Latter-day Saint Poetry
The Latter-day Saints who joined the LDS Church in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales occasionally included budding poets and lyricists in their numbers. Like many Christian denominations of the 19th century, the Latter-day Saints enjoyed singing and hymns. New hymns and Mormon-themed poems began to emerge immediately after the first conversions and baptisms, though the old ones were still treasured, too. One of the earliest works printed in the British Mission was the 1840 Manchester hymnal, A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Europe . (link opens in a new tab). The printing of the first major LDS hymnal printed in Europe was done under the direction of Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Parley P. Pratt after the Twelve Apostles decided to print a hymn book during the April 1840 Preston conference. W. R. Thomas in Manchester, who was printing the Millennial Star for the Church at that time (link opens in new tab), was paid about £58. The books were then bound for an additional £43 by two Manchester firms (Crawley, 1997, p. 123). The book was printed in 3000 copies.
Taking a look at the 1840 hymnal, note that the music was not printed with the text. The significance of the chorister and the pianist were perhaps never greater in LDS history than at this time!
This hymn book marked a major change in LDS music history. 271 hymns were included; 78 from the original 1835 hymnal, and another 193 others. Crawley noted that”thirty-eight of the added hymns are by Parley Pratt, sixteen from his Millennium and Other Poems (item 63). Charles Wesley accounted for forty-one of the added hymns, Isaac Watts for twenty-one others” (1997, p. 123). Not all of the hymns survive in our hymnbook today, but many did. For example, the first hymn in the 1840 hymnal, Parley P. Pratt’s “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee,” is still the first hymn in our hymnbooks today.