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.