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?
Category: SS Lesson – Doctrine and Covenants
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
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: 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
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…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 20-22
Administrative acts don’t always get the same attention that ordinances and more dramatic events. And in comparison to the First Vision, the Martyrdom and a number of other events, the organization of the Church doesn’t get as much attention. This is also true in poetry. But even so, there are poems that mention the organization of the Church. This week’s Come Follow Me lesson discusses sections 20 and 21, both of which refer directly to the organization of the Church. And the third section covered in the lesson, section 22, makes plain the need for baptism by proper authority, something directly connected to the Church’s organization. Whitney’s Two Pictures While the Church’s organization hasn’t received as much attention as the First Vision, poet Orson F. Whitney saw an important connection between them. Whitney was not the first of our poets to eventually become Apostles, but he may be the best, and perhaps even the most ambitious poetically (although Parley P. Pratt can also make these claims). Here’s Whitney’s take on these two early events in Church history: Two Pictures by Orson F. Whitney (1886) The foremost is a scene where forests grow, Where flowers bloom and springtime breezes blow, Where sweet-toned birds send up their matin lay And revel in the golden beams of day. Deep in the bosom of a woodland shade, Where solitude her secret home hath made, A rustic lad, his sunburned temples bare, Pours forth…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 18-19
The sections of the D&C covered in this week’s Come Follow Me lesson are apparently about the calling of the twelve apostles and paying for the Book of Mormon. But they also include themes that don’t directly bear on these purposes. Perhaps the most important theme is the call for repentance, and the subsequent forgiveness. Both sections talk about repentance: section 18 discussing the role of missionaries and members in calling the world to repentance, and section 19 including the oft-cited imploring of the Lord to repent in verse 16: “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that that they might not suffer if they would repent.” A Call to Sinners If we ask what language outside of English first received a sustained call to repentance, I think most Church members today would be surprised to learn that the answer is Welsh. While Orson Hyde published a missionary tract in German earlier, it didn’t represent a sustained missionary effort. Instead, that happened first in Wales, which benefitted from the country’s integration in the United Kingdom. Missionaries first began preaching there in 1840, and saw significant success by 1845, when the well-known missionary Dan Jones began preaching in his native language. In 1846, the first non-English Latter-day Saint periodical Prophwyd y Jubili (Prophet of the Jubilee) began publication, and included the following anonymous poem: Galwad ar Bechaduriaid (1846) O, bechaduriaid, trowch mewn pryd–– Ar bechu mwy na roweh…
Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 14-17
This week’s Come Follow Me lesson includes several similar sections of the Doctrine and Covenants: three revelations to David Whitmer, John Whitmer and Peter Whitmer, Jr., who have asked the Lord where they should focus their efforts. The fourth section in this lesson is essentially the call to David Whitmer, Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery to be the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. But while these sections have similar purposes and focus on the Whitmer family, they are far from the same. Even the most similar, the revelations to John and to Peter Whitmer, Jr., have some differences. And those differences lead to the discussion of several different principles. John Jaques and Measuring Arms with God In section 14, a revelation given to David Whitmer, the revelation again uses the “marvelous work and a wonder” phrase that is so common in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often this phrase comes with a bit of a paradox, since it is clear that we are supposed to participate, but that regardless of what we do, God will accomplish His purposes. I like how poet John Jaques catches some of this in the following poem. Born in England in 1827, Jaques joined the Church in 1848, and in addition to serving a mission, he wrote poetry, including several hymns in our current hymnal. He is perhaps best known for “Oh Say, What is Truth?” He immigrated to Utah in 1856, and…