The Best Hymns to Sing on Mothers' Day

Posted by on May 17, 2007 in Mormon women, motherhood, music | 27 comments

This last Sunday for Mothers’ Day, my ward sang one fantastic hymn (“O My Father”) and one hymn I didn’t particularly care for (“Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth”).

So, in my mind, I’m envisioning my ideal Mothers’ Day sacrament meeting. And the hymns I would choose – hymns that empower women, mention women, speak to mothers’ concerns, etc. – are the following. My personal preference is to avoid hymns that promote ideals of female domesticity.

My favorite Mothers’ Day hymns:
1. O My Father because not only does it mention Heavenly Mother, but also it actually addresses both Her and the Father. This is personally very meaningful and touching to me. IMO, this is far and away the best hymn to sing on Mothers’ Day.

2. All Creatures of our God and King. Because the last verse is directed towards “Mother Earth.” I love, love, love that, as well as all the other verses that express such a joy in and appreciation for nature.

3. Where Can I Turn for Peace? Because of its context. Emma Lou Thayne wrote this hymn as she was watching her daughter struggle with anorexia. It’s very much a mothers’ outpouring of concern for a strugggling child.

In your ideal Mothers’ Day sacrament meeting, what hymns would you like to hear?

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27 Comments

  1. For the Beauty of the Earth is my favorite hymn — and this verse rocks the house over “roses bloom beneath our feet” (I just can’t sing those words without cracking up):

    For the joy of human love,
    brother, sister, parent, child,
    friends on earth and friends above,
    for all gentle thoughts and mild;
    Lord of all, to thee we raise
    this our hymn of grateful praise.

    • I really liked that one too :)

  2. “In Humility Our Savior” for the Sacrament Song.

    “Lord, I would Follow Thee.”

    and “Each Life that Touches Ours for Good.”

    But mostly because those are some of my favorite hymns. Great lyrics (hooray for a logical progression of thought between verses!), lovely harmony all the way through (as opposed to a one-note alto.). I just want good hymns on Mother’s Day, that’s all I ask.

    Also, in my ideal Mother’s Day meeting, I would get to talk. I have ALWAYS wanted to speak on Mother’s Day. I have so much to say about it. This year my DH was put in the bishopric, and he was conducting on Mother’s Day, and could have chosen me to speak, but since I just barely talked in church two months ago, I was not on his list of candidates. Sigh.

    The people he picked to speak did a pretty good job. And we got to sing “O My Father.” And the Primary kids were cute. And they didn’t pass out geraniums. So overall, good day.

  3. “Sing Praise to Him” has this line, which I love: “as with a mother’s tender hand, he leads his own, his chosen band…” and “Now Thank We all Our God” also equates God’s care to a mother’s “…who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way, with countless gifts of love…”

  4. I loathe “Oh My Father.” To each her own.

  5. Great suggestions! These are awesome. During the next dull Sac meeting, I’ll be pulling the hymn book out and looking at these hymns. I had never picked up on the woman-friendliness of a lot of the ones you guys just mentioned.

    Ann, why do you loathe O My Father? I personally am not all that hot on the tune, but the words make it great for me.

  6. “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me” likens Christ’s miraculous power to that of a mother who can quiet her child.

  7. I don’t “loathe” it, but it’s amusing to me that our classic example of a hymn to/about HM gives her only brief mention and is titled “oh my FATHER”. yeah, we’re just SO progressive. :)

  8. I’m not a fan of ERS. I think her rhymes are pretentious and her poetry overly sentimental.

  9. The episcopal church where I play the organ has the tradition of singing Faith of Our Mothers. Kind of gimmicky, I know.

    The slightly more gentle text, that eschews dragon, fire and sword, is by A. B. Patten:

    Faith of our mothers, living still
    In cradle song and bedtime prayer;
    In nursery lore and fireside love,
    Thy presence still pervades the air:
    Faith of our mothers, living faith!
    We will be true to thee to death.

    Faith of our mothers, loving faith,
    Fount of our childhood’s trust and grace,
    Oh, may thy consercration prove
    Source of a finer, nobler race:
    Faith of our mothers, living faith,
    We will be true to thee till death.

    Faith of our mothers, guiding faith,
    For youthful longing, youthful doubt,
    How blurred our vision, blind our way,
    Thy providential care without:
    Faith of our mothers, guiding faith,
    We will be true to thee till death.

    Faith of our mothers, Christian faith,
    Is truth beyond our stumbling creeds,
    Still serve the home and save the Church,
    And breathe thy spirit through our deeds:
    Faith of our mothers, Christian faith!
    We will be true to thee till death.

    Incidentally, the second verse of the original hymn has been left out of the LDS hymnbook (84):

    Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
    Were still in heart and conscience free:
    How sweet would be their children’s fate.
    If they, like them, could die for thee!
    Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
    We will be true to thee till death.

  10. By the way, I realize that last hymn might not fulfill your desire to avoid hymns celebrating female domesticity. Here’s one you may prefer, inspired by the Mother-God theology of the 14th Century English Roman Catholic anchorite nun Julian of Norwich:

    Motherhood, sublime, eternal, lives in God’s great heart of Love;
    Ever holds us, safe enfolds us, underneath, around, above;
    Patient, tender, kind, forgiving, though in devious paths we roam;
    Gently chides us, ever guides us, and all-loving, leads us home.

    Ev’ry wrong will sure be righted; ev’ry evil swept away;
    Truth upspringing, justice bringing, ushers in the brighter day;
    Mother calls her earthly children, loves them, lifts them when they fall;
    Striving, calling, fainting, falling, Motherlove enfolds them all.

    God is love, and love forever in the motherheart is blest;
    Lives the longest, lifts the strongest, far outreaching all the rest;
    Not by might, and not by wisdom comes our lifting from the sod:
    Love’s pure glory tells the story in the Motherheart of God.

    text by J. S. Cutler

  11. The third verse of that forgotten hymn, Sons of Michael, He Approaches (51), might be fun for a Mother’s Day :)

    3. Mother of our generations,
    Glorious by great Michael’s side,
    Take thy children’s adoration;
    Endless with thy seed abide.
    Lo! to greet thee now advance
    Thousands in the glorious dance!

  12. Bill, wow. Thanks for contributing those hymns. I particularly love that hymn by the nun Julian. That line about the motherheart of God is fantastic. It also may answer a question I had asked before – where on earth did this phrase “mother heart” come from that we hear so often now in Sacrament meetings. Perhaps the woman who gave the GC talk had read some Julian of Norwich.

    Bill, you’re LDS but play the organ for an episcopal church? What a neat job.

  13. I know this is an old post, but I’m enjoying reading it as we creep up on Mother’s day again. I really like the hymn (not in our book) How long, dear Savior (Northfield) by Jeremiah Ingalls (tune) and Isaac Watts (words). The original has no mention of women, but our local group changes the words of the last verse to

    Her own soft hand shall wipe the tears
    From every weeping eye;
    And pains and groans and griefs and fears
    And death itself shall die.

    It just always made sense to me that it would be Heavenly Mom wiping the tears.

  14. Thank you Bill for wonderful lyrics for Mother’s Day! I am a choir director of a United Methodist Church, and can tell you it is very difficult to find hymns for that day. I’m going to use the text with the Austrian hymn. I’m also planning to use “Faith of Our Mothers” (sung to the tune “Faith of Our Fathers” and “Mothers Love” ( sung to the tune “Sweet Hour of Prayer”). I had done this a couple of years ago, didn’t do it last year, and one of the ladies in the congregation asked me why didn’t we sing any Mother’s Day hymns, so I’m going to do them again this year.

  15. Probably too late to be of help this year, but maybe some of you might like it for 2015.

    Giving thanks to Mothers (tune Hymn to Joy) by Rev. Rebecca Kelly 2006

    Lord, we thank you for the mothers
    By whose faith we come to Thee;
    Who reflect Your grace and mercy
    In their faces, You, we see.
    Honor mothers, God commands us,
    Show respect and loving care,
    Instruments You made to guide us
    Mothers who Christ’s love doth share.

    Through the ages, leading forward
    Moms who serve to glorify.
    Eve’s firstborn starts all the races,
    Child in pain sparks Hagar’s cry.
    Hannah’s prayers and Mary’s song
    Tell acceptance of God’s will.
    King of grace and peace and patience
    These the lessons mothers tell.

    Lord, we thank you for the mothers
    Who have brought us forth on earth.
    Giving life that we may worship
    Savior born of Virgin birth.
    All created by Holy Maker
    Workmanship beyond compare
    For the gift of moms, we thank Thee
    Praise to You, we do declare.

    O God of All Creation (tune Angel’s Story or Nyland)

    O God of all Creation on whom our world depends,
    To you let praise be given for families and friends;
    For fathers, sisters, brothers, a home where love belongs,
    But on this day for mothers we bring our thankful songs.

    What wealth of God’s bestowing for all the world to share!
    What strength of heart outgoing to children everywhere!
    From ones whose acts of mothering help children every day
    The teachers, aunts, and nurturers who guide them on their way.

    How well we know the story that tells of Jesus’ birth,
    The Lord of heaven’s glory become a child of earth;
    A helpless infant sleeping, yet King of realms above,
    To find in Mary’s keeping the warmth of human love.

    O God of all Creation, to you we lift our prayer,
    That every child be given such tenderness and care,
    Where life is all for others, where love your love displays:
    For God’s gift of good mothers let earth unite in praise!

  16. Thank you, EC, for those 2 wonderful hymn texts!

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