Today Alma’s discourse on the development of faith in Alma 32 is well known among Mormons and widely referred to on almost any discussion of faith. The “nourishing” of seeds and plants is, of course, common in poetry — its the comparison of seeds and growth with faith or the word that is important to Mormonism.
I haven’t researched whether or not this discourse was used frequently like it is today. But there are elements of the idea and description in the chapter which can be found in some early Mormon poetry. Parley P. Pratt used it in the following poem.
Autograph Books reached the peak of their popularity in the mid 19th century, and Mormon leaders and missionaries were asked to sign these books. This book belonged to Lydia Ann Aldrich Snow, wife of Erastus Snow’s brother, Levi Mason Snow. Unfortunately, while both Levi and Lydia defended Mormonism during their lives, they never joined the Church.
Written for the Album of Mrs. Lydia Snow, of Woonsocket, R. I.
by Parley P. Pratt
- Many authors grace the page
- With themes of childhood, youth and age
- And love, and friends to mem’ry dear;
- But lines prophetic scarce appear.
- Permit a prophet to relate
- The destinies of Church and State,
- To unfold the scenes of future years,
- As to his view the scene appears.
- Dark scenes of strife, and war, and blood,
- Will sweep the earth as with a flood,
- Till sects shall cease, and tyrants fall,
- And Jesus Christ be Lord of all.
- An end of Church! an end of State!
- An end of parties, small and great!
- An end of pain, an end of woe,
- An end of sin and sorrow, too!
- A single grain of mustard seed,
- Upstarting from its lowly bed,
- Becomes a tree whose branches fill
- The earth, and cover every hill.
- Pure truth shall then the earth pervade,
- And nations dwell beneath its shade;
- While love shall dwell in every breast,
- And earth enjoy its final Rest.
- O Lydia! wouldst thou share a part;
- Let Mormon truth expand thy heart.
- Obey, and thus be freed from sin,
- And to this kingdom enter in—
- For ere the frost of age shall throw
- Its silver mantle o’er thy brow:
- Events fulfilled will clearly show
- I’ve told the truth to Lydia Snow.
The Prophet, 22 June 1844
Pratt covers a lot of territory in this poem, using Mormonism’s early millenarian teachings and predicting that Lydia would see his words fulfilled during her life. But he also aludes to the New Testament metaphor for faith, the mustard seed, and in the next to last stanza echoes Alma 32′s admonition to let the word “expand thy heart.”