REXBURG, Idaho — "Lift up your voice and sing! Just start a glad song, let it float, let it ring," audiences sang Feb. 9 to inaugurate an annual Hymn Festival at BYU-Idaho.
Daniel Kerr, director of organ studies in the Music Department, sponsored the event in the Barrus Concert Hall with the intent to showcase original hymns composed by teachers, students and local community members.
"I didn't have any idea how big it would get," Brother Kerr said. He was pleased with attendance and the 50-plus hymn submissions received. Composers and hymns came from many circumstances and backgrounds.
Rob Eaton, a religion professor at BYU-I and composer, was inspired to write the hymn "We Meet Today with Heavy Hearts" when he learned a young teenager in his ward had died from a car accident. "I couldn't find a hymn in the hymnbook that expressed the grief we were feeling or the comfort the Savior had to offer. Under those circumstances, the words for the hymn seemed to come to me very quickly," Brother Eaton said.
He wrote another hymn, "A Temple on a Hill," with the Rexburg Idaho Temple, now under construction, in mind. The song was based upon how he imagined he would feel during the temple dedication.
Nels Daily, a senior from Livermore, Calif., who composed the hymn "The Final Call," said the quality of the performances was excellent as well as the quantity. "(The hymns) had a lot of mature sounds," he said. He also emphasized his love for Church music and learning.