The Hymns of Parley P. Pratt: “The Poet-Apostle”
The story of Parley P. Pratt’s conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ is an inspiring one; in 1830, at age 23, Pratt and his wife sold their property in Ohio and traveled to New York by boat. He felt prompted to stop in the village of Newark, New York, prior to their final destination of Albany. It was this inspired decision that led to his encounter with The Book of Mormon, and his eventual conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Once converted, Pratt dedicated his life to preaching the gospel and served several missions, in addition to his calling as a member in the original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
A writer of books and poetry, Pratt was nicknamed “the poet-apostle,” while he was on a mission in England. While there, he published a hymnbook of approximately 50 original hymns. He wrote the text to seven hymns that are included in the current hymnbook of the Church, which are, “The Morning Breaks,” “Truth Eternal,” “ An Angel From on High,” “Come, O Thou King of Kings,” “ Father in Heaven, We Do Believe,” “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” and “ Behold Thy Sons and Daughters Lord.”
“The Morning Breaks,” was sung during the first broadcast of what would become Music & the Spoken Word in 1929, and is the first hymn in the current hymnbook. In the History of Hymns series on The Mormon Channel, former Choir director J. Spencer Cornwall said the hymn is “one of the best and most inspiring Latter-day Saint hymns. There was no dramatic incident connected with its writing as far as we know. It was one of those poems which, in the author’s own words ‘were the melting strains of joy and admiration in contemplating the approaching dawn of that glorious day which shall crown the earth and its inhabitants with universal peace and rest.’” George Careless composed the music to the hymn, and his story is chronicled in episode 9 of History of the hymns. Brigham Young called Careless to direct the Tabernacle Choir shortly after Careless had arrived from London in 1865.
Click here to listen to episode 37 of History of Hymns in its entirety. Below the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings “The Morning Breaks,” arranged by Mack Wilberg. The song appears on the album, Praise to the Man: Songs Honoring the prophet Joseph.