Literary DCGD #10: Friendship

March 5, 2013 | no comments
By
Joseph L Townsend

Joseph L Townsend

Lesson 10 of the Gospel Doctrine manual for the Doctrine and Covenants is one of those lessons that is a bit hard to characterize. It covers D&C  25, addressing subjects like “husbands and wives should support and comfort each other,” “meekness and pride,” and “rejoice and be of good cheer.” I found it hard to come up with a single subject that covers all of this, and the best I could do is a poem about friendship.

The author of this poem, Joseph Townsend, was one of the most widely published poets of late 19th century Mormonism. Today Townsend is best known as the author of 10 of the hymns in our hymnal, including “Choose the Right,” “The Iron Rod,” “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words To Each Other,” and “Hope of Israel.” Born in Pennsylvania in 1872, Townsend came to Salt Lake City, Utah to improve is health and discovered Mormonism there as well. He served an LDS mission to the Southern States, owned and ran a drugstore in Payson, Utah for 15 years and then taught at Brigham Young Academy (the high-school predecessor of BYU) for a couple of years before teaching at Salt Lake City High School. And he wrote poetry which was frequently published in LDS publications like The Contributor.

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Friendship

by Joseph L. Townsend

O life is beautiful, and fair, and sweet,
With all its golden wealth of love and hope,
Bright, dreamy fancies, castles incomplete
Fill up the vacant avenues and scope.

 

But while we plod along, from day to day,
What is it cheers and gladdens most the heart?
Not love—the changeful queen from sad to gay,
Hope, Faith and Trust, each, comfort may impart,

 

But Friendship, which the test of truth has tried,
Lifts us from darkness into regions fair,
And will with sorrow or with joy abide,
A gem of gems, exquisite, rich and rare.

 

Let poets sing in praises all divine,
Choosing among the gifts that God has given,
The one most precious, cheering or sublime,
To help poor mortals in the path to heaven,

 

I will suggest that FRIENDSHIP be the theme,
Highest and worthiest of the poet’s fire:
‘Tis guiltless of deceit or selfish scheme,
And will true sympathy of soul inspire.

 

Linking together the divinest part,
Of man or woman, in affection true,
‘Twill elevate and purify the heart,
Imparting strength, to bear life’s journey through.

The Contributor 3 (1881-1882), p. 313

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I thought this fit the lesson well because friendship is the basis of any sound marriage, as well as the motivation for the support and comforting required. It is, I think, the non-romantic expression of Love, and thus often requires meekness and a lack of pride to act. And in the presence of true friendship, it is often easy to rejoice and be of good cheer.

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