009, Blogger SJ said...

That should say former slave ship captain

 
At 6/14/2009, Blogger Matt said...

I find it unfortunate how many members of the LDS Church do not understand the doctrine. We are saved by grace, period. There is nothing about our works that will save us. Of course there are actions we must take to accept the grace (or free gift) that Christ offers us, but we in no way deserve or can earn it. Sometimes the protestant religious have a little bit better of a grip on that doctrine than we do. I would hope that any non-LDS folks out there would know that we believe Christ is our Savior and that it IS in fact by grace that we are saved.

 
At 8/05/2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a convert, and I also love this song. I was very dissapointed when I first realized this song was not in our hymn books.
I asked a friend about it. She told me that it was in an older hymnbook, but was not included in this one. I was told there was a committee that voted on which songs would be in the hymnbook. This song apparently lost by one vote from what I have been told. That would lead me to believe there is no doctrinal reason just the musical taste and opinions of a voting committee.

 
At 10/17/2009, Anonymous Joe P said...

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir includes Amazing Grace on its folk hymns tour. It's a great hymn.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=5&ved=0CBsQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.deseretnews.com%2Farticle%2F705300837%2FMormon-Tabernacle-Choirs-CD-elevates-US-folk-hymns.html&ei=mM3ZSprlKZWn8AbD76C3BQ&usg=AFQjCNGo63vp1IzTn5wIAnLEFGJGtjdKjQ&sig2=iIt4viDbjzsPB-PNMgzAGg

 
At 10/27/2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was told by Ron Bartholomew (CES instructor) at BYUI Education week that the church could not put it in the hymn book because we couldn't get the rights to it. I hope I didn't misunderstand him.

 
At 4/02/2014, Blogger FractalTheorem said...

It's not a rights issue. Both the lyrics and music to Amazing Grace are in the public domain, meaning that anyone (private or commercial) can do with it what they want.

It was included in an early hymnbook (which only had lyrics):

http://www.hymnary.org/hymnal/CSHC1841?page=1

I've played it as a piano solo in my ward. I don't think that there is anything doctrinally incorrect in the song - it is just very associated with Protestant churches, especially their view of grace.

The church teaches grace (we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do). The word wretch might possibly offend some, but here again, it's in both the Bible and Book of Mormon - Nephi says "O wretched man that I am".

My speculation:
- Perhaps the music didn't work well for congregational singing
- Too popular - it could be sung to frequently.
- Association with Protestant philosophy

There are amazing, doctrinally correct songs that are not sung as part of a congregational hymnal, but could definitely be sung as a solo, or in a choir.

- Come, thou fount of every blessing
- Be thou my vision
- Amazing Grace
- Behold the Wounds in Jesus' Hands
- Oh Divine Redeemer
- Consider the Lilies
- Faith in every Footstep
- My shepherd will supply my need
(etc)

or for Christmas:

- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- O Holy Night
- What Child is This
(etc)

Moods change, tunes change, committees change. Don't let that keep you from singing, if not as a congregation, then as a choir. That's one of the wonderful things about having a ward and stake choir is that you CAN sing special, sacred songs, that aren't easily sung as a congregation.

 
At 1/26/2016, Blogger LyricsViva Punjabi Lyrics said...

Hindi Lyrics 2016

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At 6/05/2016, Blogger voice of truth said...

The Plan of Salvation is where the GRACE from God is found.

God has given us helpers and tools to overcome our fallen (mortal) state. The Savior and the Holy Spirit and the system God has provided so we can change IS OUR SALVATION

The main and key points of Salvation have to do with "working out our Salvation". not ALONE, BUT WITH THE HELP OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER


No Repentance, no Salvation.

Our ETERNAL Salvation is highlighted in the verses of Revelations. These verses have the word OVERCOMETH

 

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