Literary OTGD #17: The Mountain Standard by Parley P. Pratt

Parley P. PrattApproaching the promised land has to influence leaders to remind their followers of how they should act when they enter the long-sought utopia. The goal is to live as God would have them live, covenanting to live in righteousness and harmony. In the case of Moses, as described in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 17, he gives instructions to the Israelites to help them remember their covenants. He urges them to obey the commandments and remember God and to be mindful of the rock of their salvation.

While the experiences of the Mormon pioneers are similar to those of the Israelites, I’m not aware of any discourse by Brigham Young that matches this exactly. There is, however, a poem by Parley P. Pratt that touches on the same concept.

Written during the brief time when most LDS publishing was happening in England, this poem is clearly promoting the Saint’s new mountain home. It was first read during the 1849 celebration of the 24th of July and was sung by a chorus of 24 young men and 24 young ladies, according to the report published in the LDS newspaper in Council Bluffs, the Frontier Guardian.


The Mountain Standard

by Parley P. Pratt

Lo the Gentile chain is broken;
Freedom’s banner waves on high,
List ye nations! by this token,
Know that your Redeemer’s nigh.


See amid these rocky mountains,
Zion’s standard wide unfurled,
Far above Missouri’s fountain
Lo! it waves for all the world.


Freedom, peace, and full salvation,
Are the blessings guaranteed;
Liberty to every nation,
Every tongue and every creed.


Come, ye christian, sect, and pagan,
Pope, and protestant, and priest,
Worshippers of God or Dagon,
Come ye to fair freedom’s feast.


Come ye sons of doubt and wonder,
Indian, Moslem, Greek, or Jew,
All your shackles burst asunder,
Freedom’s banner waves for you.


Cease to butcher one another,
Join the covenant of peace,
Be to all a friend, a brother,
This will bring the world release.


Lo! our King! the great Messiah,
Prince of Peace shall come to reign;
Sound again ye heavenly choir,
Peace on earth, good will to men.

Frontier Guardian v1 n18,
19 September 1849, p. 4.


In many ways this poem is typical of Pratt’s hymns. It is triumphalist, describing the progress of the kingdom while predicting its eventual, millennial success. But the next to last stanza fits very well with what Moses is talking about in his final words to the Children of Israel. Like Moses, Pratt urges the pioneers to obey the commandments (“Cease to butcher one another” and “Be to all a friend, a brother”) while urging them to participate in a covenant (“the covenant of peace”), just as Moses urged the Israelites to live up to their covenants.