Literary DCGD #9: The God that others worship by John Hardy

February 24, 2013 | 6 comments
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The formal organization of the Church on April 6, 1830, subject of Gospel Doctrine lesson #9 this year, was the culmination of many preparatory steps that Joseph Smith and his fellow believers took. When the organization occurred, the group had new scripture, new authority from God and a new prophet at its head. In the ensuing years it added other key elements to its structure, beliefs and practices, some of which are described below in John Hardy’s hymn. In a real sense, at least most of these elements are what we are talking about when we speak of the restoration of “the only true and living church.”

I mentioned a little of Hardy’s biography last week. This poem actually appeared  several months before last week’s poem, and just two days after the martyrdom. But it was published in New York City, which would not find out about the tragedy for about another 10 days. It appeared in the Times and Seasons and the Nauvoo Neighbor the following February, was published in England later in 1845, and by the end of the decade had become a standard hymn in LDS hymnals, where it remained until the 1890s.

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Hymn

By John Hardy

The God that others worship, is not the God for me,
He has no parts nor body, and cannot hear nor see,
But I’ve a God that lives above,
A God of power and of love,
A God of revelation, O, that’s the God for me,
O that’s the God for me, O that’s the God for me.

 

A church without Apostles, is not the church for me,
Its like a ship dismasted, afloat upon the sea,
But I’ve a church that’s always led
By the twelve stars around her head.
A church with good foundation, O that’s the &c.

 

A church without a Prophet, is not the church for me,
It has no head to lead it, in it I would not be,
But I’ve a church not built by man,
Cut from the mountain without hand,
A church with gifts and blessings, &c.

 

The hope that Gentiles cherish is not the hope for me,
It has no faith nor knowledge, far from it I would be;
But I’ve a hope that will not fail,
Which reaches far within the veil,
Which hope is like an anchor, &c.

 

The heaven of sectarians, is not the heaven for me,
So doubtful its location, neither on land nor sea;
But I’ve a heaven on the earth,
The land and home that gave me birth,
A heaven of light and knowledge, &c.

 

A church without a gathering, is not a church for me,
The Savior would not own it, wherever it may be;
But I’ve a church that’s called
From false traditions, fears and doubt,
A gathering dispensation, &c.

The Prophet, 29 June 1844

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I’m not sure why Hardy chose the subjects he did for each stanza. While they are generally important doctrines for the time (the doctrine of the gathering is no longer emphasized today), I think Hardy probably left out others that, at least today, we would think vitally important. He doesn’t mention, the Book of Mormon, for example, nor continuing revelation. At least they should have been added. [And still could be —the structure of this poem makes adding stanzas seem easy!]

But I can also see why this hymn was eventually taken out of the hymnal — it has a kind of flip feel to it, in my view. I can’t get over the idea that its rhythm seems identical to a sea chanty—a jaunty feel that makes me look around expecting the stereotypical Irishman dancing a jig to the sound of an accordion. Not very hymn-like if you ask me.

 

6 Responses to Literary DCGD #9: The God that others worship by John Hardy

  1. LDS Anarchist on February 25, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Fun fact: the church was organized in Manchester, not Fayette, like the section heading says. Or perhaps I should say:

    A true church organized in Fayette, is not the church for me,
    For the true church was organized in Manchester, as historians can plainly see.
    But I’ve a church that began in Man
    Despite that typist’s erroneous hand.
    A church with good historians, O that’s the church for me.

  2. Kent Larsen on February 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

    LOL!

    Thanks for adding a verse!!!

    Maybe someone will perform it at the MHA. Now who can play the accordion???

  3. Paul S. on February 26, 2013 at 3:26 am

    It’s #320 in the 1889 “Latter Day Saints Psalmody”:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wIkoAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=twopage&q&f=false

    (Please note that, for some unfathomable reason, the hymnbook was printed on three staffs, with the tenor line on the top one, the bass on the bottom one, and the soprano and alto sharing the middle staff – so the melody is the top note on the middle staff.)

  4. Kent Larsen on February 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Very unusual, Paul (at least in my limited experience). I appreciate you adding to my list of where the hymn was published. I don’t usually publish the list of where poems were published, but I am collecting the lists.

  5. Tiger on March 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Well, Kent asked for more verses. So I took a stab at one that addresses both scripture and continuing revelation:

    A church without new scriptures is not the church for me
    For prophets wrote of matters valid to their history,
    But I’ve a church with new insights
    That guides me now with heaven’s light
    A church with current scriptures, O, that’s the church for me.

  6. Tiger on March 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    #1 LDS Anarchist, I’m unsure what section you are referring to… Apparently you wrote before the scriptural adjustments were released. Adjusted Section 20 states the revelation…was given “at or near Fayette.” Yet, the unadjusted section 21 states the revelation given was at Fayette. So I’m just curious why you’re sure it’s in “Man” (the sites for sections 19, 22, & 23).

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