While many of us have a favorite hymn from the beautifully inspired hymns of praise that have touched our hearts and brought tears to our eyes, The Songs of Zion are unique to our Church. They are songs that belong to a new time; they belong to a new era; they belong to our people. They are songs sent from the throne of God as a gift to The Church of Jesus Christ. They are inspirational and related to Christ and His promises of the latter-day times and events. This gift was given to our late Sister Arlene Buffington, as our songs of hope and joy, looking forward to the fulfillment of the kingdom of Zion, bathed in the latter-day glory of the restoration.
Today’s focus is No. 235. Unobserved, A Kingdom Rises, by looking at the meaning and application of the song, because it’s too easy to sing without paying attention to the words and their meaning.
UNOBSERVED, A KINGDOM RISES
Unobserved, a kingdom rises,
Unobserved, a city grows.
Like a quiet morning whisper,
Or the fragrance of a rose.
Come, saints, come a little closer,
Smell the sweetness in the air.
Hear the faintest strains of music,
Coming from the mountain there.
Come, saints, as this Wonder rises,
Closer, saints, oh, come and watch.
A dream no more, a real creation,
Come and see and feel and touch.
Blow the trumpet, Christ is coming,
To His kingdom here on earth.
Once a baby, now a nation,
Growing quickly from its birth.
©2019 Arlene Lea Buffington
At first glance, you might think the title to this song is unique, maybe even a bit odd, but there’s an “obscure” verse of scripture, found in the gospel of Luke that might cause us to change our mind…
“And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Of course, the Pharisees were trying once again to trap Jesus, as they were looking to be released from the political and physical oppression of the Romans. They were seeking religious freedom, thinking that the Messiah, their coming king, would overthrow the Roman rulers and establish God’s kingdom on earth.
Jesus’ response was contrary to what they expected, when He responded by saying, God’s kingdom can’t be seen or observed, nor is it a physical place. Instead, His response redirects them to look within! By following Christ, who lives in our hearts and who’s spirit dwells within us, we will find the kingdom.
So, while that’s still true today—that by exercising faith, repenting of our sins, entering into a covenant through baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and serving Him until we die—we also read of another kingdom. Not the kingdom of God that brings salvation, but the kingdom of Zion that brings together those in the latter days, of the House of Israel and Gentiles who will serve Jesus Christ.
The song’s verses and the chorus speak of what the prophets foretold, such as Isaiah 66:8:
“Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”
Likewise, the kingdom of Zion is personified in this song as a quiet morning whisper, or the fragrance of a rose, and yet we anticipate the blowing of the trumpet, because Christ will be in our midst in Zion. The kingdom (a nation born at once) will serve as a physical refuge of peace.
Jesus made it clear when He appeared to those on this land after His death and resurrection as recorded in 3 Nephi 21:1-2:
“And verily I say unto you, I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion; And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, [through the Book of Mormon] and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles [through the restoration of the gospel] that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob [indigenous peoples of the Americas], and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them…”
Let us each be enticed by the chorus, Come, saints, as this Wonder rises, Closer, saints, oh, come and watch. A dream no more, a real creation, Come and see and feel and touch.
May God bless us as we labor among a remnant of the house of Jacob to bring forth Zion.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Thank you, Brother Frank for an explanation of Isaiah 66:8. I have long wondered on the meaning of this verse!