Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 76, The Vision of the Celestial Kingdom — plus, was Joseph Smith a poet?
Author: Kent Larsen
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 71-75: Criticism, Consecration and Proclamation
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 71-75, addressing Criticism, Consecration and Proclamation
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 67-70: The Lord’s Witness, Inspiration, and Parenting
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 67-70, addressing The Lord’s Witness, Inspiration, and Parenting
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 64-66: Forgiveness, Zion’s Ensign and Our Thoughts
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 64-66, addressing Forgiveness, Zion’s Ensign and Our Thoughts
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 63: Rebelliousness and Signs—The Lord is in Control
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 63, addressing rebelliousness and signs, but concluding that the Lord is in control
Why Mormon Literature is Vital
Last night poet and author James Goldberg, current president of the Association for Mormon Letters (AML), gave a short but masterful Presidential address as part of the AML’s annual conference. His poetic style and urgent message is quite powerful, despite being just 12 minutes long. Please watch this and let me know what you think! I hope to post some thoughts during the week.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 60-62: Missionary Work
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 60-62, addressing missionary work and the Lord’s support for us.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 58-59: Timing of Blessings, Sabbath Day
The end is always a new beginning. The arrival of the first Latter-day Saints in Independence, Missouri was both an end and a beginning. They accomplished the goal of gathering to Zion, but then realized that now they had to actually build Zion—a process that has, in a variety of ways, continued ever since. For the Saints at that time, the revelations contained in D&C 58 and 59 show the process of realizing that the new beginning of Zion contained a new set of struggles, and struggles that were very different from what they expected. For us today, these sections point out, symbolically, at least, that we are also facing struggles in our process of building Zion. And in these sections we find two different messages about the blessings we often expect. First, we learn that blessings don’t come automatically—God is not a vending machine. Instead, blessings come according to God’s timing. And second, we learn that by keeping the Sabbath, we will receive both temporal and spiritual blessings. The Timing of Blessings The Saints who lived when the bulk of the Doctrine and Covenants were written faced a lot of struggle and suffering. These trials were often seen as necessary to their salvation, and the blessings they would receive were expected only in the future, if not in the next life. Eliza R. Snow captured this view in the following poem, written in late 1843 during her stay…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 51-57 — Temporal Zion
By going in order through the Doctrine and Covenants, the Come Follow Me lessons sometimes show the concerns of the Church at a particular point in time. The seven sections included in this lesson are quite varied, but all demonstrate temporal concerns — where to put all the immigrants arriving in Kirtland, how members should share what they have, how should church members fulfill the command to gather to Missouri and who should be doing the printing of Church publications. But despite these temporal concerns, in these sections there are clearly spiritual lessons which are germane to the temporal needs and directives. These include learning to become a faithful, just and wise steward, and learning to be pure in heart. Being a Faithful Steward Eliza R. Snow is likely considered to be a faithful steward by most Church members. But like most of us, she had to make the decision to follow the gospel. She wrote about that decision in the following poem, and of the stewardship responsibilities that came with that decision. When I espous’d the cause of truth by Eliza R. Snow (1841) Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”-Matt. 7:14 When I espous’d the cause of truth, The holy spirit, from on high, Promply instructed me, forsooth, To lay my youthful prospects by. I saw along the “narrow way” An ordeal, which the saints…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 49-50 — Marriage, Falsehood & Edification
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 49-50, addressing marriage, identifying falsehood & edification through spiritual gifts.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 46-48 — Welcome, Spiritual Gifts, History and Sharing
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 46-48, addressing being welcoming, spiritual gifts, keeping a history and sharing the lands we own.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 45 — Standards and Zion
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C section 45, addressing the raising of gospel standards and establishing Zion.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44 — Law, Consecration and Revelation
Poetry for this week’s Come Follow Me lesson, D&C sections 41-44, addressing the law, consecration for supporting the poor, and the role of revelation.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 37-40 — Gathering, Fears and Cares
Poems about the Gathering, preparation in order to ally our fears, and the cares of the world, to accompany the Come Follow Me lesson for April 12 to 18.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 30-36 — Missions and Family Relationships
The seven sections of the Doctrine and Covenants covered by this week’s Come Follow Me lesson discuss, in general, missionary work and the subsequent benefits of membership in the Kingdom. The first five of these sections include missionary calls to David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, Thomas B. Marsh, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Petersen and advice on how to preach is given to Ezra Thayre, Northrop Sweet and Orson Pratt. The final two sections are Sidney Rigdon’s call to act as scribe for Joseph Smith in translating the Bible, and a blessing given to Edward Partridge. L. O. Littlefield’s Farewell Missionaries and missionary work is a frequent subject of LDS poetry, and the parting at the beginning of missionary service is probably the most commonly treated part of missionary service. Of course, historically many poets have found inspiration in parting—so this focus among LDS poets is hardly surprising. In this case, the missionary poet is Lyman O. Littlefield, who was then the typesetter for the Times and Seasons. Born in 1819, Littlefield joined the Church in 1834 before joining Zion’s Camp. He married in 1840 and was called on his first mission in 1843, leading to the following poem. Later, Littlefield went on a second mission to Great Britain in 1847, then immigrated to Council Bluffs before moving to Utah in 1859. He died in Smithfield, Utah in 1893. L. O. Littlefield’s Farewell By Lyman O. Littlefield…
Lit Come Follow Me: Easter
While no Come Follow Me lesson will be taught at church this coming Sunday, there is a lesson in the manual, meant for home study. So, I’m providing some poems to go with that lesson, which focuses on three aspects of the mission of Jesus Christ: that he was resurrected (i.e., He Lives), that because of him we will all be resurrected, and His atonement. Of course, these are not strange concepts in our poetry; they appear many times in our hymnal alone. So I’m presenting a few poems that are less familiar.
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 29 — Gathering and the Plan of Salvation
Two poems to enhance study of the Come Follow Me lesson for D&C 29, which covers both the Gathering and the Plan of Salvation. The poems are Eugene A. Rooch’s Come, Gather to Zion and Joseph L. Townsend’s Among the Ancient Indian Mounds
Redux: Responding to bigoted but famous texts—by Seuss and Doyle
The recent controversy over the decision of the literary estate of Theodore Seuss Geisel to stop selling six of his Dr. Seuss books because of their bigoted depictions of minorities reminded me of a somewhat similar situation. Nearly 10 years ago, I wrote the post Responding to Bigoted but Famous Texts about a Virginia school district and a controversy over a book featuring the beloved literary character Sherlock Holmes. The book was the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, and the villains of the story were, of course, Mormons. Like some news stories over the Dr. Seuss books, the few news stories over the Virigina school district and A Study in Scarlet misunderstood the situation. In the latter situation, one resident of Albemarle County, Virginia, suggested that if A Study in Scarlet is used in the school curriculum, it needs to be done with appropriate context and a thoughtful lesson, so that the bigotry against Mormons in the text is blunted. In response to my post 10 years ago, Jim Stern, one of the residents involved in the discussions, explained the situation in detail, and made it clear that there hadn’t been any attempt to censor A Study in Scarlet. In retrospect, Jim’s statements helped me see some of the middle ground in these discussions. It’s very easy to make charges of censorship any time the availability of a literary work changes. But there are, I think, many issues that…
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…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 23-26
One often forgotten feature of the Doctrine and Covenants is the very personal nature of many of its revelations. This week’s Come Follow Me lesson includes several sections of these revelations, including the unusual compilation of revelations found in section 23, which was given serially to Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Joseph Knight, Sr. Two other sections of this group are given to Oliver Cowdery: the first along with Joseph Smith, Jr. and the second in conjunction with John Whitmer. And the final section was given to Emma Smith and is best known as her call to select the hymns for the Church’s first hymnal. Looking on the Bright Side Let’s start with section 24, given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in response to some of the earliest persecution any church members experienced. It was far from the last. And persecution is a frequent subject of poetry during this time. The following poem is one of the most optimistic responses. Published in England in the Millennial Star, it wasn’t attributed to anyone in the publication. It may have been written by the Star’s editor at the time, Thomas Ward, who wrote many other poems that found their way into the pages of the Star. Ward was replaced as the editor of the Star in 1846, in the midst of the controversy over a failed company formed to help members immigrate. He passed…