The Story of a Small Group of Marines Singing “Come, Come, Ye Saints”
The following story took place among an exhausted group of Marines during World War II in what had once been a large rice paddy on the northern end of Okinawa.
The sun was shining brightly the next day when I was awakened by the sound of someone singing. I looked out over the 2,000 men who lay sleeping, steam rising from their wet bodies, and saw a dirty, tired Marine with blond whiskers singing:
Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
I could not believe my ears! I had not heard that hymn since I left my home. I got up, staggered over to where the Marine was, and joined him in singing the hymn. Soon another soldier joined us, and another, and another, until finally about 20 of us were singing together:
And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again
To see the Saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell—
All is well! All is well!
When we finished the hymn, we stood in the steaming sunshine and joined with one another in a humble, church-like meeting. We sought the Lord with an opening prayer, told each other our names and where we were from, and bore our testimonies to each other. Then we remembered it was Sunday morning. The men nearby began to grumble because we had awakened them, but in that former rice paddy, thousands of miles away from home, we had the most moving testimony meeting I have ever been to in all my life.
The account above was shared in an issue of Ensign magazine. Below, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings "Come, Come, Ye Saints":