1. I Know that My Redeemer Lives (Hymn 136)
I frequently sing this song as a lullaby to my baby. Its refrain, as a result, is constantly in my mind and I hear the lyrics of "He lives to wipe away my tears, he lives to calm my troubled heart" and I'm given comfort that it was my Savior who did just that for me when I was converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And now, as a mother, I am given the strength and faith to do just that for my child, while I also teach the other precious truths in this hymn.
2. How Great Thou Art (Hymn 86)
One of the parts of my testimony that is most sacred to me is my appreciation for God's creation and the earth I live on. This hymn captures my gratitude and love for my life, and my God who gave me life. I frequently sing this when I am struck by the beauty for the earth around me, while all the while feeling the pang oh homesickness knowing that this earth, however beautiful it is, is still subject to death, disease and destruction. This hymn presents this dicotomy of appreciate for the wonder of life with the hope of eternal life and the joy of being back in the presence of God.
3. For the Beauty of the Earth (Hymn 92)
This hymn was a welcome sight to me when I first sang it after my baptism. I was raised in the Unitarian Universalist religion and this hymn is also found in their hymnal. I was glad to recognize it as it was my favorite hymn from that hymn book. It like How Great Thou Art describes the wonder and appreciation for the earth on which we live, as well as underscores the importance of human and family relationships. It was for these reasons that I fondly remember singing this hymn at my grandmother's funeral at the Unitarian church she attended 4 years after my baptism into the LDS church.
4. I Need Thee Every Hour (Hymn 98)
In the six years since I became a member of the LDS Church, I have sang out (as well as inwardly) the lyrics to this hymn a number of times when I'm in need of the comfort of the Spirit of God. It remains a favorite of mine for that reason.
5. Be Still My Soul (Hymn 124)
This is another hymn that I sing when I'm in need of comfort and a reminder of the purpose of trials in life. But its not just the words of this song that make it a favorite, but its also the characteristics of the melody. To me, it is haunting with sweet cresendos of hope and light. When I sing it, I think of sunlight breaking through the dark clouds in my spirit.
6. In Our Lovely Deseret (Hymn 307)
Within the first year after my baptism, I heard this hymn sung for the first time at an Institute class. The melody is upbeat and happy. As a preschool teacher, it appeals to me because of the description of young children in the lyrics. When I hear it, I think of primary aged children all around and it makes me smile at the joy of the sight. But what got me about this hymn was the second verse, "That the children may live long and be beautiful and strong, tea and cofee and tabacoo they despise, Drink no liquor and the eat but a very little meat. They are seeking to be great and good and wise." I could not help myself but laugh at these lyrics. I was surprised (and impressed) to see such a clever rhyme about the Word of Wisdom. I still laugh when I sing it.
7. Lead, Kindly Light (Hymn 97)
As a convert to the LDS Church, I identify with the lyrics of this hymn because I know from experience the change from walking through life merely on my own direction as opposed to walking with the guidance and direction of God. I knew the darkness and gloom, and the sense of being far from home without a refuge in the world. And thn I learned where to find the light I was searching for and found the hope and peace of the gospel. I also love the description of faith in this hymn, "Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see the distance scene- one step enough for me." I've learned to walk in faith and face the unknown to find that my way is lit before me after I take the step into the darkness. I can have faith when encountering the bumps of life- the not knowing how or where or what to go and do next.
8. If You Could Hie to Kolob (Hymn 284)
Apart from the beautiful melody that this song has, I love it for the speculation into the creation of the earth, its part in the universe, the immensity of space and existence, as well as the infinity of eternity. These are the aspects of the gospel that make my mind hurt if I think about them too long, but they are what I yearn to understand when I am capable of it. It is this that drives my interest in astronomy and wanting to understand as much as I can about life and God while I'm alive. The hymn reminds me again of my desire to in some ways be done with this life so I can be with God again and get all the answers to my questions that cannot be answered by man on earth and which have not and will not be revealed.
9. Oh My Father (Hymn 292)
A theme is emerging through this list of my favorite hymns, and that is the desire of my heart to return to live with God after this life is over. I truly do want "to regain thy presence and again behold they face." I must remember however that I will not be able to do so until I've "completed all you sent me forth to do" so that "with your mutual approbation, Let me come and dwell with you." I also love this hymn because it mentions the LDS belief of Heavenly Mother by stating, "In the heav'ns are parents single? No the thought makes reason stare. Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I've a mother there." That's another burning question (or series of) that I desire to learn more about.
10.There is Sunshine in My Soul Today (Hymn 227)
As I stated previously, I felt that my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ rescued me from figurative darkness and gloom. So while Lead, Kindly Light may be a reminder of that, the hymn There is Sunshine in My Soul Today is my feelings of coming out on the other side of that change in my life. When I sing this song it is with joy in finding the gospel and gratitude for the happy, joyfilled moments of living of the gospel. Whenever I sing it, however, I make one slight change in the words. The refrain ends, "When Jesus shows his smiling face, there is sunshine in the soul," but I sing it "there in sunshine in MY soul."