We invite you to organize an Emma Hymn
Festival in your Congregation!
the Emma Hymns Community of Christ Edition Materials as a PDF File
the Emma Hymna LDS Edition Materials as a PDF File
Emma Hymn Festivals
By David Bolton
Reorganization “is the story of the faith, courage, and tenacity
of Emma Smith,” says Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazey, "Without
her we would not be here."(1)
In celebration of Emma’s life, leadership, and the hymnals she
compiled the John Whitmer Historical Association is hosting a hymn festival
in her honor on the morning of Sunday, September 27, at the Graceland
University campus in Independence, Missouri. A similar event takes place
every year at the Kirtland Temple in Ohio and we invite congregations
to host a hymn festival in their local church.
A revelation in July 1830 instructs Emma "to make a selection of
sacred hymns...which is pleasing unto me...for my soul delighteth in
the song of the heart" (D&C 24:3b). Emma takes this instruction
seriously and compiles the first hymnal for the church in Kirtland,
Ohio, 1835. She later works on a second hymnal in Nauvoo, Illinois,
1841 and compiles the first hymn of the Reorganization in 1861.
Sarah Crowley and I organized the first annual Emma hymn festival in
Kirtland for July 10, 2004 on the 200th anniversary of Emma’s
birthday. Sarah describes the hymn festival as "a great opportunity
to celebrate the church and the contributions of the early years to
our song history." Recalling the effort necessary to research the
hymns, write them up, and produce the hymn booklet for the festival
Sarah relates "It was a first-hand experience of what Emma would
have done to compile the hymnal, except her hymnal had 90 hymns and
she had additional responsibilities as wife of the prophet and as a
19th century woman."
The Emma hymn festival usually lasts a little over an hour and combines
readings about significant events in Emma’s life and includes
hymns from her lifetime and from her hymnals. The original intention
of the festival was to allow various Latter Day Saint denominations
to participate and celebrate a prominent figure in our shared history.
Some of the hymns are still found in the Community of Christ hymnal,
some are found in the LDS or Restorationist hymnals, others are no longer
familiar to any group.
The Emma hymn festival has been a popular event at the Kirtland Temple
reaching our capacity of 300 people each time. We invite you to join
us in Independence, Kirtland, or your own congregation.