Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Great Question

The Great Question

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 26, 2014

A song from 1905 —



And for the benefit of search engines —

The Great Question

Words by J.H. Ward. Music by Tracy Y. Cannon.

Is it true that I am a sojourner here,
That this life’s a prelude to a happier sphere?
Then tell me, O Father, from whence I am come,
And why am I here, and where is my home.

Are you watching the work you have giv’n me to do?
And when it is done shall I come back to you?
The more earnest my toil will it sooner be done –
Enter into my rest and the victory won?

Could we understand what the future life is,
Perhaps we would not be contented with this.
Our hearts would be lured by the rapturous view,
And we’d wish to go hence, if we only knew.

As wanderers here we oft walk alone,
But there, over there, we ;shall know as we’re known.
Evolution’s a law that is stamped on the soul,
And the good will progress while the ages shall roll.



  1. “Evolution’s a law that is stamped on the soul” (!!?)

    No, I get what they mean, but still . . .

    Comment by Grant — June 26, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  2. Yeah! It reads that way!

    I’m sure glad you’re hanging out with me today, Grant, since nothing seems to catch anybody else’s imagination. *tear*

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 26, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

  3. Bro. Cannon obviously thought there were some sopranos in that choir. I don’t remember ever seeing anything written for congregations with a high G in the soprano line (but I don’t pay much attention to what they’re singing, anyway).

    Comment by Mark B. — June 26, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

  4. Ardis,
    I’m sorry you feel lonely. I’m just checking in for a reminder of tonight’s event. I’ll see you then.

    Comment by charlene — June 26, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

  5. Just played through it. Let’s just say that Tracy Cannon had better pieces, and leave it at that.

    Comment by Amy T — June 26, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

  6. Thanks, charlene!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 26, 2014 @ 2:15 pm

  7. Amy T: Ha!

    Comment by David Y. — June 26, 2014 @ 3:50 pm

  8. @Mark: The songs in the LDS Psalmody are also quite high (the highest is a g-sharp I believe). Though I don’t think all of these were necessarily intended for congregational singing (some would be quite difficult). The hymns that survived into later hymnals were adjusted to move the melody down a few steps.

    Comment by Jay Anderson — June 26, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

  9. This could have been put in Bb (that than the key of D) and not lost anyone. Did he habitually prefer high notes?

    Comment by Frank Pellett — June 27, 2014 @ 9:53 am

  10. Lots of songs in the 1948 edition were transposed to lower keys in the 1985 version. I suspect some were moved for ease of playing (“An Angel Form on High” in four sharps; “For the Strength of the Hills” with separate accompanyment) but many, I suspect, for ease of singing. Maybe people had higher voices back then?

    Musicality aside, I relate to the sentiment of wanting to find life’s mission, and wanting to receive some confirmation that one’s current life’s path matches that somewhat. OTOH, the “hurry up and get life over with so I can get onto the next stage” is foreign to me.

    Comment by The Other Clark — June 27, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

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