Question 7th Day Christmas Past: What LDS hymn made its debut at a general conference on Christmas Eve?
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The song “All is Well” came to be universally used by the pioneers to soften the hardships and bolster their courage and faith in the trek westward. After completing the trek westward as a member of the first Pioneer Company in July 1847, Clayton returned in the fall to Winter Quarters where his family had remained. Surely Clayton was present across the Missouri River in Kanesville, Iowa, at the jubilee conference that convened on Christmas Eve day, 1847, when his “song” was first sung at a general conference of the Church. The setting was the new log tabernacle, “the biggest log-cabin in the world,” which seated 1,000.
In the early afternoon “Come, Come, Ye Saints” was sung, accompanied by
the Winter Quarters band, followed by the sustaining of the new First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—President Brigham Young with his counselors, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards.4
It is proper, perhaps, that “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” is the only currently used hymn composed during the 1846-1848 emigration period of the Church as its words so completely reflect the sentiment of the westwarding Saints. The first words are a call to the Saints, wherever they might be to “Come, come” together. This most likely was a reflection of the Lord’s admonition in D&C 124:25 given in 1838 “let all my saints come from afar” to Zion.
William Clayton had responded to that call, coming from England. In his scribe capacity he especially would have been aware of Brigham Young’s words to Orson Spencer in England in 1847, “Say to the saints, Come.”5
The concept of calling upon the Saints to “come” to Zion had been a constant theme, and Clayton’s use of the phrase in his hymn could apply equally to Zion or to a united group such as a pioneer company.