Transcript for Smith, Alexander Hale, "'We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet': Joseph Smith's Son Tells of First Hearing the Hymn," Vision, no. 45 (Dec. 2003): 14-15

After entering the fort, on inquiry, I found a Brother Atwood, a member of the Church, in the commissary department, a soldier. He was thoughtful to ask if our supplies were running short, and supplied us with sugar, tea, and bacon, which we sadly needed. He took us and introduced us to the commandant, who received us very kindly, asking why we were going so late, and many other questions. He told us to be on hand about two o'clock, as the train was to pass examination then, and he would see that we could travel with it. We drove out to where the train was lined up. I met the captain, one Thomas Rix [Ricka], and asked him if I could join his train, and travel with him. He told me I could, if I paid him ten dollars. Now, I knew if I had to pay him ten dollars to travel in that train I would have to remain; for I did not have that amount about me. I asked him what it was for. He said to pay the herdsman to herd our stock at night.

I said, "We propose to care for our own stock."

He answered very shortly, "Well, sir, without the money, you can't travel in this train."

The officer who reviewed the train came along, and seeing us standing out of line asked if we were going in that train. I told him what the captain had said. He ripped out an oath, and said, "I'll see about that. You remain right here."

He passed up along the line, some fifty teams, two hundred and fifty emigrants; and, as he came along back in company with Captain Rix, said, pointing to us, "Is this team with these men going to travel with you?"

"They can if they comply with the rules of the train."

"What are the rules of the train?"

"They will have to pay ten dollars, and stand their proportion of guard."

"Oh, I guess you better take them along. They look like good stout fellows and will make a good addition to your train, as they are well armed."

"No, sir. If they can't come down with the money, they can't travel in this train."

"Say, look here! I think you better let them go."

"No, sir." And the captain turned away as if that ended it.

The officer then said, "Look here, my fine sir. I'll tell you what you will do. You will take these men along with you and treat them well, or I'll send a guard of soldiers with them, and you will have to feed those soldiers at least as far as Fort Wagoner. Now, sir, what do you say?"

"Well, when the train drives up they can drop in behind."

The officer then said, "You will pass several Government stations. I want you to report to me your treatment; it will cost you nothing."

(It seems a long story to tell to get to the experience of hearing a hymn; but I was requested to tell a little story in connection with it. This is my excuse for the length of this article.)

The train moved right on that afternoon, and of course we drove on with them. We did not pay the ten dollars. We cared for our own stock.

We had been a number of days on the road, had been called upon to stand our share of guard duty, when one morning I was called upon to form part of the advance guard. I rode a small pony, and was in advance of the train. I came to a small mountain; the road wound around its base. The mountain was sugarloaf shape, two or three hundred feet high, and so steep I had to get off my horse and lead him, as I wished to reach the top, where I surmised that I would have a fine view of the road to the west. I reached the top and was enjoying the fine view of the plains and road ahead, for I could see it for miles beyond. As I stood leaning against my horse, I heard music. It sounded right above me. It was the sound of the human voice. Under the circumstances it was simply grand. The emigrants were mostly (LDS) Welsh and English converts bound for Salt Lake and were fine singers.

They had reached the base of the little mountain, and as they walked they sang, and I could distinctly hear every word. It was beautiful. I have heard that hymn sung by good choirs, with organ or piano accompaniment; but never have heard it sung so sweetly as I heard it then:

"We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet
To guide us in these latter days;
We thank thee for sending the gospel
To lighten our minds with its rays;
We thank thee for every blessing
Bestowed by thy bounteous hand;
We feel it a pleasure to serve thee,
And love to obey thy commands.

"When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us,
And threaten our peace to destroy,
There is hope smiling brightly before us,
And we know that deliv'rance is nigh;
We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness,
We've proved him in days that are past;
The wicked who fight against Zion
Will surely be smitten at last.

"We'll sing of his goodness and mercy;
We'll praise him by day and by night;
Rejoice in his glorious gospel,
And bask in its life-giving light:
Thus on to eternal perfection
The honest and faithful will go;
While they who reject this glad message,
Shall never such happiness know"
(Autumn Leaves 22 [March 1909]: 98-101).