The Iron Rod

I recently recorded a song with my family, an old hymn based on a passage from the Book of Mormon.

Sanderson Family – The Iron Rod (download mp3 | more info)
Text: Joseph L. Townsend (1849-1942)
Music: William Clayson (1840-1887)
Arranged by Alan Sanderson

To Nephi, seer of olden time,
A vision came from God,
Wherein the holy word sublime
Was shown an iron rod.

While on our journey here below,
Beneath temptation’s pow’r,
Through mists of darkness we must go,
In peril ev’ry hour.

Hold to the rod, the iron rod;
’Tis strong, and bright, and true.
The iron rod is the word of God;
’Twill safely guide us through.

And when temptation’s pow’r is nigh,
Our pathway clouded o’er,
Upon the rod we can rely,
And heaven’s aid implore.

And, hand o’er hand, the rod along,
Through each succeeding day,
With earnest prayer and hopeful song,
We’ll still pursue our way.


Afar we see the golden rest
To which the rod will guide,
Where, with the angels bright and blest,
Forever we’ll abide.


The world is a vast expanse full of people finding their way through. A lot of us don’t really know where we want to go, and an oppressive mist of darkness and temptation blinds us to the right way.

Some people seek for the great and spacious buildings of the world, where pride and vanity hold people’s hearts. Many people stumble on their way and fall down chasms, where they are lost in filthy, raging rivers. Still others wander into forbidden paths and are lost.

But there is a narrow path which leads to a tree with the most delicious and glorious fruit. It is the tree of life, and its fruit is the love of God. Can we make it to this wonderful destination, despite the obstacles?

We can, because there is a secure railing to hold onto as we follow the path. It is the iron rod, the word of God.

“Whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:23).

I have wandered towards the great and spacious building at times during my life, and I have been a few steps down a forbidden path or two. When I was trying to find my way in the world, looking about as if I knew not where to go, I heard the voices of my goodly parents beckoning me to family scripture time. Day after day they helped me grab ahold of the iron rod, and over time I made progress along the straight and narrow path. Eventually I tasted the fruit, which is most desirable above all other fruit.

Now I call to my own children: “Come to scripture time! Leave the temptations and the pride of the world behind. Lay hold upon the word of God, and never let go. Learn the steps of the straight and narrow path. Come with me, and taste the love of God!”

And you all are invited too.

Alan B. Sanderson, MD is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a practicing neurologist.

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2 replies to “The Iron Rod

  1. The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides us a rock that we can hold to and use as a firm foundation in a world where it’s easy to get lost or washed away. I’m grateful my parents taught me to hold to that Rock.


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