Letter from Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 1 May 1840
and , Letter, , Franklin Co., OH, to JS, [, Hancock Co., IL], 1 May 1840. Featured version copied [ca. June or July 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 144–145; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
While en route to Europe, and wrote a letter on 1 May 1840 from , Ohio, to JS in , Illinois. At a 6 April 1840 general of the held in Nauvoo, Hyde was appointed to serve a proselytizing mission to , , , Constantinople, and the Holy Land with the specific objective of gathering the Jews and restoring the house of Israel. Page was selected to accompany him at another session of the same conference two days later. Hyde left Nauvoo on 15 April and met Page the following day in , Illinois.
While in other letters and provided fairly detailed accounts of their activities during the first months of their missions, they devoted this 1 May letter almost exclusively to asking JS for permission to translate the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants into German and to publish a new hymnal. In letters they wrote on their missions, members of the frequently discussed the need for new editions of church publications. On 22 November 1839, wrote to JS requesting authorization to publish the Book of Mormon in , and on 7 May 1840 wrote to JS asking permission to publish the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants in . In the letter featured here, Hyde and Page also requested JS’s direction on their plan to write a book to be published in , in which they planned to describe the church’s organization and teachings and summarize the origins of the Book of Mormon. JS responded to these questions in a 14 May 1840 letter addressed to Hyde and Page in .
The original letter has not been located. copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2 sometime in 1840, likely in June or July.
Sir, The mission upon which we are sent, swells greater & greater.
As there is a great work to be done in , as manifested to us by the spirit; the following plan of opperation has been suggested to us; Viz to write a set of Lectures upon the faith and doctrine of <our> , giving a brief history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and an account of its contents, in as clear and plain style as possible; together with the out lines and organization and government of the church of Latter Day Saints, drawn from the “doctrine and Covenents” with all the wisdom and care possible; and get the same translated into German, and publish it when we arrive in , and scatter <it> through the German Empire, Isthis correct? Should we consider it necessary to translate the entire Book of Mormon into the German, and Doctrine and Covenents too; are we or are we not at liberty to do so. Should we deem it necessary to publish an edition of Hymn Books in any Country; are we at liberty to do it? The fact is we need such works; and we cannot get them from the church here; and if we could we could not well carry them with us, at least any quantity. We feel that we are acting under the direction of the , of the church; and the reason, that we make these enquires, is, that we do not wish to step beyond our limits or bring ourselves into a snare and dishonor by taking liberties that are not ours.
We feel that all our exertions and interests shall become subse[r]vient to build up the Kingdom [p. 144]
Hyde and Page separated while raising funds for passage to England. Page never left the United States, but Hyde incorporated components of this suggested publication in the pamphlet Ein Ruf aus der Wüste [A cry out of the wilderness], which he published in Frankfurt in 1842. The subtitle of this pamphlet—an excerpt of which reads in translation “a short summary of the origin and teaching of the Church [of] ‘Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ in America”—closely paralleled the wording of Hyde and Page’s proposal to publish a series of lectures on the origin, organization, and doctrine of the church. (“Conference Minutes,” Times and Seasons, 15 Apr. 1842, 3:761–763; Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, eine Stimme aus dem Schoose der Erde [Frankfurt: Im Selbstverlage des Verfassers (by the author), 1841].)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.