Literary BMGD #14: Awake! ye Saints of God awake!

April 2, 2012 | 3 comments
By
Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow

Perhaps the most dramatic incident in gospel doctrine lesson #14 is Enos’ prayer; an example that has no doubt led many LDS Church members to wonder about their persistence and perseverance in prayer. Indeed, Enos’ story of his prayer is generally taken as a lesson in how to pray and what prayer means.

It might also be said that Mormonism began with a prayer, and an answer to that prayer that came by way of a vision. That fact, as well as many other examples of prayer, is common in Mormon literature. However, few poems actually discuss the role of prayer or give the kind of lesson that Enos does.

This poem is a bit of an exception. In urging the Saints to “call on the Lord in Mighty prayer,” Eliza R. Snow suggests many of the things we should pray for, and even seems to urge the same goals that drove Enos after he has obtained forgiveness for his sins. Knowing something of Church history at the time this was written (early 1841, just a couple of years after the Saints were expelled from Missouri), much of what Snow sought in urging prayers were in response to direct threats and concerns that the Saints faced:

Awake! ye Saints of God awake!

by Eliza R. Snow

Awake! ye Saints of God awake!
Call on the Lord in Mighty pray’r,
That he will Zion’s bondage break,
And bring to nought the fowler’s snare.
He will regard his people’s cry-
The widow’s tear-the orphans moan!
The blood of those that slaughter’d lie
Plead’s not in vain before his throne!
Tho’ Zion’s foes have counsel’d deep,
Altho’ they bind with fetters strong-
The God of Jacob does not sleep,
His vengeance will not slumber long.
Then let your souls be stay’d on God-
A glorious scene is drawing nigh!
Tho’ tempests gather like a flood,
The storm, tho fierce, will soon pass by.
With constant faith and fervent prayer
With deep humility of soul-
With steadfast mind and heart prepare,
To see th’ eternal purpose roll.
For God in judgment will come near;
His mighty arm he will make bare:
For Zion’s sake he will appear-
Then O ye Saints! awake! prepare!
Awake to union and be one,
Or saith the Lord you are not mine.
Yea, like the Father and the Son,
Let all the Saints, in union join.

Times and Seasons,
1 February 1841

While I don’t think this poem is well known, I’m sure at least some readers will recognize it as one of the hymns found in the current LDS hymnal (#17). In fact, it has been in LDS hymnals since 1841, albeit with a different tune (since the current tune was composed by Evan Stephens, who was born in 1854). The text above is also slightly different from the current hymn text, coming from the original publication in the Times and Seasons. In any case, I think it fits with the discussion of Enos’ prayer.

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3 Responses to Literary BMGD #14: Awake! ye Saints of God awake!

  1. Bill on April 2, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    One of Evan Stephens’s best tunes. The original text and all verses were in the choir section of the previous hymnbook. The only change in the new one (besides leaving out three verses) was adding “tempter”. Maybe the 1985 editors figured that modern congregations couldn’t figure out what a “fowler” was. Luckily, “fowler” is still in the Ron Staheli arrangement, even if they change it when singing in General Conference.

  2. Kent Larsen on April 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Bill, this all makes me wonder what tune this poem was set to before Stephens got to it.

  3. Bill on April 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    The Stephens tune appears in the Latter-Day Saints’ Psalmody of 1889, the first LDS hymnbook to contain printed music, apart from the 1844 Little and Gardner book (with 31 tunes) printed in Vermont and never in wide circulation (and in which Awake, Ye Saints did not appear). Don’t know what tunes may have been used from 1841-89, but any LM (long meter 8888) tune would suffice.

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