Come, Let Us Rejoice!

“Come, Let Us Rejoice!” Ensign, Mar. 1992, 44

Relief Society Sesquicentennial

“Come, Let Us Rejoice!”

Memorabilia celebrating six dimensions of Relief Society: faith in Christ, nurturing, compassion, sisterhood, community betterment, and developing gifts and talents.

At the close of the first Relief Society meeting in Nauvoo on 17 March 1842, the sisters sang, “Come, let us rejoice in the day of salvation.”* (Hymns, 1985, no. 3.) The Spirit of God had distilled upon the Saints in great abundance, and all present knew something of great importance had happened. It is likely that none but the Prophet Joseph Smith realized the significance of the day. Yet all had witnessed the dawning of a new day for women everywhere.

The original Relief Society minute book contains references to central gospel themes that were taught in the following days, and that have continued to the present: faith in Christ, nurturing, compassion, sisterhood, community betterment, and developing individual gifts and talents. These values are a framework through which we may view Relief Society and are also the basis of a current exhibit, “Come, Let Us Rejoice! A Sesquicentennial Celebration of Relief Society, 1842–1992,” at the Museum of Church History and Art. As Relief Society continues to shine forth with renewed brilliance, these values are equally vital today. Yes, come, let us rejoice!

Faith is the chief cornerstone of all that the gospel encompasses. Faith in Christ and commitment to a Christlike life through making and keeping sacred covenants are at the center of our spiritual lives.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life, a stained glass window created by Robin Luch of West Valley City, Utah. (Photo by Ron Read.)

Nurturing is the most basic charge given to all women, as part of our heritage as Eve’s daughters. It is the responsibility to be “the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20; Moses 4:26.) We nurture when we strive to help all those in our own spheres of influence grow to their full potential.

Family history quilt

Family history quilt stitched by Mary Lou Stephens of Ogden, Utah, for her parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary features a tracing of each descendant’s hand, including those of two newborn babies. (Photo by Ron Read.)

Compassion represents sympathetic help given to the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those in need. These needs include everything from care of those suffering from illness to aid in times of war or natural calamities.

Sisterhood is rejoicing in the unity we enjoy. The gospel brings individuals together across all divisions that normally separate women: time, place, age, race, social, economic, and educational differences.

Community Betterment has been a Relief Society goal from the very first meeting of the society in Nauvoo. The projects undertaken have reflected the diversity of interests of Relief Society sisters: suffrage, social work, maternal and infant health care, legislative efforts, beautification of surroundings, and other worthwhile activities.

Developing Gifts and Talents of individual women is encouraged so that “all may be edified.” (D&C 88:122.) Many quiet gifts shared in small circles may ultimately make large contributions in a person’s life.

  • This hymn, listed as “Now Let Us Rejoice” in the 1985 hymnbook, was identified in the Relief Society minutes of 17 March 1842 as “Come, Let Us Rejoice!”

  • Marjorie Draper Conder, a curator at the Museum of Church History and Art, serves as Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher in the Midvale East Fourth Ward, Midvale Utah East Stake.

Clockwise: The first minute book of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo; a mola of the First Vision sewed by a sister in the San Blas Islands, Panama; a box used by women to collect pennies to buy nails and glass for the Nauvoo Temple; a bag made of tree bark, donated as tithing by Indian sisters in Paraguay; a lace doily crocheted by a sister in Germany. (Background photography by Jed Clark; artifacts courtesy of private donors.)

Left: A sister prepares her Relief Society lesson.

Guatemalan sisters help build an adobe building. (Photo by Craig Dimond.)

Clockwise from left: Clothing such as this was sent to needy Saints in Europe in about 1946. On dresser top: A Singing Mothers program; a wooden wheat scoop; a jewelry box (a gift from European Saints helped by donated clothing); a thank-you note; a bar of soap (about 1940); visiting teaching books (about 1920); and a receipt for Relief Society wheat. On front of dresser: A request for goods, including soap and donated clothing, to help European Saints after World War II.

Left: Men load trucks with boxed Relief Society goods to be distributed among the needy after World War II. (Courtesy of Church Archives.)

Florence Jepperson Madsen leads the Singing Mothers at a Relief Society conference in the Salt Lake Tabernacle (about 1960). (Courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art.)

The silk for this dress was raised by Latter-day Saint sisters in Utah and presented to Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, on her eightieth birthday. (Photo by Ron Read; courtesy of Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester, New York.)

Mothers attend a baby and preschool child clinic conducted by the Cottonwood Stake Relief Society (about 1935). (Courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art.)

Clockwise from left: A needlepoint chair cover sent by Anna Schrade of Vienna, Austria, in about 1947 as a thank-you gift for aid. The accompanying note read, “This is the only thing of value I still have after the war”; contemporary Hopi pot made by Carol Mumoki; a flute; a 1904 breadmaker; a gardening hat and jacket belonging to Camilla Kimball; a Relief Society recipe book; a baby dress made by LaVaun Benson in 1943 from a World War II parachute.

Sisters in the American Fork First Ward pose in front of their handmade quilt (about 1948). (Courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art.)