Mother’s Evening Song

    “Mother’s Evening Song,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 62–64

    “Mother’s Evening Song”

    One day while searching for a pattern I needed, I came across an old box with my mother’s name on it. Inside, I found the pattern, as well as a page of fine linen stationery.

    At the top of the paper were the words: “Submitted to the Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest in The Relief Society Magazine, 192– [the date was blurred] by Ella S. Brewer.”

    In the margins, in unfamiliar handwriting, were the words, “Too long for the contest,” “Very special,” and “Recommended for honorable mention.” Through my tears, I read and reread the poem my mother had written:

    Mother’s Evening Song

    By Ella S. Brewer

    Long ago when twilight gathered,

    I would turn my wayward feet

    Toward my home, with fear and trembling

    At the shadows I would meet.

    Then I’d scurry through the meadow,

    Falter ’neath low-hanging trees,

    Stalked by elves of childish fancy;

    ’Til upon the evening breeze

    Came the sounds of sweetest music

    That my soul has ever known—

    ’Twas the voice of Mother singing

    Just to lead me safely home:

    “Guide us, O thou great Jehovah!”

    Every word I’d understand:

    “We are weak, but thou art able;

    Hold us with thy powerful hand.”

    Gone the fear that stalked my footsteps,

    Gone the phantoms of the night,

    As those words in happy cadence

    Filled my soul with pure delight.

    Gentle breezes spread the chorus

    Over all the friendly land:

    “We are weak, but thou art able;

    Hold us with thy powerful hand.”

    Many years since then have brought me

    Their full share of night and day;

    Oft I’ve stood dismayed and fearful

    In the shadows by the way.

    But from the past those words still linger,

    Helping me to make my choice:

    “Guide us, O thou great Jehovah!”

    In my mother’s singing voice.

    And again the shadows vanish

    And my soul is strong and brave,

    For I know she still is singing

    In that home beyond the grave—

    Singing songs of praise and glory

    In that far-off happy land:

    “Guide us, O thou great Jehovah—

    Hold us with thy powerful hand.”

    When the last great shadows gather

    And my day on earth is done,

    Then I know I’ll hear her singing

    Just to guide me safely home.

    Mother had passed away 15 years before. Because her poem had not won an award, she had never told anyone about it. I had never known that my mother wrote poetry, although her reports for Relief Society conferences had always been interesting to hear and her letters were delightful to read. I also recall her composing parodies for my father to sing at parties—parodies that brought him much acclaim. But now, here in my hands was the proof of her ability, in words that brought back to me her personality, her faith, and her love.

    • Elmoyne B. Hanks is a member of the Chubbuck First Ward, Chubbuck Idaho Stake.