Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 March 1836 [D&C 109]
Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, , Geauga Co., OH, 27 Mar. 1836. Featured version published in “Kirtland, Ohio, March 27th 1836,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, Mar. 1836, 2:274–281. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Oliver Cowdery, Dec. 1834.
The dedication of the in , 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.” 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.” Men likewise found great satisfaction in their work building the religious edifice. , 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 of divine power.
By late March 1836, the and the members were prepared for a dedicatory meeting. On 26 March, the day before the dedication, JS, , , and JS’s two scribes, and , 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.
On Sunday morning, 27 March, a crowd of approximately one thousand people filled the to capacity. Some of those unable to enter held a meeting in the adjacent while others returned home to await a second dedicatory event. At nine o’clock, 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 ,” followed by a systematic vote by each 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 “as Prophets and Seers” and the “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. 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 , Missouri. In the prayer, JS asked that the 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. reported that a “Holy Angel of God” entered the during the prayer of dedication. Following the prayer, “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.”
The importance the Saints placed on attending the dedication of the is manifest in participant accounts. For example, according to and , one woman could not find anyone with whom to leave her two-month-old child so that she could attend the dedication. She implored 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.”
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. JS requested that “all ,” meaning men who had been to the , meet again in the that evening for instruction “respecting the of .” That evening meeting “was designed as a continuation of our pentecost,” wrote participant , 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.” In another description of the evening meeting, 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.” 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.” Writing to his wife, Sarah 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.”
On Thursday, 31 March, JS and the 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.”
There are two extant versions of the minutes of the 27 March dedication, one in manuscript and the other in print. JS’s scribe made a record of the meeting that he copied into JS’s journal. Though not credited, created the official minutes, featured here, which were then published in the Messenger and Advocate. 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.
Cowdery, Diary, 26 Mar. 1836; JS, Journal, 26 Mar. 1836; George A. Smith, in Journal of Discourses, 15 Nov. 1864, 11:9; Prayer, 27 Mar. 1836, in Prayer, at the Dedication of the Lord’s House in Kirtland, Ohio, March 27, 1836 (Kirtland, OH: 1836), copy at CHL [D&C 109].
President J. Smith jr. then rose, and after a few preliminary remarks, presented the several of the , then present, to the several respectively, and then to the church as being equal with himself, acknowledging them to be Prophets and . The vote was unanimous in the affirmative in every instance.— Each of the different quorums was presented in its turn to all the rest, and then to the church, and received and acknowledged by all the rest, in their several stations without a manifest dissenting sentiment.
President J. Smith jr. then addressed the congregation in a manner calculated to instruct the understanding, rather than please the ear, and at or about the close of his remarks, he prophesied to all, that inasmuch as they would uphold these men in their several stations, alluding to the different quo[r]ums in the church, the Lord would bless them; yea, in the name of Christ, the blessings of Heaven shall be yours. And when the Lord’s annointed go forth to proclaim the word, bearing testimony to this generation, if they receive it, they shall be blessed, but if not, the judgments of God will follow close upon them, until that city or that house, that rejects them, shall be left desolate. The following hymn was then sung:
How pleasd and blest was I,
To hear the people cry,
“Come, let us seek our God to-day!”
Yes, with a cheerful zeal,
We’ll haste to Zion’s hill,
And there our vows and honors pay.
thrice happy place,
Adorn’d with wondrous grace,
And walls of strength embrace thee round!
In thee our tribes appear,
To pray, and praise, and hear
The sacred gospel’s joyful sound.
There David’s greater Son
Has fix’d his royal throne;
He sits for grace and judgment there:
He bids the saint be glad,
He makes the sinner sad,
And humble souls rejoice with fear.
May peace attend thy gate,
And joy within thee wait,
To bless the soul of every guest:
The man that seeks thy peace,
And wishes thine increase,
A thousand blessings on him rest!
My tongue repeats her vows,
“Peace to this sacred house!
For here my friends and kindred dwell.”
And since my glorious God
Makes thee his blest abode,
My soul shall ever love thee well.
He then offered the dedication prayer, which was as follows:
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 to thy name in this place. (.) And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that so thy servants have done, according to thy commandment. 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 , 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, 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 , 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]
Besides the featured text, there are two contemporaneous versions of the prayer of dedication: the one found in JS’s journal and the published broadside JS read from at the dedicatory meeting. There are only a few minor spelling and punctuation differences between the featured text and the JS journal version; those differences are not noted. The version printed on the broadside is nearly identical to the version featured here. Both the broadside and featured text were printed on the church’s printing press, probably from the same typesetting. (JS, Journal, 27 Mar. 1836; Prayer, 27 Mar. 1836, in Prayer, at the Dedication of the Lord’s House in Kirtland, Ohio, March 27, 1836 [Kirtland, OH: 1836], copy at CHL [D&C 109].)