The History of the Latter-day Saint Hymn “O My Father”
The hymn “O My Father” was written by Eliza R. Snow and was originally titled “My Father in Heaven.” Snow wrote it as a poem in Nauvoo, Illinois, before she and the other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were forced to flee the city due to persecution.
The poem was first published in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons in 1845 and was initially sung to many different tunes, including the tune AUSTRIA, which is the tune currently used for “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken” (no. 46 in the current hymnbook). In the end, music composed by James McGranahan, who was not a member of the Church, was chosen as the best fit for the hymn.
Former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Bruce R. McConkie discussed the lyrical significance of “O My Father,” explaining, “This glorious truth of celestial parentage, including specifically both a Father and a Mother, is heralded forth by song in one of the greatest of Latter-day Saint hymns.”
Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform “O My Father” during a past LDS general conference:
O My Father (Lyrics)
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?
For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.
I had learned to call thee Father,
Thru thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav'ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I've a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I've completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.