BJ Homer BJ Homer develops apps for the Mac and iOS platforms. When not on his computer, he enjoys playing strategic board games, reading fantasy novels and creating impromptu hymn arrangements on the piano. He lives in Lehi, UT with his wife and two daughters.

All posts by BJ Homer:

  • Hymn #209: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    When I picture the hours after Christ’s birth, I imagine a peaceful setting. An open-air stable is set into the side of a hill, lit by a couple flickering lamps. Mary gently rocks the newborn child in her arms while Joseph moves about making Mary comfortable. The night sky, free of clouds, is a deep royal […]

  • Hymn #153: Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part

    At our monthly Sunday dinner with my parents, the conversation is often started by the request “So, tell us about church today.” Sometimes I have a lot to share. Other days, despite spending hours in Sunday meetings, I struggle to remember a single thing any speaker said, or the topic of any lesson. The fault […]

  • Hymn #305: The Light Divine

    That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:24) The teachings of Christ frequently use light as a symbol. Christ is the light of the world. We receive light and truth through revelation. […]

  • Hymn #77: Great Is the Lord

    Great Is the Lord was one of the hymns written by Eliza R. Snow for the original LDS hymnbook in 1835. Its lyrics praise the Lord for the restoration of the Gospel and its attendant blessings. The four verses found in our modern hymnbook are just a portion of the original eight. Take a moment to read it, […]

  • Hymn #57: We’re Not Ashamed to Own Our Lord

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) There are some things that seem obvious in hindsight, but that go unnoticed until someone points them out. I recently […]

  • Hymn #34: O Ye Mountains High

    First published in LDS hymnals in 1871, O Ye Mountains High is written in the context of the Mormon Pioneers and their travels to the Salt Lake Valley. Like a number of LDS hymns from the time, it references imagery from Isaiah 2, placing Zion “in the tops of the mountains.” At a time when […]

  • Hymn #224: I Have Work Enough to Do

    When Alma and Amulek visited the land of Antionum, they found that the Zoramites there had perverted worship of God into a self-congratulatory praise of their own chosen status, as they supposed. They cast out the poor and turned worship of God into an exclusive club for only the “best sorts of folks.” The poor […]

  • Hymn #62: All Creatures of Our God and King

    All creatures of our God and King Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam! O praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! At the death of Jesus Christ, scripture records great destruction. The rocks were rent, the earth shook, […]

  • Hymn #23: We Ever Pray for Thee

    In the first few years after the restoration of the Church, it was quite possible that every member of the Church had at least occasional personal interaction with the prophet himself. Joseph Smith was even known to get down in the dirt and play games with the children.  The people knew the prophet, for they […]

  • Hymn #141: Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee

    Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills my breast Does the very thought of Jesus fill my breast with sweetness? Honestly, those probably aren’t the words I would choose. I’m prone to forget, prone to wander. Prone to get distracted by the things around me, and prone to neglect the things of God. […]

  • Hymn #163: Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

    Perhaps one of the most memorable stories in the Book of Mormon is that of Ammon preaching to the Lamanites. When Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni departed for the land of Nephi to preach to the Lamanites, they did not know when they would return, or indeed if they would return at all. Ammon famously […]

  • Hymn #310: A Key Was Turned in Latter Days

    In the spring of 1842, some women in Nauvoo had gathered to organize a sewing society intended to help with the construction of the Nauvoo Temple. Though Joseph Smith spoke highly of their proposed charter, he had told them that God had something greater in store for them. He invited them to meet with him […]

  • Hymn #258: O Thou Rock of Our Salvation

    Today’s hymn is “O Thou Rock of Our Salvation.” If the name doesn’t ring a bell, follow that link and listen to a verse—you’ll probably recognize the tune. It was the chorus that triggered my memory: Gather round the standard bearer; Gather round in strength of youth. Ev’ry day the prospect’s fairer While we’re battling […]

  • Hymn #230: Scatter Sunshine

    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall […]

  • Hymn #283: The Glorious Gospel Light Has Shone

    Sometimes the scope of the Gospel and the breadth of its reach astounds me. At baptism we covenant to follow Christ’s teachings and obey his commandments. As we begin to follow him, he invites us to join in his mission, to take His yoke upon ourselves. Where we started out seeking baptism in order to […]

  • Hymn #187: God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son

    Today’s hymn, “God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son” is a commemoration of the great Atonement, when Jesus Christ offered his life as a sacrifice for sin. For all sin. It emphasizes the perfection of Christ, his role as our Savior and exemplar, and the covenant we make in partaking of the bread and water […]

  • Hymn #39: O Saints of Zion

    O Saints of Zion, hear the voice Of Him from courts on high. Prepare the pathway of the Lord; His reign on earth is nigh. (O Saints of Zion, verse 1) When Joseph Smith was guided to restore the true church of Christ, he needed to know what it should be called. By revelation, the […]

  • Hymn #192: He Died! The Great Redeemer Died

    Nearly two-thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth suffered at Gethsemane, died on the cross, and was resurrected in glory. It’s easy to approach an event that happened so long ago with a sort of academic sterility; in Church we often discuss how we benefit from the Atonement, who it applies to, the effects of the […]

  • Hymn #132: God Is in His Holy Temple

    A few weeks ago my wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We decided to do something different this year—we celebrated it as our family’s birthday! We first took our children to the temple where we were married. The oldest is only 5, so they’ve never been inside the temple. We walked around the […]

  • Hymn #233: Nay, Speak No Ill

    Nay, Speak No Ill has a simple message, perhaps best summarized by this passage from the third verse: Then speak no ill, but lenient be To others’ failings as your own. If you’re the first a fault to see, Be not the first to make it known, It’s all too easy to find fault in others; […]

  • Hymn #30: Come, Come, Ye Saints

    Come, Come, Ye Saints is one of the most well-known hymns in the modern hymnbook. Penned by William Clayton while crossing the plains, the hymn has become a sort of anthem for the Mormon pioneers—and by proxy, our own pioneer heritage. The lyrics of this hymn are rooted in faith—a persistent, pervasive faith that was […]

  • Hymn #43: Zion Stands with Hills Surrounded

    “Zion Stands with Hills Surrounded” is today’s hymn. The title alone evokes powerful imagery—the righteous city of God besieged by enemy armies, surrounded by attacking forces. And yet, Zion stands. Preserved by divine power, Zion stands in the face of overwhelming odds. Zion stands with hill surrounded– Zion, kept by pow’r divine. All her foes shall […]

  • Hymn #26: Joseph Smith’s First Prayer

    Is there a God? If so, how can we know about him? Does he care about us enough to communicate with us? Do any churches teach true doctrine? Is there any way we can discover truth about God, if he even exists? How can we know what he wants of us? Questions like these may […]

  • Hymn #325: See the Mighty Priesthood Gathered

    This is a great hymn. It has a regal tune and a great message. I hope you’ll take time to listen to it. Every six months at the General Conference priesthood session, someone will note that this meeting likely represents the largest gathering of priesthood holders in the history of the world. This is significant, but not […]

  • Hymn #139: In Fasting We Approach Thee

    Why do we fast? The essential answer is simply “we fast because God has commanded us to fast.” If God asked us to burn sacrifices, we would burn sacrifices. If God asked us to run ten miles at least once a month, we’d all take up running. It’s just what we do. And yet, obedience […]

  • Hymn #58: Come, Ye Children of the Lord

    The stereotypical representation of a Christian heaven usually involves angels on a cloud plucking their harps in eternal praise of God. That imagery has never really resonated with me—I believe we’ll have plenty of meaningful work to keep us busy throughout eternity, so the idea of lazily sitting around on a cloud in lazy praise […]

  • Hymn #245: This House We Dedicate to Thee

    In the past decade or two, there has been a remarkable surge in temple construction throughout the world. After each temple is completed, the Church holds an open house event, in which the public is invited to tour the new temple, understand its purpose, and appreciate its beauty. After the open house, a special dedicatory […]

  • Hymn #46: Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken

    I suspect that most of our readers are not familiar with this hymn.  Let’s start by reading the lyrics. Please don’t just skim over them; take the time to really read them. There’s something to learn here. Glorious things of thee are spoken, Zion, city of our God! He whose word cannot be broken Chose […]

  • Hymn #21: Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

    Often when I read scriptural accounts of past ages, I tend to imagine the events as I would the events of a fictional novel. Conceptually I know it’s true, but in some ways scripture seems more like a fairy tale. Prophetic leaders with divine authority parting oceans, calling down fire, or raising the dead is […]

  • Hymn #136: I Know That My Redeemer Lives

      He lives, he lives, who once was dead. This statement is, perhaps, the very foundation of Christianity. Jesus Christ, crucified between thieves and buried in a tomb, lives. None other ever had power to rise from death of his own accord. The resurrection stands as a testament to the divinity of Christ. More than simply […]

  • Hymn #68: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

    In our LDS hymnal, the text for A Mighty Fortress is credited “Martin Luther, adapted.” There is undeniably quite a bit of adaptation here. The original German text contains four verses, which are interesting in their own right but not the focus of this analysis. Here, I wish to examine the doctrine taught in the lyrics […]

  • Hymn #261: Thy Servants Are Prepared

    Thy Servants Are Prepared is, at first glance, a hymn about young missionaries prepared to go forth and preach the Gospel to the world. Their preaching will fill the world with the light of truth, and build Zion both abroad and at home. It also speaks of the preparation these missionaries must have, for one […]

  • Hymn #4: Truth Eternal

    In John chapter 8, we have record of one of my favorite teachings in all of scripture: 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. In […]

  • Hymn #54: Behold, the Mountain of the Lord

    We are often reminded of Mormon’s admonition that we should seek Faith, Hope, and Charity. Faith and Charity are easily understood, but I’ve found that many people don’t have a solid understanding of what “Hope” means. During my teenage years, I thought that maybe Hope referred to a stronger faith in the Gospel. If Faith […]

  • Hymn #298: Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth

    “The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” (from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1st paragraph) We often talk about the importance of families in our religion. Nearly everything we do is, in one way or another, directed toward stabilizing and strengthening families. The crowning temple […]

  • Hymn #128: When Faith Endures

    This is a simple, direct hymn. It’s not ornate or eloquent like some hymns. It’s just one verse expressing one simple idea: Faith in God helps us overcome fear. Fear is an emotion that’s all about the future. It doesn’t make any sense to fear for the past; we fear when we look at what’s […]

  • Hymn #191: Behold the Great Redeemer Die

    There is nothing more central to our religion than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. His suffering in Gethsemane, his death at Golgatha, and his resurrection in the Garden are the very core of the entire message of Christianity. Without these things, there is no salvation to proclaim, no redemption to offer. Without these things, Christianity […]

  • Hymn #286: Oh, What Songs of the Heart

      Death. It’s a hard topic. Sooner or later, each of us must confront that unavoidable reality: we are all mortal. We will all die. We will all lose loved ones to the grave. In some cases, death is a relief—consider a terminally ill grandparent whose suffering finally comes to an end. In other cases, […]

  • Hymn #227: There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today

    “There is sunshine in my soul today.” There are not many hymns in our hymnal that are more unabashedly happy than this one. Sunshine in my soul! Music in my soul! Springtime in my soul! What could be more cheerful than these? And yet as I prepared to examine this hymn, the first question that came […]

  • Hymn #164: Great God, to Thee My Evening Song

    I’m not sure I’ve ever actually heard this hymn. The lyrics suggest that it would be most appropriately sung at the end of day, as one is preparing for sleep. Since we rarely have church meetings right before bed, it comes as no surprise that it’s not in the devotional Top 40. If you, like […]

  • Hymn #99: Nearer, Dear Savior, to Thee

    Nearer, dear Savior, to thee, Nearer, nearer to thee– Ever I’m striving to be Nearer, yet nearer to thee! A few years ago, I sat next to a new father on a flight to California. He was feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility fatherhood brings. He worried he did not know how to raise a child […]

  • Hymn #3: Now Let Us Rejoice

    Now Let Us Rejoice was included in the original LDS hymnbook, only five years after the church was organized. It was a time of great excitement within the church; significant new doctrines were being revealed frequently, and many had great spiritual manifestations. If you were a member of the Church at that time, you likely […]

  • Hymn #309: As Sisters In Zion

    As Sisters In Zion is written specifically for the women of the church, and it includes language to that effect. Nevertheless, the message found here is applicable to all of us. If you’ve never had opportunity to sing this hymn, I encourage you to read the lyrics before we start. The text of this hymn praises qualities […]

  • Hymn #249: Called to Serve

    Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to […]

  • Hymn #29: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

    A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief is well-known as a favorite of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He asked John Taylor to sing it in Carthage Jail shortly before his death, and then asked him to sing it again. The scene is moving—a psalm in preparation for death, a memorial of an impending martyrdom. The lyrics […]