Despite the common perception that Eliza R. Snow’s hymn, no. 292, O My Father (originally titled Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother), is the only LDS hymn that acknowledges the existence of our Heavenly Mother, it is not. The other in our modern hymn book is no. 286, Joseph L. Townsend’s Oh, What Songs of the Heart, which concludes by looking forward to the day “when our heavenly parents we meet!” (4th verse).
Years ago another Latter-day Saint, William Chase Harrison (1852-1936), penned his own hymn, Our Mother in Heaven, which he intended as a “companion hymn to E. R. Snow’s “Invocation,” or, in other words, O My Father. Brother Harrison’s hymn was published in the March 1, 1892 issue of the Juvenile Instructor[i]. It writes from a son’s perspective as he contemplates mortality, with verse 3 looking back to the beginning of the eternal union between his Heavenly Parents.
OUR MOTHER IN HEAVEN
Oh my Mother, thou that dwellest
In thy mansions up on high,
Oft methinks I still remember
How you bade your child goodbye;
How you clasped me to your bosom,
Bade me a true son to be
E’re I left my Father’s mansion,
To dwell in mortality.
How you gave me words of counsel
To guide aright my straying feet;
How you taught by true example
All of Father’s laws to keep;
While I strive in this probation,
How to learn the gospel truth,
May I merit your approval
As I did in early youth.
Tis recorded in your journal
How you stood by Father’s side,
When by pow’rs that are eternal
Thou wast sealed His goddess bride.
How by love and truth and virtue,
E’en in time thou did’st become,
Through your high exalted station,
Mother of the souls of men.
When of evil I’ve repented,
And my work on earth is done,
Kindest Father, loving Mother,
Pray forgive your erring son.
When my pilgrimage is ended,
And the victor’s wreath I’ve won,
Dearest Mother, to your bosom
Will you welcome home your son?
In conclusion I offer my own modest contribution to the subject of honoring and recognizing the Mother of our spirits. It is an additional verse (in bold below) to the hymn that Eliza R. Snow wrote, having been taught the doctrine of heavenly parents by the prophet Joseph Smith.
O MY FATHER
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
When shall I regain thy presence
And again behold thy face?
In thy holy habitation,
Did my spirit once reside?
In my first primeval childhood
Was I nurtured near thy side?
For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth;
Yet oft times a secret something
Whispered, “You’re a stranger here,”
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.
I had learned to call thee Father,
Through thy Spirit from on high,
But, until the key of knowledge
Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heav’ns are parents single?
No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason; truth eternal
Tells me I’ve a mother there!
O my Mother, thou who dwellest
with my Father up on high,
There beside Him, not behind Him,
Now revealed to thy children’s eyes.
Shall we know then thou wast nearby?
See the Pattern for our race?
As thou standest there, together
We gaze at last into thy face.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.
Verses 1, 2, 3 and 5 by Eliza R. Snow.
Verse 4 by Warren P. Aston.
Surely it is long past the time for Latter-day Saints everywhere to transcend the traditions of their cultures and begin building traditions that resonate more strongly with Gospel Truth. Of course, Christmas and Easter come most readily to mind, but surely Mother’s Day is at least an occasion when we can openly acknowledge ALL of our mothers, not just our earthly mothers, but the Mother of our spirits.
See the author’s 2012 Meridian article, The Other Half of Heaven: Debunking Myths about Heavenly Mother highlighting cultural myths in the LDS community about Heavenly Mother
[i][i] A slightly amended version was published in the Millennial Star in 1919