But They Carried On – Sunday, July 26, 2020

In 1846, thousands of people in the midwestern United States were persecuted for their beliefs and forced from their homes in the dead of winter. They didn’t consider themselves pioneers, but suddenly they were—walking across the western wilderness in search of refuge, a place where they could worship their God and practice their faith. Some traveled by wagon, others by handcart, but they all had to walk and walk and walk many hundreds of miles. There were no roads or restaurants, no inns or waystations to enter and rest along the way. But the fire of their faith kept them warm, and their convictions kept them moving.


Brigham Young, the leader of the trek west, taught “that while faith is good, faith combined with good judgment is better.”[1] And so they did the best they could under the circumstances to prepare, to help one another, and to travel wisely. Finally, they found their haven of peace and prosperity in an unlikely place—the desert valleys west of the Rocky Mountains. Then, somehow, they made their desert blossom like a rose.

How did they do it? How did they succeed under such difficult circumstances? The simplest answer may be that they carried on!

It wasn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. During their journey, the pioneers were sometimes mocked and ridiculed by observers, but they carried on. Food was often scanty and supplies inadequate, but they carried on. Their path crossed dangerous, icy rivers, but they carried on. As one writer has observed, the roughest stretches of the trail always seemed to happen when the travelers were at their weakest and the elements were at their worst.[2] And yet, through it all, they carried on.

When our trail seems rocky, bleak, or even impassable, maybe we can, in our way, do what the pioneers did: With faith in God—along with good judgment—we carry on. Even if we don’t feel courageous, we do courageous things. Even when it seems like we can’t keep going, we continue to put one foot in front of the other, and with faith in each of those footsteps, we carry on.

[1] Andrew D. Olsen, The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers (2006), 167.

[2] See Olsen, The Price We Paid, 478.


July 26, 2020 But They Carried On
Broadcast Number 4,741

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg
Ryan Murphy

Guest Artist

Richard Elliott

Lloyd Newell

The Handcart Song
John Daniel Thompson McAllister; arr. Sam Cardon

Panis Angelicus
César Franck; arr. Mack Wilberg

Improvisation on “Hymn to Joy”
Ludwig van Beethoven; arr. Richard Elliott

O store gud (How Great Thou Art)
Swedish folk melody; arr. Håkon Iversen

Faith in Every Footstep
Newell Dayley

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends
English folk tune; arr. Mack Wilberg