While I was with my stake youth on our Pioneer Trek this past summer, I heard for the first time the beautiful life story of Emily Hill (Woodmansee), who, at age 19, traveled with her sister on the Willie Handcart company. Her life was fraught with trials, but she clung to her faith. In her patriarchal blessing she was promised that her gift for prose would bring light and hope to thousands, and we now know her as the lyricist to the famous hymn, “As Sisters in Zion.” As I listened to the story of her life, I felt a surge of emotion and gratitude for this stalwart and faithful woman. I felt deeply connected to her.
The morning after returning home from Trek, I woke up really early. I couldn’t sleep. In the quiet stillness of my house, I felt this stirring in my heart: “there is more.” I got up and went for a run. And then it hit me. I realized that “there is more” meant more words of Emily’s out there.
As a result of reading through her poems, I have felt directed to write “The Emily Woodmansee Project:” musical settings of seven sacred texts, for SATB. The first, “Let the Little Children Come,” is a musical setting of a Primary song that Emily wrote, which was included in the 1923 hymnbook. I have written it for children’s chorus and SATB. I hope to record it soon