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].
thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the ;—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.
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, 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, 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 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 , 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, 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, 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, that we may ever be with the Lord, that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, 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 , 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.
The choir then sung a hymn.
The Spirit of God like a fire is burning;
The latter day glory begins to come forth;
The visions and blessings of old are retuning;
The angels are coming to visit the earth.
We’ll sing & we’ll shout with the armies of heaven;
Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!
Let glory to them in the highest be given,
Henceforth and forever: amen and amen!
The Lord is extending the saints’ understanding—
Restoring their judges and all as at first;
The knowledge and power of God are expanding:
The vail o’er the earth is beginning to burst.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout &c.
We call in our solemn assemblies, in spirit,
To spread forth the kingdom of heaven abroad,
That we through our faith may begin to inherit
The visions, and blessings, and glories of God.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout &c.
We’ll wash, and be wash’d and with oil be anointed