Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's "Nigh" unto Kolob, Not "Hie" unto Kolob

OK, my eyebrows raise when I see the title of a song in the LDS Hymn book, "Hie unto Kolob." (page 284).
Its title is simply NOT doctrinally correct.
(Some LDS artwork is not doctrinally correct either, so this should come as no real surprise.)
Based on the Book of Abraham 3:1-4, 9, the song takes an incorrect title.
"Hie" is not "Nigh."
"Hie" in Old English means "to quickly, hasten, hurry," according to Webster's Dictionary. "Hie" is NOT found in the Book of Abraham.
"Nigh" means "nearly, almost," according to Webster. "Nigh" is found in the Book of Abraham.
"And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord's time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest."  (Abraham 3:9).
That's what the scriptures states, "nigh" twice.

Brother Phelps may have aided the Prophet Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Abraham, but he indirectly helps to perpetuate an incorrect belief among LDS Church members today.
Phelp's song essentially says to hurry to Kolob, as if Kolob is the eternal goal of church members.
The problem is that I feel that most church members incorrectly believe Kolob is WHERE God actually dwells.
In fact, Kolob is simply the name of a great star that is NEAREST where God dwells (Abraham 3:3) and not actually the place where God dwells.
(We are given no specific name as to God's residence, except perhaps highest level of the Celestial Kingdom.)
I feel Abraham chapter 3 is more than an astronomy lesson.
The Lord is saying to draw near unto him, like Kolob is.
And, anyone who strives for eternal perfection -- required for becoming like God -- knows you can't hurry, or hasten that process. It take time and goes precept by precept.
Also, a man CAN'T be perfect in this life. (Jesus Christ was the only perfect person to have ever lived on Earth.) So, the Lord may also be implying to become as "nearly, almost" as perfect as you can in this life -- thus coming nigh unto Kolob.
That's my two cents on that subject.

--In another beef about an LDS hymn, a second song is "Come,Come, Ye Saints" (LDS Hymns Pages 30 and 326.)
A key phrase in that rousing Mormon pioneer rendition is "All is well, all is well."
Why is that particular phrase in that song?
Had the hymn's writer, William Clayton, not read the Book of Mormon enough or what?
"Wo be unto him that crieth All is well!" (2 Nephi 28:25).
Was Clayton oblivious to that verse or what?
Why did he have to use the phrase exactly as mentioned in the Book of Mormon in the hymn?
Clayton's original name for the hymn was actually "All is Well," later changed to "Come, Come, Ye Saints." So, at least that's one improvement in the song over the years and likely evidence that I'm NOT the only church member to have a problem with the "all is well" phrase.
Now I'm not saying for things NOT to well with the Mormon Pioneers, early church members,or even today's Saints.
Clayton COULD HAVE used a different word, instead of "well" in the song.
"All is clear"; "all is serene"; "all is great"; or "all is best" could have been possible substitutes.
Normally, as in "nigh unto Kolob," it may be best to quote scripture, but not when it is clearly a negative, as with 2 Nephi 28:25.
--There is already a precedent for doctrinal changes in LDS Hymns. "I am a Child of God" had a one word change from "know" to "do," after a suggestion by then Apostle Spencer W. Kimball.
--I discussed doctrinal problems with the two hymns talked about above with a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He figures it was all in the smoother kind of wording as to why the songs came out the way they did. 

--UPDATE: After further thought and also after considering a reader's comments below, here's a clarification:

The LDS realm of arts, music and artwork, isn't always strictly doctrinally correct and may not have to be.
There's a "correct for its purpose" doctrine in the LDS Church and the arts probably fall under that umbrella.
While some hymns may not be strictly doctrinally correct, they can still elevate a congregation spiritually.
In the art realm, the Statues of the Angel Moroni commonly found may or may not be accurate likenesses of Moroni himself, but they still stand for much truth and are powerful symbols of the restoration of the Gospel.
The world of arts often takes certain liberties, it has to, to even be created.
Songs aren't necessarily written to be doctrinal essays and probably should not be analyzed as such. They are rousing musical renditions to honor God and evoke his Spirit. That is their purpose. Absolute correct doctrine in a hymn is a priority much further down the line of importance ...

NOTE: This article and all of the NighUntoKolob blog are NOT an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the author's conclusions and opinions only.


1 comment:

  1. Read the song. It's not talking about the scripture; it's expressing wonder at the complexity of heaven. Basically, it's wondering "If you could get to the closest place to heaven at light speed, and then keep going at light speed beyond that, would we ever get close enough to heaven to understand the complexities of eternity?" It's not based off of the scripture; last time all hymns had to be based directly off scripture was in 1100 in the Catholic church.
    As for "All is well" you're taking it out of context. One is talking about the world being well, the other about God's will being well. Very different. Changing it would require ruining the meter and rhyme scheme; You can't say "And then we'll make the chorus swell/ all is great, all is great." If a prophet has a big enough beef with it, he'd have to take the song out.
    Moreover, on both of these, our current hymnbook was rigorously made. It's been approved by general authorities, therefore any minor doctrinal differences (there are plenty: Choose the right when a choice is placed instead of before, for example) can be considered unimportant. Criticizing hymns for their doctrinal fallacies is like saying that the Prophet (or at least an apostle) said a false doctrine in his last conference talk.