Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 3-5

In the three sections covered in this week’s Come Follow Me lesson we go with Martin Harris from the 116 pages to being a witness, with a detour to Joseph Smith Sr. and what it means to serve God.

While I haven’t found poems that mention the events associated with these sections, there are a number that examine the principles in them. For example, the lesson discusses Martin Harris’ worries about his standing in the community and with his wife as one of the contributing factors behind him seeking the 116 manuscript pages, and draws from Section 3 the principle “Trust God not man.” And that teaching is the subject of the following poem by Thomas Ward.

 

 

A Fragment by Thomas Ward

Thomas Ward served as editor of the Millennial Star, the Church’s long-running England-based periodical, following Parley P. Pratt’s return to the US in October 1842 until Orson Hyde took over in October 1846, as Ward was apparently leaving England temporarily.  By the next year, Ward was in England, and had become ill with dropsy. He died on March 4th.

A Fragment is one of several poems that Ward published in the Millennial Star.

A Fragment

By Thomas Ward (1843)
I mark’d him as he stood with downcast eye,
Whence, ever and anon, a tear would start;
While with convulsive throb his bosom heav’d;
‘Twas nature’s final struggle to o’ercome
The high resolve, the purpose of the soul
To serve the God of Heaven; but he stood
And conquered, though he sever’d every link
That bound him to his father’s house, and all
His heart had lov’d most tenderly; but he
Had heard the word of life, had felt the pow’r
Of God’s own truth unmarr’d by man; and now
He purposed in his heart to bear the cross,
And follow him who died that he might live.
‘Tis true he’d lose a parent’s love, his home,
His heritage, his all; but would he not
Become a Son of God, and have a claim
To glory and inheritance, that still
Should be when every earthly good had past.
‘Tis o’er, the tempter’s power has fail’d, and now
With ready feet he seeks the man of God,
To ‘minister to him that holy rite—
The birth of water—in that mighty name,
By which alone he could be sav’d, and know
That all his guilt was cancell’d, and that he
Might now receive the Father’s promise,
A glorious earnest of all joys to come.

[h/t Ardis Parshall at Keepapitchinin]

 

Another of the principles covered in the lesson comes from D&C 4 — the widely memorized section often associated with missionary work. However, the section was directed to the prophet’s father, Joseph Smith, Sr., who never served a mission, but who had sought direction on how to serve God. For most, if not all, of us this can be a struggle — and that struggle is discussed by one of our finest poets, Augusta Joyce Crocheron in her poem “Invocation.”

Invocation by Augusta Joyce Crocheron

At age two, Crocheron was one of the more than 200 church members who sailed from New York City on the ship Brooklyn to settle in what is now San Francisco. With her parents, she later gathered to Utah in 1867, and married George Crocheron in 1870. Her poetry appeared frequently in LDS periodicals, and some of it was collected in her book Wild Flowers of Deseret (1881).

Invocation

By Augusta Joyce Crocheron (1880)
Amid these tangled ways of life,

So thickly strewn with duty’s calls,
Lord, let me not lose, in the strife,

To fulfil each, ‘gainst varied thralls
That rise; remembrance of thy word to me,

Remembrance of thy promises
To those who keep their trust in thee.

They who, in their souls’ fastnesses,
Hear answer to their prayers to Thee.

Nature is thine, calm, clear and pure.
These walls we pass our lives within—

No wonder, brief and insecure,
Our resolutions over sins

That tempt us beyond governing—
Imprisoned in their dull routine

Of dull, same duties, each and all,
The soul longs for a rest between,

Unbroken by their harsh recall;
Back to the time the heart knew not

A jar upon its upward dream;
Its pure imaginings of what

The source, from whence life’s mystic stream.
O thou far Friend! forget not me,

Though wandering in my lone, lost way
On earth, oft times I have missed Thee.

Call me; my heart will hear; the word
Shall lead me to Thyself once more;

And rising, like the loosened bird,
Sing, above storms that lash the shore.
Another principle covered in the lesson is the idea of gaining a witness. In section 5, Martin Harris is told how he can repent and become one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. His experience is something that all of us can share in part — we can gain a witness of Truth for ourselves by revelation, as Martin did. And this experience is the subject of the final poem for this week.

Walter M. Morrison’s The Witness

I haven’t been able to find any additional information about Walter Morrison. Its possible that he is the Walter Morrison from Sweetwater, Wyoming who married Lena McCoy in 1918, but since very little is known about that Morrison either, I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, The Witness shows a poet who thinks deeply about what it means to gain a witness:

The Witness

by Walter M. Morrison (1927)
More sure than what I see or hear or measure,
Is the spirit’s witness to the truth revealed –
More precious far than any earthly treasure,
Are the covenants by keys of Priesthood sealed.
The perfect guide, through life to point the way,
Is freely given to each repentant soul;
It fills with purpose our beclouded day,
Disclosing whence we came and what our goal.
The great Archangel came, with glorious Eve,
And ate the fruit which genders mortal flesh.
That waiting spirits might new powers achieve
And here pursue their destiny afresh.
We walk by faith and, using, gain its power;
And here we learn by contrast wrong from right;
We add the body to the spirit’s dower
And train its strong desires with growing might.
This life’s a test – a time of quick unfolding –
In which we make or mar our destiny, –
Creative urge and new-found freedom holding –
Our adolescence in eternity.
Lest death our hopes destroy, with love divine
Our loving Father sent his first-born Son
To bear the shame and guilt that’s yours and mine –
And cleansed, each temple from its grave is won!
As a mother knows, when joy her heart has filled,
That she loves her babe close-folded to her breast,
So I know when my soul’s illumed and thrilled,
That prophets speak the truth at God’s behest.

[h/t Ardis Parshall at Keepapitchinin]

 

3 comments for “Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 3-5

  1. Kent, I’ve poked around a bit to identify this man through some clues . He is Walter William Morrison (the middle initial should be W. rather than M.), 1874-1962. He was born in Richfield, Utah, but moved to Los Angeles/Hollywood as a young man, and spent the rest of his life there. He ran a drug store, and there’s an intriguing indication on a 1919 passport application that he was headed to Columbia (South America) to purchase drug-making supplies. He apparently remained connected to the Church, but so far as I can tell had no further literary career — this poem may have been the result of a short-lived or even one-time burst of poetic sentiment.

    I probably won’t comment every week just to say I LOVE THIS SERIES, but know that I read it every week and am saying to myself I LOVE THIS SERIES.

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