In the April 2016 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson gave us some good advice about making choices. He told us that “as we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day – whether to make this choice or that choice – if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice.” He also encouraged us to “ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong” (April 2016 General Conference).
Does choice imply action? We know that President Spencer W. Kimball didn’t feel that knowledge necessarily implied action. President Kimball, after hearing a performance of “I Am a Child of God” several years after it was published, requested that “teach me all that I must know” be changed to “teach me all that I must do.” Changing that word reflected a principle that President Kimball believed in:
“Celestial life may be had by every soul who will fulfil the requirements. To know is not enough. One must do. Righteousness is vital and ordinances are necessary” (Spencer W. Kimball in Conference Report, Apr. 1964, 94; or Improvement Era, June 1964, 496).
In an October 1975 Conference address, Robert L. Simpson gave us further insight into President Kimball’s philosophy:
“Prominently displayed on President Kimball’s desk is a slogan which reads simply, “DO IT.” With this inspired leader, personal convenience comes second. Everything is done to meet the Lord’s convenience. His example for work has become legend and establishes an example for us all to follow.
Knowing and choosing may not always equate to doing. We must make sure that we follow through on our good choices and actually do what is right.
History of DO WHAT IS RIGHT
George D. Pyper commented as follows in Stories of Latter-day Saint Hymns: “[“Do What Is Right”] is one of those soulful poems adopted by the Church – a waif in the realm of song. How it came to be included in our hymn book is told by Assistant Church Historian, A. William Lund. He says that in a conversation with the late Duncan M. McAllister, which occurred just before Brother McAllister’s death, the latter said that while George Q. Cannon was presiding over the British Mission, on one occasion he attended a conference in Scotland and there heard sung for the first time, the hymn ‘Do What is Right.’ He was so impressed with it that when the twelfth edition of the Latter-day Saints’ hymn book was published in 1863 under George Q. Cannon’s direction, this hymn was included in the collection, but no one had any knowledge of who wrote it.
“‘Do What Is Right’ cannot be classified as a sacred hymn, and it is doubtful if the author ever considered it as such… But if it is not a message of divine truth there never was one written. It is a simple sermon and contains admonitions that appeal to the Mormon heart. George Q. Cannon recognized its value when he heard it in that Scottish conference. He saw in it a message of hope; a song of promise; an urge to be ‘faithful and fearless,’ and one that fitted in with Mormon philosophy… It is a beloved, adopted child in Mormon hymnody” (Pp.85-86).
Congregation Choir Arrangements of DO WHAT IS RIGHT
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
Listen to our arrangements below. You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; violin in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.
With vocal countermelody In the second verse. PURCHASE THIS ARRANGEMENT HERE.
With violin countermelody in the second verse. PURCHASE THIS ARRANGEMENT HERE.
I love these two lines from DO WHAT IS RIGHT:
“Angels above us are silent notes taking/ Of every action; then do what is right.”
I can imagine beautiful angels solemnly watching… sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping… and taking notes on their shiny white clipboards. Maybe they use some very high-tech shiny white iPads.
“And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow. God will protect you; then do what is right.”
Don’t you love the phrase “stout hearts?” Definitely has a Scottish ring to it. We all need stout hearts from time to time, don’t we?
Choose the right, then do it! You may need a stout heart to do it, but it will be worth it. Those angels will be taking notes on their shiny white iPads.