Literary BMGD #42: The Gospel

In the final minutes of his visit with the Nephites (3 Nephi 27), Christ makes clear that the church established for the Nephites must bear his name and teach his gospel. He even specifies elements of his gospel: the atonement and resurrection, the final judgment, repentance, baptism, faith in Jesus Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I don’t think it would be very hard to connect any Mormon doctrine to this list.

Finding all these together in poetry might be another question. The following poem comes someone close, and is even titled The Gospel. Unfortunately, at the moment I don’t know who the author was. It is signed simply “J.,” which was not unusual for the time—many authors in the Mormon publications of the late 19th century used initials and pseudonyms in the fiction, poetry and even some non-fiction that they published.


The Gospel

by J.

The Gospel is the power of God,

To every soul’s salvation,
No matter whether Jew or Greek

Or any other nation.
But there is something we must do

‘Ere we can be possessing
That great and glorious Gospel gift,

That all-embracing blessing.
When we reflect upon our sins,

It brings us many a tremor.
But, on repenting, we’re forgiven

Through Jesus, our Redeemer.
The needful thing for us to do

Is full obedience render.
Then our transgressions fade away

And Christ is our Defender.
If we repent of all our sins

And make full reformation,
Keeping God’s laws henceforth, for us

There is no condemnation.
To work the rule of righteousness

The Gospel is the leaven,
That here the will of God may be

Done as it is in heaven.
When to our Heavenly Father’s will

We offer no resistance,
We are in the right way to solve

The problem of existence.
If we would try our very best

To do what is most fitting,
We should not waste much precious time

In doctrinal hair-splitting.
If we would put and keep ourselves

Upon our best behavior.
We’d very soon be one indeed

In Jesus Christ our Savior.
Sectarian technicalities

With us would soon have vanished.
Strife, quarrels, envy, jealousies

Would be forever banished.
The selfish games of greed and grab

Could never more afflict us,
Nor would oppressive laws be made

To needlessly restrict us.
The many worries of our time

No longer would annoy us,
And every effort would be vain

To ruin or destroy us.
From talking of our neighbors’ faults

We should feel more like shrinking,
And how to better our own lives

We should be oftener thinking.
As we wish they would do to us.

So we should do to others.
That is the true and only way

For men to live like brothers.
That is the golden Gospel rule.

Though now we live below it.
That is the height for us to gain.

And every one should know it.
If we would live a perfect life

(Than this, naught could be plainer)
We must obey a perfect law,

Or hopes could not be vainer.
Yes, in the great Millennium

This must be our election,
To shape our lives by Gospel laws

And thus attain perfection.
Some say, “These are ideal views.”

Well, real’s fruit of ideal.
Heaven is ideal realized,

There ideal becomes real.
These ideal views the Lord above

Is daily to us giving.
To make ideals real is

The purpose of our living.

Juvenile Instructor v34 n6, March 15, 1899, p. 192


As poetry, I’m not sure this poem is particularly strong. The meter has a sing-song quality to it that reminds me of “Yankee Doodle” and which, to me at least, gets tiring by the time you reach the end. Nor does it flow very well — the phrasing is quite awkward at times. But as a supplement for a lesson its not too bad, and the “Yankee Doodle” element may work well for many, given that today most Americans (at least, but also in other countries) are only exposed to poetry through popular song. And the language in the poem is generally quite easy to understand — no complicated imagery or words that will be unfamiliar to a Mormon audience.