Kirtland Temple
A National Historic Landmark

Emma's 1835 Hymnal


The first hymnal of the "Church of the Latter Day Saints" [1] was published in Kirtland, Ohio by "F. G. Williams & co." [2] The title page names Emma Smith as the only compiler of the hymnal.

While the book carries "1835" as its publication date it probably came off the press early 1836. [3] It contains the texts for 90 hymns, at least fifty of them "overtly borrowed and rewritten Protestant hymns," and about forty probably written by members of the church. [4] Of the 40 original hymns, most have been attributed to W. W. Phelps. [5]

The preface to the hymnal is as follows:

In order to sing by the Spirit, and with the understanding, [6] it is necessary that the church of the Latter Day Saints should have a collection of "Sacred Hymns," adapted to their faith and belief in the gospel, and, as far as can be, holding forth the promises made to the fathers who died in the precious faith of a glorious resurrection, and a thousand years' reign on earth with the Son of Man in his glory. Notwithstanding the church, as it were, is still in its infancy, yet, as the song of the righteous is a prayer unto God, [7] it is sincerely hoped that the following collection, selected with an eye single to his glory, [8] may answer every purpose till more are composed, or till we are blessed with a copious variety of the songs of Zion.

Scanned images of the title page, preface, and first 15 hymns are available on the Ohio Memory website (Search keyword: Kirtland).

Notes:

[1] This is the name of the church as it appears on the title page of the hymnal. The first name of the church in 1830 was "Church of Christ," which became "Church of Latter Day Saints" in 1834. The longer name, "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," was adopted in 1838.

[2] See title page of hymnal, Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & co., 1835; reprint, Independence, Missouri: Herald Heritage, 1973).

[3] "Several hymns published in the Latter-day Saints' Messenger and Advocate were printed in February or March of 1836 from the same type as the ones in the hymnbook, indicating that they were still printing the book." Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (New York: Doubleday, 1984), p. 317, ftnt. 15; credit given to Peter Crawley for help dating publication.

[4] Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 20.

[5] Ibid.
[6] Reference to I Cor. 14:15 (KJV) ". . .I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also."

[7] Reference to Elect Lady Revelation: "Yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me." Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, Organized According to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830 (Missouri: W. W. Phelps & co., 1833), chap. 26, v. 12, p. 59. Also found in Doctrine and Covenants, 24:3b (Community of Christ); or Doctrine and Covenants, 25:12 (LDS).

[8] Reference to Book of Mormon, "that it shall be done with an eye single to his glory," Mormon 4:19 (Community of Christ), or Mormon 8:15 (LDS).

 


 

 

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