Musical settings of two 2 Nephi scriptures

You may remember the closing song in the priesthood session of General Conference last month. The song, “I Love the Lord,” was written by John S. Tanner, who based it on 2 Nephi 4:16-35. Ronald J. Staheli, a choral director at BYU, set the beautiful text to the tune of “Be Still, My Soul” (originally derived from Finlandia by Jean Sibelius). I heave greatly enjoyed listening to this song and pondering its message.

I have included the lyrics below:

I Love the Lord

I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.
Upon his word, I ponder day and night.
He’s heard my cry, brought visions to my sleep,
And kept me safe o’er deserts and the deep.
He’s filled my heart with his consuming love,
And borne me high on wings of his great dove.

Yet oft I groan,”O wretched man am I!”
My flesh is weak and I’m encompassed by
A world of sin, which holds me in its thrall,
If I give in and to temptations fall.
Then strength grows slack, I waste in sorrow’s vale.
My peace destroyed, my enemies prevail.

Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Rejoice, my heart! And let me praise again
The Lord my God, who is my rock and stay
To keep me strict upon his straight, plain way.
O let me shake at the first sight of sin
And thus escape my foes without and in.
–John S. Tanner

An extensive description of this piece (and another one based on the same passage) can be found on the Maxwell Institute website. Another Latter-day Saint has taken the audio recording from conference and spliced out this song. He has posted that recording, along with his own thoughts, on his blog.

Another song based on a 2 Nephi passage is titled “Behold, This is the Way.” It is a complete musical setting of 2 Nephi 31:21:

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.

The original tune is tailored to the text and conveys the meaning very well. A recording made by the BYU University Singers and Concert Choir can be downloaded for free from the website beholdingsalvation.byu.edu. (The other two songs in that collection are also worth downloading.)

UPDATE (October 2009): The BYU Museum of Art exhibition has since closed, so you can’t download that MP3 anymore. But the BYU Choirs have a CD called The Redeemer. “Behold, This is the Way” is track 15 on that CD.

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