Listen to feminist women at church! Sing one of these official LDS hymns by feminist lyricists.

Carol Lynn Pearson

Carol Lynn Pearson

Carol Lynn Pearson is an advocate for LGBTQ rights (see her book Goodbye, I Love You) and feminist theology (see her book, The Ghost of Eternal Polygamy) and a regular contributor to Exponent II. (Her poem, A Fascinating Study in Highs and Lows, was published in its first volume.) In harmony with her other work, her children’s song, I’ll walk with you, has a message of inclusion.

I’ll Walk with You, Children’s Songbook pg 140.


Emma Lou Thayne

Emma Lou Thayne

Emma Lou Thayne had a recurring column at the Exponent II and was a mentor for younger feminists in the Exponent II organization. She wrote the hymn, Where can I turn for peace?, as part of her service on the Young Women General Board of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The lyrics were inspired by her own experiences supporting her daughter with mental illness and coping with an emergency that temporarily disrupted her career as a university professor. (Emma Lou and her daughter Becky wrote about those struggles in their book, Hope and Recovery.)


Where Can I Turn for Peace? Hymnal #129


Ruth May Fox

Ruth May Fox

Ruth May Fox was a suffragist who helped craft the wording guaranteeing votes for women in the Utah state constitution. It’s no wonder her hymn, Carry On, has the sound of a suffragette anthem. It was originally written for the youth of the church while she was serving as president of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association (the equivalent of modern general Young Women President).

Carry On, Hymnal #255


Ellis Shipp

 

Ellis Reynolds Shipp

Ellis Shipp was one of the first credentialed female medical doctors to set up practice west of the Mississippi. She founded a school of obstetrics for women where she trained 500 other women to be healthcare providers. Her role as a healer is reflected in the lyrics of her hymn, Father, cheer our souls tonight.

 

Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight, Hymnal 231


Emmeline B. Wells

Emmeline B. Wells

Emmeline B. Wells was editor of the nineteenth century feminist newspaper, the Exponent, for which Exponent II is named. She was a suffrage movement leader, working with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony,  and president of the Relief Society, where she led relief efforts following disasters such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Our Mountain Home So Dear, Hymnal #33

 


Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow was a powerful spiritual leader with the titles of “prophetess” and “priestess.” She was also known as “Zion’s poetess” and is the author of many hymns. Her hymn, O My Father (which was previously  called by the less patriarchal title, Invocation, or The Eternal Father and Mother), is the only hymn in the current  hymnal that celebrates Heavenly Mother. (Let’s hope there will be more in the upcoming new hymnal.) While that may be our most feminist hymn, I chose to include a video of another hymn by Snow, In Our Lovely Deseret, because of its popularity outside the United States. (A more multicultural hymnal is one of the stated goals of LDS church officials revising the hymnal, so I hope that future renditions of this list will include feminist lyricists of a wider variety of ethnicities, races and nationalities.)

Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake! Hymnal #17

Great Is the Lord, Hymnal #77

Though Deepening Trials, Hymnal #122

Again We Meet around the Board, Hymnal #186

Behold the Great Redeemer Die, Hymnal #191

How Great the Wisdom and the Love, Hymnal #195

The Time Is Far Spent, Hymnal #266

Truth Reflects upon Our Senses, Hymnal #273

O My Father, Hymnal #292

In Our Lovely Deseret, Hymnal #307


Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe’s Civil War anthem,  Battle Hymn of the Republic, is included in the hymnals of many faith communities, including the LDS Church. Writing the hymn made Howe famous, providing her with a platform to promote the causes important to her, such as feminism and⁠—ironically for a woman best known for writing a song called Battle Hymn⁠—pacifism. (I wrote about Julia Ward Howe’s feminist awakening and her experience writing this hymn in my book, Ask a Suffragist, Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists. Get the audiobook to hear me sing the original lyrics!)

Battle Hymn of the Republic, Hymnal #60

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at aprilyoungb.com.

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4 Responses

  1. Andrew R. says:

    April,

    Thank you for compiling this. It is always nice to know about those who have provided us with either stirring tunes or thought provoking and action making words, or both.

    We’ve been practising “I’ll walk with you” in Primary for this year’s presentation.

    Although I have played them, because I’ve played all the hymns, I genuinely don’t remember ever singing “Father, Cheer Our Souls Tonight” or “Our Mountain Home So Dear”. Probably for good reason. We have sacrament meeting at 9am and we are in the UK – no where near mountains. So they are not really relevant to us. Good hymns though.

    All of the above are.

  2. Elizabeth Ellis says:

    Hymn 286, Oh What Songs of the Heart, references our heavenly parents in the third verse. It was written by a man: Joseph L. Townsend so wouldn’t fit into this list. However it’s nice to know that there’s one other hymn that implies heavenly mother. We don’t sing it often but my husband said that they used to sing it in Japan back in the 70’s.

  3. Descent says:

    This is the first time i’ve heard Ellis Ship’s hymn and I love it! As a midwife, she would have often found herself up at night turning to prayer while attending a birth. I have often yearned for a hymn of comfort and hope suitable for a birth and this might be it. Thank you for this post.

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