A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"
A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.JPG
1883 publication by Rev. George Coles
Written 1826 (1826)
Text by James Montgomery
Based on poem "The Stranger and His Friend"
Melody by George Coles
Published 1883 (1883): Philadelphia
Publisher Ditson & Co.
James Montgomery, 1855

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" (originally titled "The Stranger and His Friend") is a seven-stanza poem written in 1826 by James Montgomery. The words of the poem have since been adopted as a Christian hymn.

Origin and authorship[edit]

Montgomery wrote "The Stranger and His Friend" in December 1826 while travelling in England on extended trips in horse-drawn carriages. Montgomery did not write the poem with the intention of it being set to music.[1]

New York City preacher George Coles set the poem to music he wrote.[1] The hymn was adopted by some Christian congregations in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Latter-day Saints connection[edit]

"A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" was a favorite hymn of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. The hymn was introduced in the church by apostle John Taylor, who learned the hymn in 1840 as a missionary in England.[1] Taylor included the hymn in the Latter Day Saints' Manchester Hymnal, which was used in England from 1840 to 1912. The hymn was also included in the church's 1841 hymnal published in Nauvoo, Illinois. Unlike the version in the Manchester Hymnal, the hymn in the Nauvoo hymnal included music composed by Taylor.[1] The hymn was originally written as a Christmas hymn.

On the afternoon that Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were killed by a mob in prison in Carthage, Illinois, the Smiths requested Taylor sing the hymn twice.[2]

After he became president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Taylor asked Ebenezer Beesley to compose new music for the hymn.[1] The results were published in the church's 1889 hymnal, and the hymn has been included in every subsequent edition of the church's hymnal.[1] In the LDS Church's 1985 English-language hymnal, it is hymn number 29.[3]

The original tune Taylor sang before the martyrdom became lost in the years following Taylor's death. In 2008, a descendant of Taylor found the original tune in the notebook of Beesley, and then shared his findings with historian Jeffrey N. Walker. Walker then published his arrangement of the hymn with the tune as it was sung to Beesley.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Walch, Tad (October 11, 2008). "Original 'Poor Wayfaring Man' had different tune". Deseret News. 
  2. ^ B. H. Roberts (ed.) (1902). History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 614–15; vol. 7, p. 101.
  3. ^ "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 1985), no. 29.

External links[edit]