Sacred Music Sunday: Upon the Cross of Calvary

wooden cross, Jesus, symbol

I used to collect hymnals, but I lost my collection in an apartment flood in 2016 and I’ve never gotten around to replacing it. It’s interesting to me to see the similarities and differences across time and across denominations. I also tried my hand at editing my own hymnal based on the current LDS hymnal.

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that singing is a form of prayer, and I wanted my prayers to reflect my own thoughts and feelings. I went through the entire book making minor stylistic edits, such as making language gender-inclusive. I had grand plans of printing and binding a handful of copies and using them in family home evening someday, but I ended up as a family of one, so the file sits on my laptop instead.

I’ll still sing my version from time to time at church if it’s a hymn where the edits are minor instead of having to do a rewrite of a whole line. If anybody notices (and I’m sure they do; I’m a classically trained operatic soprano, so I don’t exactly blend in when the congregation sings), they haven’t said anything. It’s basic stuff like “peace on earth, goodwill to all” instead of “goodwill to men”.

I like the hymn Upon the Cross of Calvary, but it’s one that gets the neutral treatment. In the second verse, I sing “for humankind to see”[1], and in the third verse, I sing “to all the souls of earth”[2].

[1] The text of the hymn says “all mankind”.
[2] The text of the hymn says “to all the sons of earth”. The atonement is for all creation of every species, not just male humans, so my version is more theologically correct on multiple fronts.


Trudy is a legal professional living in the southwestern US. She has three cats who allow her to live in their house in exchange for a steady supply of food and treats.

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5 Responses

  1. Sean McKee says:

    Nice touch.

    Do you have any original hymn compositions in the works?

  2. Holly says:

    Good for you! Would you consider sharing your file? I’m at

  3. Bailey says:

    I love the photo on the post! There is something about the green trees and detail of the wooden cross that speaks to me. I really like the idea of songs as prayers and making them reflect our own thoughts. I recently started making swaps such as the ones you listed – it makes such a difference! I don’t exactly blend in either but for an opposite reason that I can’t sing 🙂

  4. Katie Rich says:

    Changing the nouns and pronouns to be more inclusive can be so powerful!

  5. Elizabeth Ellis says:

    As a choir director I have changed words to be gender inclusive too. No one has commented but I have seen some older men get a funny look on their faces.

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