Emma Smith's 1841 Hymnbook
People sometimes ask me if I think “Amazing Grace” will ever appear in our Latter-day Saint hymnbook. I tell them that, in fact, it was in our hymnbook—the 1841 edition compiled by Emma Smith. Their follow-up is always the same: “Why did they take it out?” That is a far more difficult question, one that leads to what we might call the Great Divide in Mormon hymnody, a rift that mirrors the main division in the church after the death of Joseph Smith. Simply put, the apostles produced one form of hymnody that went to Utah, and Emma Smith a different one that stayed in the Midwest. Both sides’ respective hymnbooks differed in character.
A hymnbook’s character seldom comes up in LDS hymnology. Most studies of early Mormon hymnbooks focus on the hymns’ authorship, derivation, continued use, or distinctively Mormon doctrines.1 What scholars tend not to do is explore what the character of any given hymnbook was: its pervasive tone, its general manner, the “feel” of the words overall. That is a hard task, of course, and a highly subjective one. But it is a way of looking at hymnbooks that was not lost on, say, Sidney Rigdon, who wrote about it in the preface to his own 1845 hymnbook. There he repeatedly affirms the distinct character of his hymnbook: “[I have] been careful to insert compositions which are rather subjects of praise than of prayer or of exhortation. If saints pray let them do it without singing their prayers: and if they exhort let them do so; for the subject matter of prayer and exhortation is never the subject of praise, at the same time. A subject cannot be a subject of praise until it ceases to be a subject of prayer or of exhortation.” And on and on, he continues to harp on how a collection of hymns of praise—that is, his book—must differ from one of prayer or exhortation.2
What I hope to do here is shed light on the character of Emma Smith’s 1841 hymnbook, which dwells on old revivalist themes: for example, grace, the blood of Jesus, and the private redemption of the soul. In those regards it differs from the apostles’ hymnbook of a year earlier, which would become the foundation for all mainstream LDS hymnbooks into the twenty-first century. Emma’s estrangement from Brigham Young and her refusal to join the apostles in their move from Nauvoo not only separated her from the majority of Mormons, it also seems to have influenced the character of her book away from the hymn tradition of those who went west.
The Rigdon hymnbook I quoted was at least the eleventh in a series of Mormon hymnbooks produced by various compilers since 1835 (see appendix 1).3 Nine of them were small to moderate in length, from 17 to 182 hymns apiece. But two hymnbooks stood out, each of them containing more than 270 hymns. These two hymnbooks were Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor’s A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe (Manchester: Thomas, 1840) and Emma Smith’s A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Nauvoo: E[benezer] Robinson, 1841). To understand the underlying rivalry between these two volumes, we need to retrace the intertwining stories of their publication.
A revelation given to Joseph Smith in July 1830 introduced Emma’s special stewardship in the church: “It shall be given thee also to make a selection of Sacred Hymns as it shall be given thee which is pleasing unto me to be had in my Church for my Soul delighteth in the song of the heart yea the song of the
heart righteous is a prayer unto me & it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”4 She gradually made her selection, which was published in installments in the church newspaper The Evening and the Morning Star beginning in 1832—only after Joseph Smith and his associates decided that Emma’s selection should be “corrected” and “revised” by W. W. Phelps, the newspaper’s editor.5 A hymnbook, if contemplated by that time, seemed to lie in the future.
The book whose publication would surely take precedence over a hymnbook was the Book of Commandments, planned for an edition of 10,000 but later cut to 3,000—a number that itself was thwarted by mobs.6 The follow-up volume, the Doctrine and Covenants, seems to have been planned with a hymnbook as its sequel: the Doctrine and Covenants came off the press in 1835, the hymnbook in 1836 (despite its imprint date of 1835).7 The hymnbook contained ninety hymns (texts only), mostly borrowed. One cannot say how much Phelps stamped Emma’s book with his own biases and quirks. But many of the borrowed hymns were indeed altered by him to be more group-oriented (e.g., I changed to we) or more millennial (e.g., in “Joy to the World,” the phrase “the Lord is come” changed to “the Lord will come”).8
We don’t know the size of the imprint of that first hymnbook, though it was probably less than that of the Doctrine and Covenants, whose print run is also unknown. (We might infer the probable difference by considering the apostles’ decision on their 1840 British mission to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon but only 3,000 of the hymnbook they compiled.)9 Whatever the number of copies of Emma’s book, circumstantial evidence suggests it was either sold out or in disuse within three years. I say “disuse” because missionaries traveling with books to distribute would have carried copies in the obvious proportions of priority: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and, last of all, hymnbooks. Even though the Book of Mormon (republished in Kirtland in 1837) and the Doctrine and Covenants (1835) were presumably in higher demand, Emma’s 1835 book was in short supply and by July 1839 could well have been deemed “out of print.” Meanwhile, in 1838 David W. Rogers claimed Jesus had appeared to him in a dream and told him to compile a new Latter-day Saint hymnbook.10 While the size and title of the book he published implies that it was Emma Smith’s original, Rogers is clearly shown on the title page as the compiler.
At the October 1839 general conference—by which time another unauthorized hymnbook had also appeared—the same conference resolved “that a new edition of Hymn Books be printed immediately, and that the one published by D. W. Rogers be utterly discarded by the Church.” He, in turn, would have to answer to the Nauvoo High Council. When the high council met on Rogers’s case twenty days later, they voted “that Sister Emma Smith select and publish a hymn-book for the use of the Church, . . . that Brigham Young be informed of this action and he not publish the hymns taken by him from Commerce [Nauvoo],” and that they themselves should assist in publishing Emma’s book.11
Unfortunately, Joseph had already begun going in a different direction, as suggested by the high council’s reference to the hymns taken abroad by Brigham Young. Joseph’s 1839 journal mentions that on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 8–10 July, he was not only spending most of his time ministering to the sick in the Saints’ new gathering place in Illinois, but also “selecting hymns with the 12.”12 When the journal entry was published in the History of the Church, the editors expanded the statement to read, “I was with the Twelve selecting hymns, for the purpose of compiling a hymn book.”13 The additional clause may seem inconsequential. But with the Twelve about to leave on their mission to the east coast and Great Britain, the issue of publishing a new book of hymns was far from settled.
In a letter dated 22 November 1839, it seems clear that Elder Parley Pratt—whether or not he had heard of the high council’s recent decision to have Emma compile a new book—was not expecting the Twelve to publish its own hymnbook from the mission field but was waiting for a new one from Emma: “There is a great call for hymn-books, but none to be had. I wish Sister Smith would add to the old collection such new ones as is best, and republish them immediately. If means and facilities are lacking in the west, send it here [New York], and it shall be nicely done for her; and at least one thousand would immediately sell in these parts wholesale and retail.” After offering to raise money to publish the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants in the east, Pratt added: “Any hymn-book which Sister Smith or the Church will favor us with, shall also be published on similar conditions.”14
In his letter of reply, 22 December 1839, Hyrum Smith made it clear that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and hymnbook should all be published at Nauvoo and then, if non-English versions were needed, the Nauvoo editions could be translated and published elsewhere.15 The high council, meanwhile, effectively declined Pratt’s offer to publish the book in the east, voting on 29 December 1839 to print 10,000 copies of Emma’s new book “under the inspection of the First Presidency at Nauvoo, so soon as means can be obtained.”16 Within a few days, Hyrum Smith wrote to his brother Joseph, bringing up Pratt’s request and urging Joseph to get all three books out “under your immediate inspection. I am afraid some have been induced to tarry and assist Parly in these undertakings.”17
The zeal with which the people of Nauvoo tried to protect Emma’s authority as the church hymnodist came to a head on 6 April 1840, when Thomas Grover preferred charges against David Rogers (who was not present) “for compiling a hymn-book, and selling it as the one compiled and published by Sister Emma Smith.” The next day, though, Rogers was forgiven of his breach.18
Ten days later in Manchester, England, a council meeting of seven of the Twelve Apostles voted to appoint its own three-member committee to make a selection of hymns—presumably based on the one they had begun with Joseph Smith before leaving on their mission. If there was any ambiguity about whether their selection was to be published as a book, however, Brigham Young answered that with a decidedly pragmatic argument: “Concerning the hymn-book—when we arrived here, we found the brethren had laid by their old hymn-books, and they wanted new ones; for the Bible, religion, and all is new to them. When I came to learn more about carrying books into the states, or bringing them here, I found the duties were so high that we never should want to bring books from the states.” Making this justification, Young asked no permission to publish their own hymnbook, probably because the issue of Emma’s authority—not to mention the high council’s—would come into play.19
Apostles Orson Hyde and John E. Page, apparently confused about Joseph’s direction regarding the hymnbook, wrote to the Prophet from Ohio on 1 May 1840 concerning their impending mission to Germany. “Should we deem it necessary to publish an edition of Hymn Books in any Country: are we at liberty to do it? The fact is we need such works; and we cannot get them from the Church here; and if we could we could not well carry them with us, in any quantity. . . . We did not convers[e] so much upon these literary works as we should have done before we left.” Part of the problem, Elders Hyde and Page said, was that “we did not begin to see the greatness of our mission before we left home; our minds were in a nutt shell.”20
The Prophet quickly replied. “In answer to your inquiries respecting the translation and publication . . . I would say that I entirely approve of the same; and give my consent, with the exception of the Hymn Book, as a new edition, containing a greater variety of Hymns, will be shortly published or printed in this place; which, I think will be a standard work.” He added that “as soon as it is printed, you shall have some to you, which you may get translated, and printed into any language you please. Should we not be able to send some to you, and there should be a great call for Hymns where you may be; then I should have no objections to your publishing the present one [that is, the 1835 edition]. Were you [to do so] I desire the copy rights of the same to be secured in my name.”21
In the midst of that interchange, on 7 May 1840, Brigham Young wrote the Prophet with a formal request to publish the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants in England, but not the hymnbook, except perhaps by implication. On 26 May John Taylor arrived in Manchester and joined the hymnbook committee, though the process they would follow was still unclear to him; it seemed to favor Parley Pratt, as Taylor had written to Willard Richards on 4 May 1840:
I am preparing hymns for the book but should be pleased of a little explanation on a sentence dropped in your letter. You say, ‘He Er Young intends to prepare what hymns he can & forward them to Er Pratt.’—Am I to understand that Er Young will prepare what hymns he can & that he wishes me to do the same & forward them to Er Pratt & leave it for Er Pratt to select and Compile the same—or that when we have each made our selections we as a committee meet together & select & compile the hymns—This latter was my view that I had formed of it. I should think that it would be necessary for us to meet because we may all of us have made large selections & the question will be which shall be left out & which shall go in, a question that would be easily decided were we all together.22
The full committee met 27–30 May and made their collective decisions. By the end of June they had prepared a manuscript for the press with the intent to publish 3,000 copies.23
A small note below Young’s 7 May letter in Smith’s letterbook says that an answer was sent by Lorenzo Snow, authorizing the Twelve to publish books, including the hymnbook. Because of the time delay in receiving Young’s initial request, though, that reply was not sent until 19 July. By then Young had already published the apostles’ new hymnbook and introduced it at a public meeting in Manchester (6 July 1840). The congregation at that meeting voted to receive and approve the new book.24
When he learned of this, Smith apparently wrote a letter to the Twelve scolding them for what they had done. Although the letter seems not to have survived, Brigham Young wrote to his wife about it on 12 November:
[Joseph] said he had somthings against them, acording to whatt I could lern from the letter it was because we did not wright to him upon the subject of printing the hymbook and the Book of Mormon which we should have ben glad to have don if we could, but it did not seeme to be posable, all I have to say about the matter as to my self is I have don all that I could to due good and promote the cause that we are in, I have done the verry best that I knew how, and I think that Br Joseph will tel us all about things when we return home, there was som of his letter Blotted out But I think we understood it by what we could read of the part bloted out, you may read this letter to Br Joseph or not jest as you plese, but tell him at ennyrate to say what he wants me to doe and I will try and doe it the Lord will.25
Nevertheless, before Young wrote that November letter, Joseph had received a copy of the hymnbook and on 19 October 1840 reversed his position, writing to the apostles: “In my former epistle I told you my mind respecting the printing of the Book of Mormon, Hymn Book &c &c I have been favored by receiving a Hymn Book from you, and as far as I have examined it I highly approve of it, and think it to be a very valuable Collection.”26 And indeed, as we shall see, the evidence shows that Emma Smith would rely on it in her new compilation.
At the church’s general conference on 4 October 1840, Ebenezer Robinson had given an account of the recent publication of the Book of Mormon at Nauvoo and said that arrangements had now been made for printing Emma’s new hymnbook. He soon left for Cincinnati to buy paper and other materials for printing and binding. When he returned, he wrote a starkly headlined article—”HYMNS!! HYMNS!!”—for the Times and Seasons, of which he was editor. He wrote that he had the physical makings of the hymnbook but now (1 November) needed content for
a new selection of Hymns which have so long been desired by the saints, [of which] we contemplate commencing the work immediately; and feeling desirous to have an extensive, and valuable book; it is requested that all those who have been endowed with a poetical genius, whose muse has not been altogether idle, will feel enough interest in a work of this kind, to immediately forward all choice, newly composed or revised hymns. In designating those who are endowed with a Poetical genius, we do not intend to exclude others; we mean all who have good hymns that will cheer the heart of the righteous man, to send them as soon as practicable, directed to Mrs. Emma Smith, Nauvoo, Ill. Post Paid.27
What must have struck many who read this plea was the absence of any reference to the apostles’ hymnbook, of which many must have been aware in a city now swelling with the inflow of British immigrants. Emma herself—via Joseph—must have had one; Brigham Young himself was anxious to know that she did as of January 1841.
On 15 March 1841 the Times and Seasons published a notice under the heading “Books.” It noted that “the Hymn books are also, just out of the press, and as many will be bound and ready for distribution upon [the occasion of general conference] as possible.” They would be “for sale by prest. J. Smith.”28 Nevertheless, after the recriminations about the propriety of making their own hymnbook in England and the appearance of Emma’s new collection in Nauvoo, on 3 April 1841 the apostles voted unanimously to allow Parley Pratt to reprint their hymnbook “if he deem it expedient” and not to alter it in any way—not even to reflect Emma’s selections, apparently—”except the typographical errors.”29 That decision ensured that there would be two official hymnbooks in the church.
The character of Emma’s new hymnbook would depend largely on what hymns she added. But before looking at those, we should look at what hymns she deleted. As to why she deleted them we should be cautious. One deletes for various reasons. Sometimes a hymnbook compiler’s personal preference may be enough to omit hymns that a book once included. Sometimes hymn texts turn out to be awkward, hard to fit to a tune. Sometimes hymns fall into disuse—if nobody wants to sing them, perhaps it is time to delete them to make way for potentially more popular ones. And sometimes the message is off or, in the case of LDS doctrine, has been superseded by new revelation. All such reasons may have led Emma to remove eleven hymns from the ninety in her earlier book.
Four of these the apostles had also removed in their 1940 book. The reasons seem clear. “There’s a Power in the Sun” was perhaps a bit too mystical for the Saints, referring continually to the divine presence in nature but mentioning God as such only in the last line of each verse, “Oh behold the Lord is nigh.” “Through All This World Below” is similar in its descriptions of “natural divinity” and was in fact too overtly Trinitarian to remain in the hymnbook. “There Is a Land the Lord Will Bless” (a rewrite of Isaac Watts’s “There Is a Land of Pure Delight”) not only was awkward at times (e.g., “joy” rhymed with “Destroy!” [the latter term in italics]) but also probably seemed obsolete since it dwelled on the Saints’ gathering to Missouri. The fourth hymn deleted from both hymnbooks was “When Earth was Dress’d in Beauty,” an anomalous text that Phelps had written for his wife to celebrate their marriage (and perhaps reassure her of its durability). This hymn constituted the only hymn in the section marked “On Marriage.” Both the hymn and the section were cut from both hymnbooks.
But Emma removed seven more hymns that the apostles retained. Allow me to speculate on her motives. The opening line of “God Spake the Word and Time Began” seemed at odds with Joseph’s increasingly “eternalist” perspective, in which God, though perhaps outside of time, did not necessarily create it. “There’s a Feast of Fat Things,” a hymn celebrating the feasts of the poor at Kirtland, may now have seemed obsolete, a relic.30 “When Restless on My Bed I Lie” was weak: it is essentially a hymn about insomnia. Two hymns may have been deleted because of the awkwardness of their meters. The boldly millennialistic “Let All the Saints Their Hearts Prepare” seems especially well suited in text to the apostles’ missionary emphasis: cultivating a people ready for God’s kingdom; and “The Lord into His Garden Comes” seems especially attuned to what seem Emma’s predilections, with its celebration of the individual soul’s intimate relationship with Christ. But one would have a hard time finding suitable tunes for them. Concerning the deletion of “Jesus the Name That Charms Our Fears,” I can find no plausible rationale.
One deletion Emma uniquely made is telling. Phelps had rewritten Isaac Watts’s “He Dies, the Friend of Sinners Dies” into “He Died, the Great Redeemer Died.” Here are their respective first verses:
He dies! the Friend of sinners dies! Lo! Salem’s daughters weep around; A solemn darkness veils the skies, A sudden trembling shakes the ground.
He died; the great Redeemer died, And Israel’s daughters wept around; A solemn darkness veiled the sky, A sudden trembling shook the ground.
Phelps, of course, moves the lyric from the vividness of the present tense to the past and also throws out the idea that Jesus is “the Friend of sinners.” By discarding Phelps’s version and adding back Watts’s original, Emma seems to be retrenching to Protestant language and the heavenly grace it implies.
One more case we should mention is a little more complicated. While Phelps’s popular “Redeemer of Israel” remains in the 1841 volume, it is omitted from the index. Thus, if anyone were looking for it by name it would not appear, seemingly cut from the collection. (This is the only hymn that appears in the book but not in the index.) What does appear in both the index and the book is the model Phelps used for writing “Redeemer of Israel”: Joseph Swain’s “O Thou in Whose Presence My Soul Takes Delight.” Swain’s hymn is in the first-person singular, reflecting on the singer’s joy in his Savior:
O thou in whose presence My soul takes delight, On whom in affliction I call: My comfort by day And my song in the night, My hope, my salvation, my all!
Where dost Thou at noon-tide Resort with Thy sheep, To feed on the pastures of love; For why in the valley Of death should I weep, Or alone in the wilderness rove?
Oh, why should I wander An alien from Thee, And cry in the desert for bread? Thy foes will rejoice When my sorrows they see, And smile at the tears I have shed.
Phelps’s massive rewrite had made the song a first-person plural praise song for the coming redemption of Zion and her people:
Redeemer of Israel, our only delight, On whom for a blessing we call, Our shadow by day, and our pillar by night, Our King, our Deliverer, our all!
We know he is coming, to gather his sheep And lead them to Zion in love, For why in the valley of death should they weep Or in the lone wilderness rove?
How long we have wandered as strangers in sin, And cried in the desert for thee! Our foes have rejoiced when our sorrows they’ve seen, But Israel will shortly be free.
I believe that Emma had been drawn to Swain’s song in the first harvest of Mormon hymns in the 1830s, only to have it replaced by Phelps’s new version. As good as his was, she wanted the original back as part of a more privately worshipful collection. The reintroduction of “O Thou in Whose Presence” into Emma’s 1841 hymnbook suggests the overall tone of retrenchment in that volume.
The apostles’ Manchester book had 108 new hymns that did not appear in Emma’s book. Emma’s had 141 new hymns that did not appear in theirs. Both books had many new hymns by Protestant authors and some new hymns by LDS authors. In appendix 2 we see an alphabetical listing of all the hymns in Emma’s 1841 volume, with the ones retained from her 1835 volume distinguished from the ones added to her 1841 edition, giving special attention to the new ones found only in hers and not in the apostles’ book.
The LDS hymn author who looms largest among the new LDS hymns in both books is one of the apostles who edited the Manchester volume, indeed the one who seemed most in charge of the project: Parley P. Pratt, who contributed at least thirty-six new hymns to that volume. Pratt’s themes mirrored those of his missionary tracts: the second coming, the kingdom of God, the millennium, the people of God, priesthood, and the apostleship. Emma used one-third of those new Pratt hymns in her collection (and no other new ones by Pratt), including several that have become classics (e.g., “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee”). But while Pratt’s influence on both books cannot be overestimated, Emma’s collection turned more to other authors, mostly Protestant.
Of the 141 new hymns Emma included that the apostles did not, 83 were borrowed from known Protestant sources; at least a dozen more whose sources I cannot find also seem to come from mainstream Protestantism. That is understandable, of course—the Saints were still far from creating an indigenous hymnody, even if they wanted to. And Protestant hymns had a wide range of themes, many not unlike Pratt’s, including the kingdom of God, the second coming, and so forth—though not priesthood or apostleship, for obvious reasons. More often, though, Protestant hymns also featured praise, confession, and the search for comfort. That is, they leaned toward the believer’s personal relationship with Christ or meditations on how he and his atonement have affected the individual singer.
With that in mind, I’d like to dwell on three specific themes that help color the character of Emma’s collection, giving it more of a Protestant revivalist air: the cross, the blood of Jesus, and grace.31
In all his published doctrinal writings and addresses, Joseph Smith almost always refers to “the cross” only in its literal sense of the specific object on which Jesus was hung to die.32 The two exceptions are (1) when he says, “I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life,” and (2) when he vaguely alludes to Catholic doctrine thus: “tis not the cross as the Catholics would have it”—a statement whose context is unclear but that seems a critique of traditional Christian emphasis on the cross as a symbol.33 Emma’s 1835 hymnbook uses the term similarly to Joseph, referring only to “the cross” in its literal sense or, one time, in this analogy: “If we, like Jesus, bear the cross— / Like him despise the shame.”34 In other words, “the cross” is the burden of being a follower of Christ. In her 1841 book, though, Emma begins to employ “the cross” as Protestants (after Paul the apostle) commonly did. That is, “the cross” connotes God’s plan of redemption.
Thus in hymn 65, “Great Was the Day, the Joy Was Great,” the first verse describes the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The second and third verses lead to the impending mission of Jesus’s twelve apostles—spreading “the myst’ry of his cross”:
What gifts, what miracles he gave! And power to kill, and pow’r to save! Furnish’d their tongues with wond’rous words, Instead of shields, and spears, and swords.
Thus arm’d, he sent the champions forth, From east to west, from south to north; “Go, and assert your Savior’s cause; Go, spread the myst’ry of his cross.”
Then the fifth verse gives the devil’s response and decidedly turns “the cross” into a “doctrine”:
The Greeks and Jews, the learn’d and rude, Are by these heav’nly arms subdu’d; While Satan rages at his loss, And hates the doctrine of the cross.
The sense of “the cross” as the Christian mission also appears in hymn 257, which begins with a self-interrogatory about the singer’s valiance:
Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own his cause, Or blush to speak his name?
If these new usages of “the cross” seem incidental, new references to “the blood of Jesus” are more potent.
The Blood of Jesus
Joseph Smith never referred to the “blood of Jesus” as such in his doctrinal writings and speeches. Although it was not uncommon for him to refer to “blood,” he did so almost always in the context of any of three themes: (1) the shedding of innocent blood as a grievous sin, (2) the blood of Abraham or related blood as a genetic or covenantal marker, and (3) the spilling of the blood of the righteous in persecution (or specifically his enemies’ “thirst” for his blood). The 1835 hymnbook mentions Jesus’s blood most often in connection with the sacrament or in questions such as “Alas! And did my Savior bleed” (hymn 61) or “And did my Savior die / and shed his blood for me?” (hymn 64). The closest it comes to invoking the transformative power of Jesus’s blood is in the sixth verse of hymn 67: “His blood can make the foulest clean.”
The 1841 hymnbook vividly elevates the blood of Jesus in its imagery, aligning it with the rhetoric of camp-meeting preachers. One example is referring to his flowing blood as the “crimson tide” in this stanza from hymn 185:
Stretched on the cross, the Savior dies; Hark!—his expiring groans arise! See, from his hands—his feet—his side, Descends the sacred—crimson tide!
In this Christian favorite (hymn 176), we find his blood as an overflowing fountain in an extended metaphor connected to “redeeming love”:
There is a fountain fill’d with blood, Pour’d from Immanuel’s veins; And sinners plung’d beneath that flood Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoic’d to see That fountain in his day; And there have I, though vile as he, Wash’d all my sins away.
O Lamb of God! thy precious blood Shall never lose its pow’r Till all the ransom’d sons of God Be saved, to sin no more.
E’er since by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply. Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.
The idea of washing the soul in his blood occurs again in hymn 66:
To him that lov’d the sons of men, And wash’d us in his blood, To royal honors rais’d our hands, And made us priests to God.
Still another hymn (hymn 52) contrasts the power of Jesus’s blood with that of the sacrificial animals in earlier times:
Not all the blood of beasts, On Jewish altars slain, Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the Heavenly Lamb, Bears all our sins away; A sacrifice of nobler name, And richer blood than they.
Hymn 110 treats the blood of Jesus as a source of both comfort and joy as well as a link to God’s “fulness”:
This comfort is mine, Since the favor divine I have found in the blood of the Lamb; Since the truth I believ’d, What a joy I’ve receiv’d, What a heaven in Jesus’ bless’d name!
. . .
O the rapturous height Of this holy delight, Which I feel in the life-giving blood! Of my Savior possess’d, I am perfectly bless’d, Being filled with the fulness of God!
Hymn 245 suggests that the blood of Jesus allows saints to conquer.
Rise, O my soul—pursue the path By ancient worthies trod; Aspiring, view those holy men Who liv’d and walk’d with God.
Though dead, they speak in reason’s ear, And in example live; Their faith, and hope, and mighty deeds, Still fresh instruction give.
‘Twas thro’ the Lamb’s most precious blood, They conquered every foe; To his almighty power and grace, Their crowns of life they owe.
Lord, may I ever keep in view The patterns thou hast given, And ne’er forsake the blesséd road, That led them safe to heav’n.
I have included the entire text here for its eloquence as well as its appeal to the last of our three ideas, grace.
The word grace appears many times in the 1835 hymnbook. Occasionally it has glowing adjectives attached—heav’nly, wondrous, bounteous, free, and all-sufficient. The idea of grace rises high in three phrases: “the triumph of his grace,” “the gospel of grace,” and “my faith and hope relies / upon thy grace alone.” In all his recorded doctrinal statements, Joseph never qualifies grace with superlatives or exultant modifiers. Nor does he make salvation reliant “upon thy grace alone.” Instead, he tends to use the term in a relatively generic sense, referring simply to “God’s grace,” “divine grace,” or, on the negative side, “falling from grace.”
But many hymns unique to the 1841 hymnbook revel in the principle of grace. Fresh elocutions appear: “wonders of his grace,” “riches of his grace,” “God’s redeeming grace,” “boundless grace,” “the power of sovereign grace,” “the treasures of his grace”—these all being gifts of Jesus, who is called “the prince of grace” (see below). Some hymns emphasize grace in distinct, sometimes unprecedented ways. In this hymnbook, for example, the message of the church is not so much the restoration of the gospel (as in the apostles’ hymnbook) but “proclaiming grace,” as in hymn 175:
Proclaim, says Christ, my wond’rous grace To all the sons of men; He that believes and is immers’d, Salvation shall obtain.
Let plenteous grace descend on those, Who, hoping in the word, This day have publicly declar’d, That Jesus is their Lord.
With cheerful feet may they advance, And run the Christian race: And, through the troubles of the way, Find all sufficient grace.
Another newly added hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (hymn 76), begins thus:
Come thou fount of ev’ry blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.
The next verse emphasizes grace and the singer’s propensity to stray:
Oh! to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrain’d to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wand’ring heart to thee! Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it— Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart—O take and seal it— Seal it for thy courts above.
Hymn 60 is an extended meditation on grace, particularly as it arises from Jesus’s empathy:
With joy we meditate the grace Of our High Priest above; His heart is made of tenderness, His bowels melt with love.
Touch’d with a sympathy within, He knows our feeble frame; He knows what sore temptations mean, For he has felt the same.
He, in the days of feeble flesh, Pour’d out his cries and tears, And in his measure feels afresh What ev’ry member bears.
Then let our humble faith address His mercy and his pow’r; We shall obtain deliv’ring grace In each distressing hour.
Still another hymn (hymn 57) emphasizes the low state of sinners whom Jesus redeems through his grace:
Plunged in a gulf of dark despair, We wretched sinners lay, Without one cheerful beam of hope, Or spark of glimmering day!
With pitying eyes the prince of grace Beheld our helpless grief: He saw—and—O amazing love!— He came to our relief.
References to “amazing love” and “wretched sinners,” of course, draw the mind to that most beloved of grace songs, here included as hymn 118.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound,) That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found,— Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears reliev’d; How precious did that grace appear; The hour I first believ’d!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.
Such hymns, moving back toward revivalist language and sentiment, seem almost at odds with the boldly millennialist, restored-gospel language that characterizes the apostles’ hymnbook.35
At the October 1841 general conference of the church, Emma’s hymnbook was the one used. In total, ten different hymns were sung (two of them twice). Of those ten, three had appeared in the 1835 hymnbook, six were in both the Manchester book and Emma’s, and one was unique to Emma’s. When the new Relief Society began to meet in 1842, Emma was the president. The minutes show that her hymnbook, not surprisingly, was the source of the hymns.
In 1843 the Times and Seasons included a notice that read: “SACRED HYMNS. Persons having Hymns adapted to the worship of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are requested to hand them, or send them to Emma Smith, immediately.” If yet another hymnbook were in the works, it never came to be—or at least not till Emma and the apostles severed ties after Joseph died.36 The split between Emma and the Twelve may have been aggravated by contentions over the hymnbook. But the roots of the split, of course, went deeper. By 1841 Joseph’s relationship with the Twelve had grown very close, with Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball as his special favorites. But at this time there were clearly things that Joseph shared with the Twelve that he kept from Emma (or that she rejected). Meanwhile, as the letters involving the British hymnbook reveal, Joseph seems to have been triangulating the matter, seemingly supporting Emma’s purview to determine the church’s hymnody but still approving Brigham’s independent production as “highly valuable.” The 1841 hymnbook almost seems a concession to Emma, a counterweight to the apostles’ book, if not a new incentive to her to remain faithful despite the rise of polygamy in her and her friends’ households.
Other conflicts between Emma and Brigham Young not only illuminate the divide in hymn traditions but may also suggest why she slanted her hymnbook’s character in the direction she did.37 Increasingly isolated from new doctrine and the seats of its authority, she would resonate to familiar hymns of personal solace and the intimate, graceful Savior instead of the bold, millennialistic, group-oriented hymns of, say, Parley Pratt, with their penchant for the newness of the fresh dispensation rather than the comforts of the ancient one being restored. In 1853 the Millennial Star noted that in the last dispensation “God will send forth, by His servants, things new as well as old, until man is perfected in the truth.”38 Over time it became clear that in her hymnody Emma tended toward the old, at least when it came to familiar revivalist themes and rhetoric.
It may be too much to infer details of Emma’s heart from her choices in this book. On the other hand, one cannot help wondering how great a loss the church suffered with the loss of Emma’s heart. When the Twelve left Nauvoo and the Smith family stayed behind, the official hymnbook of what we now know as “the church” would be the apostles’ hymnbook, not Emma Smith’s. And that, in effect, eradicated the old direction toward which Emma was coaxing Mormon hymnody.
Hymns flavor our worship. They also color our perception of orthodoxy. Again and again, the character of the hymns we sing asks us: What are the themes that shape our worship? What are the doctrines that, whatever their place in the scriptural canon, get distilled into memorable phrases and, through repetition, saturate our minds? In the case of the 1841 hymnbook, then, we may also ask: had Emma Smith left Nauvoo with the Twelve and resumed her place as the overseer of Mormon hymnody, how different might the character of Mormon worship now be?
Smith, Emma. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Kirtland: Williams, 1835. 90 hymns.
Rogers, David W. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. New York: Vinten, 1838. 90 hymns (one printed twice).
Elsworth, Benjamin C. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Christ of the Latter Day Saints. N.p.: Elsworth, 1839. 112 hymns (two printed twice).
Young, Brigham, Parley P. Pratt, and John Taylor. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Europe. Manchester: Thomas, 1840. 271 hymns (one printed twice).
Smith, Emma. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nauvoo: E[benezer] Robinson, 1841. 304 hymns (one printed twice).
Page, John S., and John Cairns. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Use of the Latter Day Saints. N.p.: Page and Cairns, 1841[?]. 47 hymns.
Merkley, Christopher. A Small Selection of Choice Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. N.p.: Merkley, 1841. 19 hymns.
Hardy, John. A Collection of Sacred Hymns, Adapted to the Faith and Views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Boston: Dow and Jackson’s Press, 1843. 155 hymns.
Little, Jesse C., and George Bryant Gardner. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Use of the Latter Day Saints. Bellows Falls, VT: Blake and Bailey, 1844. 48 hymns (some with musical notation).
Adams, Charles A. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Bellows Falls, VT: S. M. Blake, 1845. 104 hymns.
Rigdon, S[idney], comp. A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Pittsburgh: E[benezer] Robinson, 1845. 182 hymns.
Adieu, my dear brethren adieu, Adieu to the city, where long I, &c. Alas! and did my Savior bleed! All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Am I a soldier of the cross Amazing grace! how sweet the sound An angel came down from the &c. An angel from on high And am I born to die? And are we yet alive And did my Savior die And must this body die? Angels! roll the rock away Arise! arise! with joy survey Arise great God and let thy grace Arise in all thy splendor Lord Arise my soul, arise Awake and sing the song Awake! for the morning is come Awake my soul and with the sun Awake O ye people the Savior is, &c, Awake! ye saints of God awake! Awake ye that slumber Away my unbelieving fears
Be it my only wisdom here Before Jehovah’s awful throne Before this earth from chaos sprung Begin my soul the exalted lay Begin my tongue the heavenly theme Begone unbelief my Savior is near Behold the day appear Behold the earth doth mourn Behold! the glories of the Lamb Behold the great Redeemer comes Behold the Lamb of God Behold! the mount of Olive rend Behold the mountain of the Lord Behold the Savior of mankind Behold what condescending love Beloved brethren! sing his praise Beyond the glittering starry skies Blow you the trumpet, blow
Call Jehovah thy salvation Cease ye mourners, cease to languish Christ the Lord is risen to day Come all ye saints who dwell on &c. Come all ye sons of God and view Come all ye sons of Zion Come Holy Spirit heav’nly dove Come let us all unite and sing Come let us anew our journey, &c. Come let us join our cheerful songs Come let us sing an evening hymn Come sound his praise abroad Come thou fount of every blessing Come ye children of the kingdom Come ye that love the Lord Come you that love the Savior’s name Creation speaks with awful voice
Daughter of Zion from the dust Do we not know that solemn word
Earth with her ten thousand flowers Ere long the vail will rend in twain Eternity is just at hand
Farewell all earthly honors Farewell our friends and brethren Father how wide thy glories shine Father in heaven we do believe From all that dwell below the skies From Greenlands icy mountains From the regions of glory an angel
Gently raise the sacred strain Give us room that we may dwell Glorious things are sung of Zion Glorious things of thee are spoken Glory to thee my God this night Go, ye messengers of glory Go, ye messengers of heaven God in his earthly temple lays God moves in a mysterious way Great God attend while Zion sings Great God indulge my humble claim Great God to thee my evening song Great is the Lord in the city of Zion Great is the Lord: ’tis good to praise Great King of glory come Great was the day the joy was great Guide us O thou great Jehovah
Hail the blest morn when the great Hail the day so long expected Hail to the Lord’s anointed Hail to the Prince of life and peace Happy the man that finds the grace Hark! from the tombs a joyful sound Hark! Hark! the notes of joy Hark! how the watchmen cry Hark listen to the trumpeters Hark! the glad sound the Savior’s, &c. Hark the song of Jubilee Hark the voice of love and mercy Hark what mean these holy voices He comes! he comes the Judge He dies the friend of sinners dies He lives the everlasting God He reigns, the Lord the Savior reigns Hear the royal proclamation Hear what God the Lord has spoken Heaven has confirm’d the dread, &c. Here at thy table Lord we meet Ho! every one that thirsts draw nigh How are thy servants blest! O Lord How beauteous are their feet How firm a foundation ye saints How foolish to the carnal mind How happy are the little flock How happy are they How happy every child of grace How happy gracious Lord are we How often in sweet meditation How pleasant how divinely fair How pleasant ’tis to see How pleased and blest was I How pleasing to behold and see How will the saints rejoice to tell
I know that my Redeemer lives I love the Lord he heard my cry I’ll praise my maker while I’ve, &c. In ancient days days men fear’d In ancient times a man of God In Jordan’s tide the prophet stands In pleasure sweet here we do meet
Jehovah reigns, O glorious King Jehovah reigns your tributes bring Jesus! and shall it ever be, Jesus from whom all blessings flow Jesus mighty King in Zion Jesus my glorious light appears Jesus once of humble birth Jesus shall reign wher’er the sun Jesus thou all redeeming Lord Jesus! we hail thee Israel’s King Joy to the world the Lord will come
Kingdoms and thrones to God belong Know then that every soul is free
Let earth and heaven agree Let every mortal ear attend Let sinners take their course Let us pray gladly pray Let Zion in her beauty rise Life is a span a fleeting hour Lift up your heads eternal gates Lo! he comes with clouds descending Lo! on the waters brink we stand Lo! the mighty God appearing Lord in the morning thou shalt hear Lord thou hast searched and seen Lord thou wilt hear me when I pray Lord visit thy forsaken race Lord we come before thee now Lord what a thoughtless wretch Lord what our ears have heard
Mortals awake! with angels join My God how endless is thy love My God I am thine what a comfort My God the spring of all my joys My soul come meditate the day My soul is full of peace and love
Never does truth more shine Nor eye hath seen, nor ear hath Not all the blood of beasts Now let our mournful songs record Now let us rejoice in the day of, &c. Now the truth once more appears Now we’ll sing with one accord
O God our help in ages past O God the eternal Father O God, thou good, thou great, &c. O happy souls who pray O Jesus! the giver O Lord our Father let thy grace O stop and tell me Red Man O thou, in whose presence O thou, to whose all searching sight O Zion tune thy voice O’er mountain tops the mount of God O’er the gloomy hills of darkness Oh! for a shout of sacred joy On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand On the mountains top appearing Once more my soul the rising day Once more we’ve met to worship Our Lord is risen from the dead
Plung’d in a gulf of dark despair Praise God from whom all blessing Praise to God immortal praise Praise ye the Lord my heart shall, &c. Praise ye the Lord, ’tis good to, &c. Proclaim says Christ my wonderous
Redeemer of Israel Reform and be immers’d Rejoice! ye saints of latter days Repent ye Gentiles all Return O God of love return Rise O my soul pursue the path Roll on thou mighty ocean!
Salem’s bright King Jesus by name Salvation! O the joyful sound! See all creation join See how the morning sun See the mighty angel flying Shepherd divine our wants relieve Sing to the Lord Jehovah’s praise Sitting by the streams that glide Soon as I heard my Father say Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypts Stretched on a cross the Savior dies Sweet is thy work my God my King
Talk with us Lord, thyself reveal That awful day will surely come The day is past and gone The flow’ry spring at God’s command The gallant ship is under weigh The glorious day is drawing nigh The glorious day is rolling on [repeated with different hymn no.] The great and glorious gospel light The happy day has rolled on [repeated with different hymn no.] The King of heaven his table spreads The Lord my pasture shall prepare The morning breaks, the shadows The morning flowers display their The praise of Zion waits for thee The rising sun has chased the night The Savior lives, no more to die The spacious firmament on high The Spirit of God like a fire is The sun that declines in the far The time is far spent there is little The time is nigh that happy time The time long appointed is now The towers of Zion soon shall rise The trump of Israel’s jubal’ year There is a fountain fill’d with blood There is a land of pure delight There is an hour of peaceful rest Think mighty God on feeble man This earth shall be a blessed place This earth was once a garden place This God is the God we adore This is the day the Lord has made Thou Lord, through every changing Thou sweet gliding Cedron, by thy Though in the outward church Though now the nations sit beneath Through every age eternal God Thus was the great Redeemer Thy beautiful garments O Zion Thy goodness Lord how great Thy mercy my God, is the theme Thy word, O my God, I delight To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost To him that lov’d the sons of men To him that made the world To leave my dear friends, and from Triumphant Zion lift thy head Truth reflects upon our senses ‘Twas on that dark, that solemn ‘Twas on that night when doomed ‘Twas the commission of our Lord
Unveil thy bosom faithful tomb
Vital spark of heavenly flame
Watchman tell us of the night We have met dear friends, &c. We’re not ashamed to own the Lord What fair one is this from the What though no flowers the fig-tree What wonderous things we now When all thy mercies O my God When I can read my title clear When I survey the wonderous cross When Israel out of Egypt came When Joseph his brethren beheld When shall we all meet again When the great Judge supreme When the King of Kings comes When youth and age are snatched While humble shepherds watch’d Who are these array’d in white Why do we mourn for dying friends Why should the children of a King Why should we start and fear to die With all my powers of heart With Israel’s God who can compare With joy we meditate the grace
Ye ransomed of the Lord Ye slumbering nations who have Ye who are called, &c. Ye, who in his courts are found Yes mighty Jesus thou shalt reign Yes my native land land [sic] I love thee Yes the Redeemer rose Yes! we trust the day is breaking
Zion’s noblest sons are weeping
Composer, scholar, and poet Michael Hicks is the author of four books (all published by University of Illinois Press), including Mormonism and Music: A History. His historical and analytical articles have appeared in dozens of books and journals, including Musical Quarterly, Journal of the American Musicological Society, and Journal of Aesthetic Education. From 2007 to 2010 he was the editor of the journal American Music. 1. For two recent examples, see Marilyn J. Crandall, “The Little Gardner Hymnal, 1844: A Study of Its Origin and Contribution to the LDS Musical Canon,” BYU Studies 44/3 (2005): 137–60; and Mary D. Poulter, “Doctrines of Faith and Hope Found in Emma Smith’s 1835 Hymnbook,” BYU Studies 37/2 (1997–98): 32–56. Recall that all early hymnbooks of the church contained words only. Hence, that is my focus here.
2. S[idney] Rigdon, comp., A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Pittsburgh: E[benezer] Robinson, 1845), iv. It is not clear to what hymnbooks he was contrasting his own.
3. For an annotated catalog of early Latter-day Saint hymnbooks, see Shane J. Chism, comp., A Selection of Early Mormon Hymnbooks: 1832–1872 (Tucson, AZ: n.p., 2011).
4. This is from a transcript of the Book of Commandments holograph copy found at http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/revelation-july-1830%E2%80%93c-dc-25#2 (accessed 4 July 2011).
5. See Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1844 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 46; and Peter Crawley, A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church: Volume One, 1830–1847 (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, ), 59.
6. See the history of the book in Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 38–39.
7. The dating issue is treated in Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 59.
8. The changes are surveyed in my “Poetic Borrowing in Early Mormonism,” Dialogue 18/1 (1985): 132–42.
9. History of the Church, 4:131.
10. See the preface to David W. Rogers, A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints (New York: Vinten, 1838).
11. History of the Church, 4:14, 17–18. For further discussion of this hymnbook, see Michael Hicks, Mormonism and Music: A History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 23–25.
12. Dean C. Jessee et al., eds., The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839 (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2008), 348.
13. History of the Church, 4:3.
14. History of the Church, 4:22.
15. Hyrum Smith to Parley P. Pratt, 22 December 1839, Joseph Smith Collection, box 2, folder 2, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter Church History Library).
16. History of the Church, 4:49.
17. Hyrum Smith to Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee, 2 January 1840, Joseph Smith Collection, box 2, folder 2, Church History Library.
18. History of the Church, 4:105.
19. History of the Church, 4:120.
20. Orson Hyde and John E. Page to Joseph Smith, 1 May 1840, Joseph Smith Collection, box 2, folder 2, Church History Library.
21. Joseph Smith to Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 14 May 1840, Joseph Smith Collection, box 2, folder 2, Church History Library.
22. John Taylor Papers (typescript), box 1, book 1, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah; original spelling and punctuation retained in quotations.
23. Parley P. Pratt to Brigham Young, 4 May 1840, Brigham Young Papers, box 41, folder 11, Church History Library.
24. History of the Church, 4:148.
25. Brigham Young to Mary Ann Angell Young, 12 November 1840, Philip Blair Papers, box 1, folder 6, University of Utah.
26. Joseph Smith to Traveling High Council and Elders, 19 October 1840, Joseph Smith Collection, box 2, folder 2, Church History Library.
27. “HYMNS!! HYMNS!!” Times and Seasons 2 (1 November 1840): 204.
28. “Books,” Times and Seasons 2 (15 March 1841): 355.
29. History of the Church, 4:326.
30. See Michael Hicks, “What Hymns Early Mormons Sang and How They Sang Them,” BYU Studies 47/1 (2008): 100–101.
31. These themes, I should note, form constellations, not conglomerations. That is, there is no overwhelming mass of new hymns with these themes, but notably strong exemplars—points of light from which I infer images of the hymnbook’s distinct character.
32. This and all other statements about Joseph’s usage are based on a search of Truman G. Madsen, ed., Concordance of Doctrinal Statements of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: I.E.S., 1985).
33. The quotations are from Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comps. and eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980), 376 and 239, respectively.
34. In “The glorious day is rolling on,” from Smith, A Collection of Sacred Hymns (1835), 93–94.
35. For a fuller analysis of that hymnbook’s contents, see James Nathan Arrington, “The Journey Home: A Root-Metaphor Analysis of the 1840 Mormon Manchester Hymnbook” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2005).
36. “Sacred Hymns,” Times and Seasons 4/6 (1 February 1843): 95.
37. On the struggles between Brigham and Emma, see Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 164 and 199–209.
38. “Our Father Adam,” Millennial Star 15 (26 November 1853): 780, emphasis in the original.