Translation and Localization Club Sets Sights on New Hymns

Photography by Mark A. Philbrick
Copyright BYU Photo 

Following BYU Translation Week, students set a goal to submit 25 new hymns to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hymnbook.

PROVO, Utah (October 4, 2018)—In June of this year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a major change. For the first time in more than two decades, a new hymnal will be compiled for Sunday worship. Church leadership offered an open invitation for members around the world to submit newly composed hymns, old favorites, or translations for consideration into the new canon. For Calvin Westfall, President of the BYU Translation and Localization Club, translating new hymns presents an intriguing challenge.

Westfall recently delivered a lecture for BYU Translation Week, which celebrates the complex and important nature of translating texts into other languages. There he said,“Being able to see how languages work and how people express themselves has been an incredibly big part of my growth as an individual and as a member of the Church.” With the students in attendance he discussed the amazing opportunity they have to make history by translating and arranging hymns. Now, under Westfall’s direction, the BYU Translation and Localization club has set a lofty goal of translating or arranging twenty-five hymns for the new compilation. 

Vice President of the club, Kaden Carr, gave a presentation to the group as well. As a talented music major, Carr used his academic expertise, experiences as a missionary in Brazil, and imagination to translate and compose his own rendition of the Portuguese hymn “Ide Por Todo El Mundo,” which he performed on piano for the audience. The hymn is significantly different from what is commonly found in chapels, and although still played on an organ or piano, it is fast-paced and filled with fanfares. “This song was so powerful to me on my mission,” Karr said. “I would love for it to make it in the hymnbook someday. With an opportunity to submit music like this to the Church, who knows, maybe Mack Wilberg could be arranging [my] music someday!”

Westfall concluded by telling the audience how useful their language skills will be in the current job market and in the Church. “We are an international church. Matching [sic] music to [members’] part of the world is important, and it really should be localized for those people.” The BYU Translation and Localization Club is continuously open to new members and currently seeking those interested in composing and translating. The club can be found through the BYU Humanities Student Clubs web page, on Facebook as the BYU Translation and Localization Club, or on Instagram as byuln10.

Zander Smith (Chemistry and English ’20)