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Publishing a Book of Mormon Poetry: The Harp of Zion

TitlePublishing a Book of Mormon Poetry: The Harp of Zion
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsLyon, Thomas Edgar
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsBrady, James; Perpetual Emigrating Fund; Poetry

In 1848 James Brady, a poor Irishman living in Scotland, was baptized into the LDS church. Five years later he still was well acquainted with poverty but with the help of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund was able to heed Church counsel to flee "Babylon" and emigrate to America. En route to "Zion," while in St. Louis, Missouri, he wrote to friends in Scotland, recalling the tight financial circumstances surrounding his departure: "When I left Glasgow I had 5 shillings and I gave 3[shillings] and sixpence in Liverpool for the harp of zion." His grand sum of five shillings at departure would have equaled about one dollar and twenty-five cents in United States money, yet he paid, seemingly squandered, more than two-thirds of his total savings to buy a single volume of poetry! What influences acted upon destitute Brady and thousands of other poor LDS Saints, causing them to lay out scarce and needed savings to purchase a single book of poems? Early Mormon leaders placed such a high value on poetic expression of the principles of the restored gospel that Church funds were used to pay for the publication and distribution costs of the first book of LDS poetry. By purchasing the Harp of Zion, James Brady was participating in both a material and spiritual activity that would, he was assured, aid his eternal salvation.