Adam-ondi-Ahman

This earth was once a garden place,
With all her glories common,
And men did live a holy race

Adam-ondi-Ahman #49

It is not exactly clear what race is meant by the holy race. It could be the human race, the race to achieve exaltation, or even a specific race. When this song was written, the Church taught that Adam and Eve were white, and they are still commonly shown as white in Church publications. It was taught that other races, especially black and Native American, were degraded forms of the original white race. Given the context the song was written, one possible interpretation is that the holy race is the white race. The Church has disavowed this theory, and most people now believe that all humans descended from Africans, so that the original skin color was black.

The Church usually shows Adam and Eve as white. Photo courtesy of lds.org

There is also the question of what it means to live a race. If it were the race to exaltation, then living the race was living the commandments. However, given the context of when the song was written, another interpretation is that non-white races were the result of bad choices, either of one’s ancestors or their valiency in the pre-mortal existence, and that through faithfulness their skin can start to become white.

Even though this idea has been disavowed, many members of the Church still believe it. While most people can sing this hymn and not think that Adam and Eve were living a white race, members who still hold to old teachings can have their ideas reinforced by this hymn. One of the goals of the redoing the hymnbook is to “Teach core doctrine with power and clarity.” Our hymns need to be above reproach, and we need to be absolutely clear that the Church does not supports white supremacy.

Here is a segment with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Adam-ondi-Ahman” at General Conference:

Here is the link to the full lyrics:
https://www.lds.org/music/library/hymns/adam-ondi-ahman

Here is the link to leave feedback for the hymns:
https://lds.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2m20pSAlCEcevVb

What do you think? Should we edit the hymn? Should we get rid of it? Should we leave it as is? Let us know in the comments below:

One thought on “Adam-ondi-Ahman

  1. Adam and Eve were from Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri, not Africa. Your missing the whole point of the song. This isn’t a racist thing, it is just the way it is.

    Like

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