Saturday, March 30, 2013

Speaking of contradictions

Ex Cathedra has his own.

My fascination with Mormonism continues. As a work of individual religious imagination, Joseph Smith's conception has few equals. With St Paul, Mohammed and Nanak. Whatever his flaws of character or whatever the historically fatal fault lines in Mormonism's doctrine or however controlling the church is of its members, it is certainly not one more cookie cutter Protestant sect eternally obsessing over sola fide and sola scriptura. Although contemporary LDS apologists want to make it acceptable as part of the Christian world, it is precisely its post-Christian (and pre-Christian) elements which make it so compelling.

And however comfortable Mormons now are, their ancestors' westward Exodus is utterly admirable for sheer guts.

And were Ex Cathedra to wonder about a national anthem for his fantasy post-USA Republic, one of the contenders would be a Mormon hymn. The tune is non-Mormon, coming from that great American (Protestant) Sacred Harp tradition, by one Jesse Tom White, a Baptist. Alternatively, its source is "an English folk song." The words are LDS, however, written early British convert William Clayton, who was also a Joseph Smith intimate and help provide the text of the amazing King Follet Discourse. That extraordinary funeral sermon, so extraordinary that it never even made it into the Mormon canon of scripture, exemplifies much of what made Smith an original American religious genius.

I confess that whenever I hear this hymn, Come, Come, Ye Saints, it makes the hair on my head stand up. This arrangement is softer than the one I first heard (and can't find), and takes longer to get a head of steam on, but you can see the potential.

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 be blessed.
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,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!

1 comment:

PNWReader said...

Suppose Joesph Smith had been in a Catholic area of NY state rather than Protestant. I wonder how Mormonism might look today.
2010 Religious Map of USA by County

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