Like “True to the Faith?” You’ll Love these Hymns

Sheet music

Have you ever wondered who has contributed the most to our current LDS Hymn book? Do you love unique hymn covers? Or, have you ever been curious about some of our less frequently sung hymns? Wonder no more.

Evan Stephens has contributed 18 Hymns to our current Church hymnal. He lived from 1854-1930. As a child he had a great desire to learn and perform music. He also spent 26 years as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Director. Stephens grew the choir to 300 members, created the current tiered and curved seating arrangement, and was conducting when the Choir was first successfully recorded.

At we have compiled a list of his songs being sung by a variety of groups and individuals. Some are new renditions while others are completely instrumental. We searched long and hard to find even the infrequently sung hymns.

Enjoy the hymns from “The Father of Mormon Music.”

Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake! (#17)

Eliza R. Snow created a beautiful poem about faith, preparedness, and Zion. Stephens must have been moved by its simple reminder that “present fears and afflictions must be viewed in the perspective of the Lord’s eternal purpose.”

Stephens composed “Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake!” to be sung vigorously. He wanted us to sing with strength, effort, and energy. As we sing these lyrics, they are to mean something to us. He wanted us to put our whole being into joining our will with God.

This rendition was published on Youtube in November 2014 by the BYU Singers.

Father, Thy Children to Thee Now Raise (#91)

Stephens created Hymn #91 to focus our worship on Heavenly Father through gratitude and praise of His knowledge and wisdom. Stephens wrote this hymn to be an “outpouring of joyful, heartfelt praise for our blessings.”

Stephens had the youth and their enthusiastic commitment in mind as he wrote the hymn lyrics and music. This is shown in each verse. In the first verse he talks about raising up the Lord’s children to be watched and cared for by the Lord.

In the second verse he asked the Lord to “forgive the folly and faults of youth.” Stephens loved the youth and knew that they make mistakes. He specifically included a prayer to the Lord for the youth in this hymn.

This YouTube version is designed for listeners to sing along. The original words are displayed as the music is played.

For the Strength of the Hills (#35)

Felicia D. Hemans wrote the lyrics for this gospel hymn. These church lyrics focus on nature, gratitude, and pioneers. Stephens was initially attracted to these lyrics because of the time he spent in the hills of Wales in the first 12 years of his life.

Stephens had a great love for nature and was naturally drawn to Hemans’ poem. He likened the hills in this poem to the Rocky Mountains where he spent much of his adulthood. Stephens’ energetic composition pays homage to the beauty of nature and to nature’s creator, our Lord.

On April 2011 this priesthood choir sang Stephens song at General Conference.

In Remembrance of Thy Suffering (#183)

In Remembrance of Thy Suffering is one of the six hymns in our current hymnbook that Stephens both wrote and composed. This hymn is difficult to sing because of the many triplets involved. Despite that, this hymn was added to the congregational use Hymn Book in 1985.

The compilers must have had a reason for including a difficult hymn for general congregation use. Hymn #183 specifically discusses why we partake of the sacrament and what we promise during the sacrament. These are essential themes to transmit to the congregation. The message of this hymn shows why it was added to the hymnbook despite its difficulty.

In this video we have the piano’s part to a choral arrangement of the song.

Lean on My Ample Arm (#120)

Theodore E Curtis wrote the hymn lyrics and focused on a few specific themes: comfort, peace, and trials.

Perhaps Stephens capitalized on the fact that this church hymn is sung from the point of view of the Savior. Our Savior calls upon the “suffering and the unfortunate to seek solace in him.” Stephens must have been envisioning Christ entreating us to come to Him for comfort and peace through our difficult trials.

This unique perspective draws much potential interpretation to the hymn. In a FHE setting it would be perfect to comfort family members who are experiencing much difficulty.

In this rendition, the couple chose to go a capella style with this less well known church hymn.

Let Us All Press On (#243)

Let Us All Press On was the first hymn Stephens published in the Church hymnal. Stephens wanted to create a “vision of a mighty army, with its connotations of courage, loyalty, bravery, and glory.”

This is another hymn that is perfect for the youth of the church. Stephens spent much time teaching the youth. It is easy to envision him composing this song as a means of encouragement to the youth.

This great rendition was created for an EFY group in 2010. Stephens’ gospel hymn fits perfectly with their theme “Courage to Stand Strong”.

Lo, the Mighty God Appearing! (#55)

William Goode wrote the hymn lyrics and focused on Jesus Christ, resurrection, and the Second Coming. This hymn is another one of Stephens’ compositions that was meant for a choir but was added to the hymnbook. When it was added it was also transposed to a lower key to accommodate the congregation.

Stephens could have chosen to turn this poem into a song, because the hymn lyrics are paraphrased verses from the Old Testament. You can specifically see their resemblance to Psalm 50. It speaks of the Second Coming and how the righteous will sacrifice much but see the salvation of God.

These vital lyrics were preserved by Stephens’ composition and the Church’s decision to include the gospel hymn in the Church hymnbook.

The Mormon Tabernacle sang this church hymn at the 2014 October General Conference. Portentous?

O Home Beloved (Men’s Choir) (#337)

Stephens is usually the composer of church hymns, but in this case, he wrote the text, and Joseph Parry created the music. Stephens always felt passionately about home and nature which is what this hymn is about.

Because of this hymn’s lyrical message, it is not a typical church hymn. Instead, “it is an expression of nostalgia” for the home. It is still a gospel hymn worthy of praise because of its positive message of home.

The lyrics speak of home being more sacred and more special then any other place. Nothing can compare to the simple trappings of home. The deep and personal way that Stephens felt about both home and nature resonate in this hymn.

The BYU Choir sang this church song in 2012.

Our Mountain Home So Dear (#33)


Emmeline B. Wells worked with Stephens to set her love poem to music. This little known hymn focuses on home and nature. Stephens would have been drawn to this poem because of its theme and the way it lovingly expresses the beauty of nature and God’s power in creating nature.

“The first two verses are a tribute to the natural beauty of the valleys and mountains of Utah… The third and fourth verses pay tribute to God as designer and giver of these splendid scenes.”

A great time to sing this song would be before or after a lesson on the pioneers. They traveled many miles to look upon the Utah valley and finally enjoy the “verdant hills” and the “fragrance on the air.”

Instead of a video, this audio includes music and words by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Praise Ye the Lord (#74)


Isaac Watts wrote the hymn lyrics for Hymn #74. This church hymn is almost an exact copy of Psalm 146. It was designed to depart as infrequently as possible from the original scripture. Stephens was so moved by the poem written by Watts that he set it to music.

This hymn is literally a praise to the Lord. The lyrics renounce man as dust and sing praises to God for all aspects of life. Stephens created the hymn to sing jubilations to God and all he has done for us. Singing this church hymn is praise of God.

We were unable to find a single video of this church song. Instead we have added an audio recording of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this gospel hymn.

Raise Your Voices to the Lord (#61)

“Raise Your Voice to the Lord” is another piece created solely by Stephens. He wanted this hymn to bring the congregation together in praise of the Lord. His focus on gratitude and praise is a perfect way to close a meeting.

“Shout Thanksgiving!” is the hymn’s central theme. Stephens asks us to have a thankful heart as we close each meeting in praise of our Lord.

This fully instrumental piece captures the feel of Stephens music.

See, the Mighty Angel Flying (Men’s Choir) (#330)

Robert B. Thompson crafted the hymn lyrics to resound with missionary work and the restoration of the gospel. Stephens felt that these words would be sung perfectly by a men’s choir and thus created the music for men’s voices.

Stephens created the composition so that the men could request of us specific actions each of us must take. First “see the angel.” Second “hear his message.” Third “make the Lord of hosts your friend.” These are the steps for learning and accepting the gospel.

The Brigham City Priesthood Choir sang this church hymn and uploaded it to YouTube.

The Voice of God Again Is Heard (#18)

Stephens wrote and composed this gospel hymn to incorporate SATB voices. His lyrics send the message of joy in missionary work and the restoration of the gospel. He created this church hymn to sing “joyful gratitude for the privilege of being part of [the] restoration.”

His lyrics are perfect for missionaries and all who want to spread the gospel. The first verse discusses how God has begun to speak again. The second exhorts us to take the great news to all the world.

In this rendition, each part of the choir is incorporated to share all aspects of the music.

Today, While the Sun Shines (#229)

“Today, While the Sun Shines” is another hymn where Stephens was the composer. L. Clark wrote the hymn lyrics to resound with the importance of duty, preparedness, and self-improvement.

“This church hymn strengthens our determination to make use of the present moment” and to “use our time to good advantage.” There have also been two changes to the text of the hymn since it has been added to the Hymn Book.

“There is no tomorrow, but only today” was changed to “prepare for tomorrow by working today.” “Choose the good part” was changed to “choose the better part.”

Why do you think these slight changes took place? What has been lost from Stephens’ and Clark’s original meaning?

The rendition we found is by A BYU student who arranged his own version of this gospel hymn.

True to the Faith (#254)

The multiple messages all directed at the youth in this Church hymn could easily peg it as Stephens favorite. He wrote “True to the Faith” to be “spiritual advice” to the youth. This is clear by the themes he has included: chastity, commitment, honesty, and worthiness.

How wonderful to have a song specifically designed to strengthen the youth. The rising generation always have a big burden to carry. This song is perfect for buoying up the youth and reminding the youth why they shall not falter.

This is a unique rendition, with the music changed but keeping to the original text.

We Ever Pray for Thee (#23)(#312)

Stephens adapted H. A. Tukett’s original music when he added the hymn lyrics. He specifically created this hymn to be sung by the sweet and tender voices of young women.  He asked two young girls to sing this song for the first time in honor of President Woodruff.

The entire feel of the song creates a “mood of solemn wonder” and reflects “the adoration of a child for a beloved prophet.” Stephens’ love for children shines through in the mood of this hymn. We should all be as little children when adoring the prophet.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang this church song for last year’s October General Conference.

What Was Witnessed in the Heavens? (#11)

John S. Davis created the hymn lyrics to teach “the true gospel of former days was taken from the earth but now is restored.” Stephens chose to utilize the unique question answer format in his composition.

First a question is asked by the men. Then the whole congregation respond with the answer. This composition places emphasis on the answer by having the whole group join in joyful song.

Learning exactly why the gospel was taken from the world and why it has been restored is done more easily by the emphasis on the question and answer format. Stephens clearly knew the power of music and its subtleties in displaying true meaning.

For this rendition, a full choir sings this church song, keeping close to the original.

Ye Simple Souls Who Stray (#118)

Charles Wesley created the hymn lyrics to center on the Holy Ghost. This particular hymn speaks about those who stray from the blessings associated with living the gospel. The righteous are “dismayed by the simple souls who stray” from the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Stephens united the words and music to become a clarion call to those who have lost their way. He has developed a perfect invitation to return to the gospel and return to God. This gospel hymn is also an excellent reminder of why we all should be missionaries to those around us.

In this last audio recording, the lyrics and composition clearly create a wonderful harmony of voices and instruments working together.

What do you think of these renditions of Stephens’ original hymns? Has this list given you new insight into some of our lesser sung hymns? What about the ones we sing frequently?

Charity graduated from BYU-I with a Bachelor's Degree in English. She has been married for two years and has a beautiful baby girl. She is fascinated by the topics of parenting, marriage, Christ, finances, literature, and all things religion. Charity is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is constantly working on improving Christ-like attributes.