Literary Lorenzo Snow #24: Christ is Born, the Joyful Story

December 8, 2013 | 3 comments
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evan_stephensFinding Mormon poetry that talks about Christ is not hard at all. In fact, of all the Mormon poetry that I’ve read (considering only poems written by Mormon authors), the number of poems about Christ surpasses by far the number of poems about any other single individual. If this is a good proxy for what Mormons believe, then there is no doubt: Mormons worship Christ, not Joseph Smith.

But the final Lorenzo Snow lesson for the year focuses on the mission of Christ, mentioning also that he has visited the earth in the latter-days and will come again. That particular mix of ideas is actually quite difficult to find in Mormon poetry (or at least in what I’ve collected so far). The following poem is nice, and its short, and actually does mention many (but not all) of the ideas in the lesson.

Its author is Evan Stephens, best known as a composer and the first full-time director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Born in Wales in 1854, he immigrated to Utah with his parents at the age of 12, and eventually studied at the University of Utah. By 1885 he was directing the teaching of music there, and in 1890 he was named the director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That position was upgraded to full-time in 1895, and Stephens continued directing the Choir until 1916, expanding it from 125 to 300 voices. In addition, he wrote hymns. The 1927 LDS hymnal (from which this poem was taken) included no less than 84 of his hymns (we have just 19 in the hymnal today). He died in 1930.

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Christ is Born, the Joyful Story

by Evan Stephens

Christ is born, the joyful story
Spreads from heaven o’er the earth,
Prince of Peace and King of Glory
On the earth has mortal birth.
Christ is born, and heav’n rejoices,
Lo! the world, redeem’d from sin!
Joyful sing angelic voices,
Peace on earth is ushered in.

 

Christ shall come again in glory,
Here to reign as King of kings;
Wars shall cease and conflicts gory,
Never more shall sorrows bring.
He shall reign o’er death triumphant,
Reign in justice, bonds release.
Worship, worship, Christ the Infant,
Christ the Lord, the “Prince of Peace.”

LDS Hymnal, 1927
[HT, Keepapitchinin, 16 Nov. 2009]

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The mission of Christ that comes out of this poem is similar, I think, to what Lorenzo Snow says in the quotes in the manual. In the poem Christ is the “Prince of Peace” and because of Christ “Peace on earth is ushered in.” And, the Christ that Stephens describes will “come again in glory.”

I’m not sure that this hymn adds anything new to our understanding of Christ, but it is still a very nice, worshipful description of what we think of our Savior. I wouldn’t mind seeing it back in the hymnal.

3 Responses to Literary Lorenzo Snow #24: Christ is Born, the Joyful Story

  1. Steve Martin on December 8, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I think the poem is wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    ___

    This is sort of a poem, and is also perfect for sharing at Christmas time:

    http://theoldadam.com/category/christmas-tree-message/

    And it’s written in the shape of a Christmas tree.

    I thought you might enjoy it.

  2. Kent Larsen on December 10, 2013 at 7:01 am

    That is clearly a poem (it might be called concrete poetry).

    But, its kind of off topic for this post! The point here is that the poem above fits with Teachings of Lorenzo Snow lesson #24, which focuses on the mission of Jesus Christ.

    Did you read that lesson before posting your link?

  3. Jared Bernotski on December 27, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I want to thank you for posting this and other poems for the Lorenzo Snow lessons. I have set several of your posts to original music, which have added greatly to the lessons I’ve presented.

    I find it easier to compose a song than to teach a lesson, but finding appropriate texts has always been a challenge. Thanks to you, however, I have had moving, musical texts readily available.

    In the case of this text, I changed a few of the words, and feel that I improved its meaning as well as the music. I haven’t notated this piece or others yet (I’m planning to write a “Lorenzo Snow Lesson Suite” at some point), but I would be happy to share with you when I write them down.

    Here’s my modified text:

    Christ is Born, the Joyful Story
    by Evan Stephens & Jared Bernotski

    Christ is born, the joyful story
    Brings glad tidings to the earth.
    Prince of Peace and King of Glory,
    Heavens hail his mortal birth.
    Christ is born, all nature rejoices;
    Lo, the world redeem’d from sin!
    Joyful sing angelic voices,
    Peace on earth is ushered in.

    Christ shall come again in glory,
    Crowned to reign as King of Kings;
    Wars shall cease to rage and worry,
    Sorrows change to brighter things.
    Death is vanquished, Jesus is triumphant,
    Conquers death and brings release.
    Joyful worship Christ the Infant,
    Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace.

    Thanks so much for your efforts, and I would love to communicate more with you in the future.

    I don’t suppose that you’re planning similar postings for Joseph Fielding Smith lessons?