7 Powerful Poems President Thomas S. Monson Has Shared in General Conference

Ordained an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ on October 10, 1963, President Thomas S. Monson, 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been sharing powerful sermons in general conference for more than five decades. The personal stories President Monson frequently shares have endeared him to members of the Church of all ages throughout the world. President Monson also commonly uses literary devices as a part of his messages. In one familiar example of alliteration, President Monson has often reminded us that "decisions determine destiny." ("Decisions Determine Destiny," Fireside Address, November 6, 2005).

President Monson also has a beautiful way of integrating poetry into his sermons. Below are seven examples of powerful poems President Monson has used in his general conference addresses. These poems are great material for a Family Home Evening lesson or can be a source of inspiration during personal study. In each case, we can ponder the message President Monson wanted us to learn from the poem:

1. "Prayer" quoted in "We Never Walk Alone" in October 2013:

I know not by what methods rare,
But this I know, God answers prayer.
I know that He has given His Word,
Which tells me prayer is always heard,
And will be answered, soon or late.
And so I pray and calmly wait.
I know not if the blessing sought
Will come in just the way I thought;
But leave my prayers with Him alone,
Whose will is wiser than my own,
Assured that He will grant my quest,
Or send some answer far more blest. (1)

2. "The Reading Mother" quoted in "If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear" in October 2004:

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a Mother who read to me. (2)

Image from LDS.org

3. "Around the Corner" quoted in "The Way of the Master" in April 1996:

Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end;
Yet days go by, and weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year is gone,
And I never see my old friend’s face,
For Life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well
As in the days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine.
We were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men:
Tired with playing a foolish game,
Tired with trying to make a name.
“To-morrow,” I say, “I will call on Jim,
Just to show that I’m thinking of him.”
But to-morrow comes—and to-morrow goes,
And the distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner!—yet miles away …
“Here’s a telegram, sir,”
“Jim died to-day.”

And that’s what we get, and deserve in the end:
Around the corner, a vanished friend. (3)

4. "Good Timber" quoted in "I Will Not Fail Thee, Nor Forsake Thee" in October 2013:

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow. (4)

5. "At the Crossroads" quoted in "The Upward Reach" In October 1993:

He stood at the crossroads all alone,
The sunlight in his face.
He had no thought for the world unknown—
He was set for a manly race.
But the roads stretched east, and the roads stretched west,
And the lad knew not which road was best;
So he chose the road that led him down,
And he lost the race and victor’s crown.
He was caught at last in an angry snare
Because no one stood at the crossroads there
To show him the better road.

Another day, at the self-same place,
A boy with high hopes stood.
He, too, was set for a manly race;
He, too, was seeking the things that were good;
But one was there who the roads did know,
And that one showed him which way to go.
So he turned from the road that would lead him down,
And he won the race and the victor’s crown.
He walks today the highway fair
Because one stood at the crossroads there
To show him the better way. (5)

6. "Crossing the Bar" quoted in "Mrs. Patton--The Story Continues" in October 2007:

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea, …

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar. (6)

7. Untitled quoted in "What Have I Done for Someone Today?" in October 2009:

I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind. (7)


1. Eliza M. Hickok, “Prayer,” in James Gilchrist Lawson, ed., The Best Loved Religious Poems (1933), 160.

2. Strickland Gillilan, “The Reading Mother,” in The Best Loved Poems of the American People, sel. Hazel Felleman (1936), 376.

3. Charles Hanson Towne, “Around the Corner,” in Poems That Live Forever, sel. Hazel Felleman (1965), 128.

4. Douglas Malloch, “Good Timber,” in Sterling W. Sill, Making the Most of Yourself (1971), 23.

5. Central Christian Monitor

6. Alfred Tennyson, “Crossing the Bar,” in Poems of the English Race, ed. Raymond Macdonald Alden (1921), 362.

7. Anonymous, quoted in Richard L. Evans, “The Quality of Kindness,” Improvement Era, May 1960, 340.

Nate Sharp is an associate professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and currently serves as bishop of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Holladay, Utah, served a full-time mission for the Church in the Korea Seoul West mission from 1996-1998, and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He married Holly Carroll in 2003, and they are the proud parents of five beautiful children.

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