This week’s song is “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”. Click here for music.
Scriptures for this song:
Matthew 25:31-40 This is a well beloved set of scripture verses that tells us if we have done something “unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (I wrote a song having to do with those verses. you can see my song here SSA + SA or SSATB.)
Text by James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music by George Coles (1792-1858)Tune name is Duane Street (The name of a church in New York where the composer preached.)
The story behind the song:
Once again, we have a hymn inspired by time spent observing nature. Apparently the text of this was written in part as the author took a ride in a carriage across England on two separate occasions. One of the times was on a cloudy & stormy day and he only had a scrap of paper with which to finish his poem. The text was originally a poem entitled “The Stranger and His Friend”. Montgomery wrote about 400 hymns in his lifetime, was imprisoned twice for his politics and never thought one of his poems would stay known through the ages. His hymns maybe, but not his poems.
George Coles found the poem and put it to music. He was an able musician and loved to be around children. The song took on more meaning and was endeared to LDS church members when John Taylor sang the song to Joseph Smith just minutes before a raging mob took the lives of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
I am doing a little research online to find these things out. I also have a book entitled "Our Latter-day Hymns The Stories and the Messages" by Karen Lynn Davidson from which I am finding information on these songs. If you want more info, the aforementioned book and the internet search engines can get you much more than the little bit I shared.