Before It Was Nauvoo


Here is a folksy little tune that captures the spirit of the Saints in 1839 as they settled in Commerce, Illinois – soon to be known as Nauvoo. The first three verses are from an anonymous poem found in the Times & Seasons; the fourth verse was added by me.

-Kurt Kammeyer

Commerce Illinois


The Many Faces of “O My Father”


This is probably the earliest version of this well-beloved LDS hymn written by Eliza R. Snow.  The file includes some interesting context to when the hymn was written, including that it used to be sung to the tune of the German national anthem, (Das Deutschlandlied)  among other tunes. This is a tune that is no longer used, but provides another great pairing with these plaintive words.

PDF: O my Father


The Garden Hymn


“The Garden Hymn” was one of the more popular shape-note tunes in the early 19th century, and apparently the early Latter-day Saints enjoyed it, too. It’s surely one of the happiest hymns ever written – the kind that makes you want to get up, dance, and clap your hands.

-Kurt Kammeyer

The Garden Hymn

The First Songs of Christmas and Other Gifts

I know it’s only September, but I get started on Christmas music early so people have time to prepare it before the holidays get in full swing.

First, we have a dual hymn arrangement sung to a Christmas tune with hymnbook words:

Lord We Ask Thee Ere We Part_Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing (alt)

Next we have two vocal solos, set to the haunting tune of Faure’s “Pavanne”, one of my favorite pieces. There is a non-Christmas version set with the words of “Abide With Me, ‘Tis Eventide” and then the Christmas version, set with the words of “With Wondering Awe”.

Abide With Me, Tis Eventide (Pavanne)

With Wondering Awe (alt)

Finally, we have two more vocal solos. The first is set to plaintive melody of “Wayfaring Stranger”, with a bunch of other bell carols represented in the accompaniment. (See how many you can hear.) And then “The First Noel” set to a powerful Norwegian tune I first heard Sissel use.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Wayfaring Stranger) Solo

The First Noel



Just When You Thought “If You Could Hie to Kolob” Was Out There…

Thou Earth wast once
This hymn text by Eliza R. Snow touches on a rather unusual doctrine, which she must have learned at the feet of the Prophet: the concept that from time to time, pieces of the Earth have been flung off into space, only to be regathered in the Millenium.
Astronomers are in general agreement that the Moon was formed about 4.5 billion years ago from a catastrophic collision between the Earth and some Mars-sized planet. Perhaps some day we will understand the full import of what Sister Eliza was alluding to in this strange hymn.
-Kurt Kammeyer
The full text was published in the Times and Seasons, as recorded here:

PDF: Thou Earth wast once

Folk Songs Meet Hymns


Today, I have one solo and one dual choral piece, both which combine hymns with traditional American folk songs. In my high school days, I loved singing both “Homeward Bound” and “Shenandoah”, and I’m happy nowadays that I still get to sing them with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The solo combines the words of “O My Father”, with the melody and words of “Homeward Bound”, which really mesh up nicely.

O My Father_Homeward Bound (High Voice)

The choir piece takes nostalgic hymns and pairs them with the plaintive melody of the folk song “Shenandoah.”

Each Life That Touches Ours For Good_O Home Beloved (alt)

Let me know what you think!