If you’re a Latter Day Saint, you’ve probably heard of W. W. Phelps, and no doubt, you’ve probably sung some of his hymns. But did you know that he printed the Book of Commandments and other early church works? Or that he was one of the "council of presidents" that guided the Church in Kirtland, Ohio and helped publish the newspaper in Nauvoo, Illinois? Or as political clerk, he assisted Joseph Smith in his roles as mayor of Nauvoo and contender for the U.S. presidency? Phelps also played a key role in the Council of Fifty. He went west with the Saints, helped propose the "State of Deseret," and published prose and poetry in the Deseret News
and his Deseret Almanac.
Phelps’ strong feelings even put him at odds with Church leaders, and he was excommunicated three times, rejoining each time!
Dr. Bruce Van Orden
explores Phelps’ fascinating life in the first ever comprehensive biography on him, entitled, We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps
(Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2018). Dr. Orden makes some compelling arguments that have never been fully teased out by scholars. Whether you’re a Latter Day Saint historian, an American religion scholar, or just an interested student.