All the songs in 'The Book of Mormon' on Broadway
Learn about the catchy, comedic — and irreverent — tunes that have made audiences laugh like hell since 2011, when the show won a Best Score Tony Award.
What happens when you combine the musical structure of a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein show with the irreverence (and foul language) of a South Park episode? You get The Book of Mormon.
The musical tells the story of two Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda to convert the locals of a small village. When The Book of Mormon debuted at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 2011, the show earned nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, for its provocative humor and catchy songs that have since converted many into musical theatre fans.
The score, by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and record-breaking EGOT honoree Robert Lopez, won a Tony of its own. A few lyrics and story elements changed slightly in 2021 following calls from cast members to reexamine the Black characters’ portrayal in the wake of renewed calls for racial equity. However, the show’s themes of friendship, faith, and hope — which are universally relatable regardless of religious beliefs — remain the same.
Discover more about the Book of Mormon songs and how they use Mormon doctrine (sort of), send-ups of other famous musicals, and original humor to deliver these themes. Then, get tickets to hear the heavenly music on Broadway.
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This upbeat, satirical opening number shows a group of young Mormon missionaries at a Utah training center. As they knock on doors and ring doorbells, they try to convince people to read the Book of Mormon, the keystone of the Mormon religion. In this number, we meet the enthusiastic overachiever Elder Kevin Price and the well-meaning yet incompetent Elder Arnold Cunningham, who regularly deviates from the elders’ prescribed script and makes up facts about the Book.
“Two by Two”
The missionaries are excited to go into the world in pairs and convert others to Mormonism. Pairs of missionaries are assigned to Norway, France, and Japan. Elder Price hopes he’ll go to Orlando – the land of “Sea World and Disney and putt-putt golfing!” Instead, he is sent to Uganda along with Elder Cunningham.
“You and Me (But Mostly Me)”
Elder Price dreams of “doing something incredible that blows God's freaking mind” on his mission. (He is not exactly humble.) Elder Cunningham, on the other hand, doesn’t mind being relegated to sidekick status. He’s primarily excited to have a buddy on the trip, calling a reluctant Price “My new best friend!”
Musically, this song samples “Defying Gravity” from Wicked — which seems apropos, as both musicals feature pairs of unlikely adversaries-to-friends.
“Hasa Diga Eebowai”
In The Lion King, the Swahili phrase “hakuna matata” offers a life philosophy and provides the show with a catchy tune. In The Book of Mormon, the Ugandans — who are dealing with poverty, warlords, famine, and AIDS— say the Swahili-like (but made-up) phrase “hasa diga Eebowai.” But it doesn’t mean “No worries for the rest of your days.”
Local Ugandan leader Mafala Hatimbi explains to the Mormons that the phrase means “Fuck you, God!” This send-up of a classic Disney song shows Elder Price his mission will be more complicated than he’d realized.
According to Book of Mormon co-author Trey Parker, “‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’ is that song in the show where you know people are in or they're out.”
“Turn It Off”
Elder McKinley, a closeted gay missionary, represses his emotions by turning them off “like a light switch.” He leads the other Mormons in a perky tap number in which they advise Elder Price to solve his problems by simply ignoring negative thoughts and feelings.
“I Am Here for You”
Elder Cunningham tries to comfort Elder Price, who is depressed and overwhelmed at the seemingly impossible task ahead of them in Uganda: “The missionaries here have yet to bring a single person to the church.” Cunningham points out that, when Elder Price succeeds at baptizing the Ugandans, it will be even more incredible due to the formidable odds.
He sings a lullaby to Price, saying, “Tomorrow is a latter day.” This lyric is a play on the full name of the Mormon church — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in which “Latter-Day” references the afterlife.
Elder Price (with Elder Cunningham as backup) tells the Ugandans about the history of Mormonism and why it’s not like other sects of Christianity. He describes Mormon founder Joseph Smith as “a hip, new prophet who had a little Donny Osmond flair.” But the villagers do not find Price’s story compelling or relatable. They don’t see how an ‘all-American prophet’ — whether Joseph Smith or Elder Price — could solve their grave problems.
“Sal Tlay Ka Siti”
Mafala’s daughter, Nabulungi, is intrigued by Elder Price’s depiction of Salt Lake City. A corrupt general threatens her village, and she longs to escape to a safe place. She imagines Salt Lake City could be that refuge and is thus open to converting to Mormonism.
“Sal Tlay Ka Siti” is Nabulungi’s first major song, introducing her as a main character and a potential leader among the otherwise skeptical villagers. When The Book of Mormon reopened following the pandemic, Nabulungi’s dialogue and lyrics received updates to “elevate the strength of her character” and increase her agency.
“I Am Here for You" (Reprise)”
A discouraged Elder Price decides to abandon Uganda for Orlando, making it clear he does not want Elder Cunningham to join him. Cunningham is left alone on stage, where he sings about how he tried to be a good friend to Price.
This song is not on the cast album.
Elder Cunningham realizes it’s up to him to keep the mission going. “I've gotta stand up, can't just clam up. It’s time to man up,” he sings. Nabulungi supports Elder Cunningham, but many of the other Ugandans are hesitant. Nevertheless, he is determined to step into the limelight and become a successful leader.
This Act 1 finale mimics Les Misérables’s “One Day More,” with multiple characters singing distinct melodies at once (from “Turn It Off,” “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” “Sal Tlay Ka Siti,” and more) that represent each character’s journey.
“Making Things Up Again”
Act II opens with Elder Cunningham preaching Mormonism to the Ugandans, but he is a little out of his element. As previously established in “Hello,” Elder Cunningham is not good at sticking to the script (nor has he read the Book of Mormon). Instead, he makes up his own version of Mormonism, which draws on popular sci-fi stories such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings.
Figments of Elder Cunningham’s conscience — represented by his father and Joseph Smith — warn him against twisting the truth. But Elder Cunningham rationalizes that he’s helping people with his stories, as the villagers respond positively.
“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream”
Elder Price’s guilt for leaving manifests in a nightmare. In his “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” Elder Price encounters Satan, demons, a disappointed Jesus (who calls him “a dick”), and historical villains, including Hitler and Genghis Khan. Ever the narcissist, Elder Price declares his crime was worse than anything they did. Ashamed and terrified, he begs God, “Please, give me one more chance! I won't break the rules again!”
Now intent on completing his original mission, Elder Price returns to the village. In this satirical sendup of the quirkier aspects of the Mormon faith, he vows to fully believe in all the tenants of Mormonism, no matter how improbable they seem. These include actual statements the Church has endorsed (such as that “the Garden of Eden was in Jackson County, Missouri”) and ones partially fabricated by the musical’s creators (such as “that God lives on a planet called Kolob” and “Jesus has his own planet as well”).
The song begins with a parody of “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music. The lyric “A warlord who shoots people in the face. What's so scary about that?” is a twist on “A captain with seven children. What’s so fearsome about that?”
Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad (the original Price and Cunningham) performed this showstopper at the 2011 Tony Awards.
Nabulungi asks Elder Cunningham to baptize her. He is excited; he has never baptized anyone before. Sung like a love song, “Baptize Me” likens one’s first baptism to losing one’s virginity. The duet includes lines full of innuendo, like “I'm wet with salvation!” and “I’m so happy you’re about to be my first.”
“I Am Africa”
This song shows the Mormons baptizing Ugandan villagers as they sing about their connection to Africa. Exemplifying the cluelessness (and racism) of these white saviors, they proclaim that they are “the winds of the Serengeti,” “the sunrise on the Savannah,” and “the tears of Nelson Mandela,” among other things.
Parts of “I Am Africa” were revised in 2021 to focus on the Ugandan characters and give them more agency.
“Joseph Smith American Moses”
In a loose parody of The King and I’s “Small House of Uncle Thomas” number, the Ugandans perform the story of Mormonism as related to them by Elder Cunningham. The Mission President is initially delighted by this enthusiastic gesture but becomes increasingly dismayed as the song continues.
Unlike the traditional Mormon teachings, this story imagines the founders of Mormonism facing struggles, like AIDs and genital mutilation, that relate to the daily life of the Ugandan villagers.
“Tomorrow Is a Latter Day”
The newly baptized Ugandan Mormons preach their new version of the Book of Mormon, invented by Cunningham: the Book of Arnold. “Even if we change some things, or we break the rules, or we have complete doubt that God exists... we can still all work together and make this our paradise planet,” Elder Price sings, finally appreciative of Cunningham. The missionaries and Ugandans optimistically look to the future, stating that “tomorrow is a latter day.”
Other Book of Mormon songs
The Broadway show also includes reprises of “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” “You and Me (But Mostly Me),” and “Hello,” as well as an encore. These songs are neither on the cast album nor available to stream online — you’ll have to get tickets to The Book of Mormon on Broadway to hear the cast spread these good words.
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