In our lovely Deseret, Where the Saints of God have met,
There’s a multitude of children all around.
They are generous and brave; They have precious souls to save;
They must listen and obey the gospel’s sound.
This is very much an instructional song for the children of the church. It was written by Eliza R. Snow (1804-1867), who, although having no children of her own, loved and cared for the many families around her. As you can well imagine, with the very large families in those early days of the Church, there would definitely have been “a multitude of children all around.”
Unlike much of the instructional music and lectures directed to children of that day, this song has a decidedly positive tone. Sister Snow first establishes that these children “are generous and brave” with “precious souls to save.” In the second verse, she explains the need for following the word of wisdom: “That the children may live long and be beautiful and strong,” since they “are seeking to be great and good and wise.” They are further described in the chorus as coming together “in innocence and love… with happy hearts and cheerful faces.”
Having established a positive tone, Sister Snow goes on further in verses three and four to teach the children not to lose their tempers, to control evil passions, to be polite, to treat others well, to be kind, to pray and to love and serve the Lord – in short, just about everything a well-trained young child should know.
President Spencer W. Kimball was one of those children. He recounted his fondness for this instructional song in a talk given in the April 1978 conference:
“I remember the song “In Our Lovely Deseret,” which Sister Eliza R. Snow wrote. She composed many of our songs. I can remember how lustily we sang:
Hark! Hark! Hark! ’tis children’s music,
Children’s voices, O, how sweet,
When in innocence and love,
Like the angels up above,
They with happy hearts and cheerful faces meet.
“I am not sure how much innocence and love we had, but I remember we sang it, even straining our little voices to reach the high E which was pretty high for children’s voices. I remember we sang:
That the children may live long,
And be beautiful and strong.
“I wanted to live a long time and I wanted to be beautiful and strong—but never reached it.
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise.
“And I learned to despise them. There were people in our rural community who were members of the Church who sometimes used tea and coffee and sometimes tobacco. The song goes on:
Drink no liquor, and they eat
But a very little meat
“[I still don’t eat very much meat.]
They are seeking to be great and good and wise.
“And then we’d “Hark! Hark! Hark” again, “… When in innocence and love Like the angels up above.” And then the third verse went:
They should be instructed young,
How to watch and guard the tongue,
And their tempers train, and evil passions bind;
They should always be polite,
And treat ev’rybody right
And in ev’ry place be affable and kind.
“And then we’d “Hark! Hark! Hark” again.
They must not forget to pray,
Night and morning ev’ry day,
For the Lord to keep them safe from ev’ry ill,
And assist them to do right,
That with all their mind and might
They may love him and may learn to do his will.
“And then we’d sing, “Hark! Hark! Hark” again. I was never quite sure whether the angels were limited in their voice culture as we were, but we were glad to take the credit [https://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/05/strengthening-the-family-the-basic-unit-of-the-church?lang=eng].”
Eliza R. Snow (1804-1887) was born in Beckett, Massachusetts, but moved with her family to Mantua, Ohio, when she was only two years old. Mantua, Ohio, happened to be located only four miles from Hiram, Ohio, where Joseph Smith took up residence for a time. During that period, her family became very interested in the new Church he had organized. Her mother and sister joined first, then Eliza, and then her brother, Lorenzo, who later became the 5th President of the Church.
Eliza was the first secretary of the Relief Society organization when it was formed in Nauvoo in 1847, with Emma Smith as President. Eliza served as secretary for the three years following and took copious notes of the organizational process, as directed by the prophet Joseph Smith. Later, she used these notes to re-establish the Relief Society in the Utah Territory. She was called as the second General Relief Society president in 1868 and spent many years travelling around Utah helping Bishops establish the Relief Society organization in their wards. She served as General President of the Relief Society until her death in 1887.
Eliza R. Snow was a wife of Joseph Smith and, after his death, married Brigham Young.
George F. Root (1820-1895) was a very popular composer of the day. He had already achieved much fame prior to the Civil War (1861-1865) but composed 35 well-loved songs for and about that conflict. His song “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp” was one of these. With its catchy tune and poignant lyrics describing the thoughts of a captured Union soldier, it was sung often by the Union soldiers:
In the prison cell I sit,
Thinking, Mother dear, of you,
And our bright and happy home so far away;
And the tears they fill my eyes
Spite of all that I can do,
Though I try to cheer my comrades and be gay.
Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching;
Cheer up, comrades, they will come,
And beneath the starry flag
We shall breathe the air again
Of the freeland in our own beloved home.
This is the tune that Eliza R. Snow used to carry the lyrics of “In Our Lovely Deseret.” The tune was also used for “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and, across the ocean, for “God Save Ireland,” an Irish rebel song which served as an unofficial Irish national anthem for Irish nationalists from the 1870s to the 1910s.
Congregation Choir Arrangements
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This alternate, enhanced accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
The countermelody is designed for voice or instrument and can be sung by itself or in combination with the original melody. Here is a sample of the countermelody being sung as the piano plays the original melody. You will hear one verse with just the enhanced piano, then a second verse with enhanced piano and vocal countermelody:
Here is a sample of the SATB accompaniment (the one in the hymnbook) being played on the organ while the enhanced accompaniment is played on the piano and the countermelody comes in on the oboe.