Monday, February 04, 2008

What Is This Thing That Men Call Death

This is really interesting...I, along with millions of others, watched President Hinckley's Funeral on Saturday. I really enjoyed the words that his family and friends spoke. I couldn't help but notice the sad experessions on President Monson and President Eyrings faces as they sat next to the empty seat of their beloved friend. It really touched me how President Monson talked about him as his "Best Friend" and told funny touching stories about his quirckyness as well as how he respected and revered him as a Man of God.
I also was especially touched by the last song that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang entitled "What Is This Thing Called Death". This was sung while they played a video tribute to him. This is where I lost it and began to cry the same way I have at funerals of my own family members that have passed away. I wondered what that song was as I did not recognize it. Well, this morning my mom forwarded an email to me that answered my question. The following explains that Janice Kapp Perry wrote the music and the words were actually written by Gordon B. Hinckley himself. Coinsidentally, I am indirectly related to Janice Kapp Perry. My Great Aunt is her cousin. Read Below and if you want the sheet music click Here.

In the words of Janice Kapp Perry….

During President Hinckley's funeral the Tabernacle Choir will be singing a hymn text written by President Hinckley which I set to music in December. I would like to share the story of it with you:

About two months before my niece Kathy Blacker died, on January 11, 2008, she found a three-verse poem by President Hinckley among her files. Although she was resigned to dying, she had some fears about the dying process and his words greatly comforted her—especially the second verse which descirbed exactly what she was feeling. She wrote to Pres. Hinckley's office to ask permission to have the poem printed on her funeral program, and she received a very nice letter from his secretary Don H. Staheli saying that President Hinckley gave his permission for her to do so. The letter also conveyed some very comforting words from Pres. Hinckley which were helpful to helpful to Kathy in her final weeks, and he said he would remember Kathy in his prayers.Then Kathy suggested that I write and ask permission to give the poem a hymn setting. I did so, and Brother Staheli conveyed President Hinckley's permission for me to write the hymn. After offering some heartfelt prayers that I might be able to write appropriate music for his profoundly beautiful and moving text, I wrote the hymn setting and sent a copy to President Hinckley's office for approval at the end of December. I received an immediate response.Kathy passed away January 11 and after her funeral I sent a copy of her funeral program to President Hinckley's office so he could see how nicely his poem was displayed along side my brother Gary Kapp's painting of Christ.
When I heard President Hinckley had passed away last Sunday night I was feeling a little sad to think I hadn't received a letter with his official approval. But the very next day after his passing, the hoped-for letter arrived with his approval, his permission for me to publish it in a future volume of my series Inspirational New Hymns for Choir and Home, and leaving it to my discretion as to whether to submit it to the Church Music Division. The timing was so unusual and I was extremely grateful to receive the letter as a tender mercy in my life.Then on Monday afternoon Craig Jessop, Tabernacle Choir Director, heard about the hymn and had his office call me to obtain a copy of the hymn for consideration for President Hinckley's funeral. On Tuesday, while travelling in California, I learned that the hymn would be performed by The Tabernacle Choir at President Hinckley's funeral on Saturday.Having seen the great comfort this hymn brought to my niece who died just two weeks before President Hinckley passed away, my great desire is for people throughout the world to have a free copy of these magnificent words of President Hinckley to comfort them in times of the loss of loved ones. This is just one more way his influence could be felt down through time.


Mormon Soprano said...

I love this new Hymn! The words of the poem can be found at my blog
If you would like a FREE copy of the sheet music, Send an email to Primerec @ with “Funeral Hymn” in the subject line.

In tribute, Sister Perry is allowing this hymn to be freely emailed, copied and used for church or non-commercial use.

Ashly said...

Thanks for sharing the background on the song. I too completely broke down as they were singing the final song. It was so wonderful, as was the photo tribute.

honla said...

I googled the title of the song, since I too had been very touched by it at the funeral, and found your blog, both with the wonderful story by Sister Perry, and the sheet music even! Thanks so much!!! Anja from Sweden