“To the beat of a different drummer”


“The Lord hath brought again Zion” is a song written in 1832 by Joseph Smith for people in Kirtland, Ohio who were going to Missouri to the “New Zion” which was to be built on the western borders of the American frontier. (The full text of the song is below.)


There is in the song a constant interplay between two-beat (a short followed by a long syllable) and three-beat meter (one long followed by two short syllables). Lines nine and ten of the song, The Lord hath brought up Zion from above;/ The Lord hath brought down Zion from beneath, are in two-beat meter. Each of these lines follows a regular pattern of five short/long syllables. This poetic meter is commonly set to music using a conventional 4/4 measure with a “pickup” or “upbeat”: 4/1234/1234/1234, etc. The lines that immediately follow, however, are not conventional. Here the poet juxtaposes two- and three-beat rhythms in a more or less random order.


                        The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;

                        And truth is established in her bowels;

                        The heavens have smiled upon her;

                        And she is clothed with the glory of her God;

                        For he stands in the midst of his people.


The meters of these lines are complex and highly varied: 4/12345/12345/12345/1234 /1234567/12345/1234567/12345678. When one marches to a standard 4/4 meter, the weak beats are made by the left foot and the strong beats by the right foot. But when one marches to lines that have a combination of two- and three-beat patterns as these do, the strong beats are made by both the right and the left foot. The result is a highly complex, unexpected cadence: left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/right/left/ right/left, etc.


When people from Kirtland, Ohio marched to Zion in 1832 Joseph Smith was their drummer. The rhythms they marched to were new and different. As Henry David Thoreau said,


                        If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is

                        because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music

                        which he hears, however measured or far away.

                                                                                        —Walden Pond

“The Lord hath brought again Zion”


For I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations,

To scourge them for their wickedness.

And plagues shall go forth,

And they shall not be taken from the earth

Until I have completed my work,

Which shall be cut short in righteousness—

Until all shall know me who remain,

Even from the least unto the greatest,

And shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,

And shall see eye to eye,

And shall lift up their voice,

And with the voice together sing this new song, saying:


The Lord hath brought again Zion;

The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel,

According to the election of grace,

Which was brought to pass by the faith

And covenant of their fathers.

The Lord hath redeemed his people;

And Satan is bound and time is no longer.

The Lord hath gathered all things in one.

The Lord hath brought down Zion from above.

The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.

The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength;

And truth is established in her bowels;

The heavens have smiled upon her;

And she is clothed with the glory of her God;

For he stands in the midst of his people.


Glory, and honor, and power, and might,

Be ascribed to our God; for he is full of mercy,

Justice, grace and truth, and peace,


Forever and ever, Amen.