Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 12-13

Joseph Knight, Sr.

The two sections of the D&C for the next Come Follow Me lesson are both quite short, but the second covers one of the most significant events in Church history—the visit of John the Baptist restoring the Aaronic Priesthood and the ordinance of Baptism, found in section 13.

But before that, in section 12, we find a blessing on Joseph Knight, Sr., who sought to know what he should do to build up the kingdom. Surprisingly, the answer to that is not often found in the earliest Mormon poetry—when this poetry speaks of Zion or of the kingdom, the message is often simply the millennial message that the Lord will bring Zion, regardless of what we do. Fortunately, there are some poems that do suggest that we should work to build up Zion.

 

Jane Mason On Zion

On Zion is the earliest poem I found that mentions that we should be part of building up Zion. Its author, Jane Horby Mason, was born in Louth, Lincolnshire in 1807 and married Thomas Mason in 1840. They had a child, James, in 1841, and several years later Jane joined the Church and wrote a poem titled “Truth” in 1847 and the following poem in 1848. Early the following year, Jane and her son James immigrated to Utah, leaving Thomas behind. In Utah Jane married Levi Savage, Sr. in 1856, and lived in Utah until her death in 1888. I hope to eventually find other poetry she wrote.

On Zion

by Jane Horby Mason (1848)

Happy day, that brings salvation

From a worse than Pharoah’s hand:
Hail the welcome invitation,

Echoing from a better land!

We will gather
When our God shall give command.

 

When oar hearts Incline to sadness,

And dark clouds obscure our hope,
There’s a source which brings us gladness,

And our darksome way lights up.

In the distance
Lo! we see Mount Zion’s top.

 

Though awhile we may be hindred,

And in vain may sigh for home;
Waiting long to join our kindred,

While as pilgrims here we roam:

Yet faith whispers
Our deliverance soon will come..

 

With such joyful expectation,

Shall a saint his courage lose;
What, though great his tribulation,

He shall conquer all his foes.

Onward marching—
Still rejoicing as he goes..

 

We on all our foes shall trample—

On ignoble ashes tread;
Giving thus a fair example,

That as calves we’re richly fed.

Thus fulfilling
What the ancient prophet said..

 

Yes, the Scriptures are fulfilling—

Soon our trials will be o’er;
Then the obedient and the willing

Good shall eat, and God adore.

While His praises
Shall resound from shore to shore..

 

Hand to hand then, brethren—sisters,

Up—prepare—for short’s our stay;
See, the foe his army musters,

Soon the word will be—away.

On for Zion,
There’s a Head—a better day!.

 

Haste the time by saints expected,

Let the wheat be gather’d home;
In the garner well protected,

That a burning day may come;

When oppressors—
Tares and chaff—must share one doom..

 

Then is bound the great oppressor,

When the Man-Child comes of age
Strong in power. The vile possessor

Will in vain his hosts engage.

He’ll dethrone him—
Laugh to scorn the usurper’s rage..

 

Then in holy heavenly chorus

Shall the Saints with angels sing;
With a thousand years before us,

And the joys which thence will spring,

While in triumph
Jesus is proclaimed our King.

 

Appleby on the Restoration

Section 13 contains simply the text John the Baptist spoke during the ordination of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to the Aaronic Priesthood. Following the blessing, Smith and Cowdery baptized each other, the first baptisms of this dispensation. This restoration of the priesthood is one of the main focuses of the next poem.

This poem, written 3 years after Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, is by William I. Appleby, a New Jersey native born in 1811. When he joined the Church in 1840 he was already a Justice of the Peace and Town Clerk in Recklesstown, New Jersey. Appleby jumped into the Church with both feet. He travelled to Nauvoo in 1841, met Joseph Smith, and returned home anxious to serve. He built up branches in central New Jersey, and was eventually named president of the Eastern States Mission, first temporarily in 1847, before he took his family to Utah in 1849, and then later returning to the East as the permanent mission president and immigration agent from 1865-1868. Throughout this service Appleby wrote in his journal with a dozen or more of his poems, and several, like this one, were published.

Lines suggested by reflections on Joseph Smith

by William I. Appleby (1847)

“Joseph, the Prophet of the Lord,” thy name to me is dear
And for thy absence now, I often shed the tender tear;
Call’d thou wast when young, thy faithfulness to prove,
To do the work agreed by thee, e’er thou left the courts above
On this terrestrial ball thou came, at the appointed time,
To do those works of might and power, and let thy wisdom shine;
To break the spell of darkness, the time had arriven,
To bring to light the truth, the way and plan of heav’n.
To burst traditions fetters, to relieve the oppress’d,
And prepare the earth for righteousness and everlasting rest;
An angel from on high is sent, the truth for to reveal,
A record of the gospel, that “Moroni’s” hand had sealed.
The Record is translanted—the humble doth rejoice—
God bears witness to the same, by his spirit and his voice;
Again the priesthood is restor’d—the church is organiz’d,
According to revelation, but by the world despis’d;
Built on the ancient pattern—a dispensation new.
Of apostles and prophets, and inspiration too.
Joseph, thy name’s evil spoken of, by great and by small,
But true unto thy God and cause, thou overcame them all,
And laid the foundation of a mighty work began,
For the redemption, salvation, and exaltation of man.
John the Baptist” first with the “Aaronic Priesthood” came,
Second, the Melchisedek, from Peter, John, and James,
Third, the “keys of restoration” by “Elias” they are giv’n,
By “Elijah” (fourth) the sealing keys, to seal on earth and heav’n.
And for these truths thy blood was shed, and laid thy body down,
But thou will rule a mighty host, and wear a martyr’s crown,
Millions shall know thou’rt a king—thy power they shall dread,
For by the priesthood thou wast crown’d, before thy blood was shed;
Thou’rt only passed behind the veil, to plead the cause above,
Of mourning, bleeding, Zion, which was thy daily love.
There, in the counsels of the just, before the throne of God,
Along with thy brother Hyrum, who fell with thee in bloodl
Thou art the “Angel of the Church,” under Christ thy head,
Thou hast minister’d to it since thy death, by thy counsels it U led,
Thou wilt stand in thy place and lot in the resurrection morns,
With all the ancient worthies, whose brows a crown adorns,
At the head of thy dispensation thou ever thus will stand,
While less inferior spirits, shall bow at thy command,
“Joseph,” the “Saints” there will meet you, and brother Hyrum too,
Along with the “Twelve” apostles, whose faithful been and true,
With all the “Saints” in glory, forever there to reign,
Sealed with the Holy Priesthood. Eternal life. Amen.

 

For Baptism

It isn’t clear who the author of this hymn is, but it may have been W. W. Phelps, who was the editor of the Evening and Morning Star when it was published in April 1833. Of course, our baptisms have always been accompanied by hymns, and this hymn next appeared in Emma Smith’s first hymnal in 1835 and in subsequent hymnals through 1841, but disappeared thereafter. It was likely sung at baptisms during the first decade of Mormonism.

For Baptism

Come, ye children of the kingdom,

Sing with me for joy to day;
Gather round, as Christ’s disciples,

Kneel with grateful hearts and pray.

 

There’s a line contain’d in Matthew

What the Savior said to John,
And the sacred words from heaven;

This is my beloved Son.

 

As ’twas said to Nicodemus,

So I must be born again;
‘Tis by water and the Spirit

I the promise may obtain.

 

So I will obey the Savior,

Keep his law and do his will,
That I may enjoy forever,

Happiness on Zion’s hill.

 

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