Lit Come Follow Me: Easter

While no Come Follow Me lesson will be taught at church this coming Sunday, there is a lesson in the manual, meant for home study. So, I’m providing some poems to go with that lesson, which focuses on three aspects of the mission of Jesus Christ: that he was resurrected (i.e., He Lives), that because of him we will all be resurrected, and His atonement.

Of course, these are not strange concepts in our poetry; they appear many times in our hymnal alone. So I’m presenting a few poems that are less familiar.

He Lives

First, let’s read a poem from the 1841 hymnal, which included many, many new texts pulled from other English hymnals, including this one from Samuel Medley. Frequently, these early English lyricists use the same phrases again and again — and this hymn echoes the familiar Samuel Medley tune we all know so well:

The Savior lives, no more to die

by Samuel Medley (non-Mormon) — 1841 hymnal
The Savior lives, no more to die;
He lives, the Lord enthron’d on high;
He lives, triumphant o’er the grave;
He lives, eternally to save!
He lives, to still his servants’ fears:
He lives, to wipe away their tears:
He lives, their mansions to prepare:
He lives, to bring them safely there!
Ye mourning souls, dry up your tears,
Dismiss your gloomy doubts and fears:
With cheerful hope your hearts revive,
For Christ, the Lord, is yet alive!
His saints he loves—and never leaves;
The contrite sinner he receives:
Abundant grace will he afford.
Till all are present with the Lord!

Resurrection

Among the Saints of the pre-Utah church, grief over the loss of loved ones was familiar, and often entered into poetry, along with the assurance of a resurrection. The following poem is one of the many expressions of grief and condolence found in the corpus of our poetry. Published in the Millennial Star, the Brother Marsden in the title is probably Elder James Marsden, President of the 400+-member Liverpool branch in 1846. I haven’t been able to find any additional information about Clements, but Elder Marsden was a local church leader in England almost continuously through 1856, serving as conference president in Bradford, in Scotland, and in London. But he refused to immigrate to Utah in 1856 and was excommunicated at that time for some reason. Clements’ memorial to the Marsden’s infant son is typical of how church members at the time tried to comfort each other — by focusing on the resurrection:

Lines on the Death of Brother and Sister Marsden’s Little Infant Son

by John Clements (1846)
Weep not for him that’s dead and gone,

Nor to despair be driven,
Your child is sav’d through Jesus Christ,

And he is gone to heaven.

 

Gone far away from wicked men,

To mingle with the good,
That wash’d their robes and made them white,

In Christ’s atoning blood.

 

‘Tis true the trial was severe,

That tore him from your breast,
But oh! do not desire him now,

For he is gone to rest.

 

When lying suffering on your knee,

Your heart was like to break,
And oft you sigh’d and wept aloud,

Oh! could my child but speak!

 

And still you mourn his absence now,

And think you are bereav’d;
Sister, look up, thy God is good,

Woman, thy child is sav’d.

 

“Shed not for him the bitter tear,

Nor give the heart to sore regret;
‘Tis but the casket that lies here,

The gem that fill’d it sparkles yet.”

 

Atonement

Tied with the doctrine of the atonement is the idea that it was the lynchpin of the plan of salvation, and that view is the subject of the following poem by Charles W. Stayner. Born in England, Stayner immigrated to Utah with his family at 7 in 1847 and returned to England in 1863 as a missionary. He eventually became a prominent Utah lawyer and again served a mission to England in 1880, this time as the editor of the Millennial Star. Stayner was influential with many prominent church members, including Orson F. Whitney (and my great grandfather)1.

A Christmas Poem

by Charles W. Stayner (1887)

Down from the realms of Glorious Light,
Fulfilling God’s decree,-
For ’twas decree in council giv’n,
That one should leave His throne in Heav’n
To die for all,-
He came-Creator, Savior, Lord,-
According to the sacred word
Revealed at time of Adam’s fall,
In mortal state midst worldly night,
To shine by deeds with splendor bright.
The earth forewarned by prophet’s voice,
Prepares her mission to fulfil;
Her wise men coming from the east
Refuse to do fierce Herod’s will,
But save the Son of God’s own choice
Who blessing brings.
For Moses-like this Prophet lay
In danger from desire to slay
In breasts of kings,
Whose jealous wrath ne’er yet forgave
Prophetic rival born to save.
O, happy highborn, Heavenly plan,
That gave this priceless gift to man!
That sent Jehovah from above,
Where filled with love,
The seraphs and angelic hosts
All homage pay,
To God whose Glory fadeth not away;
That thus the law of consecration shown,
He might by sacrifice redeem His own!
He whom ’twere Heaven to obey,
Whose mighty call from chaos brought the earth,
Who shone in sun, and made the moon and stars,
And sent creation forth;
Who spake in Eden with command,
Revealing pow’r of God’s right hand,-
The Father’s Representative.
‘Tis He who now in manger lain,
Deprived of judgment, destined to be slain,
Fulfils the Father’s heavenly decree,
And makes the world His great salvation see.
Thus did the Gods who in the heavens dwell,
Promote salvation where weak mortals fell,
And glory gain.
Descending low from His exalted state,
Christ drew manking so near to Heaven’s gate,
That, filled with holy thought man may aspire
To change from flesh, to a “consuming fire.”
And like the Lord great righteousness portray,
By walking in “the strait and narrow way;”
And through eternal deeds of Godly worth
Send sweet salvation forth to men on earth.
What love like His can mortal man ere find?
To sacrifice His life for Adam’s kind
Were but a part of what to Christ was dross,
Compared with soul-salvation through the cross.
Emblem indeed, thou art, accursed tree,
Of what a Savior’s work must surely be!
For all the glory which to Him pertained
In yon bright world where Jesus lived and reigned,
Was willing laid upon the altar of His love,
That man might rise to share the thrones above.
And all He asked in recompense for this,
Was simple restoration to the world of bliss.
He prayed-“O Father, glorify thou me
With the glory which I had with Thee
Before the world was.”
To stand again as second in command,-
The Word, the Mediator at God’s right hand,-
This was to Him who triumphed o’er the grave,
Sufficient glory. His SALVATION WAS TO SAVE.

 

 

Show 1 footnote

  1. Apparently not in a good way, see Dennis Horne’s article here

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