Amazing Grace

I’ve heard of some LDS who love the hymn “Amazing Grace” but are reluctant to embrace it because it’s “ours”. I say have at it. I’m more than willing to share. The copyright has expired. If you want it, take it. There are plenty of other Protestant hymns that the LDS church uses, I don’t see why you can’t add one more.

What do you think the reasons are that LDS don’t use “Amazing Grace?”

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28 thoughts on “Amazing Grace

  1. The simple answer is that most Mormons are afraid to touch anything to do with grace. I realize that it isn’t quite that simple but I also think that while most members know vaguely that some of our hymns come originally from other churhces that they don’t know which ones do and especially not which churches they come from. And I also suspect that some LDS would be uncomfortable if they found all of that out. Amazing Grace is so distinctively Evangelical that in some wat singing it would almost be like accepting the Evangelical view of grace. Which is crazy of course, and yet… Would you find it weird if you went to a Catholic or Protestant or JW meeting and found them singing Come Come Ye Saints? It doesn’t even have much of a doctrinal tone to it and yet singing it might be getting closer to Mormonism than many non-LDS would be comfortable with. However, I love the song and would support it being sung in sacrament meeting and General Conference. But I’m also a grace Mormon so I might be in the minority here.

  2. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has sung Amazing Grace on various occasions. Also, in the back of the 1985 (current) LDS hymnal, the list of composers and authors denotes who was/is LDS and who isn’t (LDS composers/authors are designated with an *).

    Certainly most Mormons regocnize that Charles Wesley, Martin Luther, and Rudyard Kipling (all of whom have hymns in the LDS hymnal) were not Mormons.

    Once when I attended the open house of a newly-built Catholic church, the organist was playing the tune from “If You Could Hie to Kolob” as background music. While the tune is not expicitly Mormon, it was a bit of a shock.

    I second your notion lxxluthor in favor of hearing more Amazing Grace in Mormon worship services, but I too am a “grace Mormon.”

  3. Chris, I know that all of that info is in there and so do many others but I don’t know that if we all sat down and thought about it that everyone would be comfortable with it. Just like I don’t know that they’d be comfortable putting in more contemporary Catholic and Evangelical hymns now that we write most of our own.

  4. I’ve always been told that the doctrine of Amazing Grace contradicts LDS doctrine so that is why it was not included in the hymnal, but I think it is a great song too! Makes me tear up!

  5. The tune of “If You Could Hie To Kolob” is traditional Irish or Scottish, I think. I’ve come across it in folk music books several times. Not the “Kolob” text, though.

  6. A long time ago when I asked my father why the LDS Church didn’t use Amazing Grace in its hymnal, he said it taught people to rely on grace too much.

    I don’t know where he heard that. I think it is probably just one of those Mormons rumors because I’ve never heard it anywhere else but my Father. Still there must be some reason it is not included because it is such a beautiful song. And the story behind it is beautiful too. I really don’t have any problem with the songs message.

  7. And it’s funny, since Mormons theoretically believe in the Bible, too, and Paul talks about grace all the time. In most of the New Testament.

  8. I think there was a time that the LDS church strongly disagreed with the message of the song. Didn’t some LDS authority say that salvation by grace was Satan’s biggest con job? The church incorporated the “grace fills in the gaps” stance to accommodate all the New Testament talk on grace. But gratefully I think that day is coming to a close.

  9. In a recent interview, Richard Bushman touched on the LDS concept of grace (and its changing emphasis among Mormons at different times). Here’s an exerpt from the interview:

    “I think partly as a form of denominational differentiation, Mormons resisted high Calvinist theology in the 19th century. They were, like so many other groups, trying to differentiate themselves from the evangelical culture of the revivals, which basically came out of a Calvinist view of depravity. Mormons don’t like the idea of depravity. So that led to an emphasis on works. You are capable of choosing the good, and God will recognize and reward choosing the good.

    In the late 20th century, that is reversed. … In dialogues with evangelical Christians, Mormons are recovering their own grace theology, which is plentifully present in the Book of Mormon. And they are recovering it not just at the high level of discussion between BYU faculty and Baylor faculty, but right down in the congregation, seemingly growing out of the needs of the people themselves. There is this sense that, look, we can’t do it ourselves; we have to have the grace of God. There is no other hope for forgiveness or salvation.

    The doctrine of grace is part of our scriptural culture. I’m sure as time goes on, these elements will be emphasized in varying degrees. Right now, grace is getting more and more powerful among the Mormon teachers.”

    The entire text of the interview, which is quite good and touches on a number of different topics, can be found here:

    http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=148

  10. I definitely think the doctrine of grace is becoming more preeminent in the LDS conversation- I mentioned this before in regards to Steven E. Robinson’s influential (in LDS circles) book “Believing Christ.” but at the same time, peoples’ attitudes don’t change all at the same rate. Particularly older Mormons have the tendency to eschew much talk of grace in favor of a perfection-by-works viewpoint. Ditto for teen Mormons who often are trying to establish identity and differentiate (and resist conversion by) from their evangelical peers.

  11. Salvation by grace through the Savior has always been preached from the Mormon pulpit since the days of Joseph Smith until now. Our standard works are clear on the matter. There hasn’t been a change in any doctrines relating to the salvation of men regarding dependency upon the Savior.

    I would venture to say that Joseph Smith himself probably gave greater sermons on the matter than any contemporaries. With the translation of the Book of Mormon, the revelations he received as contained in our current Doctrine and Covenants, and the revelations found in the Pearl of Great Price, I dare say he brought more information to light on the subject than even Paul did- at least that we know of.

    I think where LDS (speaking for myself) have problems with our non-lds friends is when the phrases “born again” or “confess Jesus and you’re saved” are used to denote someone who has simply come to the realization that Jesus did exist as the Christ and Savior of the world, and that person personalizes it, which is indeed a wonderful thing. But I wonder where the room is for error once that person has accepted Christ.

    Can a person be saved one moment and the next not be saved? Can a person fall from grace? Does the idea “once saved, always saved” come into play? The reason I ask these questions is because it simply seems to me that in the non-LDS view of grace, there is no room for the errors of humanity. I have not had anyone answer these questions, except one person, who in essence said, “well yes, I try to be good every day”- Is this not supporting the idea of working out your own salvation daily- enduring to the end- with faith in Jesus Christ?

    I doubt if Bushman, Millet, or anyone else in Mormon Gracedom can deny the absolute necessity for the ordinaces of the gospel. In fact, I believe it was Millet who said, “Ordinances are necessary but not sufficient”- indicating our reliance on the Savior.

    I don’t think a change in focus is truly what’s happening per se. I think most LDS realize that they will be entering the “Pearly White Gates”. The problem lies in the “enduring to the end” thing. We truly are focused on enduring our daily trials, proving our faith, learning not to faulter, relying on Jesus to help us throughout our daily lives. If there is a greater focus on grace, then I can only see it strenthening the LDS perspective and make the “doings” even more meaningful.

    Now that my book is done, I have just one more thing to say. I think Amazing Grace should be welcomed into the LDS hymnal. I used to always sing the first verse to myself when I was younger.

  12. Austin,
    I agree. There seems to be so much angst about the LDS belief of required ordinances or works for salvation. I really don’t understand why non-LDS Christians are so hung up on this one issue. Even James says faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). James said, “… be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Mathew records, “… then He shall reward every man according to his works” Matt. 16:27 and Titus says, “That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” Titus 3:8

    Of course we want to do the things God asks of us. I don’t think that diminishes grace at all. In fact I think the Bible is quite clear that we are to do good works. I think the only valid argument would be to ask what good works are. Is baptism a good work? Are temple ordinances good works? I think this would depend what brand of theology you subscribe to. However, I would hope that everyone would agree that we can’t be saved if we do evil works.

  13. Jay and Austin,

    I’m glad you both expressed your confusion on where Evangelicals stand on grace.

    We get hung up on the LDS concept of grace because it seems to suggest that something more than (or in addition to) the blood of Jesus can save us from our sin. We feel STRONGLY that nothing but Christ’s perfect sacrifice is sufficient. We also recognize that the word “grace” means an undeserved gift. If it’s an undeserved gift, that means there is nothing we can do to earn it.

    Yes! we absolutely believe in doing good works. No doubt about it. But we don’t believe those good works have anything to do with our salvation from sin. We believe that we do those good works in an effort to emulate Christ and in gratitude for what he has done for us. But we definitely DON’T do those good works as a way of working our way to heaven (lest any man boast). There indeed will be rewards for doing good works, but those rewards are different than salvation. When Paul says to “work out your own salvation” we read that as “think it through on your own.”

    Austin said:
    I think where LDS (speaking for myself) have problems with our non-lds friends is when the phrases “born again” or “confess Jesus and you’re saved” are used to denote someone who has simply come to the realization that Jesus did exist as the Christ and Savior of the world, and that person personalizes it, which is indeed a wonderful thing. But I wonder where the room is for error once that person has accepted Christ.

    We definitely have been in error. Not in our concept of grace but our focus on making converts rather than disciples. We have too often been satisfied with someone “praying the prayer” and that being enough because now we don’t have to worry about them burning in hell. There has been great abuse in this regard. [don’t worry about your “books” take as much space as you need to explain your thoughts]

  14. I just gave a talk last Sunday on, His Grace is sufficient for us. We as LDS’s believe that all people who have ever lived will be resurrection – it is a free gift from God – that is the first part of Grace! The second part of Grace has to do with the spiritual. There are references in the Bible that state that we are to have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end. Some people will take just one scripture and say that it says if you believe in Christ you will be saved. They take that to mean that you don’t have to do anything but believe and you don’t have to even be baptized. We must read all of the Bible to get the right meaning. Since no one is or ever has been perfect, except Christ, we can not be saved by our works. Grace is the only thing that saves us. We all deserve Hell. We still believe that if you truly have faith in Christ, you will follow his teachings and do what He has asked us to do. He knows our hearts and He knows if we are sincere. It says in the Bible that even the devil believes, but we know he isn’t saved. Also the Bible says that not every one who says Lord, Lord, will be saved, but he who does the will of my Father. He is our Savior. We can not save ourselves. His Grace is sufficient for us. God is fair and just. Just trust Him and as in “Black Beauty” “do your best and leave the rest and it will all come right some day.”

  15. It should probably be noted here that before President Gordon B. Hinckley died, he directed that “Amazing Grace” per performed at his burial. He said it was one of his favorite hymns.

    Who knows? Maybe it’ll be in our hymnal someday.

  16. Bruce R. McConkie – April 1985 Final words at his last General Conference address before he passed away days later :

    And as pertaining to this perfect atonement wrought by the shedding of the blood of GOD I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ I testify he is the Son Of The Living God, He is our LORD our God and our King this I know independant of any other person. And 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 I will wet his face with my tears, but I will not know any better then than I do now that he is GOD’s Almighty Son, he is our Savior and Redeemer and that Salvation comes in and through his Atoning blood and in no other way. God Grant that all of us meay walk in the light as GOD our Father is in the light, so as with the promisis, the blood of his Son will cleans us from all sin, In The name of the LOrd Jesus Christ amen.

    No other way than by Jesus Christs atoning Blood.

    In His Debt/Grace, OBIWAN, LDS JEDI KNIGHT.

  17. Kullervo yes it does have everthing to do with the subject that is being talked about. The Awesome Song Amazing Grace and its message was believed by LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie all his life. He finalized that belief in his final Testimony he gave to the world before his death [ Of which I shared only a potion of above] in April of 1985]. Way not to see that.

    In His Debt/Grace
    OBIWAN LDS JEDI KNIGHT

  18. Re the tune to ‘If You Could Hie to Kolob’, I have previously come across it as one of the tunes to Horatius Bonar’s hymn ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say’, which I find a beautiful hymn, especially when sung to this tune. The hymn tune is known as ‘Kingsfold’, and was arranged from the folk tune by the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Apparently it is used for several other hymns as well – perhaps the Catholic organist was playing one of these hymns rather than an LDS hymn which happens to share the same tune.

  19. Hello. I’m an inactive mormon who is evangelical at heart. I’m having a very hard time with Mormons and I have actually found myself really becoming bitter. I just want to say, after reading this, I think you’re all amazing. It touched my heart to see you all talking. It reminds me of Christs “love”. He wants me to love everyone! I’m trying to let go of the bitterness. It may be back later, but for the moment, it’s not. Thanks to everyone who is Mormon and to everyone who is not. It’s easy to see that you each are serving Christ the best way you know how. Amen!

  20. Hi Lori, I loved your comments. I am an active LDS and I applaud your trying to “let go of the bitterness.” There just isn’t enough love in the world today. We are all so divided. What was that song back in the 70’s? All the world needs now, is love, sweet love. Not just for one, but for everyone. I’m probably not getting it right. But you get the idea. Since I’m from the “old school” I’m trying to open up my mind to the concept of grace. I like the quote that was given here: “Ordinances are necessary but not sufficient”- indicating our reliance on the Savior. (Thanks, Austin)

  21. My parents are Mormons but we are not but when my Mom passed away I told the President of their church that I wanted Amazing Grace sang at her funeral because she loved that song and they took it out! Now what does that say? Explain! I am furious and the thing is my Mom had dementia when they joined that church and she had no idea that it was a Mormon church. She thought it was baptist. My stepdad knew but she didn’t. This is a big sore point with me and their were other things done that I was not happy about at her funeral. I am not a Mormon fan right now.

  22. Making way too much out of this. When my father passed away we sang two hymns NOT in the LDS hymnal. When my non LDS grandmother passed away she wanted a certain LDS hymn sung at her funeral, which we did. So what? This subject is not a big deal.

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