Laurie Stradling Laurie Stradling grew up in a hymn-singing family. She continually astounds her husband with her recall of obscure LDS hymn texts. When not singing hymns, she mothers two babies, writes a little and cooks a lot.

All posts by Laurie Stradling:

  • Hymn #130: Be Thou Humble

    There’s a particularly tense scene in the film The Philadelphia Story where Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant are discussing their failed marriage. She jabs at him for his alcoholism, and he then turns to Jimmy Stewart (the unwilling, uncomfortable third party in this exchange) and speaks a barb I’ve never forgotten: “[S]trength is her religion, Mr. Connor. […]

  • Hymn #35: For the Strength of the Hills

    The thing I like best about this hymn (besides it being written so beautifully by LDS composer Evan Stephens) is the parallels it draws between the pioneers and the children of Israel. The group of Latter-day Saints who migrated from all over the world to the Utah Territory to escape religious persecution and establish Zion have […]

  • Hymn #295: O Love That Glorifies the Son

    This hymn addresses four types of love: love of Jesus, love of family, the grit-your-teeth kind of love, and charity, the pure love of Christ. These four loves comprise the backbone of what it means to be a true Christian. The first is the love that “glorifies the Son,” meaning the love that gives us the […]

  • Hymn #252: Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

    “Put your shoulder to the wheel” never meant much to me until I pulled a handcart for the first time. My home stake organized a pioneer trek for the youth when I was about 15, complete with handcarts and mandatory pioneer garb. We hauled our own food and a few belongings apiece, while some of […]

  • Hymn #53: Let Earth’s Inhabitants Rejoice

    Yesterday I watched a turkey vulture peck at a chunk of meat at the Phoenix Zoo and, naturally, thought about Christ’s Second Coming. Specifically I remembered these verses in 2 Nephi 30, which echo Isaiah’s words in the Old Testament: “And then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb…and the lion shall eat straw like the ox…They […]

  • Hymn #149: As the Dew from Heaven Distilling

    I think the difference between dew and rain is especially stark in northern Arizona. Dew gently settles on your sleeping bag after a night of sleeping on the trampoline, and burns off shortly after the first rays of 5 a.m. sun start to bake you awake. Dew is constant and insistent, but easy to forget […]

  • Hymn #273: Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses

    “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2).  This scripture sums up one of the most difficult precepts of Christianity for me: not judging. To me, this means acting in love and patience with everyone, refraining from harboring any feelings in your heart that […]

  • Hymn #282: We Meet Again in Sabbath School

    There’s something about housekeeping that makes me think of the gospel. The hard parts of the gospel. If this isn’t already apparent by my tone, I am not a diligent housekeeper. I take little pleasure in the daily grind of tidying and dishes, and even less in laundry. I do it faithfully for one day […]

  • Hymn #50: Come, Thou Glorious Day of Promise

    The gathering of scattered Israel makes me think of coming home, in the most perfect way. I have experienced this type of homecoming a few times in my life: listening for the sounds of car tires in the gravel that signaled my siblings coming home for Christmas break from college; watching the lights of Phoenix […]

  • Hymn #41: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise

    If you’re reading this, let me suggest you listen to this hymn first before we talk about it. Here’s a link to a YouTube video of a good arrangement of the hymn: Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise. Go ahead. I’ll wait. [...] [...] …okay, so did you listen to it? Such an amazing tune, right? […]

  • Hymn #67: Glory to God on High

    When I was nine or 10 years old my brother Paul gave my dad this CD of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was the first CD we ever owned as a family and the only one I remember being around for several months, if not years. “Glory to God on High” was track 5 on […]

  • Hymn #15: I Saw a Mighty Angel Fly

    The thing I like best about this hymn is the joy it gives to this part of John’s Grand Revelation. As I’ve written before, there are parts of the book of Revelation that I find much less than comforting. But here, this angel is loudly proclaiming the Good Word of God, “to calm our doubts, to […]

  • Hymn #222: Hear Thou Our Hymn, O Lord

    I have heard the hymns of Zion sung across the world in several different languages, and I have to say that Americans sing the softest. Especially Americans in the West. My husband assures me the Germans sing the loudest, but I have yet to confirm that. The first line of this hymn is a request: […]

  • Hymn #267: How Wondrous and Great

    I used to be pants-wetting afraid of Christ’s Second Coming. I’m sure this wasn’t the intention of my parents or Sunday School teachers to drill this fear into me, but yet I was afraid. The scriptures are littered with references to the sun going out, the moon turning the blood; famine and pestilence and earthquakes, […]

  • Hymn # 218: We Give Thee But Thine Own

    “Every faculty you have…is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God…[i]t is like a small child going to […]

  • Hymn #200: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

    “He is not here.” These four words sum up one of the most profound and beautiful stories in the Bible: the story of the empty tomb. I imagine Mary Magdalene and other women arriving at tomb just after dawn, slightly out of breath and armed with oils and spices and cloth to dress their Lord’s […]

  • Hymn #247: We Love Thy House, O God

    I once told a dear friend about temples and mentioned there was one in Washington D.C.  She responded, “Oh, you mean the Land of Oz?” We  had a good laugh over this, as would anyone who has experienced coming around the Beltway and seeing the temple unfolding as if by magic out of the trees. I […]

  • Hymn #260: Who’s on the Lord’s Side?

    General Conference is once again coming to a close. I don’t pretend to have absorbed every word between fielding screaming children and the fact that I succumbed to my semi-annual Conference Nap (the most deeply satisfying, profound nap I get during the year). However, I was struck by the chord that ran through nearly every […]

  • Hymn #321: Ye Who Are Called to Labor

    I never served a full-time mission. I am the second daughter in a family of six sons and I am the only one of my family–including both my parents–who didn’t go. I didn’t go because I didn’t feel inspired to go. I remember my sister telling me the story of the moment she received a […]

  • Hymn #297: From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise

    In our house, the gladdest song we sing is “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.” Whenever I hear my husband push open our front door, I feel like clapping my hands and shouting for joy every time. There are snack-time songs and car ride songs and songs for diaper changes, most of them utter […]

  • Hymn #101: Guide Me to Thee

    When my husband served a mission in east Germany, his dad sent him a copy of the poem “The Gate of the Year” by Minnie Louise Haskins. It begins like this: And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into […]

  • Hymn #7: Israel, Israel, God is Calling

    This hymn references a doctrine at the heart of Mormon theology: the gathering of scattered Israel. We get an overview of this in the tenth Article of Faith, a list of basic principles of Mormonism. It reads that Latter-day Saints believe in a literal gathering of Israel and its Ten Tribes, that “Zion (the New Jerusalem) […]

  • Hymn #13: An Angel From On High

    This hymn, this good, old-fashioned Restoration hymn, provides us a pretty good overview of the early days of the Latter-day Saint church. It’s an anthem to the Prophet Joseph Smith, a synopsis of the Book of Mormon, of the prophets who all cobbled together to write down history and revelation alike and hide it up […]

  • Hymn #195: How Great the Wisdom and the Love

    The first verse of this hymn illustrates the forethought that went into Heavenly Father’s plan. “How great the wisdom and the love that filled the courts on high.” Wise and loving, God the Father needed for us to have a way to repent and return to him, so he sent Jesus Christ to earth “to […]

  • Hymn #182: We’ll Sing All Hail to Jesus’ Name

    This stately sacrament hymn has been a favorite of mine for years. It starts off with this exclamation of praise to Jesus Christ: We’ll sing all hail to Jesus’ name, And praise and honor give To him who bled on Calvary’s hill And died that we might live. In 2 Nephi 9: 10-12, Jacob is explaining […]

  • Hymn #158: Before Thee Lord, I Bow My Head

    Photo of Joseph H. Dean and his second wife Florence Ridges Dean, with baby Wilford and toddler Jasper Dean. Photo taken in Samoa in 1890, shared courtesy of the Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu, HI.  The author of this hymn, Joseph H. Dean, was a British immigrant who sailed across the Atlantic with his parents, […]

  • Hymn #56: Softly Beams the Sacred Dawning

    Swiftly flee the clouds of darkness; Speedily the mists retire; Nature’s universal blackness Is consumed by heav’nly fire, Is consumed by heav’nly fire. While this is an excellent and joyful Second Coming hymn, this third verse made me think of a scene in C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle,” the final book in the Narnia series. […]

  • Hymn #234: Jesus, Mighty King in Zion

    This hymn leads out with a description of a Second Coming-type Christ, leading His people into Zion. It’s a jubilant prospect, and the second verse leads us into one of the first steps we take to join Him in the kingdom: As an emblem of thy passion And thy vict’ry o’er the grave We, who […]

  • Hymn #80, God of Our Fathers, Known of Old

    Rudyard Kipling wrote this hymn. This was enough to recommend itself to me when I first heard this hymn in 2005, because beneath this rural Arizonian exterior there is a devoted Anglophile. The text is the first three verses of Kipling’s poem “Recessional,” written in the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. It […]