Builders of Character and Country
The early Latter-day Saint pioneers were an indomitable lot. They persevered where many would have given up. They had faith where many would have doubted. They built and prospered where many would have moved on. In a conference address of 1909 (with many original pioneers present in the audience), Elder David O. McKay said:
“On the 24th of July, 1847, they were here in this valley. What did they see? You try to picture what they saw. These words will call up the barren picture in the minds of pioneers who are with us today – God bless them and preserve then long with us for what they have done, that we might at least express our appreciation of their devotion to the truth… There was nothing inviting; in fact, they had been warned that nothing would grow… Yet, within a few feet of where we meet today, the prophet of the Lord said, ‘Here we shall build a house to God.’
“Now what do we see? Just look at our city today, its climate modified, its fruit unexcelled, substantial and comfortable homes everywhere, towns and cities flourishing. To whom are we indebted for all this? The people of the Mormon Church, the pioneers of 1847 and of subsequent years. They were builders, colonizers, benefactors to our nation, benefactors to humanity.” (Gospel Ideals, p.528)
What an amazing transformation of the Salt Lake Valley those pioneers saw in just one generation! A true miracle transpired as the desert blossomed… a miracle wrought through faith, dedication and sheer hard work!
Tribute by President Ezra Taft Benson
President Benson also paid tribute to the early pioneers in a Conference talk of October 1976. He spoke of the example bequeathed to us and challenged us to live up to it:
“Other great stalwarts who also pledged lives, possessions, and their sacred honor were the Mormon pioneers. This they did by covenant before God when they came to membership in His kingdom, ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places … even unto death.’ (Mosiah 18:9)
“They came—with indomitable faith and courage, following incredible suffering and adversity. They came—with stamina, with inspired confidence for better days.
“Yes, they came—first the main caravan of 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children on July 24, 1847. This trickle of immigrants was followed by the hundreds, then the thousands, all seeking a home in safety. Yes, they came and carved an Eden out of the desert. Their promised land has become our prosperous valleys.
“Today we live in a choice land, yes, a land choice above all other lands. We live amid unbounded prosperity—this because of the heritage bequeathed to us by our forebears, a heritage of self-reliance, initiative, personal industry, and faith in God, all in an atmosphere of freedom…
“Can we keep and preserve what they wrought? Shall we pass on to our children the heritage they left us, or shall we lightly fritter it away? Have we their faith, their bravery, their courage; could we endure their hardships and suffering, make their sacrifices, bear up under their trials, their sorrows, their tragedies, believe the simple things they knew were true, have the simple faith that worked miracles for them, follow, and not falter or fall by the wayside, where our leaders advance, face the slander and the scorn of an unpopular belief? Can we do the thousands of little and big things that made them the heroic builders of a great Church, a great commonwealth?” [https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1976/10/our-priceless-heritage?lang=eng]
Can we continue to build on the great heritage they left us?
History of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION
This hymn was written by Ida Romney Alldredge, an aunt of Michigan Governor, George W. Romney, and great-aunt to Massachusetts Governor, Willard Mitt Romney. Sister Alldredge was born in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She moved with her husband, Lew Alldredge, to Douglas, Arizona, at the time of the Mexican Revolution. They later settled in Mesa, Arizona.
Sister Alldredge wrote over 400 poems, as well as musical and dramatic works. She is best known for the text of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION.
Alfred M. Durham wrote the music for this hymn. He studied at the Juilliard Conservatory, then proceeded to teach music in Utah schools for forty-two years. He was also a member of the Utah State Legislature for ten years. In addition to this hymn, he wrote the music for three other well-known hymns in our hymnbook:
Sweet is the Peace the Gospel Brings #14
Again, Our Dear Redeeming Lord #179
Carry on #255
Congregation Choir Arrangements of THEY, THE BUILDERS OF THE NATION
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook. This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for 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.
Listen to our arrangements below. You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.