The Best Hymns to Sing on Mothers' Day

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?


Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.

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47 Responses

  1. Deborah says:

    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.

  2. Emily M. says:

    “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. Kristine says:

    “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. Ann says:

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

  5. Caroline says:

    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. a spectator says:

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

  7. cchrissyy says:

    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. Ann says:

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

  9. Bill says:

    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. Bill says:

    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

    • Rebecca Graves says:

      That is lovely! I am looking for song such as this for a Mother’s Day service that I am leading. There are so few hymns appropriate to what I am talking about. What tune is this sung to?

      • Dan says:

        I like “In Babilone” for this text. The climax of the tune coincides with “loves them, lifts them” and “comes our lifting” … and for me at least, the tune has about it a general comforting quality that just seems to fit. I have combined tune and text into a PDF file and would be happy to share it if you like.

      • Rebecca Graves says:

        That would be lovely. Don’t know that tune by name. I had paired it with Hyfrydol, a tune we know in our church, but am open to a better one.

      • Rob says:

        I just found this too. I’m looking at using it with Austrian Hymn? I hadn’t considered Hyfrydol. I’ll have to think about that one too…

    • Dan says:

      I know it’s years since you posted this, but I was searching for a fitting and tasteful text to incorporate in the music on Mothers’ Day (at the Episcopal church where I am organist-choirmaster and always looking for ways to include children and parents/guardians), and I happened to find this comment thread. Thank you very much for sharing this beautiful poem. I have chosen to pair it with the tune In Babilone, which seems to fit the text nicely.

      • Jon Peterson says:


        I would be most grateful to take you up on your offer of a pdf version of “Motherhood, Sublime, Eternal” set to hymn-tune In Babilone for an impromptu Mother’s Day tribute during our Anglican Service this Sunday. Thank-you so much for your most helpful contribution!

        Jon Peterson

      • Gary says:

        Hi, Dan.

        I’m the organist at the Roslyn Presbyterian Church. Would you still have the .pdf of the Mother’s Day text to the hymn tune In Babilone? If so, would you be kind enough to send it to my eamil at Thanks!

      • Jon Peterson says:


        P.S. My E-mail regarding the “Motherhood” pdf is

        Thanks again! Jon P.

      • Sara says:


        I would also love if you could share the PDF of the Motherhood hymn with In Babilone tune. My email is

        Thank you!

      • Bryan Hoover says:

        Is it possible to send me the PDF of this hymn to IN BABILONE? My rector came across this a few minutes ago and would love to use it on Sunday. Thanks very much!

  11. Bill says:

    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. Caroline says:

    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. Em says:

    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. Marsha says:

    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.

    • sandra robbins says:

      I too would like to have the text for Mothers love to the tune of sweet hour of prayer.
      Can you help me with that?
      I too am a United methodist Pianist and choir director.
      Sandra Robbins

      • Nancy LeBeau says:

        Do you have the text/lyrics for Mothers Love sung to Sweet Hour of Prayer?

  15. EC says:

    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!

  17. Bevon White says:

    There are some lovely hymns here that I will use for this year’s Mother’s Day service. Thanks you all. Blessings!

  18. David Corder says:

    Thanks for the creative ideas on music for Mother’s Day!

  19. Diane Villafane says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the words to Giving Thanks For Mothers by Rev. Rebecca Kelly 2006. I was floundering around looking for SOMETHING motherly for May 8, 2016.
    A beleaguered organist.

  20. Michelle Reed says:

    In the United Methodist Hymnal called “The Faith we Sing” see the song “A Mother Lined a Basket” which shares stories of some of the mothers in the Bible.

  21. Eve says:

    I love them both and will incorporate them into the service. thank you so very much.

  22. louise baber says:

    I too have come across this thread looking for a beautiful hymn to include for my Mother’s funeral – and ‘ Motherhood, sublime, eternal’ is so very apt – I wonder if Dan or was it Bill, could send me the pdf version of “Motherhood, Sublime, Eternal” set to hymn-tune In Babilone, ….I appreciate the thread is 2 years ago now but I’d very grateful, – a friend is playing the organ and she may not have the sheet music to fit this text. many thanks, Louise

  23. Laurie says:

    I see that there have been no posts in almost a year, but there is great interest in ‘Motherhood, Sublime, Eternal’ sent to hymn-tune in Babilone. I’ve been reading this post for over an hour so I no longer know who has the pdf and is sharing it. I am the violinist for a United Methodist Church in NJ and would love a copy if it’s still being shared / circulated. My email is

  24. Naomi says:

    I would most appreciate a pdf version of “Motherhood, Sublime, Eternal” in the pdf version set to the tune, Babilone. I know it’s a long time since this was originally posted but I’m hoping you still are monitoring the blog as it is very helpful to us who are designing mother’s Day services.

  25. Beth says:

    If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
    My Mother’s Bible

  26. Frances James says:

    Some good stuff here. but isn’t there anything in the modern worship music style?

  27. James Weekley says:

    “Praise to The Lord, The Almighty”

    VS. 4
    Praise to the Lord, who does nourish thy life and restore thee,
    fitting thee well for the tasks that are ever before thee.
    Then to thy need God as a mother does speed,
    spreading the wings of grace over thee.

  28. Neo says:

    And people wonder why men no longer have an interest in things spiritual, or in leading their families spiritually. So. Much. Emasculation.

  29. Sandra says:

    I just found this thread as I was trying to find hymns to honor mothers on Sunday. Thank you.

  30. Marcus says:

    Hi, Dan.

    Would you still have the .pdf of the Mother’s Day text to the hymn tune In Babilone? If so, would you be kind enough to send it to my email at Thanks!

  1. September 11, 2016

    […] The Best Hymns to Sing on Mothers ‘ Day | The Exponent – May 17, 2007  · 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 … […]

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