A complete guide to all the songs in 'The Book of Mormon'

Learn more about the songs in The Book of Mormon, a musical about two missionaries who attempt to convert the residents of a Ugandan village.

Julia Rank
Julia Rank

Ding dong! It’s hard to believe that controversial musical The Book of Mormon has been playing in the West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre for over a decade, having opened back in March 2013.

The musical is a satirical riot of white saviorism, laced with outrageous political incorrectness yet imbued with a warm heart that’s never far from the surface. The story of overachiever Elder Kevin Price and his awkward mission brother Elder Arnold Cunningham, and their attempt to convert the residents of a Ugandan village to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, continues to appal and uplift audiences.

Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone with EGOT-winner Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Frozen), the show pays homage to Rodgers and Hammerstein, Disney, and pop music, with a generous helping of lurid innuendo and foul language. In 2021, some changes were made in order to give the Black characters more agency.

You can listen to the Original Broadway Cast Recording led by Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad, which won the Grammy Award for Best Theater Album in 2012. Read our guide to the catchy songs that you’ll be humming until the latter day and beyond.

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A catchy group number to kick off proceedings. In Mormon missionary training school, star student Elder Kevin Price leads his classmates in a demonstration of their work, in which they adopt the manner of friendly salesmen, proffering a book that will change the lives of everyone who reads it. We’re also introduced to Price’s polar opposite, the klutzy Elder Arnold Cunningham, who has a tendency to deviate from the script.

“Two By Two”

The new recruits of the Army of Jesus Christ are paired up and allotted their assignments. It’s their big chance to make something of themselves. Price is praying to be sent to Orlando, Florida, his favourite place in the world. Norway, France, and Japan are among the countries assigned. Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are mission brothers and are off to… Uganda. They can’t help but feel as if they’ve drawn the short straw.

“You and Me (But Mostly Me)”

Price is excited to have a chance to make a difference to the world. He’ll be with his partner of course, but knows that he’ll be the one taking the lead and the spotlight. Cunningham will be the sidekick, which he’s amenable about. “Now that I’m nineteen / I’ll do something incredible / That blows God’s freaking mind!” Big ambitions indeed.

“Hasa Diga Eebowai”

Our ‘heroes’ arrive in Uganda. Life is tough but local patriarch Mafala Hatimbi introduces them to the (made-up) expression “Hasa Diga Eebowai”, which helps them to get through the hard times (war, poverty, famine). “Does it mean no worries for the rest of your days?” asks Cunningham. Kind of, but it’s more like “F*** you, God.” As you may have guessed, it's an outrageous pastiche of a certain number from The Lion King, listing a catalogue of horrors within an upbeat production number. Consoling platitudes don’t help when you’re living under a dictatorship and everyone has AIDS.

“Turn It Off”

Price and Cunningham meet Elder McKinley, a closeted gay man who’s in charge of the local Mormon mission. In this jaunty tap-dancing number, McKinley advises the newcomers to suppress their feelings whenever they experience anything uncomfortable: “Turn it off, like a light switch / Just go click! / It's a cool little Mormon trick!”

“I Am Here for You”

It’s all bit of a culture shock and no one has visited the mission. Price is anxious and depressed. Cunningham is confident that his “best friend” will succeed where others have failed, which will make his achievement all the more remarkable.

“All-American Prophet”

The boys give a lesson on Joseph Smith. The founder of Mormonism wasn’t like other prophets, being blonde-haired and blue-eyed, “a hip, new prophet / Who had a little Donny Osmond flair.” They explain that the Bible, which usually comprises the Old Testament and New Testament (or just the Old Testament if you’re Jewish) is in fact a trilogy, so The Book of Mormon is essentially The Return of the Jedi of the franchise. After Smith was shot dead, his friend Brigham Young led his followers to Salt Lake City where they made big Mormon families – culminating in Price himself. The villagers, however, are not convinced.

“Sal Tlay Ka Siti”

One person who is interested in Mormonism is Hatimbi’s daughter Nabulungi. Local dictator ‘The General’ arrives and enforces genital mutilation of all female villagers. A man is murdered after he protests and Hatimbi hides Nabulungi in the house. Inspired by the Mormons’ talk about an earthly paradise, she dreams about the freedom and safety that the faith could offer.

“Man Up”

Shocked by these violent events, Price plans to leave Uganda for Orlando. It’s Cunningham’s chance to step up and man up, like Jesus Christ as he approached his death. This exuberant Act I finale calls to mind the “Tonight Quintet” from West Side Story or “One Day More” from Les Misérables as each character gets their moment in the spotlight and they all come together in counterpoint.

“Making Things Up Again”

Cunningham attempts to teach the Book of Mormon to the villagers but they aren’t entirely convinced. No stranger to telling tall tales, he embellishes with references to Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Suddenly, his listeners are much more engaged. The other missionaries express disapproval but if it helps to spread the word, what’s the harm?

“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”

Price arrives in Orlando but is haunted by guilt. He has nightmarish visions of Hitler, Genghis Khan, and, worst of all, a disappointed Jesus who calls him a “dick”. He begs for one more chance and promises not to break the rules again.

“I Believe”

Back in Uganda, Price asks himself, "I've always longed to help the needy, to do the things I never dared / This was the time for me to step up, so then why was I so scared?” He prepares to confront The General: “A warlord who shoots people in the face / What's so scary about that? / I must trust that my Lord is mightier and always has my back” (yes, this is a riff on “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music). Being a Mormon involves belief in things that might seem far-fetched, including believing that the ancient Jews sailed to America; God lives on a planet called Kolob, and the location of the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri. With the backing of a choir, he gathers his strength to re-enter the fold.

“Baptize Me”

Nabulungi asks Cunningham to baptise her. He’s nervous as it isn’t something he’s done before – and he’s also developed romantic feelings towards her. It seems she also feels the same way. It’s sung as a romantic duet with quite a bit of innuendo (“I’m wet with salvation…”).

“I Am Africa”

As they baptise the villagers, the (white) Mormons make it all about them, singing about their connection with Africa: “We are the sweat of the jungle man / We are the tears of Nelson Mandela / We are the lost boys of the Sudan…” Various self-congratulatory white saviour charity songs come to mind.

“Joseph Smith American Moses”

In a number inspired by “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” from The King and I (in turn based on the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Nabulungi leads a pageant telling the story of Joseph Smith as told to them by Elder Cunningham in a way that makes the story relatable to their experiences. The mission president isn’t impressed with all the liberties that have been taken (Ewoks as well as AIDS and FGM?) – not to mention all the bad language and violence.

“Tomorrow is a Latter Day”

“Tomorrow is another day”, proclaimed Scarlett O’Hara. For members of the Church of LDS, it’s a latter day. Price acknowledges Cunningham as his best friend and the two plan to stay in Uganda and develop their own Garden of Eden. The General is converted and the missionaries and their new recruits join forces to spread the word of “The Book of Arnold” in a reprise of “Hello!” before we say goodbye.

Other songs in The Book of Mormon

Not on the cast album is “Orlando” for Price, and reprises of “I Am Here for You,” “You and Me (But Mostly Me),” and “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”

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Photo credit: The Book of Mormon cast. (Photo courtesy of production)

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