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Lyr Add: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

Haruo 28 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Larry Baxter 04 Sep 06 - 11:01 PM
Haruo 05 Sep 06 - 01:02 AM
GUEST,Eric 13 Dec 10 - 02:21 AM
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From: Haruo
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 03:37 PM

I really enjoy this hymn by James Montgomery. It is #29 in the LDS hymnal, and I've never seen it in any other print hymnal. The CyberHymnal gives SAGINA, ST. CRISPIN and SWEET HOUR as alternative tunes, but I much prefer the "proper" tune by George Coles. Incidentally I am also interested in knowing if Coles was a Mormon. I know he was a Methodist journalist until about 1830, but he didn't die till 1858 and the record as far as I can see is blank about his life after he left the paper he edited 1818-1830. The LDS "green" hymnal in a footnote says "Hymn beloved of the Prophet Joseph Smith. See History of the Church, 6:614-15", while the LDS hymnal's large ringbound (presumably keyboardists') edition has a different footnote saying that it was "sung at [Smith's] martyrdom". Somehow I can't quite see a lynch mob pausing in media res to sing one of the lynchee's favorite hymns. Can someone explicate this for me?

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
Author: James Montgomery, 1826
Tune: MAN OF GRIEF Click to Play
Composer: George Coles (1792-1858)

A poor wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel's portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff'rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o'er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

'Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest;
Then made the earth my bed, and seemed
In Eden's garden while I dreamed.

Stripped, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

In pris'n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, "I will!"

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in His hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name He named,
"Of Me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
From: GUEST,Larry Baxter
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 11:01 PM

This is perhaps my favorite hymn, in part for the message and in part for the history. You asked about the latter. I will explain what I understand of this event. On Thursday, June 27th, 1844, Joseph Smith was in Carthage jail with three of his colleagues, his brother Hyrum and two associates, John Taylor and Willard Richards. They were preparing to be tried for treason on Saturday. According to John Taylor, Joseph asked that he sing the hymn about midafternoon and, after singing, asked that he sing it again. With minor protest, he sang it the second time. In those days, it was sung to a different melody than that currently in the LDS hymnal. The four men were housed in the upper portion of the jail - the jailor's quarters - rather than the barred cell on the ground floor. Later that day, a mob likely comprising members from several local or regional militias charged the jail and killed Joseph and Hyrum, wounding John Taylor and stopping his watch at 5:16 pm. Aside from the guards at the jail, the prisoners were supposed to be protected by the Carthage Greys - a local militia reportedly known to be the most hostile to Smith and his colleagues of all those in the area but inexplicably charged with protecting the prisoners by Governor Ford. The murder of the church leaders did not quell the local atagonism toward the Latter-day Saints, and they were forced to leave their homes, farms, houses of worship, etc. a little less than two years later in what became an epic movement that eventually brought the main body of the group to the Salt Lake Valley.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
From: Haruo
Date: 05 Sep 06 - 01:02 AM

An interesting anecdote; thanks, Larry.

Is it known what was the melody it was sung to prior to the adoption of Coles' tune? Also, whether Coles was a Mormon?

Incidentally, when I said I preferred "Man of Grief" over "Sagina" et al., I meant for this text; I would prefer "Sagina" for "And Can It Be?" and "Sweet Hour" for its proper text, "Sweet Hour of Prayer". My conservative streak... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 13 Dec 10 - 02:21 AM

According to the Mormon Church,

The tune used in "Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" today IS the one sang at his martyrdom.

Incidentally, Willard Richards also survived the attack--didn't seem to be noted. He always attributed it to a miraculous prophecy Joseph Smith made to him in the summer of 1843: "Willard, the time will come when bullets will fly around you like hail, and you will see friends fall to the right and to the left of you--but there will not be so much as a hole in your garment." He got through with nothing but a grazed ear, and he was a man who weighed nearly 300 pounds.

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