Sunday, March 21, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 29

Unfortunately, I don't really have a great post for D&C 29. I haven't had any time to work on one this week and I don't have an old one I can repost that fits this week's "Come, Follow Me" reading. I hope to come up with something, but in the meantime-- 

I highly recommend this speech by Terryl Givens: Lightning Out of Heaven: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community. You can listen to the audio at Joseph Smith: BYU Speeches or on podcast apps.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 27 & 28


(This picture from In the Cavity of a Rock blog.)

D&C 5:10—“This generation shall have my word through you.” 
D&C 21:5—“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.” 

We must have a testimony of Joseph Smith if we are to have a testimony of any of the restored gospel. Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration, has been the vessel through which a great amount of new scripture came into the world. Being uneducated did not matter to this cause because he was connected to God, the Author, but this was not always apparent to those around him who had more schooling.

“At a conference of members in Hiram, Ohio, in November 1831, there was a…challenge to Joseph’s authority. Some of the brethren believed that someone with more learning could write the revelations from God better. The Lord promptly issued a counter challenge (recorded in D&C 67:5-8).” (Latter-Day History, p. 96) “After the foregoing was received, William E. McLellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 1:225, quoted in LDH, p. 96) Those who witnessed this attempt were strengthened in their testimony of Joseph Smith as the spokesman for Jehovah on the earth.

Brigham Young never had a problem with his testimony of Joseph Smith’s role as a revelator. He always regarded Joseph Smith as the mouthpiece of the Lord, and later in life, as the prophet himself, he said, “What I have received from the Lord, I have received by Joseph Smith” (John A. Widtsoe and Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book, p. 458).

When describing the Prophet’s ability to understand and teach the gospel, he said, “Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the last days, had a happy faculty of reducing the things of heaven to the capacity of persons of common understanding, often in a single sentence throwing a flood of light into the gloom of ages. He had power to draw the spirits of the people who listened to him to his standard, where they communed with heavenly objects and heavenly principles, connecting the heavenly and the earthly together—in one blending flood of heavenly intelligence. When the mind is thus lit up with the spirit of revelation, it is clearly discerned that the heavens and the earth are in close proximity—that time and eternity are one” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:310).

“…Joseph [Smith] has been instrumental in bringing us more holy writ than Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, John, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni put together” (George A Horton, Jr., 1/93 Ensign, p. 11).

This lesson examines the canonized scriptures that have come through the mouth of Joseph Smith, Jr.


First Edition Book of Mormon 

The Lord said to Joseph of Egypt: 
"But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins--and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.  Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord." (2 Nephi 3:11-12. This prophecy is also contained, nearly word for word, in the Old Testament JST, Genesis 50.) 

Not only would Joseph help bring forth the Book of Mormon, his works would also convince men of the truth of the Bible they already had. He would help this generation understand those things which are in the Bible. In addition the Bible and the Book of Mormon will “grow together.” The longer the Bible and Book of Mormon are used together, the better we will get at cross-referencing them, and our ability to use their sacred knowledge and power will be compounded and expanded continually. (Read also 2 Nephi 3:3-16.)


Joseph Smith's New Translation of the Bible, 
by Herald House Publishing

Moses 1:70-71—“And now Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak. And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe.”

“No study of the Bible would be complete without a thorough familiarity with the information and doctrines contained in the JST [Joseph Smith Translation]—especially in the five books of Moses, Psalms, Isaiah, and the four Gospels of the New Testament” (George A. Horton, Jr. Ensign, January 1993, 12).

The Book of Mormon was mostly translated and published in the year 1829. The next three years, 1830-33, Joseph Smith translated the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament. He continued to revise and edit this translation until his death in 1844. Scribes for the work of the Bible translation included Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, Emma Smith, and Frederick G. Williams. The manuscript of the JST is 467 pages long and contains notes as to dates and geographical locations indicating when and where certain parts were being translated. Joseph completely rewrote some of the parts, in some he just wrote in some things and crossed out others. In several places, he wrote little notes and pinned them to the manuscript (since paper clips had not yet been invented).

Emma Smith put significant effort into protecting the manuscript of the JST, even tying it under her skirts in a bag to safeguard it while traveling 200 miles to safety from the mobs. At Joseph’s death, she still had the original manuscript with Joseph’s revision, and she gave it to her son, Joseph Smith III, who became the president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ, now called Community of Christ. In 1867 the RLDS Church published the Inspired Version, or what we now call the Joseph Smith Translation (Ensign 1/86, p. 46). It is through the generosity of the Community of Christ that LDS Scholars have been able to use the JST in recent years, and add excerpts into our LDS scriptures.

The Joseph Smith Translation, published by the Community of Christ’s Herald House Publishing, contains at least 3,410 verses rendered differently from their counterparts in the King James Version. These are additional verses or enlargements of existing verses. The account of Enoch in JST Gen.6-7 (Moses 6-7) contains 5,200 more words about Enoch than the King James Version does. One Old Testament book is omitted in the JST because, the manuscript states, the Song of Solomon is “not inspired”…More than 700 passages from the JST are provided in the footnotes and the appendix of the LDS edition of the KJV first issued in 1979 (Arnold W. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, p. 591).

The Scriptures Publications Committee (which published the 1979 edition of the LDS scriptures that included the JST), consisting of Elders Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie (with many others called to assist), was appointed by the First Presidency. To meet the space limitations, they did not attempt to include the bulk of the JST. “While there were several reasons why the entire text of the Joseph Smith Translation was not incorporated in the 1979 LDS edition of the Bible, unreliability of the JST text was not one of them” (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, 6/92, p. 29). The RLDS Church preserved the manuscript exactly as Joseph Smith had left it at his death.

The Scriptures Publications Committee used the following guidelines to determine what to include:
  1. Selections must be doctrinally significant
  2. Selections must contribute something not readily apparent in the other standard works
  3. Priority should be given to passages that clarify the mission of Jesus Christ, the nature of God, the nature of man, the Abrahamic covenant, the priesthood, the antiquity of the gospel, and the latter-day restoration.
Excerpts 8 lines or shorter were placed in footnotes. Longer sections were printed in the Appendix. And the two large sections that were already included in the Pearl of Great Price (Moses 2-8 and JS-M) were left there (Robert J. Matthews, Ensign, 6/92, p. 29).

First Edition Doctrine and Covenants, 

The D&C contains a index entitled "Chronological Order of Contents of the D&C." “Most of the revelations dealing with doctrinal subjects [found in the Doctrine and Covenants] were revealed to Joseph Smith…from June 1830 to July 1833, which was exactly the time he was working on the Bible translation. While the Prophet was engaged in such a concentrated study of the scriptures, it was natural for him to ask questions and ponder on various subjects, inquire of the Lord, and receive divine revelation in answer to his inquiry” (Robert J. Matthews, “A Plainer Translation,” BYU Press, quoted in Ensign, 1/86, p. 42).

“The Joseph Smith Translation is not just a better Bible; it was a channel, or the means, of doctrinal restoration in the infancy of this Church.” (Robert J. Matthews quoted in Robert L. Millet, The Capstone of our Religion: Insights into the Doctrine and Covenants, 64).

First Edition Pearl of Great Price,

  • The Book of Moses was translated from the Old Testament Genesis in 1830-31. Joseph Smith – Matthew would have been translated later. 
  • The Book of Abraham was translated from papyri between 1835 and 1842. 
  • Joseph Smith’s History was written beginning in 1838.  
  • The Articles of Faith were written in 1842. 
These were all just individual writings and revelations, not connected to each other in any significant way, and the way that they came to be published together in one volume is an interesting story. And first we have to understand the significance of newspapers in America in the mid-19th century.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a contemporary of Joseph Smith's, reporting on his travels in America for his European readers, wrote, “The influence and circulation of newspapers is great beyond anything known in Europe. In truth, nine-tenths of the population read nothing else. Every village, nay almost every hamlet, had its press. Newspapers penetrate to every crevice of the nation” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 168, quoted in Garr, et. al., 72). Newspapers did not attempt to be neutral, but were highly editorialized--prejudiced, if you will--to match the beliefs of the editor and his intended readers. Newspapers would feud with each other, and they could certainly stir up mobs and riots. For these reasons, it was very important for the Church to have its own press, to defend the doctrines of the gospel and teach them to the saints. In Independence, Missouri, it had The Evening and Morning Star; in Nauvoo, The Times and Seasons; and in Great Britain, The Millenial Star.

Early versions of the sections of our current Pearl of Great Price were printed individually by the Missouri press in 1832-33, or ten years later by the Nauvoo press. Just as the tales of Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens were published in installments in periodicals, so was Joseph Smith’s History. The Book of Abraham, as we have it, was also published in three installments, and more of that translation was to be published, but mob violence derailed that plan. Parts of the Book of Moses were published here and there.

It wasn’t until 1851 (seven years after the Prophet’s death) that these “miscellaneous” writings were compiled into one body, The Pearl of Great Price, similar to the way that it is today. So who thought of the name, The Pearl of Great Price? And who thought to put these revelations together? Well, surprise!--it was not the Prophet Brigham Young. It was not even done under the direction of the First Presidency! It was a mission president who thought of the idea, Elder Franklin D. Richards. 

By that year, 1851, there were 31,000 members of the Church in Great Britain (twice what there were in all of North America) and 2/3rds of those had been members of the Church for four years or less. They had never had access to those revelations published in the early Church periodicals. So Elder Richards, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and President of the British Mission, put them together, titled it The Pearl of Great Price, and distributed it among the British saints (James R. Clark, The Story of the Pearl of Great Price, Bookcraft; quoted in Ensign, January 1986, 44). This publication included the Books of Moses and Abraham, as well as the History of Joseph Smith, the Articles of Faith, Joseph Smith – Matthew, some selections from the D&C, and a poem entitled “Truth.”

In 1878 Elder Orson Pratt, the Church historian, edited and rearranged The Pearl of Great Price, putting the Book of Moses in chronological order, similar to how it is today. What is now Moses 1 was titled “Visions of Moses,” and the rest of Moses (chapters 2-8) was titled “Writings of Moses.” In October Conference of 1880, The Pearl of Great Price was accepted as scripture and became part of the standard works. “Canonizing did not increase its truth or worth but did make it official Church literature” (Garr, et al., p. 114).


A concise explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant (2:6-11)
An account of the vastness of God’s creations, including the order by which the various planets and stars of his kingdom are governed (3:1-13)
The doctrine of the premortal existence of man and his eternal nature (3:18-22)
The doctrine of foreordination (3:23)
The concept of the earth as a testing ground for God’s children (3:24-26)
The account of Abraham's escape from death at the hand of Pharoah’s idolatrous priest (1:7-20)
The understanding that the earth was organized out of already existing materials rather than being created out of nothing (3:24)
More than one god participated in the creation (4)
The creation was planned in a heavenly council before it was carried out (5:1-3)


God’s purpose in creating man and the earth (1:27-40)
All things were created spiritually before physically (3:4-7)
The premortal council in which the Redeemer was appointed and Satan rebelled (4:1-6)
The effects of the fall (5:9-12, 6:47-56)
The introduction of the gospel among fallen man (5:4-15, 58-59)
The baptism of Adam (6:53-68)
The wickedness of Cain and his deal with the devil (5:16-41)
The intelligence of Adam and his righteous posterity, including their pure spoken and written language (6:5-6)
The visions of Enoch (6:24-8:1)
More about the ministry of Noah (8:8-32)
Animal sacrifice as a similitude of the Sacrifice of Christ (5:7)
Children are saved without baptism (6:54)
The concept of Zion introduced through the story of the City of Enoch (7:18)


John 4:24 “God is a Spirit” vs. JST John 4:25 (in footnote) “God hath promised his spirit”
Romans 7 “I am carnal, sold under sin…” (verse 14-16) vs. JST “when I was under the law, I was yet carnal, sold under sin. But now I am spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not. For what I know is not right I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate.”

There is a great deal of increased knowledge about Jesus Christ’s mortal life and teachings that the JST of the New Testament provides. it also sheds a lot of new light on John the Baptist’s life (January 1995 Ensign).

Image from

“Reading Genesis without the benefit of the JST…would be something like [eating] a T-bone [steak] with much of the meat cut off” (Horton, 42). And yet, we don’t spend very much time studying it. If you’re like me, you’re too lazy to look up the references, and if they don’t require you to read it for Sunday School class, you never get around to it on your own. (Suggest that sometime this year class members study The Pearl of Great Price and the Joseph Smith Translation Appendix. Also, suggest they find a way to highlight JST footnotes in a manner that will make them obvious when studying the Bible. On my paper scriptures, I colored the footnote letter in the text and its corresponding letter at the bottom of the page blue, an idea I got from Logan Insitute teacher, Jerry Wilson.  You can do the whole Bible as one project, starting at Genesis and going through Revelation and then you have them all.  If you don’t do it, you won’t see the changes.  I also drew a blue slash through any large passages that are seriously altered by the JST, such as the entire chapter of Romans 7. With my electronic scriptures, I underline the word or passage in dark blue to draw my attention to the footnote.)

On August 27, 1842, Joseph Smith said, speaking for Heavenly Father, “…no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things—who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy” (Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book, 257).

“[Joseph Smith] has given us more revealed truth than any prophet who has ever lived upon the face of the earth” (Elder LeGrand Richards, Ensign, May 1981, 33). Do we crave it? Do we use it? If your answer is yes, keep doing what you are doing! If your answer is no, I invite you to figure out one way (small or great) in which you can incorporate more of the scriptures into your daily life. If you have time, add more study. If you are a young mother with small children, think on a single scripture as you go throughout your day. If you have always read the scriptures slowly and deeply, verse by verse, try switching it up and reading a whole book as fast as possible--you will see patterns you missed before. If you have always read fast, try reading only a few verses at a time and digging deep into the meaning of the words. Whatever your approach, if it has become less fruitful, try changing just one thing. 

Feel free to share your comments on how you do your scripture study, or how the scriptures of the Restoration have blessed your life. (Commenting may not be available on the mobile version.)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 23-26

Doctrine and Covenants 25 is the personal revelation given to Emma Smith, the wife of the prophet, but verse 16 of it states that this revelation is for everyone.  Three topics from this revelation have been chosen for this lesson.


"And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph Smith, Jr., thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness" (D&C 25:5).

Joseph wrote in his journal, regarding a time in 1842 when he was in hiding and Emma had come to visit him, "With what unspeakable delight, and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma--she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart...Oh what a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble, undaunted, firm, and unwavering--unchangeable, affectionate Emma!" (History of the Church 5:107).

And Joseph kept this counsel as well, and was a comfort to his wife.  In her portrait she is wearing the string of gold beads that were a gift from Joseph.  After his death, she carried a lock of his hair in a locket she wore the rest of her life.  She lived to the age of 74 and exited this life with her arm extended, calling out, "Joseph!  Yes, yes, I'm coming"  (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, 275).


"Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride.  Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him" (D&C 25:14).

Emma was 5 foot 9 inches, with dark hair and brown eyes.  She is always described as having been very beautiful (Black, 273).  She had a quick wit, as well.  She could manage a canoe (!) and was a skilled horseback rider.  She sang in her church choir as a girl.  She was exceptionally bright and studied for one year at a girls' school (Arnold K. Garr, et. al., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, p. 1111).  Emma was outstandingly beautiful, she was refined, she was educated, and she came from a comfortable home.

Joseph was 6 feet tall, weighed 180 lbs, and is always described as having a commanding presence about him, and being well-built and muscular, but seldom or never is he described as having been exceptionally handsome.  His family's financial status was generally along the poverty level.  His education was extremely limited.  Peter Burnett, who was an attorney for Joseph Smith, described him as follows:

His appearance was not prepossessing and his conversational powers were but ordinary.  You could tell at a glance that his education was very limited.  He was an awkward but vehement speaker.  In conversation, he was slow and used too many words to express his ideas and would not generally go directly to a point" (Peter H. Burnett, Recollections and Opinions of an Old Pioneer, p. 66-67, quoted in Latter-day History, p. 220).

Mr. Burnett wrote that despite all these drawbacks, "he was much more than an ordinary man," and described the power of his personality, his ideas, his kindness and his influence, but it is possible to see from his words that Emma might well have considered herself Joseph's superior.  Many other of the educated early saints did.  Some begged to see the plates as proof of Joseph's word, but although Emma had them right in her house, right under her bed, right in her wagon, right on her kitchen table, she said, "I never felt at liberty to look at them" (Black, 273).  How many of us could have the controversial golden plates sitting right in front of us with nothing but a cloth covering them, and not sneak a peak?  Emma could be trusted.

My brother, Gary J Wyatt, gave a talk in his ward in Kansas several years ago on pride.  He prepared an excellent little quiz to check on our personal state of pride:

  1. How easily are you offended?  Taking offense a sign of a soul centered on self.
  2. Do you have a difficult time forgiving others?  Expecting forgiveness from God and others while we offer none is the sign of a person who puts himself above others.
  3. Can you freely admit mistakes and confess sins?
  4. How threatened are you by the accomplishments and good fortune of others?  The converse is also telling:  Do you get a feeling of satisfaction and relief when someone else stumbles or has trouble and difficulties?
  5. How important is it to you that you get credit for the good that you do?  Everything we do should be with "an eye single to the glory of God."  There is no limit to what we can accomplish if we are not worried about getting credit for it.
  6. Do you enjoy reveling in self-pity?  Self-pity is simply another manifestation of the self-centeredness that defines the prideful self.  It puts one's needs above those of others.
  7. Do you enjoy gossip?  No behavior could more fully reflect a soul in pride's grip than the one who revels in gossip.
  8. Do you turn everything, from the simplest conversation, to more substantial and elaborate interactions with others, into a competition with winners and losers?  You know what I mean: one-upping, wanting to talk more than listen, etc.
"To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: The person who is looking down on others is one who cannot look up to God.  Our goal should be cooperation, not competition."


"Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice..." (D&C 25:13).

We don't have much control over what happens to us, so how can we be expected to be joyful?  Yet rejoicing is a commandment.  By this we can know that it is a choice over which we have control, and that is exciting news!

"Wherefore, be of good cheer and do not fear," the Lord said to the suffering early saints, "for I the Lord am with you."

While Joseph was imprisoned in the Liberty Jail, Emma had to flee with her children and the other saints 200 miles to Illinois, much of that on foot.  The whole way, she carried his manuscripts, including the translation of the Bible, tied under her skirts to keep them safe.  She later wrote to Joseph, "No one but God knows the reflections of my mind and the feelings of my heart when I left our house and home, and almost all of everything that we possessed excepting our little children, and took my journey out of the State of Missouri, leaving you shut up in that lonesome prison" (Black, 275).

Of her eleven children, nine of whom she bore and two which she adopted, only five grew to adulthood.  She lost six children in infancy and childhood!  In addition to caring for the five living children, she continually cared for many ill.  She was homeless much of her early married life and had to rely upon the hospitality of others.  When she did get her own home, she returned that hospitality to many homeless Saints.  In fact, in Nauvoo, many sick Saints set up tents as a hospital ward in her front yard, with her as the nurse.

When Christ hung on the cross, he asked his disciple John to care for his mother after his death.  Joseph didn't have the opportunity to arrange for the care of his widowed mother before he died, but he didn't need to; Emma naturally took care of that.  She also cared for many of her relatives, and many of her second husband's relatives, including his mistress and illegitimate 4-year-old son when they became known and were destitute! (She cared for the boy until her death 11 years later.) Now that is a charitable woman!  (Tad Walsh, "Was Emma Smith an Elect Lady?" Deseret News, Nov. 7, 2008).

Emma saw trials of homelessness, multiple moves, mob action resulting in the death of one of her babies, the deaths of other children, the trials of polygamy, the murder of her beloved husband, poverty, criticism, exile, loss of almost all her earthly possessions, single parenthood (including giving birth after the death of her husband), a second marriage to a nonbeliever, infidelity on the part of her second husband, humiliation, mental illness in her family (the youngest child, David), abandonment after she and the church leadership had a falling out and she remained in Illinois with her mother-in-law, and extreme caregiver responsibilities (including hand-feeding Lucy Mack Smith for the last year of her life).

Yet, her mother-in-law wrote of her, "Although her strength was exhausted, still her spirits were the same, which, in fact, was always the case with her, even under the most trying circumstances.  I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done" (Lucy Mack Smith, History of the Prophet Joseph Smith by His Mother, 190-91).

I am quite certain that Emma Smith was not happy and perky all the time (in fact, her granddaughter commented that she always retained a sadness in her smile), but if the Lord could advise Emma Smith to be of good cheer, He also expects us to be of good cheer in our trials which are almost undoubtedly less than hers.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, "If we can recall the Lord's promise, 'for I the Lord am with you'...we will find the strength to be of good cheer instead of becoming resentful, critical, or defeated"  (Marvin J. Ashton, "Be of Good Cheer," April 1986 General Conference).

The great Latter-day Saint parent educator, Glenn Latham, whose lectures we attended and whose books we read many times as my husband and I raised our children, wrote, "The father of a wayward son once told me, 'A parent can be no happier than his most unhappy child.'  After fifteen years of working with Mormon families in crisis, I have concluded that parental guilt, shame, and suffering for the 'sins' of their children have become modern Mormon icons...

"The admonition to 'be of good cheer' is particularly applicable to Mormon parents today who are fearing and distressed by the 'storms' that sweep over their families and threaten the very survival of their children.  'Being of good cheer' is certainly a better, more positive and constructive response than is unwarranted shame, unearned guilt, and useless suffering" (Glenn I. Latham, "Guilt, Shame and Suffering: Modern Mormon Icons," 1987).

 “We should honor the Savior's declaration to "be of good cheer." (Matthew 14:27) Indeed, it seems to me we may be more guilty of breaking that commandment than almost any other!”  (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Created for Greater Things).

We don't have to be of good cheer all the time, after all, having love for others means empathy, which means suffering--even God weeps. (See Moses 7:28-40.) This is, in fact, one of the greatest revelations of the Restoration of the True Church: that the God of Nature suffers, both on the cross and when his children are hurt. He is not without empathy for us, as is the Protestant God "without body, parts, or passions." But we can be of good cheer even in troubling times and in troubling circumstances, because we know who wins: Christ has overcome the world! (John 16:33). If we cannot then be generally cheerful, hopeful, optimistic, happy, we must build up our faith and work to reach the measure of our creation, which is to have joy (2 Nephi 2:25). It's no easy task, and it's not accomplished overnight. Some people (myself included) may need professional help to overcome clinical depression or anxiety. But it is a commandment worth striving to follow, and along the way, we will see bits and pieces of joy. 

Joy is a journey as well as a destination. It is found in the state of oneness with God. (See 3 Nephi 28:10.) We achieve that state here and there throughout life as we do God's work, as we serve his children, as we are filled with the Holy Ghost, as we listen to His voice, as we seek His will, as we feel His powerful love for us, and for others through us. If you think back on the moments of greatest joy in your life, you will see this is the simple truth. 


"And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" (D&C 25:11-12).

Emma did more than simply assemble hymns. She put together and published a lovely pocket-sized hymnbook. 

A Collection of Sacred Hymns for the Church of the Latter Day Saints replica 
sitting atop today's church hymnal

The hymns in this first volume did not contain titles or music, only words and meter. 

The person conducting the music in the meeting would choose, for example, Hymn #1, and then also choose a well-known tune with the correct meter (or number of pitches in the melody for the syllables in the verse). In this hymn, the meter is noted as "L.M.," or Long Meter, in which each line of the poem contains 8 syllables. A tune familiar to the saints and suitable to Long Meter would then be chosen and the congregation would sing the tune from memory with the words on the page. It may be a different tune each week. The tune to which we sing this hymn today, Bramwell, was written in 1937, so the saints would have never sung it the way we know it. (See Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 401.) On p. 408 of our present hymnbook, you can see a listing of the songs written in Long Meter (8888) to which you could sing "Know This That Every Soul is Free." It's kind of a fun experiment, to sing as the early Saints did.

The story of Emma's life is depicted beautifully in the docudrama, "Emma Smith: My Story," by Candlelight Media Group, available on YouTube. I highly recommend watching it as part of your at-home gospel and Church history study. It's a perfect Sunday afternoon activity and will increase your love for and understanding of this great lady.

(See also Gracia Jones, "My Great-Great-Grandmother, Emma Hale Smith," Ensign, August 1992)

Note: For any of you who may be trying to learn to play the hymns on a keyboard or piano, please feel free to use my "Guide to Learning Hymns Made Easy" or my "Graded List of LDS Hymns for Piano Students."