Dear 100 Hour Board,
I have bought a book of hymn arrangements for voice and included in it was "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Every time I sing it my voice teacher rants about how she does not understand why it was taken out of the hymn book. It is a really beautiful hymn and I don't see anything doctrinally confounding (at least in the arrangement I have). Could you explain why it was taken out?
--a curious voice student
Dear Curious Singing George,
That's the question. That's the question everybody asks when they hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the BYU choirs or the particularly stalwart ward choirs sing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Why remove such a beautiful piece from the canon?
I haven't found any explicit answers for you. But I did find a beautiful article about the creation of the new hymnbook. You can find it on www.lds.org. It's bibliographic information is:
Author: Kathleen Lubeck
Title: "The New Hymnbook: The Saints Are Singing!"
Source: Ensign, Sept. 1985, 7
I will, though, quote to you the excerpts I think are most relevant to your question (though the rest of the article really is interesting, informative, and worth reading):
"An estimated six thousand hymns had been submitted in recent years by members of the Church, and each was considered for inclusion in the new book. During the selection process, all names were taken off the texts and music submitted so they would be evaluated on their own merits, not on the credentials of those who submitted them.
"We had to feel strongly that each piece of music would do a great deal of good, that it would be loved, and that it would be of high enough quality that a member's spirit could be touched," added committee member Bonnie Goodliffe. "We wanted hymns that would touch our hearts in a Sabbath setting and stay with us during the week, too."
As a result, during the selection process the committee members looked at the hymns' potential, rather than disqualifying them for errors in form or mechanics. "If we felt approval from the Spirit, we worked with the hymn, in consultation with the originator, until we felt it was right," said Marvin K. Gardner, committee member. "As we reviewed each new hymn, we prayed to know if it was pleasing to the Lord, and if it would bless the lives of Church members. I'll never forget the many times I had the unmistakable feeling that the Spirit was indeed pleased with particular hymns and that I could without any reservation recommend that we use them. Each committee member felt that Spirit often."
Selecting the relatively few hymns that would finally be added to the book was a challenge. "I would compare it to buying a house," said Sister Goodliffe, "There are other factors involved in choosing, besides just the house itself. It has to be right for the family, in the appropriate price range, in a suitable location; it's not enough that you like it. Selecting these hymns was similar. There were more factors involved than I had dreamed of. And there were many wonderful hymns we couldn't use."
From the numerous hymns submitted, about two hundred were gleaned for final review and field testing. "We invited hundreds of people in various groups representing a broad cross section of Church membership to listen to these hymns, and they indicated which ones they felt were most effective," said Elder Pinnock. "The selection of hymns for the book was based on this field response to hymns proposed by the committee."
Just as some hymns have been added to the book, some have also been deleted. "Through the years a number of hymns have only rarely been sung," said Elder Pinnock. "Wanting to keep the book to a reasonable size, and needing to add new hymns, we felt it would be wise to remove some of the little-used hymns." Members may want to keep their old hymnbooks as a treasure, Brother Moody suggested, and continue to sing the hymns they love that may not appear in the new book."
It seems that "Come, Thou Fount" didn't make the cut. But, as Brother Moody suggests, we can/should continue singing "the hymns [we] love." You might even see it appear in the next edition of the hymn book.