“Truth Eternal” is the fourth hymn in our current hymnal. Composed by Parley P. Pratt, a deeply religious man who used poetry as a means to express the feelings of his heart, this poem set to music contains beautiful visual imagery of the power of truth in our lives.
The first verse reads:
Truth eternal, truth divine,
In thine ancient fulness shine!
Burst the fetters of the mind
From the millions of mankind!
Brother Pratt shares his belief that as we learn truth and embrace it, our minds will become free of our old patterns, which, if incorrect, can hold us captive.
I confess, I’ve never heard this hymn sung or performed. I feel as though I’ve been missing out all these years—the message is lovely.
Also the author of “The Morning Breaks, the Shadows Flee,” we see similarities in Brother Pratt’s writing style as he conveys in this hymn,
Truth shall triumph as the light
Chases far the misty night.
We also see this analogy in the scriptures—truth brings us light and shows us clearly what we need to know, while lies and deceit are hidden up in shadow and darkness. Once the light of Christ has entered our lives, the darkness cannot stay, just as one small candle dispels the blackness of night.
In “Our Latter-day Hymns,” the author tells us that this hymn reminds us of the eternal nature of truth. We had the gospel on the earth when Christ was here, and the full truth was restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, but truth itself hasn’t ebbed and flowed—just our access to it. Truth will always be with us and cannot be dampened.
Parley P. Pratt gave his life for the gospel of Jesus Christ, sealing his testimony of truth with his own blood. Author of “A Voice of Warning,” the first book written about Mormonism, he was ambushed by an angry dissenter and killed. His life was not an easy one, but throughout it all, he maintained his testimony of truth and was one of the foremost of Joseph Smith’s supporters.