Since then, this American folk hymn has re-emerged in the consciousness of the Latter-day Saints and is undoubtedly more popular among them today than when it was part of the hymnal. This is due in no small part to the frequent performance of the hymn by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, enhanced with a distinctive arrangement by Mack Wilberg, the current musical director of the choir.
Brother Wilberg's arrangement of the hymn predates his appointment as associate director and subsequently director of the choir, as it was featured in his 1994 BYU Choirs concert, "A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns," a perennial holiday offering televised over the Public Broadcasting System.
His treatment of the hymn has influenced its popularity in recent years among the public at large, not just Mormon listeners.
The title track of the latest album release from the choir and orchestra, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is included with an assortment of 16 other American frontier and African-American folk tunes.
The rich baritone solo of choir member Alex Boye, a recording artist in his own right, can be heard in "Rock-A-My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham" and "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me."
Peggy Caan's soaring soprano is heard in counterpoint to the choir on "The Battle of Jericho," and Cheri Hancock is featured as soloist on "Old Time Religion."
Other selections on the album include "Saints Bound for Heaven," which was among the 300-plus melodies included in Wiliam Walker's pivotal 1835 compilation Southern Harmony; the Old Testament-influenced "My Song in the Night"; and the American revivalist song "We'll Shout and Give Him Glory."
Liner notes in the CD give a brief history and the lyrics of each selection in the album.
All but four of the arrangements are by Brother Wilberg, who conducted the choir and orchestra during the recording sessions May 27-31 of last year.