Literary DCGD #11: Bold Pilgrim

March 15, 2013 | 2 comments
By

One of the early focuses of the Doctrine and Covenants is missionary work. Repeatedly the Lord advises the Church in revelation that “the field is white, already to harvest,” and encourages missionaries to labor with “all your heart, might, mind and strength.” Church members are urged to prepare and to “open your mouths” to warn and convert neighbors. And these themes did appear in early Mormon poetry, including this work, which was written by the first Mormon missionary to die in the field outside of the United States, Lorenzo D. Barnes.

Barnes was a convert in Medina county, Ohio in 1833 and left on his first mission to western Ohio later than year. Early the next year he joined Zion’s Camp and traveled to Missouri to alleviate the suffering there, and after returning he was ordained a Seventy. In 1838 he moved to Missouri, was ordained a High Priest and became a member of the High Council at Adam-ondi-Ahman, and was then called on a mission to the Eastern States, returning from his mission to Nauvoo instead of Missouri in early 1841. He didn’t stay long—in the Fall of 1841 he was called to serve in England where he was soon called to preside over the Bradford conference (like a mission district today), but he neglected his health in his work, and after an illness died on December 20, 1842.

This poem was published as a pamphlet soon after Barnes’ arrival in England in 1842, perhaps as a way to finance Barnes’ mission—a practice employed by many Mormon missionaries at the time, including Apostles like Parley P. Pratt. I have omitted 22 stanzas that are autobiographical in naturefrom the middle of the poem.

.

The Bold Pilgrim

By Lorenzo D. Barnes

Written on board the ship Southernor, by Lorenzo D. Barnes, Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, While on his Voyage from New York to England, on a mission. Jan. 1842.

I am a bold Pilgrim—a message to bear
To Islands, and Countries, and Kingdoms afar;
For the Lord, from the heavens, a message has sent
To call on the Nations—Believe and Repent,
In the Last Days.

 

The Gospel of Christ is now made so plain,
That none need to doubt—the truth of the same;
For the simple and wise, and the way-faring man,
May all believe in, and be saved by one plan,
In the Last Days.

 

In the days of St. Paul, the Gospel of Christ
Was free unto all, without money or price;
It did with ritch gifts, the believer endow—
It always did this, and so it will now,
In the Last Days.

 

Glad tidings! Glad tidings! let the nations rejoice!
Ye Elders of Israel, O, lift up your voice,
Like Angels of God—and proclaim the glad news,
With sounds of rejoicing—to Gentiles and Jews,
In the Last Days.

 

But no man can tell what trials and cares
These Elders of Israel are called to bare;
For year after year they are called to roam,
As strangers and pilgrims, afar from their home,
In the Last Days.

 

But though from their kindred and friends who are dear,
They are called to the Nations, this message to bear,
They never repent it, nor never repine,
But cheerfully spend both their money and time,
In the Last Days.

And now to all people, to lands far and near,
we invite you to bow to this message we bear;
Be meek, and be lowly, be wash’d in the stream,
And the blood of the Saviour your souls shall redeem,
In the Last Days.

 

The work we declare is the work of our God,
It still will prevail and will spread far abroad,
Till nations, long shrouded in darkness and gloom,
Shall rise to the light—as the dead from the tomb,
In the Last Days.

 

Old Israel shall come, with his tribes from the north,
Like the sands by the sea, in number his host;
On truth’s fair standard, shall his banner be furl’d,
While Zion’s bright glory shall enlighten the world,
In the Last Days.

 

Then joys unnumber’d without pain or alloy,
The Angels from heav’n and the Saints will enjoy;
While peace, like a river, shall extend the world round,
And the knowledge of God o’er the earth shall abount.
In the Last Days.

Bold Pilgrim (1843)

.

While perhaps short on style and polish, Barnes’ work reflects the feelings that even missionaries today have, while also covering many of the points made in the scriptures in this lesson. I think that removing the “In the Last Days” line at the end of each stanza would improve the poem, but thought it best to leave it as the author composed it. With or without the last line of each stanza, I think this will serve well for any lesson on missionary work.

2 Responses to Literary DCGD #11: Bold Pilgrim

  1. Adam G. on March 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I appreciate these very much.

    In life, I hope the feeling I put into it may make up for a certain lack of style and polish.

  2. Tiger on March 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I agree the last line of each stanza could be easily left off and it would still achieve its intended effect and impact. As a lover of poetry, I appreciate all the poems that you, Kent, have shared and I am delighted to glimpse these works that I’ve never seen before.