Mobs sought to destroy the Church and thought that the best way would be to kill the Prophet. Angry men roamed the country, plotting the death of Joseph Smith. Fear filled the air.
Reluctantly, but of their own choice, Joseph and Hyrum Smith went to Carthage jail to be locked up. Irate groups gathered there, crying for the death of Joseph Smith. Governor Ford came to Carthage to try to smooth the situation. John met with the Governor on June 27, 1844, to see if he would protect Joseph and Hyrum, but the Governor felt the law should take its course. The hearing would be in two days. John felt helpless and frustrated.
On that same day John and Willard Richards waited with Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage Jail, looking toward the hearing on June 29. The afternoon felt muggy and oppressive. Heaviness weighed on John’s chest.
Hyrum asked John to sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” John sang – his rich, deep voice echoing through the prison with sadness lacing the melody.
“Sing it again,” Hyrum said.
John sighed. “Brother Hyrum, I do not feel like singing.”
“Oh, never mind; commence singing and you will get the spirit of it,” Hyrum replied.
John inhaled the sultry air and sang one more time, feeling an unexplained sorrow. The weight of the afternoon heat seemed unbearable.