In April 1972 Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared a personal poem he had written as part of his general conference address.
The poem is a definitive testimony of Jesus Christ. The verses attracted overwhelming attention and immediate love. They were first set into an anthem by Latter-day Saint composer Rhea B. Allen. However, a simpler setting was written by Tabernacle organist John Longhurst for the 1985 LDS hymnbook edition.
The new hymn was introduced to the Church at the April 1985 General Conference sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir . As detailed in my previous post, this would turn out to be the final conference in which Elder McConkie would participate, as he died just 12 days afterward. It seems a tender mercy that the Lord allowed him to hear his hymn performed before calling him home.
John Longhurst noted,
“This was Elder McConkie’s last conference – the one in which he left his final testimony in a way that those who heard it shall never forget.”
It has been said that a hymn may become a powerful witness, and by pondering its words through the Holy Spirit can become akin to personal scripture to guide our lives. The hymn “I Believe In Christ” has that profound effect on this author.
Elder McConkie’s powerful words combined with Longhurt’s equally powerful setting create a beloved and unforgettable song of praise in the Latter-day Saint repertoire. The circumstances surrounding this hymn are additionally faith promoting.
The following video by Seth Adam Smith beautifully illustrates this poem, as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs Mack Wilberg’s orchestration. The full text to the hymn can be read below.
I Believe In Christ
Text: Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985) Music: John Longhurst (b.1940)
I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing; I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy, In grand Amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son!
On earth to dwell his soul did come. He healed the sick; the dead he raised. Good works were his, his name be praised.
I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign. ‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin, To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ; who marked the path!
Who did gain all the Father hath. Who said to men, Come, Follow Me, That ye, my friends, with God may be.”
I believe in Christ – my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod. I’ll worship him with all my might; He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me!
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free. And I shall live with joy and love In his eternal courts above.
I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream. And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard;
“Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may!
With him I’ll stand in that great day, When on this earth he comes again To rule amoung the sons of men.
Resources for this article:
“Our Latter-day Hymns” (K. Davidson – 1988)
“Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (1985)
One of my favorite parts of that hymn: “I believe in Christ; so come what may, with Him I’ll stand. . .” I believe when I surrender my whole heart to the Lord, no matter what comes, He gives me the power to remain standing not just in that great day when He comes to earth again but NOW. Thanks for sharing this hymn. I remember when Elder McConkie spoke those words in conference. They were so powerful; I knew without a doubt that he knew the Savior very personally and it strengthened my testimony then and now every time I hear or sing this hymn.
I have the music from Let It Rain, 1967. It was the second play I ever saw in my life and I was enthralled with the music. I was googling it this morning and came up with your web site.
It mentioned that the composer, Rhea Bradford Allen had composed some music for “I Believe in Christ.” I am wondering where I could access that. I am sure it must be outstanding given the author and the composer!
Cubby, thank you for visiting the site. I have moved your comment to this page, which features an article devoted to your subject. At the request of LDS Apostle Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Rhea Bradford Allen was the original composer of the music for his “I Believe In Christ” poem. According to her obituary, Sister Allen was a prolific composer. and her music was performed by many world choirs. From the book “Our Latter-day Hymns” it states that Rhea’s complex arrangement was only performed once. The song was re-arranged to a more simplified version by organist John Longhurst, who kept Rhea’s melody. I hope you enjoy listening to this powerful song. The most recent recording can be found here. Please visit again! – MoSop
Thank you for mentioning Rhea Allen. Her friend, Chelta Moss Snyder, was a dear ward member (until her death in 1999). Chelta believed Rhea’s name should have been in the hymnbook–because it was her melody. I didn’t realize Rhea had been commissioned to write it.
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Thanks for reading, and for sharing your personal connection!
I found a reference to this hymn which was performed in General Conference 1978 with Rhea Allen’s version in the Nov 1978 Ensign. It’s just listed, no other info, but if you want to have a peek, it’s at this link
I also found reference to another song: “We Seek After These Things” composed by Rhea B. Allen for piano, soprano and alto voices.
But I can’t find any sheet music arrangements by her online – which is unfortunate because I’m like you Cubby, I’d love to hear the original more complex version! Especially since even though I love the poetic nature and inspiring lyrics of this hymn, it goes on fairly long with what basically ends up being 8 verses. I’d love to hear the original arrangement – hmmmm. . . that gives me an idea. . . 😉
Erika, thanks for the info. If your or other readers make the original arrangement ‘discovery’, let us know.
I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for many years. I always thought I have been in tune with the church – I have held different positions within the church so I always thought I had the Spirit within me. Last Sunday this song was used as one of the rest hymns. I have never in my life felt the Spirit of the Lord within myself as I did that day while singing this song. My wife looked at me and I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Even as I write this and think of the experience – my heart fills with the Spirit of the Lord and my eyes begin to tear up. I truly believe that because of this song – I now know the experience of what the Church Leaders must feel each day. They must be sincerely blessed.
Larry, thanks for sharing. Your story is a wonderful example of the power of music [especially a hymn] to bring the Spirit of the Lord into our hearts.
This by far is my favorite hymn! Everything that it says touches my heart very deeply! I find myself singing it anytime I’m going through something difficult. I don’t even do it conciously anymore I just start singing! I remember hearing this sung by the chior when I was in young women and remember watching general conference and just crying when I heard it! It has truly made a huge impact on my belief in Christ!
thanks for sharing that Jennifer! Keep singing 🙂
This hymn really moved me ,and gave me the hope …where can I get a copy of this music on a CD thanks
Hello Russell, this song is available through the Mormon Tabernacle Choir website – it can be downloaded individually or as CD on the album “This is The Christ”. http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/shop/products/this-is-the-christ-2011.html