As Sisters in Zion

Debbie J. Christensen

As Sisters in Zion


In 1852, two sisters in a small village in England responded to the message of Mormon missionaries and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Julia Hill was nineteen years old, and her sister, Emily, was only sixteen. After working and saving their money for four more years, they made their way to America and joined the Willie handcart company for the arduous journey to the Salt Lake Valley. Faced with exhaustion, starvation, exposure, and even death, they strengthened one another and intensified their resolve. Alone they would fail, but together they could succeed and live.

Emily later wrote a poem about her experience, which has been set to music and sung by Relief Society sisters all over the world. But the story of that hymn, “As Sisters in Zion,” is more than the experience of two sisters. Behind this well-known song lies a fascinating, little-known story of the sisters’ personal call to “comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.”


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