My parents elected to have me baptized December 23, and I also chose the date of my marriage to be December 23. I like those little numeric connections to Joseph Smith. But the one I like most is the one that was not chosen by my family or me. On June 27 I entered the MTC. It gives me pause every time.
In May I had the opportunity to go to some of the Illinois and Missouri Church history sites with my family. I’ve been a number of times before, and this visit was not out of the ordinary, but it tugged at me just a bit to see my son wrap his arms around the leg of the statue of his namesake in front of the jail at Carthage. And I contemplated a Church that might have held on to him just a little longer.
John Taylor, himself a survivor of the barrage that took the prophet and patriarch famously penned these lines, published in the August 1845 issue of the Times and Seasons:
For the Times and Seasons.
TUNE-INDIAN STUDENT’S LAMENT.
O give me back my Prophet dear,
And Patriarch, O give them back;
The Saints of latter days to cheer,
And lead them in the gospel track.
But ah! they’re gone from my embrace,
From earthly scenes their spirits fled;
Those two, the best of Adam’s race,
Now lie entombed among the dead.
Ye men of wisdom tell me why,
When guilt nor crime in them were found,
Why now their blood doth loudly cry,
From prison walls, and Carthage ground
Your tongues are mute, but pray attend,
The secret I will now relate,
Why those whom God to earth did lend,
Have met the suffering martyr’s fate.
It is because they strove to gain,
Beyond the grave a heaven of bliss;
Because they made the gospel plain,
And led the Saints in righteousness.
It is because God called them forth,
And led them by his own right hand
Christ’s coming to proclaim on earth,
And gather Israel to their land.
It is because the priests of Baal
Were desperate their craft to save;
And when they saw it doomed to fail,
They sent the Prophets to the grave.
Like scenes the ancient Prophets saw,
Like these, the ancient Prophets fell;
And till the resurrection dawn,
Prophet and Patriarch-Fare thee well.
I rather like the arrangement Rob Gardner has produced, which bring some of those words back to life and can be heard here. Take a listen and some time to ponder the significance of the events of that fateful day.
Joseph Smith Jr.
December 23, 1805-June 27, 1844.
Sharon Vt.-Carthage, Il.
The hole in the door remains where the bullet entered that it is believed to have killed Hyrum.
The window from which Joseph jumped.
Carthage Jail exterior. The well, a reconstruction, by which Joseph fell and above it, on the second floor, the window out of which he jumped.