Music and the Utah War

Music and the Utah War

Music and the Utah War

‘Up Awake’ Sung By Pioneers As Rally Song

In all of Utah’s history, the most bitterly resented act of the federal government was the sending of troops against the Territory. President Buchanan had been led to believe that his appointed territorial authorities were greeted with open rebellion in Uta, and without investigation he ordered the campaign which his political foes termed “Buchanan’s Blunder.”

A Battle Hymn

It was while two thousand of the pioneers were celebrating the tenth anniversary of “Pioneer Day,” July 24, 1857, that O. A. Smoot came to the mountain playground at Brighton, with news of the approaching army. Within days the entire Church began to mobilize in defense; the outlying colonists in San Bernardino and elsewhere were summoned to gather with the main body of the Church; the elders laboring in Great Britain were called home for what assistance they could give. Elder Charles V. Penrose was moved to write a “battle hymn ‘which immediately was sung throughout Great Britain and assisted in the collection of about $3,000.00 which the elders brought with them.

A study of the strong lines of “Up, Awake Ye Defenders of Zion” shows the depth of Elder Penrose’s feelings:

Lion-Hearted Appeal

The first two lines state the cause and the action, and a recollection of “lion-hearted” appeals to the national mind of Englishmen everywhere. The next two lines speak volumes in recalling vivid scenes of destruction. The epithet of God-hating was as strong as the fear of invasion was real, and a writer of Penrose’s sensitivity use the strongest tools of expression at hand.

The second stanza notes the protection of the mountains and Jehovah’s power as defensive assets. The third stanza answers a rhetorical question of “submission?” with an impassioned “No!” Hope of victory in the conflict points a positive injunction to “be faithful and true.”

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