Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Advent 2009: “The Wrinkled Brow of Time,” Orson F. Whitney, Samuel B. Mitton

Advent 2009: “The Wrinkled Brow of Time,” Orson F. Whitney, Samuel B. Mitton

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 11, 2009

Seasonal hymns include those for New Year’s — “Come Let Us Anew” isn’t the only one we have ever sung. “The Wrinkled Brow of Time” is another text of Orson F. Whitney, more formal language, more sophisticated imagery, more difficult to sing than most of us would find pleasureable, but interesting to read when you’re in a contemplative mood.

There are no pieces in our current hymnbook credited to Samuel Bailey Mitton (1863-1954) of Cache County, Utah, but he was a well-known Latter-day Saint poet and composer a hundred years ago. He was a close friend of poet/composer Evan Stephens, and his poetry and prose-poems appear frequently in the Improvement Era of the 1920s.

The wrinkled brow of time
Another furrow takes,
Along life’s rocky coast
The old year’s billow breaks.
Wide opes the glorious future
Its gates of pearl and gold,
Its treasures vast revealing,
As varied as untold.

Yet ere thou goest onward
To win the glitt’ring prize,
That woos thee from the distance
To fairer lands and skies;
Pause thou and meditate
On what the past hath taught –
The guidebook of thy future,
With wise experience fraught.

Read o’er its joys, its sorrows,
Each cause that gave them birth;
Think on thy faults, those fetters
That bind thee still to earth;
Nor dream of endless freedom
From sorrow, sin and pain,
Till here thy might hath striven
To rend the cank’ring chain.

Hope not another’s harvest,
No sickle save thine own,
In days of bright fruition
Shall reap what thou hast sown.
No fruit hath sin but sadness,
Each seed its nature yields;
From germs of virtue only,
Can spring Elysian fields.


1 Comment »

  1. Thank you for posting this. I don’t think of Advent as leading up to New Years, but inevitably the celebration of Christmas gives way to the turning of the year.

    Our cultural concept of New Years is a wild party celebrating the clockwork of the solar system and our luck in making another turn around the wheel. Oh and yes, write out your resolutions. I like the reflective tone of this that we should look back as well as forward and let our experience instruct our hopes for what is to come.

    The last verse is a beautifully poetic expression of the law of the harvest, though Elysian fields seems a rather pagan expression to stand in for the Celestial Kingdom.

    Comment by Eric Boysen — November 11, 2009 @ 8:13 am

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