The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee.

The first issue of the Millennial Star, edited by Parley P. Pratt, was given to the world in May 1840, ten years after the organization of the Church, and four years before the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

It will be eighty-one years this coming May 1921 since the Star was first published, thus making it the oldest Church periodical issued up to date, as no other Church publication has extended over a similar period of time.

It was on the outer cover of the first issue of the Millennial Star that the hymn “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee” was first printed.  It is safe to say that few periodicals have made their bow to the world with anything comparable to this hymn.

There are forty-four of Parley P. Pratt’s hymns published in the Latter-day Saint hymn book, a greater number from his pen than the pen of any other author.  Admitting the excellence of many of his other hymns, he reached his higher water mark in this deservedly popular song.

Not all hymns are poems, this hymn is a poem.  It gives us a great and exalted message couched in exquisite and effective imagery.  To accord with the exaltation of thought and feeling, we have language so heightened in quality, that some critics characterize such lines as poetic flights.

The hymn is very fittingly given the first place in the hymn book.  It is small wonder indeed that it should have attracted both George Careless and Evan Stephens, both composers having set it to music.

The story of the Careless music is interesting.  Professor Careless was the leader of the choir of the London branch, while he was in England, a choir of which the London Saints were justly proud.

He came to America in 1864, on a ship called the Hudson.  On that vessel was a group of breaks who had sung in his London choir.  The Careless music to “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee” was composed on a shipboard and named Hudson which title it bears in the Latter-day Saint Psalmody.  Elder Careless gathered his former choir members together, they learned the hymn to the new music, and sang it to the captain of the ship, at the same time presenting him with a copy.  The Captain expressed himself as very greatly delighted with the composition.

[The Pratt Family, or the Ancestors and Descendants of the Pratt Brothers, with their kindred lines…, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1921]

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