“Doctrine and Covenants 109,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers (2020)
“Doctrine and Covenants 109,” Joseph Smith’s Revelations: A Doctrine and Covenants Study Companion from the Joseph Smith Papers
Prayer of Dedication, Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., OH, 27 Mar. 1836. Featured version published in “Kirtland, Ohio, March 27th 1836,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Mar. 1836, 2:277–280. For more information, see the source note for the Messenger and Advocateon the Joseph Smith Papers website.
The dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland, Ohio, on 27 March 1836 was the result of years of devoted effort. In summer and fall 1835, men and women worked side by side to complete the temple. Men generally did masonry work, drove cattle, and hauled rock, while women generally spun, knit, and wove clothes for workers, “us[ing] every exertion in their power to forward the work.”1 Women also worked on the veils, or curtains, that hung in the House of the Lord, and JS “pronounced a blessing upon the Sisters for the liberality in giving their servises so cheerfully.”2 Men likewise found great satisfaction in their work building the religious edifice. Newel Knight, for instance, rejoiced in his labors because it had been “a long time since the Lord had a house on the Earth” and he believed that in the House of the Lord, the Saints would receive the promised endowment of divine power.3
By late March 1836, the building and the church members were prepared for a dedicatory meeting. On 26 March, the day before the dedication, JS, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and JS’s two scribes, Warren A. Cowdery and Warren Parrish, met in the president’s room on the attic floor of the temple to prepare for the dedication. Oliver Cowdery noted in his diary that at this meeting he “assisted in writing a prayer for the dedication of the house.” The text of the prayer, likely set in type on the printing press of the Messenger and Advocate that night, was printed as a broadside for JS to read at the dedication the following day.4
On Sunday morning, 27 March, a crowd of approximately one thousand people filled the building to capacity. Some of those unable to enter held a meeting in the adjacent schoolhouse while others returned home to await a second dedicatory event.5 At nine o’clock, Rigdon commenced the meeting with an opening prayer and preliminary remarks. Following a hymn, Rigdon addressed the congregation for two and a half hours on a variety of topics. Rigdon then presented JS’s name to the congregation as “Prophet and Seer,” followed by a systematic vote by each quorum of the church and others in attendance. All voted unanimously in the affirmative. In the afternoon session, JS addressed the congregation first. He presented the names of the church’s First Presidency “as Prophets and Seers” and the Twelve Apostles “as Prophets and Seers and special witnesses to all the nations of the earth,” and he invited the congregation to signify their support for these officers by rising. He then similarly presented the other quorums and officers. Each group was upheld separately by a systematic vote similar to the vote Rigdon presented in the morning session.6 After another hymn, JS stood at the pulpit and read the prayer of dedication—the first dedication of a temple in Latter-day Saint history.
The dedicatory prayer alluded to earlier revelations and events and petitioned both God and Jesus Christ for blessings, mercy, and deliverance for the Saints. In particular, the prayer referenced JS’s late December 1832 revelation commanding the Saints to build the “house of God,” and it also recounted the 1833 violence against the Latter-day Saints in Jackson County, Missouri.7 In the prayer, JS asked that the House of the Lord be accepted and that it be a place where the glory of God could rest down upon his children. JS also requested that God remember the oppression the Saints had faced in their efforts to follow his commandments. He pleaded for priesthood holders to be protected and empowered with spiritual gifts and power so that they might be better equipped to go out preaching. The prayer also expressed desire that the Saints might be blessed to grow up in the ways of God. All those in attendance unanimously accepted the prayer by vote.
Both the minutes of this meeting and accounts by Latter-day Saints who attended the dedication report miracles, heavenly visitations, and a spiritual outpouring. Frederick G. Williams reported that a “Holy Angel of God” entered the temple during the prayer of dedication. Following the prayer, Brigham Young “gave a short address in tongues.” At the conclusion of the day’s events, JS “blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord” and ended the meeting “a little past four P. M.”8
The importance the Saints placed on attending the dedication of the House of the Lord is manifest in participant accounts. For example, according to Benjamin Brown and Eliza R. Snow, one woman could not find anyone with whom to leave her two-month-old child so that she could attend the dedication. She implored Joseph Smith Sr. to allow her to enter the House of the Lord with her child even though young children were not allowed at the meeting. Upon this request, Joseph Smith Sr. reportedly said to the doorkeepers on duty, “Brethren we do not Exercise faith[;] my faith is this child will not cry a word in the House to day.” Brown observed, “On this the woman & child entered and the child did not cry a word from 8 till 4 in the after noon. But when the saints all shouted Hosana the child was nursing But let go & shouted also when the saints paused it paused when they shouted it shouted for three times when they shouted amen it shouted also for three times then it resumed its nursing without any alarm.”9
According to participants, the events following the dedicatory meeting included an outpouring of spiritual gifts similar to that experienced by the apostles in the New Testament on the day of Pentecost.10 JS requested that “all official members,” meaning men who had been ordained to the priesthood, meet again in the House of the Lord that evening for instruction “respecting the ordinance of washing of feet.”11 That evening meeting “was designed as a continuation of our pentecost,” wrote participant Stephen Post, and according to his journal, “Angels of God came into the room, cloven tongues rested upon some of the servants of the Lord like unto fire, & they spake with tongues and prophesied.”12 In another description of the evening meeting, Oliver Cowdery wrote, “The spirit was poured out—I saw the glory of God, like a great cloud, come down and rest upon the house, and fill the same like a mighty rushing wind. I also saw cloven tongues, like as of fire rest upon many, (for there were 316 present,) while they spake with other tongues and prophesied.”13 Levi Jackman similarly declared, “I believe that as great things were heard and felt and seen as there was on the day of Pentecost with the apostles.”14 Writing to his wife, Sarah Brown, Benjamin Brown recorded that on the evening of the dedication, “one saw a pillar or cloud rest down upon the house bright as when the sun shines on a cloud like as gold, two others saw three personages hovering in the room with bright keys in their hands.”15
On Thursday, 31 March, JS and the First Presidency again performed the dedicatory ceremonies “for the benefit of those who could not get into the house on the preceeding Sabbath.” According to JS’s journal, the services that day were “prosecuted and terminated in the same manner as at the former dedication and the spirit of God rested upon the congregation and great solemnity prevailed.”16
There are two extant versions of the minutes of the 27 March dedication, one in manuscript and the other in print. JS’s scribe Warren Parrish made a record of the meeting that he copied into JS’s journal.17 Though not credited, Oliver Cowdery created the official minutes, excerpted from here, which were then published in the Messenger and Advocate.18 The original minutes are no longer extant, and, unlike other minutes Oliver Cowdery kept in this period, these minutes were never copied into Minute Book 1. The lack of an original copy and minute book entry may be accounted for by the timely publication of the minutes. Substantive differences between the two extant versions are noted below.
Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and shewest mercy unto thy servants, who walk uprightly before thee with all their hearts: thou who hast commanded thy servants to build an house to thy name in this place. (Kirtland.) And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that so thy servants have done, according to thy commandment.19 And now we ask thee, holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men: we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, thy servants, which thou didst command us to build; for thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation: and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name,20 that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.
And as thou hast said, in a revelation given unto us, calling us thy friends, saying—“Call your solemn assembly, as I have commanded you; and as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom: Seek learning, even by study, and also by faith.
“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God: that your incomings may be in the name of the [p. 277] Lord; that your out goings may be in the name of the Lord: that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands to the Most High.”21
And now, holy Father, we ask thee to assist us, thy people with thy grace in calling our solemn assembly, that it may be done to thy honor, and to thy divine acceptance, and in a manner that we may be found worthy, in thy sight, to secure a fulfilment of the promises which thou hast made unto us thy people, in the revelations given unto us: that thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house; and that all people who shall enter upon the threshhold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power and be constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness.
And do thou grant, holy Father, that all those who shall worship in this house, may be taught words of wisdom out of the best books, and that they may seek learning, even by study, and also by faith; as thou hast said; and that they may grow up in thee and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing: and that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory, and of God, even thy house: that all the incomings of thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord; that all their outgoings, from this house, may be in the name of the Lord; that all their salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with holy hands, uplifted to the Most High; and that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it.22
And when thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent and return unto thee, and find favor in thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which thou hast ordained, to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in this thy house.
And we ask thee, holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house, armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them and thy glory be round about them, and thin[e] angels have charge over them; and from this place they may bear exceeding great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth,23 that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou has spoken by the mouths of thy prophets concerning the last days.
We ask thee, holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship and honorably hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations, and for eternity, that no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself; that no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people, upon whom thy name shall be put in this house: and if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them: and if they shall smite this people, thou wilt smite them—thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies.
We ask thee, holy Father, to confound, and astonish, and bring to shame, and confusion, all those who have spread lying reports abroad over the world against thy servant, or servants, if they will not repent when the everlasting gospel shall be proclaimed in their ears, and that all their works may be brought to nought, and be swept away by the hail, and by the judgments,24 which thou wilt send upon them in thine anger, that there may be an end to lyings and slanders against thy people:25 for thou knowest, O Lord, that thy servants have been innocent before thee in bearing record of thy name for which they have suffered these things; therefore we plead before thee for a full and complete deliverance from under this yoke. Break it off O Lord: break it off from the necks of thy servants, by thy power, that we may rise up in the midst of this generation and do thy work!
O Jehovah, have mercy upon this people, and as all men sin, forgive the transgressions of thy people, and let them be blotted out forever. Let the annointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high: let it be fulfilled upon them as upon those on the day of Pentacost: let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy [p. 278] people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof. And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.26
Put upon thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they go out and proclaim thy word, they may seal up the law, and prepare the hearts of thy saints for all those judgements thou art about to send, in thy wrath, upon the inhabitants of the earth, because of their transgressions, that thy people may not faint in the day of trouble.
And whatever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive their testimony, let thy peace and thy salvation be upon that city, that they may gather out of that city the righteous, that they may come forth to Zion, or to her stakes,27 the places of thine appointment, with songs of everlasting joy,—and until this be accomplished let not thy judgments fall upon that city.
And whatever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive not the testimony of thy servants, and thy servants warn them to save themselves from this untoward generation, let it be upon that city according to that which thou hast spoken, by the mouths of thy prophets; but deliver thou, O Jehovah, we beseech thee, thy servants from their hands, and cleanse them from their blood. O Lord, we delight not in the destruction of our fellow men: their souls are precious befere thee;28 but thy word must be fulfilled:—help thy servants to say, with thy grace assisting them, thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.
We know that thou hast spoken by the mouth of thy prophets, terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days, that thou wilt pour out thy judgments, without measure: therefore, O Lord, deliver thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable thy servants to seal up the law and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning.
We ask thee, holy Father, to remember those who have been driven by the inhabitants of Jackson county, Missouri, from the lands of their inheritance, and break off, O Lord, this yoke of affliction, that has been put upon them. Thou knowest, O Lord, that they have been greatly oppressed, and afflicted, by wicked men, and our hearts flow out in sorrow because of their grievous burdens. O Lord, how long wilt thou suffer this people to bear this affliction, and the cries of their innocent ones to ascend up in thine ears, and their blood to come up in testimony before thee, and not make a display of thy power in their behalf?29
Have mercy, O Lord, upon that wicked mob, who have driven thy people, that they may cease to spoil, that they may repent of their sins, if repentance is to be found; but if they will not, make bear thine arm O Lord, and redeem that which thou didst appoint a Zion unto thy people!
And if it can not be otherwise, that the cause of thy people may not fail before thee, may thine anger be kindled and thine indignation fall upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch from under heaven; but in as much as they will repent, thou art gracious and merciful, and will turn away thy wrath, when thou lookest upon the face of thine annointed.30
Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth: have mercy upon the rulers of our land: may those principles which were so honorably and nobly defended: viz, the constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.31 Remember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people; and the churches: all the poor, the needy and the afflicted ones of the earth, that their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name, that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all, that all the ends of the earth may know that we thy servants have heard thy voice, and that thou hast sent us, that from among all these thy servants, the sons of Jacob, may gather out the righteous to build a holy city to thy name, as thou hast commanded them.
We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one, which thou hast appointed,32 that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.
Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the [r]evelations and commandments which [p. 279] thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles;—But thou knowest that we have a great love for the children of Jacob who have been scattered upon the mountains; for a long time in a cloudy and dark day.33
We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; and the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David, and the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham,34 their father, and cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten, because of their transgression, to be converted from their wild and savage condition, to the fulness of the everlasting gospel, that they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed and cease their rebellions. And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth,35 come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah, and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee.
O Lord, remember thy servant Joseph Smith, jr. and all his afflictions and persecutions, how he has covenanted with Jehovah and vowed to thee, O mighty God of Jacob, and the commandments which thou hast given unto him, and that he hath sincerely strove to do thy will.—Have mercy, O Lord, upon his wife and children, that they may be exalted in thy presence, and preserved by thy fostering hand. Have mercy upon all their immediate connexions, that their prejudices may be broken up, and swept away as with a flood, that they may be converted and redeemed with Israel and know that thou art God. Remember, O Lord, the presidents, even all the presidents of thy church, that thy right hand may exalt them with all their families, and their immediate connexions, that their names may be perpetuated and had in everlasting remembrance from generation to generation.
Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connexions, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth, that the kingdom which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth,36 that thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, and be addorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence,37 and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth, that thy glory may fill the earth.
That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee,38 that we may ever be with the Lord, that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness,39 with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferngs. O Lord, God Almighty, hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgement, mercy and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting.
O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord, and answer these petitions, and accept the dedication of this house, unto thee, the work of our hands, which we have built unto thy name; and also this church to put upon it thy name. And help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright shining seraphs, around thy throne with acclamations of praise, singing hosanna to God and the Lamb: and let these thine annointed ones be clothed with salvation, and thy saints shout aloud for joy. Amen and Amen.