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Church History

Daily

Dreaming a Hymn

Of all the Christmas songs in the Latter-day Saint hymnbook, only one was written by a Latter-day Saint. “Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains” was written in St. George, Utah, by John Macfarlane in 1869. Macfarlane had written music before, and a few times had even dreamed music and woken up “in the middle of the night to jot down a melody, lest the light of morning should erase it from his memory.” But this Christmas song is the only hymn text he wrote. “One night it came, suddenly, in a dream. John was awake instantly. He shook Ann [his wife] into wakefulness, crying out, ‘Ann, Ann, I have the words for a song, and I think I have the music too!’” The song was a success that year in St. George and for many years to come in branches and wards around the world.

Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and Messages, rev. ed. (2009), 244–45