Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Temple Hymn

A Temple Hymn

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 20, 2009

“A Temple Hymn” is the name chosen by George Manwaring for a poem he wrote celebrating the near-simultaneous 1877 dedication of the St. George Temple and announcement of the temple to be built in Logan.

We want to see the temple
With towers rising high,
Its spires majestic pointing
Unto the clear blue sky;
A house where Saints may gather,
And richest blessings gain,
Where Jesus, our Redeemer,
A dwelling may obtain.

We want to meet the Savior,
And see Him face to face,
When He shall come in glory
Unto that holy place;
If we are true and faithful
We’ll hear our Savior’s voice,
Receive a Father’s blessing,
And in His love rejoice.

George Manwaring (1854-1889) was an English-born poet who emigrated to Utah when he was 17, settling in the Utah Valley community of Springville. He was a sort of jack-of-all-arts – besides composing poetry, he sang in the choir, taught himself to play the organ, and studied painting under John Hafen. Five of his hymns remain in our book today: “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer (Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning),” “’Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love,” “We Meet Again in Sabbath School,” “Lord, We Ask Thee Ere We Part,” and “Sing We Now at Parting.”  Maybe it is fitting that wrote two “parting” hymns – George Manwaring died at age 35, leaving two wives and eight children (three other children predeceased him).

“A Temple Hymn” enjoyed some popularity at the end of the 19th century, according to George D. Pyper, one of the earliest scholars of Mormon hymnology. I have not found it published in any church hymn or song book (my search hasn’t been exhaustive, though, and I’m cheerfully open to correction). [edited:] “A Temple Hymn” was usually sung to the tune used 40 years earlier as the setting  for the child’s song “I want to be an Angel, and with the angels stand, a crown upon my forehead, a harp within my hand,” a text written by Mrs. Sydney P. Gill of Philadelphia. Because “I want to be an angel” is used widely in Christendom, perhaps a Keepa reader can link to a recording of the tune; I found this printed music:

So … If you’re looking for something “new” to sing with your family or your Primary, here’s a piece of your heritage.



  1. The words actually fit the Janice Kapp Perry tune for “I love to see the temple”. I might teach these words to my kids in place of the other.

    Comment by Tiffany — February 20, 2009 @ 7:13 am

  2. I thought of “I Love to See the Temple” as well when I read it. I might copy the music off and teach it to my kids in FHE.

    Comment by Steve C. — February 20, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  3. The music you have printed is the same as the second half of hymn 41 in the 1985 hymnbook, listed there as an anonymous tune, ca. 1784, from Wurttemberg. Not sure why Mrs. Gill would have had credit for it.

    Comment by Bill — February 20, 2009 @ 9:10 am

  4. Thanks for the correction, Bill. I meant to say that Mrs. Gill wrote the words to “I want to be an angel,” not the music. I’m not sure how it came out so absolutely backwards. I’ll fix the original post.

    [later: done]

    Thanks also for identifying the tune as part of that used in our hymn #41, a hymn I’m not familiar with.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 9:28 am

  5. Thanks for this, Ardis. I love how music has the ability to transport me back in time, like almost no other medium can.

    I’m not able to find an audio link to the tune yet, but to pick up on the other comments, the following tunes from our current hymnal also fit the “We Want to See the Temple” text:

    All Glory, Laud, and Honor – #69
    If You Could Hie to Kolob – #284
    Improve the Shining Moments – #226
    O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown – #197
    We Are Marching On to Glory – #225

    I think I like it best sung to “If You Could Hie.”

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 9:29 am

  6. Oh my. I don’t know why I didn’t look closer before, but the music shown above is none other than the tune named Ellacombe which is in our hymnal as “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise” #41. (The music above starts with the third line of our hymn; also, #41 is in in 4/4 time while this one is in 4/2). Now that I know what the tune is, I didn’t have to go far to find a link to the tune.

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 9:36 am

  7. Hunter, I like how the hymn sounds (in my head, that is; I’m sitting in the middle of a library) to the setting for “If You Could Hie” — there’s a kind of otherworldliness to that tune appropriate to the temple. You probably could explain why, with your familiarity with music; I only know that it works that way for me, not why.

    Tiffany and Steve, with so many new temples under construction, there could easily be lots of opportunities for children and adults both to sing temple-related hymns. You’d be the ones prepared to do something a little different from the obvious, in that case. Bravo!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  8. “If You Could Hie” has an other-wordly charm, I believe, because it is one of the very few hymns in our hymnal set in a minor key. That alone gives it a sense of “otherness,” in my mind. Also, it is culled directly from the English folk tradition, and so it has a certain beautiful simplicity.

    But now that I know that “We Want to See the Temple” fits with “Let Zion In Her Beauty Rise,” I have to say that I like this marriage even more. The tune is one of my favorites. And it’s so grand and majestic, like, well, a temple.

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  9. The tune feels as if it starts in the middle–I think it’s more than just the fact the I’m accustomed to having this tune show up in the third line of “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise.”

    Someone who knows more music theory than I can explain why it feels like an odd place to start.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 20, 2009 @ 10:32 am

  10. I think it’s because all the cadences in that opening section resolve to the dominant (V), which doesn’t sound or feel as “home” as much as the rest which resolves to the tonic (I).

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  11. George Manwaring died at age 35, leaving two wives and eight children (three other children predeceased him).

    We take SO much for granted.

    Comment by Ray — February 20, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  12. Like 19th century infant mortality, and 20th century penicillin for the pneumonia that killed Manwaring?

    Mark, it sounds like you’d be willing to sustain by the uplifted hand my proposal that Hunter be recognized as one of Keepa’s official musicologists?

    (The danger in recognizing only one here is that there are others, like Researcher and bfwebster, who also frequently offer the musical expertise that I lack. And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out Coffinberry’s trek song — link in the sidebar. No shortage of musical talent among commenters here!)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 11:05 am

  13. [blushing]

    Aw, shucks, Lady Superintendant Parshall.

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 12:01 pm

  14. After his response to Mark B., Hunter definitely deserves that honor.

    I Want To Be An Angel? Shudder. The Nineteenth Century at its sentimental finest. Of course with childhood mortality being as high as it was, I’m sure such songs played a significant part in the culture and the coping of adults and other children at the time. In the heart community (families with children with congenital heart conditions) an “angel” is a deceased child, and since I know plenty of families now with their own “angels,” I might be a little sensitive about the use of the term.

    Well, back to more cheerful topics. Thanks for the information on Manwaring. I didn’t realize he died so young. (Well, that was a failure in trying to be cheerful!)

    Comment by Researcher — February 20, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  15. I’ve said this in posts-past, but I enjoy learning about our hymns and our culture from which they come. I also think that the composers, both member and non-member alike, were inspired.

    I like Manwaring’s hymns in our current hymnal, especially “Sing We Now at Parting.” It’s short and it means we’re finally getting out of sacrament meeting. :-)

    Comment by Steve C. — February 20, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  16. Researcher, you’re spot-on about the “angel” poem — you can just see this tale of its origins being invented, or at least embroidered, on the spot:

    Rev. Dr. Armitage of New York, in a lecture on “Our Female Hymn Writers,” has recently brought to light the touching history of the hymn, beginning, “I want to be an angel.”

    “It was written,” he says, “by Mrs. Sydney P. Gill, in Philadelphia. In the Sunday-school of Dr. Joel Parker’s church she taught the infant class. She had been teaching a lesson on angels, when a little child said, ‘I want to be an angel.’ A few days after, the child died, the hymn was written for that Sunday-school to sing on her death, and it has struck a chord in every child’s heart since 1845.”

    It was composed April 19, 1845, on the day of the death of a little girl named Annie Louisa Farrand, the sunday-school scholar to whom Dr. Armitage refers.

    The words “I want to be an angel” had at this time been made familiar by the following incident, written by Dr. Irenaeus Prime, April 5, 1845, which was being copied by nearly all religious and Sunday-school papers:

    “A child sat in the door of a cottage at the close of a summer Sabbath. The twilight was fading, and as the shades of evenign darkened, one after another of the stars stood in the sky and looked down on the child in his thoughtful mood. He was looking upa t the stars and counting them as they came, till there were too many to be counted, and his eyes wandered all over the heavens, watching the bright worlds above. They seemed just like “holes in the floor of heaven to let the glory through,” but he knew better. yet he loved to look up there, and was so absorbed, that his mother called to him and said:

    “‘My son, what are you thinking of?’

    “He started as if suddenly aroused from sleep, and answered,

    “‘I was thinking —

    “‘Yes,’ siad his mother, ‘I know you were thinking, but what were you thinking about?’

    “‘Oh,’ said he, and his little eyes sparkled with the thought, ‘I want to be an angel.’

    “‘And why, my son, would you be an angel?’

    “‘Heaven is up there, is it not, mother? and there the angels live and love God and are happy. I do wish I was good, and God would take me there, and let me wait on him for ever.”

    “‘The mother called him to her knee, and he leaned on her bosom and wept. She wept too, and smoothed the soft hair of his head as he stood there, and kissed his forehead, and then told him that if he would give his heart to God, now while he was young, the Saviour would forgive all his sins and take him up to heaven when he died,and he would then be with God for ever.

    “‘His young heart was comforted. He knelt at his mother’s side and said:

    ‘”‘Jesus, Saviour, son of God,
    Wash me in thy precious blood;
    I thy little lamb would be,
    Help me, Lord, to look to thee.

    “The mother took the young child to his chamber and soon he was asleep, dreaming perhaps of angels and heaven. A few months afterwards sickness was on him, and the light of that cottage, the joy of that mother’s heart, went out. He breathed his last in her arms, and as he took her parting kiss, he whispered in her ear: ‘”I am going to be an angel.”‘”

    (Hezekiah Butterworth, The Story of the Hymns, 1875)

    Doesn’t all that nonsense, contrasted with the words of “A Temple Hymn,” make a nice little marker between the philosophies of men and the restored gospel?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  17. Steve, I imagine every one of us knows exactly what you mean — and are secretly glad YOU said it so that WE can still pretend to piety!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  18. Hunter, #6
    Actually, “A Temple Hymn” and “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise” have the same tune all the way through, except “A Temple Hymn” starts with the chorus of “Let Zion …” then goes on to the

    So Mark B. #9
    That is why it feels like it starts in the middle–it does.

    That seems really strange and I wonder why it was written that way.

    Comment by Maurine — February 20, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  19. Aargh! Maurine is another one whose professional musical background I know and should have named when listing our musical talent.

    (Memo to self: Never list names again, doofus. You *know* you’ll leave out some of the most obvious.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  20. Hunter, or other musicologists:

    I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no music, so please be gentle with my ignorance. But doesn’t the music for “Arise, O Glorious Zion” also fit these words? It does in my head, at least. That tune also lends the sort of grand majesty that I think is appropriate for this subject.

    Comment by Mark Brown — February 20, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  21. Arise, O Glorious Zion (#40) has a 7676D meter. Let Zion in her Beauty Rise (#41) is CMD (Common Meter Doubled, or 8686D). Those two meters are very close, although not an exact match, meaning that singing “Arise” to the tune on Ellacombe, would be only slightly awkward, necessitating the extension of a syllable in the first and third lines.

    In fact, the Temple Hymn cited in the original post is in 7676D meter, so the music seems able to accomodate it without too much difficulty.

    All the information on meters is available in the meter index, and the index of titles, tunes, and meters, at the back of the book.

    The form of the tune Ellacombe is not really verse and refrain, but rather a simple AABA form that we see for numerous hymns. Since the stanzas cited in the original post are eight lines instead of four, my guess is that they were sung to the entire tune, (not the second half twice), and that there is simply another page missing from the notation supplied above.

    Comment by Bill — February 20, 2009 @ 4:36 pm

  22. Yes, it does fit to “Arise, O Glorious Zion,” indeed. You can also sing it to these hymns that I didn’t list before:

    Come, All Whose Souls Are Lighted – #268
    Come, All Ye Saints of Zion – #38
    O God, the Eternal Father – #175
    We Meet Again as Sisters (Women) – #311
    Ye Who Are Called to Labor (Men) – #321

    But now it’s just getting annoying. Sorry.

    As for that [blech] wretched story about the origin of the “angel hymn,” I have to wonder whether anyone actually believed that it was authentic? [shaking head]

    Comment by Hunter — February 20, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  23. At least it’s not the internet story that spawned John Michael Montgomery’s song, “Little Girl”. That’s a truly horrifying piece of Protestant propaganda rubbish. (girl raised by alcoholic, addict, atheist parents who beat their kid then die in a murder-suicide while she hides behind the couch, placed with good Christian foster parents who take her to church – where she looks at the picture of Jesus on the cross and tells everyone how he came down from the cross and held her behind the couch while her dad killed her mom and himself)

    I know people who are convinced that’s a true story.

    Comment by Ray — February 20, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

  24. I’ve heard it, Ray. You sure it wasn’t in “Especially for Mormons”? (ugh)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 8:30 pm

  25. Bill (#21) — This piece of printed music was all that was published in the source (a 19th century stories-of-the-hymns book).

    So if I understand your last paragraph, combined with some of the other comments (Hunter’s #10 and Maurine’s #18) about resolution, we could sing “A Temple Hymn” to the entire tune of “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise.” The words would fit the music, and we’d have a more satisfactory experience because there wouldn’t be the uncomfortable feeling of starting in the middle of something?

    I guess I’ll know when I try singing it; I’m just trying to be sure I understand.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 20, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  26. Yes, I’m guessing that this 19th-century source printed only half of the hymn.

    Comment by Bill — February 20, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  27. I can’t seem to get the words to fit to “I Love to See the Temple” or “If you could hie to Kolob” Ihave to add extra words to make it come out right.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — February 21, 2009 @ 7:58 am

  28. Eric, experiment a little with holding onto some of the vowels over two notes (usually two different notes, gliding up or down as needed) — it fits quite nicely. For “If you could hie,” it’s:

    I-i want to see the tem-ple
    Wi-ith tow-ers ri-i-sing high
    I-its spires ma-jes-tic point-ing
    U-un-to the cle-ear blue sky.
    A-a house where Sa-aints may ga-ther,
    A-and rich-est ble-es-sings gain,
    Whe-ere Je-sus, ou-our Re-e-dee-mer,
    A-a dwel-ling ma-ay ob-tain.

    That’s according to the soprano line. Each of the four parts is a little different — where the soprano line has a quarter note in some places, other parts split into eighth notes, which means that in your part you might need to glide other syllables up/down over two notes in order to fit.

    (See how limited my technical knowledge of music is? If someone can explain it more clearly, please do.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 21, 2009 @ 8:50 am

  29. It might take me a little time, Ardis. I misplaced my Urim & Thummim the other day. :)

    Comment by Ray — February 21, 2009 @ 9:47 am

  30. Pffffft! You’re the one with high school choral training, at least, Ray. I’m the one who can’t figure out how pianists can read two lines of printed music at the same time!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 21, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  31. Re: No. 28. Your transcription was so well done, I was compelled to sing it aloud! Vehr nahss, Ardis.

    Comment by Hunter — February 21, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  32. RE: #15: We sang “Sing We Now At Parting” as our closing hymn today. Quick and it got us out of sacrament meeting. I think all closing hymns should be about two short verses. :-)

    Comment by Steve C — March 8, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  33. Ha! I’m sure Bro. Manwaring appreciates that his legacy is appreciated!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 8, 2009 @ 8:15 pm