Southwestern States Mission: Hymnbooks

By March 31, 2013

Christus resurrexit!

Below are images of four pages from what the missionaries called “the LDS hymnbook.” [1]

The book is approximately 12×7 cm (4.7×2.8 in) and has 370 hymns spread over 464 pages of text (including an index of first lines). [2]

Missionaries sang in public and private meetings, with and in front of congregations, for and with families with whom they boarded. Sometimes they sang for two hours at a stretch. The diarists frequently specified “our songs” or “the hymns of Zion”—though they also sang hymns familiar to the non-Mormon congregations. The diaries mention both the “LDS” and the “Sunday School” hymn books, which the missionaries carried and used and sometimes sold.

As I noted last year, the diarists in this study did not explicitly mention Easter nor give indications of formal observance. However, the literary culture within which they worked included Easter-themed texts.

Resurrexit vere!

The “Southwestern States Mission” series (homepage) examines mission life in (mostly) Texas around 1900.

[1] Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 23rd ed. (Salt Lake City: George Q Cannon and Sons, 1899).

[2] Shown are the sixth verse of “He died! The Great Redeemer Died” by Isaac Watts (Hymns, 1985, #192), “O God, the Eternal Father by WW Phelps (#175), and “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” by Samuel Medley (#136). Note that the 1985 Hymns includes only four verses of the Phelps and Watts and that in the Medley the seventh verse is repeated and the eight resultant verses are presented as four verses.

The parentheses enclose the meter. “7’s. & 6’s. D.” means there are eight lines alternating between seven and six syllables. The “D” means “doubled,” ie, the verse has eight metric lines instead of four. “L. M.” means “long meter” or that each verse has four lines with eight syllables each.

The “Psalmody numbers” refer to The Latter-day Saints’ Psalmody which, as indicated on the title page, “provid[ed] music for every hymn in the L. D. S. Hymnbook.” (2nd ed., G Careless, E Beesley, JJ Daynes, E Stephens, and TC Griggs, composers and compilers, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co, 1896).

Bonus Easter image: Valeria de Mude Kelsey, “Easter,” Young Woman’s Journal 19 (no 4, 1908 Apr):150.

KelseyVdM Easter poem YWJournal v19n4p150 1908Apr


—— Addendum, 2013 Mar 31 Sun 2215 —— 

I pulled an image of the exterior of an 1899 hymnbook off of Ebay. Note that the spine says “L.D.S. Hymns,” so the missionaries weren’t just making stuff up when they called it that. Given the approximate page dimensions above (which came from the catalog info), I estimate the thickness of the book to be about 2 cm (0.8 in).

SWSM LDSHymnbook 1899 from ebay 400px

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Very interesting and very cool. I have old Hymnals of my grandparents who were not LDS and I love trying to play the songs (I don’t play piano very well) :) I would love to have old LDS Hymnals.

    Let us remember our Savior and His sacrifice and His love for all of us, not only this Easter day but every day.

    Comment by JR — March 31, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

  2. Thanks, JR. I, too, would love to have some old LDS Hymnals. I am not, however, will to shell out hundreds of dollars for them, so I’ll have to content myself with the online images.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — March 31, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  3. I’ve added an exterior image of the 1899 hymnal.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — March 31, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

  4. Fun read, Edje; thanks.

    Comment by Ben P — April 1, 2013 @ 7:23 am

  5. Nice, Edje. Gracias.

    Comment by Christopher — April 1, 2013 @ 9:30 am

  6. […] States missionaries carried hymn books and sang often [1] but distinguished Mormon and non-Mormon songs: “After supper we talked, and […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Southwestern States Mission: Songs of Zion — April 28, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  7. […] the past few months I’ve posted on the hymnbook, Mormon hymnody, and the general role of singing in the Southwestern States Mission. Today I will […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Southwestern States Mission: Music through the Year — May 12, 2013 @ 12:57 am


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