Literary BMGD #10: An angel came down from the mansions of glory

February 27, 2012 | 4 comments
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Perhaps the most common theme in early Mormon poetry is the restoration. But while the Book of Mormon itself prophesies about the restoration (as it does in the 10th Book of Mormon lesson), it wasn’t until this hymn was published in 1833 that Mormon poetry addressed the subject. Of course, soon after the Restoration became a very common theme in Mormon poetry from many authors.

William Wines Phelps, the author of this hymn was also one of the first and most prolific of Mormon poets, although unlike his contemporaries Parley P. Pratt, Eliza R. Snow and John Lyon, Phelps never published a volume of his own poetry. He is also unique because he is likely the author of the only poem, outside of scripture, attributed to Joseph Smith (The Vision, a paraphrase of D&C 76). If I recall correctly, he is still the Mormon author with the most hymns in the current hymnal.

This hymn was included in the first Mormon hymnal, and in the hymnal published by Brigham Young, John Taylor and Parley P. Pratt in England in 1840, but was apparently not included in Mormon hymnals after that.

An angel came down from the mansions of glory

by W. W. Phelps

An angel came down from the mansions of glory,
And told that a record was hid in Cumorah,
Containing the fulness of Jesus’s gospel;
And also the cov’nant to gather his people.
O Israel! O Israel!
In all your abidings,
Prepare for your Lord
When you hear these glad tidings.

 

A heavenly treasure; a book full of merit;
It speaks from the dust, by the power of the Spirit;
A voice from the Savior that saints can rely on,
To prepare for the day when he brings again Zion.
O Israel! O Israel!
In all your abidings,
Prepare for your Lord
When you hear these glad tidings.

 

Listen O isles, and give ear ev’ry nation,
For great things await you in this generation:
The kingdom of Jesus, in Zion, shall flourish;
The righteous will gather; the wicked must perish.
O Israel! O Israel!
In all your abidings,
Prepare for your Lord
When you hear these glad tidings.

 First published in the
Evening and Morning Star, February 1833
Also included in the first Mormon Hymnal (1835),
and in the 1840 Mormon Hymnal published in England

While it is not Phelps’ best work, it does clearly discuss the restoration, putting it in the context of another favorite theme of early Mormon poetry: the millennium and return of the Savior. And this restorationist theme makes it fit well with Gospel Doctrine lesson on the Book of Mormon #10.

 

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4 Responses to Literary BMGD #10: An angel came down from the mansions of glory

  1. James Olsen on February 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I like this one – I’d love to hear it set to a rousing tune. Any idea why it wasn’t accepted in subsequent hymnals?

  2. jason on February 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I especially like the “Zion”/”rely on” rhyme.

  3. Kent Larsen on February 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    James, I have no idea why this was not included in subsequent hymnals.

  4. Ardis E. Parshall on February 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I like this one, too, but more as a folk artifact than as poetry — can’t you just hear the nasal twang that would accompany the rhyming of “merit” with “Spirit [sperit]” and “glory” with “Cumorah [cumorey]“? It calls for a lively tune, one that doesn’t linger over syllables. There’s lots of enthusiasm and joy here.