How a Different Tune Popularized the Hymn, “If You Could Hie To Kolob”

Courtesy of NASA

The hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob” was written by William W. Phelps and was first published in the Deseret News in 1856.

Originally, the hymn was placed in the Choir section of the 1940 hymnal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it was too difficult to sing the original tune by Joseph Daynes. This was resolved in the 1985 hymnbook when the Church music committee chose an alternate hymn tune called Kingsfold.

According to, the tune Kingsfold is a folk tune that is set to multiple texts in England and Ireland and is believed by some scholars to date back to the middle ages. This hymn tune was first notated by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), one of the best-known composers of the 20th century. Its name comes from the small town of Kingsfold in Surrey, England, where Williams first heard it. The tune was first published in 1893 but was first introduced as a hymn tune by Williams in 1906, when it was published as a musical setting for Horatio Bonar’s “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.”

The word Kolob appears in chapter 3 of the Book of Abraham, in the Pearl of Great Price, and is described as the star nearest to God. “Kolob as Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains it, means the first creation. Spirit beings and immortal persons live in eternity, mortal men live in time. Eternity goes on forever and is of infinite duration. Time is of finite proportions, beginning for each person at birth and ending at death.” —History of Hymns, Mormon Channel

The word hie from the hymn’s title is an ancient word that means “hasten.” In other words, ‘if you could hasten to Kolob.’ History of Hymns states “In a way, William Wines Phelps had experienced just that. For he had been scribed to Joseph—had sat at the side of the prophet, when the whole room was filled with the light and knowledge of God. He had seen, and felt, and experienced wonders given to few men in this mortal life.”

If You Could Hie to Kolob (Lyrics)

If you could hie to Kolob
In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward
With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where Gods began to be?

Or see the grand beginning,
Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation,
Where Gods and matter end?
Methinks the Spirit whispers,”
No man has found ‘pure space,’
Nor seen the outside curtains,
Where nothing has a place.”

The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter;
There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit;
There is no end to race.

There is no end to virtue;
There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom;
There is no end to light.
There is no end to union;
There is no end to youth;
There is no end to priesthood;
There is no end to truth.

There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.