Does The Journey Seem Long?

As far as I know, there have only been two recorded instances in LDS General Conference history when a singer performed a solo. The first solo occurred in 2009 when a Brazilian “mormon soprano” named Liriel Domiciano was invited by Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley to perform “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during a Sunday Conference session. The second solo moment in General Conference history happened on Sunday morning Oct. 7, 2012 when Choir baritone Shane Warby performed a little-known LDS hymn entitled “Does The Journey Seem Long?” as a special request by church apostle President Boyd K. Packer. A new arrangement by Mack Wilberg was written just for this Conference, which you can hear below.

Shane Warby sings a solo at LDS General Conference October 2012
Tabernacle Choir member Shane Warby sings a solo at LDS General Conference October 2012

The text of this hymn comes from a poem written by President Joseph Fielding Smith  (1876-1972), tenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whom Pres. Packer referred to as “a dear friend”.

President Joseph Fielding Smith

President Smith liked to write his own poetry—little verses about animals, life and family, and above all, about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Several such poems have been put to music. President Smith was not only a poet, he also liked to sing. Once he treated an audience to singing an impromptu duet with his wife Sister Jessie Evans Smith. According to President Smith, he wrote the poem “Does The Journey Seem Long?” while riding on a train from Utah to Arizona to fulfill a Church assignment.

When this song was performed 18 months ago, I thought it was very nice, and I loved hearing Shane’s beautiful voice perform the solo. But, when I listened to this song today, it touched the deepest core of my soul and I sobbed. Songs have a way of doing that; taking on new meaning and becoming the message we needed.

“Though you may feel weary, though you sometimes may not be able to see the way, know that your Father in Heaven will never forsake His righteous followers. He will not leave you comfortless. He will be at your side, yes, guiding you every step of the way.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin, One Step After Another

Does The Journey Seem Long – Hymn #127 Lyrics
Text: Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972)
Music: George D. Pyper (1860-1943)
Does the journey seem long,
The path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet
As you struggle to rise
To the heights thru the heat of the day?
Is your heart faint and sad,
Your soul weary within,
As you toil ‘neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem
You are forced now to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?
Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey’s begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy
And take hold of his hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new—
A land holy and pure,
Where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed,
For no sorrows remain.
Take his hand and with him enter in.


  1. Are you not counting the women’s sessions? I’m pretty sure there was a solo at one of those. It was the October 2005 General Relief Society meeting. They did “When I Feel His Love” by Janice Kapp Perry and I could swear I remember a beautiful sister sing a solo for part of it. If I recall correctly she got all teary-eyed and almost couldn’t sing. Too bad they don’t offer videos of that on the church website. It’s such a lovely song!


  2. Another recorded instance of a General Conference solo was the Sunday Afternoon Session, 6 April 1986. Sister Barbara Benson Walker (President Benson’s daughter) infamously sang “O Divine Redeemer.” Best forgotten.


  3. As a child I believe Sister Jessie Evans Smith sang solo with the choir on more than one occasion. I remember her singing, He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.


  4. This was beautiful! Thank you. The General Conference arrangement of that hymn touched me deeply and comforted me during a pretty rough time. I did not see sources–I’d like to learn more about the background of that hymn. Where did you learn about Joseph Fielding Smith writing the lyrics on a train?


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