When is the editing really completed? The words of my sacrament hymn (what I originally thought would be only a song) “Through my Savior” began to form in the late 1980’s, with occasional revisions, every few years. The music was likewise revised, including the 2011 hymn arrangement. In the past few days[mid-2011], I kept finding better words and phrases, even adding a new verse.
This morning I revised the first verse, again. Now (again) I feel sure that this is the final version of this hymn. [It has now been revised many times from mid-2011 through the end of March of 2015.]
The page linked above includes “Behold the Great Redeemer Die” by Eliza R. Snow, for it includes much that is lacking in my sacrament hymn, in particular details about the last few hours of the Savior’s mortal life.
So when do we stop improving what we have written and begin another work? In my case, I consider myself to have been a non-writer during most of the past twenty-two years, with occasional songs and short poems being exceptions; in addition, most of those years were spent procrastinating revising “Through my Savior,” not actually revising it. In general, we set aside revising and step up to a new work when the overall needs (for both writer and readers) tip the balance, causing us to step forward: when the value of starting something new overrides the value of revising the old.
On a sidenote, unrelated to writing but a critical principle mentioned in “Through my Savior,” is forgiveness. We must remember to forgive and forget.
It’s now nineteen days later: I have again revised a few words, making the sacrament song a bit more vague in the fourth line of the second verse (and so making it more applicable to more individuals) and changing “my” to “the” in the third line.
It’s now twenty-one months later: I have again revised some lines, this time where I have always been less than satisfied, at the beginning of the first verse:
Father in Heaven, I know my weakness
Thy name is blessed; bless me in my need.
Through thy Beloved, in this assembling,
* A new site on sacrament hymns in general *