Writing a Hymn – Good for the Soul Music

 

Sometimes we need to step back and do something we love just for our mental or emotional health.  That’s what I did for a week in June of 2019.    I call it – “Good for the Soul Music.”

Writing My Hymn For Submission to the Hymnbook

When I was at BYU studying Music, my MusicTheory Professor told us we had a chance to submit a hymn and possibly be published in the new hymnbook that was coming out in a couple of years.  That was 1962 and I didn’t have any idea of how to write a hymn then, so I didn’t even try.  I had written a tune for our dorm to sing in a BYU competition but we didn’t win so my confidence wasn’t at it’s best.

I have learned a lot about composing music over the last 5 decades.  I have taught my piano students how to write their own music, and many of them compose music as adults today.

How to Write Music

To write music easier, some software programs like Finale/Phenole have been created that will print the music as you play it.  It is not super easy to use the program, but once you learn how, it sure takes the work out of writing all the notes and it really looks professional too.

My first music composing software was called “Finale” for my old Mac computer (1984)  I arranged a lot of music with that electronic music program. and then we bought an IBM type computer.  The Finale music program did not transfer to our new computer system.

Creating music without music composing software was never the same after that.  The windows format just isn’t an Apple computer.
I have since learned of some music composing software that is for the Windows computer, but I knew there would be a learning curve that I didn’t have time for at this moment.

I had created a MUSIC Bingo game on that old Macintosh, and I still use that MUSIC game today for my piano students..

Fast Forward To Today-2019

Nearly 60 years later, who knew that I would get a second chance at writing a hymn for another new hymnbook?  But without my   Finale music program, it would be hard!

Stepping back a bit, it had always been my intention to write a hymn for a new hymnbook, if they ever published another one in my lifetime.   So it was on my mind when the new hymnbook was announced.

Finding My Lyrics

My confidence was lacking in writing my own lyrics so I went to the scriptures looking for words I could put to music.  I had sung  “Elijah”  at BYU with the Oratorio Choir so I looked for some of those words.

The words were not all neatly typed for the composer, Mendelssohn.  He had to take a little from one verse of the Bible, and a little from another verse to ultimately write the lyrics.  They were pure inspiration.  Then he wrote the music for the words.

In the scriptures, I found a few things that I thought I might use for lyrics, but no inspiration for a tune was there.  Maybe I was putting the “cart before the horse.”

composing-music
composing-music

Writing the Tune

Then about a year ago in 2018, I  received a poem written by my husband’s great grandfather, Richard Godfrey, and I thought, “Oh, maybe this would make a good hymn? ”  But alas, It didn’t have words for today’s generation so I abandoned his poem, but not before I had a tune come into my mind for it.

I was in the car at the time, and I was reading Richard Godfrey’s poem when this tune came into my mind.   I only had my phone handy, so I hummed the tune in “video record mode” and got the tune preserved.

This was the start of my hymn.  I never even put it down on paper at that time.

Then one day a little later we were told that a new hymnbook would be printed later and we could submit our own hymns if we wanted to possibly have them included in the book.

For months  I had that tune running around in my head with more words matching the tune.  I would get up and put those words into a file on my phone labeled “my hymn”.  So I had 15 to 20 different phrases that matched the rhythm of the tune.

A Call to Action

It was late Sunday the 23rd of June, when my sister called telling me she had just heard that the deadline for our hymn submission was  July 1., 2019.   “You’ve got to enter your hymn.”  Oh, it’s too late I reasoned.  But she challenged me to DO It.  That meant I only had 1 week to write everything.  Could I do it?

First I had to transfer all my lyrics to my computer and then transcribe the tune onto the music staff.    And after the tune was written, then I had to make it into a chorale , or in other words in “hymn style.”  That was going to be a lot of work.

Here’s How It Happened

Elaine called June 23 and told me the submission day was July 1st  so that meant I only had one week to complete everything and submit it.  As I said, I had only the tune recorded on my phone and a number of phrases for the words.
I had two of my daughters and my sister and of course my husband review and give me comments and suggestions, but this tune is solely mine and the words came to me in the still of the night.

The tune played in my head

The tune was playing in my head almost constantly for a while this spring. In the night words would pop into my mind and I captured them on my phone-notes whenever that happened.
I then had to organize them into an order that made sense and I tried to rhyme the words. That was possibly the hardest thing to do.
I had the tune but then I had to write the chords and parts. After 3 days that came together.  I considered trying to find someone with the Phenole music writing program for windows.  But then I realized it would have a learning curve, and I didn’t have time to spend learning something new, so  I asked one of my creative  grandsons if he would come to script it for me so that it was legible.  Gratefully he did it in only 3-4 hours.

Only 3 Days Left

Then, when it came time to put on the pressure to complete this by July 1st, I had just 3 days left to complete it. Everything seemed against me. I had emailed the words to my sister, and then the words had disappeared from my notes on my phone.
I found them in the delete file, but then that very day, I never touched anything I swear, but my lyrics file was deleted right before my eyes. Gone forever. What was I to do?
Try as I might, I couldn’t remember very many phrases.  It was like Bam!  Remember this NOW! Whaat?
I could not remember.

All Was Not Lost

Then I remembered sharing them by email with my sister just the night before and I retrieved them from that sent email. Whew!

I tried to find the files I’d saved on my computer concerning this hymn.  I had a hard time keeping track of where they were on the computer. Sometimes, it was as if someone didn’t want me to find them.  It smelled of a conspiracy!  Funny how the mind can conjure up all kinds of reasons why the challenges are there.
In order to submit my hymn, I was required to create a profile page but I couldn’t find where to do my profile.  I searched and searched but could not find it.  Then, Friday, after praying desperately about it, the “create profile” page appeared on my computer screen when I entered the “submit your hymn” area almost miraculously.  That was awesome!  I was definitely guided every step of the way.
My grandson had taken pictures of my song and then stored them on my computer.  I had written the Title and Copyright info on it and saved it to a file.
1.  I had to convert everything to a PDF file,
2. Submit the hymn with my name and copyright,
3.  Submit the lyrics with my name and copyright
4.  Submit both hymn & lyrics without my name & copyright information. too 
I believe the reason the wanted a copy without the composer or author’s name on the submission form is so that when the Music Committee votes on which songs to put in the Hymnbook, they won’t be swayed by the name of the person submitting it.  Some people are famous and people might be swayed by the name alone.
When it came time to submit, I had done everything required but was unable to find the files where everything was stored anywhere.  I again prayed for help.
All I could think of was to call my grandson.   I figured he would know how to find the files.  As it turned out, he had taken a number of computer classes in high school and graduated from a college computer course in Windows Operating System (which I didn’t realize) 

There were less than 4 hours left

It was 8 pm and time was running short; I had less than 4 hours left so I called up my wonderful 17 year old teenage grandson again, and of course, he dropped what he was doing and came right over.  I kid you not.  He really did!!
To make a long story shorter, I had done a number of things that were unnecessary and he undid those and simply found my hiding files and entered them ready for submission.  I had done everything I needed to but simply couldn’t find where they were on the computer.  They were hiding right in front of me in my open files.
NOTE: If files are open, you can’t find them in your folders.  I prayed and prayed to be able to find them, but all I could think of was “call Brandon,”  and he knew exactly what to do.  In a little more than 45 minutes, he had me ready to submit.  But he made ME push the “submit” button.  After you push submit you can’t edit anymore.
After much trepidation, I pushed “submit”  but the submission form asked again “Are you sure you are ready to submit?”  Ultimately I finally pushed the button, thanking my dear grandson Brandon over and over again.   I never fail to be amazed at how it all came together.

Recap

It turned out that writing my hymn was good for my health, whether it is emotional or mental, call it what you may.  I had committed to writing a song with words to submit in less than a week’s time.  Mission accomplished – I did it!!  That was good for my psyche, for my soul.
I learned that with a lot of help from the Lord above and from some family members reviewing and commenting, I submitted it about 8:45 pm, June 30th, 2019.  It was three hours under the July 1st deadline.
We can do anything we set our minds to, we just have to ask for help.  If we don’t understand things then asking questions from Siri or Cortana, Google or our Heavenly Father usually will bring an answer.
Sometimes we get into things we don’t fully understand as I found several times.  When that happens we need to swallow our pride and admit that we need help.  I knew I needed help but thought it would miraculously appear, just like had happened before.  But It didn’t.  All that I could think of was to call Brandon. Sometimes prayers are answered through other people.
The moral of this story is, when you are in “over your head” don’t be afraid to ask for help, and when all else fails, get some help from an expert.  That expert may just be your 17-year-old grandson.
Thank you for reading about my experience.  It has been good for me to relay this unfolding saga.  Please leave your comments below.
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2 Replies to “Writing a Hymn – Good for the Soul Music”

  1. So very interesting to read the process you went through to write a hymn and what a wonderful message is found in the verses you wrote. I’m sure your experience will be a help to others who also want to write music. Thank you for magnifying the talents you have been given. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen, doe the kind remarks. I sincerely hope that this experience is an inspiration to others. It certainly has been for me.

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