Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith
Prophet, Seer and Revelator

Monday, May 30, 2011

Family Prayer

I do not know any other way for the Latter-day Saints than for every breath to be . . . a prayer for God to guide and direct his people.

Brigham believed prayer would lead to inspiration from God to bless the Saints in their daily lives. Communication with Heavenly Father was important to Brigham all his life – even as a child at his mother’s knee.

At seven o’clock each evening in the Lion House (Brigham’s other home next to the Beehive House), Brigham lit a candle in a brass candlestick, and walked to the sitting room to tell everyone it was time for prayer. He then went down the hall to the parlor where the family would gather. He set the candle down, and the bright flame gave the room a golden glow. The glass cupboard in the parlor held the prayer bell, which he took out and rang three times. The smooth tones of the bell echoed throughout the house, calling everyone. The patter of children’s small feet, skipping and prancing down the hall could be heard, followed by the more dignified footsteps of their mothers. Soon everyone was quiet and seated in the parlor. Brigham sat on the west side of the room. Joseph Young and Lorenzo Young, Brigham’s brothers, often came for prayer. They were seated near Brigham in a place of honor. Each family had a designated spot around the room with the children gathering near their mothers.

Brigham discussed the topics of the day and read the scriptures. He taught his family: “Do you read them [the scriptures] as though you stood in the place of the men who wrote them?” “Be as familiar with the spirit and meaning of the written word of God as you are with your daily walk.”

The family sang a hymn, bringing peace and contentment to the room. Then everyone knelt as Brigham offered a prayer. One of his daughters remembered him saying “Bless the church and Thy people, the sick and the afflicted and comfort the hearts that mourn.”6 What a privilege for the Saints to have Brigham pray for them.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brigham Young Loved a Party

On one tour to the southern settlements, Brigham took a large party with him, including several apostles, actors and actresses, musicians, and some of his family members. A parade led by a brass band welcomed them when they reached Nephi. After their visit, the traveling party “kidnapped” the brass band to go with them further south. When they got to Fillmore, the territorial capitol, there was a parade there also, where “anvils boomed, cows bellowed, horses bucked, donkeys brayed, women shouted, youngsters yelled, and dogs yelped.” The guests were served a delicious dinner; and afterwards, they were escorted to the Capitol Building where the musicians, including the brass band, played, and the community danced until daybreak.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Brigham Young and Higher Education

Brigham wanted the young people of Utah to have the opportunity to learn as much as possible so he started several schools of higher education. In 1850 Brigham organized the University of Deseret, now the University of Utah. Under the direction of Karl G. Maeser, he established an academy in Provo in 1875, which is now Brigham Young University. In 1877 he began the Brigham Young College in Logan, to educate teachers for schools in settlements throughout the west. It later became Utah State University.

Education was important to Brigham Young, whether it was for his own children, the children of the community, the women of the Church, or establishing institutions of higher education. “My policy is to keep everybody busy in building up the Kingdom; [including] building academies and other places of learning.”

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Brigham Young, Midwives

Since women often died in childbirth because of inadequate medical help, the need for midwives was critical. Brigham urged Romania B. Pratt, wife of Parley Pratt Jr., to go to New York to medical school so she could train midwives to work in the outlying communities. She left her husband and five children, including a small baby, to go east to school. After one year, she found that she did not have enough money to complete her education. So she returned home and asked Eliza R. Snow and the Relief Society to help her. Word went out to the women of the Church; and through many small donations of the sisters, she received enough money to finish her degree. She came back to Utah and taught others about medicine, midwifery, and nursing.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Brigham Young and the Theater

Brigham Young was a great one for having a good time. He worked hard and he played hard. I think, because of the strictness of his growing-up years, he wanted those around him to have a good time. It wasn't sacreligious to have fun.

"We are met in . . . a social community . . . that our minds may rest and our bodies receive that recreation which is proper."

Brigham Young felt the Saints needed to rest from their labors and have some fun. Their “minds [should] sing for joy.” He also wanted to introduce the Saints to culture and the arts. As soon as the pioneers were settled in their new land, he made plans to build a theater where the people could enjoy productions.

Brigham needed money to construct the theater. When Johnson’s Army left the area to fight in the Civil War, they sold all their supplies, including nails, for almost nothing. Brigham bought many of the goods and resold them for more than he paid for them. The money he made, plus the nails, were used to build the theater.

After the theater was completed, everyone wanted to see the plays. If the pioneers paid didn’t have any money, they paid for their show tickets with chickens or other goods. Once a person paid with a turkey and got two chickens for change. At times sausages and honey comb were used to buy the tickets.

Brigham loved the theater and always made sure the details of each play were just right. Once he noticed that an actress with blonde hair played the part of a brunette in a play. Brigham asked why she didn’t have a brown wig for the part. She told him she would love to be a brunette if she could have the dark curls of a John McDonald as her wig for the play. John liked his long curly hair and didn’t want to cut it off. But when Brigham told him the situation, he paused for a moment and then said, “If the success of the play depends upon my hair, Brother Brigham, you shall have my hair.”

Before electricity, candles were used to light the stage. When the play called for darkness, the candles were blown out and then relit when light was needed. Buckets of sand and barrels of salt water from the Great Salt Lake were kept nearby in case of fire.

Because Brigham’s daughters learned to dance in their gym, some of them got to be in the plays. They loved the beautiful costumes, the excitement of meeting the actors and actresses, and the thrill of the performance.