On June 17, 1814, William Clayton was born in Lancashire, England. He was taught the gospel by Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde and emigrated to the United States, leading a group of British converts to Zion. While in Nauvoo, Clayton served as a clerk and scribe to the prophet Joseph Smith. Clayton is best remembered for penning the words to the popular LDS hymn, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Clayton was in the first group of Latter-day Saints to leave Nauvoo on the Exodus west in early February 1846.
The hymn was written as the camp rested in Locust Creek, Iowa. The day he wrote the hymn, April 15, 1846, Clayton wrote the following in his journal:
“Last night I got up to watch, there being no guard. This morning Ellen Kimball came to me and wished me much joy. She said Diantha [Clayton’s wife who had not yet left Nauvoo] has a son. I told her I was afraid it was not so, but she said Brother Pond had received a letter. I went over to Pond’s and he read that she had a fine boy on the 30th. Truly I feel to rejoice at this intelligence. Spent the day chiefly reading. In the afternoon President Young came over and found some fault about our wagons. In the evening the band played, and after we dismissed we retired to my tent to have a social christening. We had a very pleasant time playing and singing until about 12:00 and drank health to my new son. We named him William Adriel Benoni Clayton.”
Then, he enters, “This morning I composed a new song, ‘All Is Well.’ I feel to thank my Heavenly Father for my boy. I hope that my wife will soon be well.” That is all that William Clayton ever wrote about his hymn.
“This morning I composed a new song, ‘All Is Well.’ I feel to thank my Heavenly Father for my boy. I hope that my wife will soon be well.” That is all that William Clayton ever wrote about his hymn.
That is all that William Clayton ever wrote about his hymn. It is interesting to note the hymn, while obviously included in modern LDS hymnals, also appears in a Protestant hymnal for the United Church of Christ. A revised third lyric changes references to the exodus west. Another version was written for the Seventh-day Adventist hymnal. You can watch a version of the hymn below by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.