The words of Eliza R. Snow’s beloved hymn, “O My Father,” have faithfully stirred Latter-day Saints for over 130 years—from the pioneers of western America to the members of the distant branches of today’s worldwide Church. A year prior to his death in 1910, fifty-three-year-old John Hafen, an early Latter-day Saint artist, illustrated the text of Sister Snow’s hymn with the following paintings, now on display at Brigham Young University. A short résumé of Brother Hafen’s life follows the illustrations and precedes the stimulating address on the arts in “Speaking Today” by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve.
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 heavens are parents single? No; the thought makes reason stare! Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.
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.