One day my daughter was playing an arrangement on the piano that included the melody of the song,
“A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” That song has always been familiar to me (so I thought), and I have known the story about how John Taylor sang it in the Carthage Jail before Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed. However, at that moment I realized that I didn’t know what the song really meant. So I sat at my piano and studied all of the verses. I was struck very deeply when I realized the full meaning of the song.
The first verse says: “A poor wayfaring Man of grief Hath often crossed me on my way, Who sued so humbly for relief That I could never answer nay. I had not pow’r to ask his name, Whereto he went, or whence he came; Yet there was something in his eye That won my love; I knew not why.”
In each verse after that the suffering stranger needs help, and the man who is speaking always gives assistance and is blessed in return. In the sixth verse when the poor man is in prison he asks, “if I for him would die; The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill, But my free spirit cried, ‘I will!’” In the final verse the stranger reveals himself at last as the Savior.
I knew I had to attempt a portrait of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.”