Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 27-28 — Sacrament and Supremacy

A function of revelation is clarifying confusion and what isn’t clear. And this function is displayed in the two sections of the Doctrine and Covenant’s covered in this coming week’s Come Follow Me lesson. In Section 27, we learn that it isn’t necessary to use wine in the sacrament (and, in fact, “it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink”), and in Section 28, we are told that who receives revelation matters—that revelation binding on the whole church comes to the Prophet, whose revelations are supreme.

As I have for each lesson so far this year (and for many years in the past1), the poems below are suitable for enhancing and embellishing the Come Follow Me lessons.

 

Sacrament Gems

There are, of course, many poems about the sacrament in the universe of Latter-day Saint poetry, and many are as accessible as the nearest hymnal. Those are likely quite familiar, and teachers might want to use a sacrament hymn for this lesson. But I can’t provide something that easy. Instead, let me give 3 examples of a common short poem that our parents and grandparents would have been familiar with: “sacrament gems.”

These short poems were meant to be recited as preparation for the sacrament in “Junior Sunday School” — the primary-age Sunday meeting for children when primary was a separate weekday activity, instead of what we have today. As I understand it, gems were recited by children, so they were short and simple. But despite their simplicity, the best of these gems were still full of doctrinal import. The church magazine where they were published monthly doesn’t make clear who wrote these poems. I hope that I will eventually discover who the poets are.

Here are a few examples from 1931:

 

I come to Thee all penitent

I come to Thee all penitent,

I feel Thy love for me;
Dear Savior, in this Sacrament

I do remember Thee.

Why should I falter—O Savior of mine

Why should I falter—O Savior of mine,

With ev’ry doubt laved in Thy mercy divine?
I take of the Sacrament, emblems of Thee,

And know Thou hast suffered, O Savior, for me!

Just a tiny piece of bread

Just a tiny piece of bread
While it’s blessed I bow my head—
Then a sip of water clear
To show I love my Savior dear.

Nice, aren’t they? I don’t remember hearing gems like these myself. But I do remember separate junior Sunday school meetings. And I suspect that I did hear them before primary moved to become the Sunday meeting for children in 1980.

 

The Role of a Prophet in The Vision

It’s a bit harder to find a poem that conveys the precedence of the revelation of the prophet over that of others. To be honest, I think the concept is a bit more complicated than even the lesson implies—while the revelation of the Prophet for the entire Church is supreme, I’m not sure that the Prophet’s general revelation for all Church members is supreme over personal revelation for my own life—Elder Oaks implied as much fairly recently, saying:

“As a General Authority, it is my responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. For example, we believe the commandment is not violated by killing pursuant to a lawful order in an armed conflict. But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.”2

But our poetry doesn’t seem to have made that fine a distinction yet. But it has emphasized the role of a prophet in making general counsel. A good example is J. M. Pope’s poem, The Vision. My quick search doesn’t turn up any certain information about this poet. He or she may be James Myron Pope (1876-1942), but I don’t see any information that would mark him as a poet, so the only evidence that this is the same person is that James is the only J. M. Pope I can find that fits the information I have. Perhaps someone has information that will clarify.

Regardless, The Vision emphasizes the role of revelation in the role of the Prophet, and our need for a Prophet to give us the general commandments we should try to follow.

The Vision

In the shady woodland, Joseph sought the Lord,
Kneeling there so prayerfully, waiting for the Word.
Suddenly there a light appeared,
Brighter, by far, than noon-day sun –
Hear the voice of the Lord
As He delivers His word,
Sweetest that ever was heard;
Telling the boy of His wonders so heavenly.
Angels attended him then;
Bringing the Gospel again
For the salvation of men,
If they but learn and obey the commands of Him.

Chorus

I know the Gospel’s true;
That the light has dawned anew.
I’ll keep praising the Lord;
Telling the message I’ve heard;
So that the children of men
May be informed that the Gospel has been restored.
Now we have a prophet speaking for the Lord;
If we heed his counsel, listen to his words;
Sunshine will change the shades of night,
Turn all the darkness into light –
Hear the voice of the Lord
As He delivers His word,
Sweetest that ever was heard;
Telling the Saints of his wonders so heavenly.
Angels will visit us then,
Help us to overcome sin
So that we may enter in –
to the portals of heaven and dwell with Him.

[H. T. Ardis Parshall, in Keepapitchinin.]

 

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Show 2 footnotes

  1. In Times and Season’s archives are more than 150 posts featuring Latter-day Saint poems suitable for use with Sunday School and other lessons — this is the latest round of what I’ve been providing for quite a while.
  2. Quoted in Nate Givens’ post here General Counsel and Outliers.

1 comment for “Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 27-28 — Sacrament and Supremacy

  1. While those particular “sacrament gems” may have been intended for Junior Sunday School, the concept of congregational/group recitation was not limited to Junior Sunday School. It also took place regularly in Senior Sunday School, at least from my earliest pre-1960 memories until “opening exercises” were abandoned in connection with the 3-hour block.
    Something of congregational worship was lost when we lost such group recitations without incorporating them into our sacrament meetings like many other things we had adopted from traditional Christian forms of worship.

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