One of the interesting things that happened this weekend was singing Praise to the Man in the Priesthood session. For most of my life I have felt a great affinity to Joseph Smith. In some respects I find it easier to understand the gospel because I know he was a man, warts and all.
Now with that in mind I found myself singing the hymn and gaining a lot more respect for what the hymn was saying, as well as how it was saying it:
Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus annointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.
This part is of course rather obvious.
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Interesting to note the comments here and must certainly refer to some of those former members of the church who had turned on Smith.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.
Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assasins,
which apparently originally ended with: …stain Illinois rather than “Plead unto heaven”
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know ‘Brother Joseph’ again.
As we sang this song I was thinking about this song a bit more. As I noted there were some interesting things held within it. However what seems remarkable how when you sing the song loudly as we did Saturday I felt almost belligerent. I felt ready to take on anyone to defend the name of the Prophet against any.
This feeling, along with others made me think about who wrote the song. W. W. Phelps is a distant relative (not a direct ancestor but great something uncle) of my wife. As I thought of him I also remembered the reference I read recently that their is some attribution of Eliza R. Snow as having written the words.
If Snow did it seems almost a hymn of even more significance. Because Snow was of course one of the polygamous wives of Joseph at the time of his death. As I thought of this it certainly makes one wonder how these women, married to their Prophet but more or less ignored or even possibly hated by Emma.
What was their feelings, how did they feel being seperated and left in some cases unmarried and unable to truly mourn their husband like Emma, openly hidden as they were. So one can appreciate that if Snow did pen these words attributed to Phelps it may make it just that much more poinant tribute and message of defiance from one of his eternal companions.