Here we are, ending the first month of 2021. I know that many of us held out hope that when the New Year began, everything would magically get better and the trials of 2020 would be over. Unfortunately, we have witnessed over the past few weeks that 2021 is not that much different than 2020. In some cases, we have seen that sometimes things must get worse before they can get better. Still, we began 2021 all shiny-eyed and ready for a fresh start. The first Sunday of the year had many church congregations meeting once again virtually and wanting to share messages of hope and encouragement to venture into another month of unknown territory. So, how was it that on Jan. 3 the predominantly black Third Baptist Church in San Francisco sang a hymn that was written in Iowa in 1846? You may not be familiar with the hymn Come, Come, Ye Saints. It was written as an anthem to encourage people journeying across the country. It is also a wonderful song to rally people to journey on when life is hard. The Reverend Amos C. Brown, pastor at Third Baptist and chairman emeritus of religious affairs for the NAACP, requested that his church choir sing this hymn on Jan. 3 to start out the new year because of the hymns hopeful message that all will be well. In an interview with Reverend Brown in 2019, he compares Lift Every Voice and Sing with Come, Come, Ye Saints. He had become friends with Russell M. Nelson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who taught him the history behind the writing of Come, Come, Ye Saints. In 1846, church members had been driven by mobs out of Nauvoo, Ill., and were making their way across southern Iowa to the western United States. At an encampment known as Locust Creek (about 5 miles southeast of present day Sewell), William Clayton penned the words to the song after receiving word that his wife, Diantha, still in Nauvoo, had given birth to a healthy baby boy. The stirring hymn an anthem of faith, full of praise amidst privation has come to represent the Mormon migration to the West perhaps more than any other piece of writing. These two songs are about a people who, in spite of being oppressed, excelled, achieved and remained loyal to their God, Rev. Brown remarked. In that song, they didnt get bitter, they became better. And they endured, and they sang, Come, come ye saints. No toil nor labor fear. I love that phrase that says, Grace shall be as your day. So gird up your loins, fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake. And soon well have this tale to tell All is well. All is well. Rev. Brown continued, It can be well in this nation when we lock arms, as I locked arms with President Nelson. Not as black and white, not as Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Baptists, but as children of God who are about loving everybody and bringing hope, happiness and good health to all of Gods children. Like many of you, I am trepidatiously walking into 2021. I have hopes that things are going to get better. And I find comfort in knowing that a hymn written in Iowa 175 years ago is encouraging people everywhere to continue on even when they are weary: Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight? because if we press on, even on the hard days, even when we feel like we cant take the isolation any longer, Above the rest these words well tell All is well! All is well!

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