Tuesday, May 18, 2010

All is Well! All is Well!

I expect that I first heard “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” also known as “All Is Well,” some Sunday morning years ago while listening to “Music and the Spoken Word,” broadcast live since 1929 from the Salt Lake Tabernacle in Temple Square. The program, featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the great Tabernacle organ and a narrator, is I’m told the oldest continuing nationwide network broadcast in America. And I still love it.

On every visit still to the Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon I head for the “All Is Well” exhibit at the north end of the east gallery --- a joint LDS-Wayne County Historical Society project --- to listen to that soaring anthem while admiring the artifacts and reading the descriptive panels.

After lunch on Saturday, my cousin Helen and I headed for the Locust Creek campsite a couple of miles southwest of Seymour to visit the spot where it was written 164 years ago now. The interpretive panels that tell the story are just outside the Tharp Cemetery fence, but the camp itself was on the ridge to the west, now a corn field still waiting to be planted, between two forks of Locust Creek.

The first party of Saints headed west on the Mormon Trail, led by Brigham Young, were camped here on April 15, 1846, having fled Nauvoo, crossed southeast Iowa, negotiated a hazardous Chariton River crossing and finally completing the long pull up hill from Locust Creek.

William Clayton, clerk of that party, received word that day that his wife, Diantha, still in Nauvoo, had safely delivered a healthy baby boy. Written in thanksgiving and set to the tune of a popular English folk melody recently published (1844) in the first edition of “The Sacred Harp,” it became an anthem that inspired hundreds of thousands of Mormons, then and now.

It inspires me, too, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. Although it came out of a specific set of circumstances, its theme is universal. A couple of other denominations, the United Church of Christ and Seventh-day Adventists, have been smart enough to adapt it slightly and include it in their hymnals. But it remains most familiar and most loved among the Saints.

I like the “All is Well” video presentation below especially, in part because it tells a little story within the bigger story and also because the depiction of the Chariton River crossing is so realistic. It begins with the flight from Nauvoo across the Mississippi River, then the Chariton River crossing and finally the long trek across the Plains to Utah.

The young wife and mother at one point relies on the power of prayer to restore a downed ox to useful life and at the end is reunited along the trail with the husband and father, who presumably had gone off, perhaps from Mt. Pisgah, to serve with the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War.

Here are William Clayton’s words, appropriate for that journey and, I’d say, for all of our journeys through life.

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 will be blest.
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,
O how we’ll make this chorus swell,
All is well! All is well!

1 comment:

S. Robinson said...

MARVELOUS....Thank you for posting this vivid reminder of the struggles my brave ancesters faced day by day.