SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church leaders are asking Mormons to submit original songs for the first overhaul of the faith's hymnbooks in 30 years, according to a news release issued Monday.
The major revisions of "Hymns" and the "Children's Songbook," led by official committees, will eliminate national anthems and better reflect the global membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, leaders said.
The project is expected to take several years.
"When the revisions are complete, there will be one hymnbook and one children’s songbook, offering the same hymns and songs in all languages," said a letter sent by the Priesthood and Family Department to general authorities and local leaders around the world. "The new collections will be created over the next several years to reflect the needs of members around the world."
Each person can submit up to five hymns and five children’s songs by July 1, 2019. Anyone can provide feedback about current music through an online survey at newmusic.lds.org.
Anyone can provide suggestions. For example, some members might suggest the return of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," a hymn left out of the last hymnbook but still regularly performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and BYU choirs.
Leaders said the goal of the project is unity.
"We recognize the power that sacred music has to unify the members of the church throughout the world," Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in a prepared statement. "We desire to offer a consistent core collection of hymns and songs in every language that reflects the diverse needs of the global church in our day."
The new books will be translated into multiple languages and used in the faith's 30,500 congregations in more than 170 countries. The committees, made up of church employees and members called to participate because of expertise in music, education, literature, world cultures and church doctrine, will select core hymns and songs that teach LDS doctrines.
"The language of music is universal," said Elder Erich W. Kopischke, a General Authority Seventy from Germany. "Even if we come from different cultures and speak different languages, singing together brings the same spirit to everybody."
Additional hymns and songs applicable to specific languages and areas will also be made available to members through digital channels.
The printed hymnbooks will not include national anthems, the church release said, because the new "Hymns" and new "Children's Songbook" will be the same in every language.
Emma Smith compiled the first LDS hymnbook in 1835, followed in 1840 by the Manchester Hymnal, a European collection of hymns. The church published a hymnbook with music added to the text for the first time in 1889, with the "Latter-day Saints' Psalmody."
A churchwide hymn contest contributed to "Latter-day Saint Hymns," published in 1927. "Hymns" was first published in 1948 with 387 hymns and revised in 1950. The book was overhauled in the early 1980s, appearing in 1985 with 341 hymns, including 92 new songs, including 44 new LDS compositions. It is now published in 38 languages.
The first children's songbook appeared in 1880. The "Children's Songbook" was published in 1989.
A composer or author will need to create a profile using his or her LDS Account to submit music or lyrics. Anyone — member or nonmember — may obtain an LDS Account free of charge at ldsaccount.lds.org.
"Perhaps the most meaningful hymns and songs of the Restoration have not yet been written," said Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy. "We encourage our talented members to prayerfully consider what they might add to the body of music already known and loved by the church."