Many early saints believed they were literally descendants of Israel, through the tribe of Ephraim. The gathering of the saints to Utah was seen as part of the literal gathering of Israel, and many early pioneers believed they were chosen because of their race to receive the gospel when they did. They believed they were literally God’s chosen Israel.
We believe that God is no respecter of persons. He wants all to come to him. We chose him. There is no chosen race that has an advantage over another in the eyes of God. There is no priority for the descendants of Israel and they are not his chosen people.
Early members tended to be more apocalyptic and believed the second coming was soon. Many believed they were going to Utah for safety as the nations of the world crumbled around them. This was reflected in the idea that Utah is “freedom’s last abode.” Our new hymnbook should avoid references to a chosen race and recognize the freedoms in various lands.
Here is a segment of the choir singing “For the Strength of the Hills” at General Conference.
Early members suffered great losses before moving to Utah. It is easy to be bitter and resort to name calling. This hymn distinguishes God’s children who he has made mighty on desert sod from “foul oppressors”. We are commanded to love our enemies and bless those who curse us, even if we have suffered long. This should be reflected in our hymns. This hymn does not make us feel love towards the people who oppressed the members of the Church.
All of us are children of God and we should be abundantly clear about that. His children are not just members of the Church, but even those who fight against the Church. When we talk about the children of God we should make clear we are referring to everyone.
Here is a segment of the choir singing about foul oppressors at General Conference:
Here is the link to the full lyrics:
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: