Kirtland Temple
A National Historic Landmark

Hymn Resources

We invite you to organize an Emma Hymn Festival in your Congregation!

Download the Emma Hymns Community of Christ Edition Materials as a PDF File

Download the Emma Hymna LDS Edition Materials as a PDF File

Emma Hymn Festivals

By David Bolton

The Reorganization “is the story of the faith, courage, and tenacity of Emma Smith,” says Prophet-President Stephen M. Veazey, "Without her we would not be here."(1) In celebration of Emma’s life, leadership, and the hymnals she compiled the John Whitmer Historical Association is hosting a hymn festival in her honor on the morning of Sunday, September 27, at the Graceland University campus in Independence, Missouri. A similar event takes place every year at the Kirtland Temple in Ohio and we invite congregations to host a hymn festival in their local church.

indent A revelation in July 1830 instructs Emma "to make a selection of sacred hymns...which is pleasing unto me...for my soul delighteth in the song of the heart" (D&C 24:3b). Emma takes this instruction seriously and compiles the first hymnal for the church in Kirtland, Ohio, 1835. She later works on a second hymnal in Nauvoo, Illinois, 1841 and compiles the first hymn of the Reorganization in 1861.

indent Sarah Crowley and I organized the first annual Emma hymn festival in Kirtland for July 10, 2004 on the 200th anniversary of Emma’s birthday. Sarah describes the hymn festival as "a great opportunity to celebrate the church and the contributions of the early years to our song history." Recalling the effort necessary to research the hymns, write them up, and produce the hymn booklet for the festival Sarah relates "It was a first-hand experience of what Emma would have done to compile the hymnal, except her hymnal had 90 hymns and she had additional responsibilities as wife of the prophet and as a 19th century woman."

indent The Emma hymn festival usually lasts a little over an hour and combines readings about significant events in Emma’s life and includes hymns from her lifetime and from her hymnals. The original intention of the festival was to allow various Latter Day Saint denominations to participate and celebrate a prominent figure in our shared history. Some of the hymns are still found in the Community of Christ hymnal, some are found in the LDS or Restorationist hymnals, others are no longer familiar to any group.

indent The Emma hymn festival has been a popular event at the Kirtland Temple reaching our capacity of 300 people each time. We invite you to join us in Independence, Kirtland, or your own congregation.

(1) Stephen M. Veazey, "A Defining Moment," (5 April 2009).

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