THIS IS IT! Only ‘ONE DAY MORE’ until the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church! In preparation for the big day, here’s some classic Top 5 General Conference songs you may want to keep an
eye ear out for this weekend!
These “top 5” hymns have lasting power and seem (to me) to be performed most often. 🙂
HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION
The hymn “How Firm A Foundation” has been a popular favorite among Christians ever since 1787. It was included in the first Latter-day Saint hymnbook and has been a staple. For more about this hymn, read here.
In the October 2006 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson used this hymn as inspiration for the title and subject of his message:
“Eventually we must have our own strong and deeply placed foundation, or we will be unable to withstand the storms of life, which will come…”
– President Thomas S. Monson, How Firm A Foundation, October Conference 2006
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs Mack Wilberg’s rousing arrangement, which includes the rarely sung final verse – my favorite! (“I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”)
I AM A CHILD OF GOD
The lyrics of “I am a Child of God” came in a dream to Naomi W. Randall in 1957 and were set to music by her friend Mildred Tanner Pettit as a gift to the children of the church. Today,”I Am a Child of God” has been translated into over 90 languages. It is one of the first hymns that new Latter-day Saints learn in all areas of the world. This sweet song has been the subject of numerous musical adaptations by choirs and other musicians.
“Who are we? We are children of God. Our potential is unlimited. Our inheritance is sacred. May we always honor that heritage—in every thought and deed.”
– Elder Russell M. Nelson, We Are Children Of God, Oct. 1988 Conference
Here is a special video shared during a General Conference presenting members from around the world singing this dearly loved hymn.
PRAISE TO THE MAN
“Praise to the Man” (originally titled “Joseph Smith“) was a poem written in memorium to the slain prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. by LDS composer William W. Phelps. The poem was later set to music and adopted as an official hymn of the church.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th prophet of the church, shared this personal story about the hymn:
“Many years ago when at the age of twelve I was ordained a deacon, my father, who was president of our stake, took me to my first stake priesthood meeting…There were perhaps as many as four hundred there. Together these men lifted their strong voices…all singing these words with a great spirit of conviction and testimony:Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.Blessed to open the last dispensation,Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.
(Hymns, No. 147)
“They were singing of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and as they did so there came into my heart a great surge of love for and belief in the mighty Prophet of this dispensation…I knew then, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet of God.”- Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, Praise To The Man, 1983
In this video, a special guest choir of LDS Missionaries from the Provo Missionary Training Center perform during April 2012 Conference (at 4:45 you’ll catch a glimpse of pop-star turned missionary Elder David Archuleta, who had just entered the MTC at that time in prep for his 2 year service – this “conference sighting” delighted all of his fans)
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
Another famous Latter-day Saint hymn by the amazing William W. Phelps! The Spirit of God was written for the dedication ceremony of the very first LDS temple in Kirtland Ohio which was built at great personal sacrifice and against all odds. The Kirtland temple dedication was associated with great miracles!
“George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy, when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy; others saw glorious visions; and I beheld the Temple was filled with angels, which fact I declared to the congregation. The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple), and were astonished at what was taking place.” (History of the Church, 2:428.)
The chorus of the hymn pays tribute to the grand Hosanna Shout which will be raised when Christ returns in glory to the earth.
“We’ll sing, and we’ll shout with the armies of heaven! Hosanna, Hosanna, to God and the Lamb!”
Since Kirtland, all LDS Temple dedications include singing “The Spirit of God“, and raising the Hosanna Shout.
It’s always a special (and rather rare) General Conference treat to hear soloists in a musical performance. In this General Conference performance of a beautiful arrangement by Mack Wilberg, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are featured soloists.
I BELIEVE IN CHRIST
The text for this favorite hymn is a poem written by an apostle, Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985), which he shared in his April 1972 General Conference talk “The Testimony of Jesus“. His poem was originally set to music by Latter-day Saint composer Rhea B. Allen [a more simplified setting was written by Tabernacle organist John Longhurst for the 1985 LDS hymnbook] The new hymn was premiered to the church during the April 1985 General Conference sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday April 7 after Elder McConkie gave his remarks. This would turn out to be Elder McConkie’s final General Conference. 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.
The last words from Elder McConkie was his powerful and unforgettable witness of Christ.
“I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.
But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.”
– Elder Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane, April 1985
Of course these “top 5” are only a handful of many beautiful and beloved hymns popularly sung during General Conference. What song are you hoping to hear this Conference? – MoSop