The hymnal of the Latter-day Saints first proposed only shortly after the organization of the Church and published continually every few years between 1835 and 1871, is a remarkably accurate indicator of the changing fortunes and beliefs of the early Saints. The first hymnal, gathered by Emma Smith, uncompromisingly sets forth the basic Mormon belief in man's free agency, his innate perfectability, and his kinship to his Heavenly Father. Later editions reflect the missionary concerns of the church (1840), the tremendous persecution the saints are subjected to (1841), the Church difficulties after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith (1849), the call to gather in the Zion of Deseret (1851), the promulgation of newly evolving Church doctrines (1856), the dissension arising between some Church members (1863), and the Church's dedication to Jesus Christ (1871). Indeed, the hymnal stands as a record of a people's journey from innocence to experience. From a literary viewpoint, the hymnal has its shortcomings, and is often considered to be too didactic and too enthusiastic. While this may be true, several hymnists, notably W. W. Phelps, Parley P. Pratt, and Eliza Snow have created excellent hymns.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Symons, Ruth Alene Thomson, "The Song of the Righteous: An Historical and Literary Analysis of the Latter-Day Saint Hymnal" (1971). Theses and Dissertations. 5158.
Mormon Church, Hymns, History, criticism, Mormon doctrine