#331 Oh Say, What is Truth? (Men’s Choir)

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1. Oh say, what is truth? ‘Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch’s costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

2. Yes, say, what is truth? ‘Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
‘Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

3. The sceptre may fall from the despot’s grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant’s hopes.

4. Then say, what is truth? ‘Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o’er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth’s fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.

Text: John Jaques, 1827-1900
Music: Ellen Knowles Melling, 1820-1905

-History: (Source: Wikipedia)

Written By: John Jaques

John Jaques (January 7, 1827 – June 1, 1900) was a Latter Day Saint hymnwriter and missionary and an Assistant Church Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jaques was born to Thomas Jaques and Mary Ann Heighington at Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, England. He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the fall of 1845. A short time later, he served as a missionary for the church in Stratford-on-Avon.

Jaques crossed the Atlantic with his wife in 1856 on the Horizon. They landed at Boston and proceeded by train to Iowa City. There they joined the Martin Handcart Company. Jaques’ oldest daughter was among the many in that company who died when they were caught in snowstorms in Wyoming.

Jaques wrote many poems and other works, including “Truth.” As a young missionary in Stratford-on-Avon he contemplated Pilate‘s question to Jesus Christ “What is truth?”. The poem was included in the first (1851) edition of the Pearl of Great Price. It was also set to music by Ellen Knowles Melling, who Jaques baptized while preaching in Scotland. Entitled “Oh Say, What is Truth?”, the hymn is included in the hymnal of the LDS Church.

In 1869 Jaques returned to England for a two-year mission. He co-edited the Millennial Star with George Teasdale and then from 1870 to 1871 he served as the sole editor of that publication.[1]

After returning to Utah Territory, Jaques began working for the Deseret News. In 1874 he became the principal editorial writer for this newspaper.[2] He then served as an Assistant Church Historian starting in 1873. While in this position he was on a committee with A. Milton Musser and Franklin D. Richards that presented plans for a Genealogical Association of the church. This association was the forerunner of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. After the Genealogical Society of Utah was organized, Jaques served as its first librarian.

Music By: Ellen Knowles Melling