Shaving Cream Hymn

Shaving Cream Hymn

Hymn #87 (#313) — “God Is Love”

Text: Thomas R. Taylor (1807-1835); altered
Music: Thomas C. Griggs (1845-1903; LDS)
Tune name: TESTIMONY

Hymn #87 has never really stood out to me. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing monumental about it either. It’s a good hymn. It does what it’s supposed to do.

It reminds me of buying a certain kind of shaving cream. There are a dozen or more choices on the Walmart shelf. The all do the same thing. None of them really stands out as “amazing.” Each does what it’s supposed to do. They protect against a painful shave. Against razor burn. They are all around the same price. Does it really matter which one I choose? No, not really.

The tune is nice. Like the fresh minty smell of most shaving creams.

The inner voices have a few slick moves. They glide around like the “gel” shaving creams, protecting against dissonant razor burn.

There are some nice leaping figures that end in lovely lathering resolutions.

There’s one element that lingers a little longer. The B-major chord in the last line with it’s nice half-step approach and follow-through in the alto, stays with you after each singing.

The congregation is refreshed and ready to move on after a nice soothing sing.

And that’s about all.

I don’t mind if it stays. I don’t mind if it goes. I’ll just get another brand.

And that’s about all I have to say about that.

Tune in tomorrow for a hymn in a lovely, but somewhat rare key with 4 flats.

Have a good one!


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Commentary from “The Bench Warmer”

by Jason Gunnell, Organist

This hymn is a lovely example of a nice text paired so elegantly with a tune. A very nice testament to the beauties of Heavenly Father’s creation showing exemplifying His love. I think the tune has a gentleness and sweetness about it that pairs so well with the text.

The title of the hymn differs from the first line of the hymn. This point is alluded to by Karen Davidson, as she indicates in her work that the previous hymnal used the first line as the title. This made me think that we are somewhat unique in giving our hymns titles. It seems most other hymnals with which I familiar only use the first line of the text as the title. Sister Davidson also indicated a hope that the title change to the text’s original title might encourage more frequent use of this hymn. I think her desire has probably been realized as this hymn seems to be one we use fairly frequently. My wife loves the arrangement by John Longhurst of this beautiful tune. It wonderfully conveys the spirit and message of this piece in a lovely setting for organ. Well worth seeking out and learning. David Chamberlain also has a very nice arrangement for organ of this tune.

I think this hymn has a beautiful, gentle lilt if the tempo is just fast enough to feel an elegant one, rather than in three. I find a good tempo to achieve this around quarter note equal to 110-112. That seems to give it a gentle forward movement. A gentle registration might include a good foundation and flutes at 4’ and maybe 2’ to give a nice height to it.

Registration Starting Point:
Great: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’
Swell: Principal 8’, Flute 8’, 4’, 2’ (maybe, or can be reserved. I’d probably use it and not make many registration changes…)
Pedal: Principal 16’, 8’, Bourdon 16’, Flute 8’
Sw/Gt, Sw/Ped

Possible Final Verse Additions:
Swell: Flute 2’