The History of the Hymn "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise"
In the early 1830s, members of The Church of The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were already becoming unwelcome guests wherever they went and wherever they tried to establish a livelihood. In every state, county, and city where they attempted to settle, they were forced out of their homes and left with nothing but prayers in their hearts for a land they could call home. That home would later become known as Zion.
Zion became a vision for early members of the Church as a place of refuge. A beautiful and peaceful city taught about and prophesied of in the scriptures, the thought of Zion kept many Saints going through times of adversity.
In 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith named Jackson County, Missouri, as the location where Zion would be built. He outlined plans with Edward Partridge, the Church's first bishop, for how the city would be built, and Partridge was asked to stay and live in Missouri and supervise the building of Zion. Edward Partridge rejoiced in the knowledge of what Zion was to be temporally and spiritually—Zion was to be the future city where the Saints would prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, and that belief led Partridge to write the text for the hymn “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise."
The hymn was published in the Church's first hymnal, compiled by Emma Smith in 1835, with a total of seven verses. The first two verses are as we sing them today, and the third verse was originally the sixth verse. Until 1985, the text was sung to a tune by Lewis D. Edwards but is now associated with the tune of "Ellacombe."
Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise,” arranged by James C. Kasen.