Sunday, July 24, 2011

Come, Come Ye Saints

The 24th of July commemorates the day that the first wave of Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Upon exiting Emigration Canyon and cresting a small hill to the east, Mormon President Brigham Young (who was sick with fever at the time) looked out of his wagon and proclaimed, "It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on." The words, "This is the place" echoed throughout the wagontrain. The long trek across the American plains and Rocky Mountains was over (at least for the first of them). The Mormons had officially found their new home.

And though I may be accused of personal bias, I am still amazed at how little attention the Mormon migration west recieves in the history books. After all, the Mormon Trail helped, in many ways, to blaze further migrations westward. In addition, more Mormons died during their trek west than those who died in the Trail of Tears (no discredit to that terrible event). It is truly a fantastic American story that everyone (not just Mormons) should be proud of. It captures the essense of so much that makes America the special land we all love.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I can think of no better way of introducing those unfamiliar with the Mormon migration story than by pointing to the Mormon hymn, Come, Come Ye Saints written in 1846 by William Clayton. The hymn helps to capture some of the powerful imagery and deep sentiment these early Mormons must have endured:

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!

We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West ,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the saints, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring,
Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!
And who better than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing this song. Enjoy:


Phil Johnson said...

Do you think an open and unbiased representation of the role played by the LDS movement would be accepted?
I produced a community festival in which the local LDS group was invited to participate with its own booth along with groups of all other denominations as well as other community organizations. Some of the LDS members told me they would not come to the event again as a result of some of the groups playing such loud music.
It seemed they were not interested in what others had to say.

Brad Hart said...

So since a group of Mormons didn't accept your invitation to some random gathering that means they were not interested in hearing what others had to say?

Yeah, that makes sense.

Phil Johnson said...

It was an organized gathering attended by thousands of people of the local community. Not all the Mormons reacted that way; but, the ones that did were were with an older gentleman who appeared as though he held some position of authority in their group. I don't know that his attitude wasn't shared by others. Many of the other denominations didn't even show up.