Archive for October, 2008

President Boyd K. Packer’s Message

October 6, 2008

In an effort to better understand President Boyd K. Packer’s General Conference Address, I went here, and watched it twice:

http://www.lds.org/move/index.html?type=conference&event=178&lang=english

Several things jump out at me. First, we live in perilous times, but a way of safety lies open before us, which safety comes from keeping the commandments of God, including that of being law abiding and worthy citizens. Second, President Packer refers to the celebration held in July 1849 where a statement was read that the persecution and “outrageous cruelties” the Saints suffered “proceeded from a corrupted and degenerate administration,” which makes me wonder if he was referring to a future time when Saints might again suffer from a “corrupted and degenerate administration?” Third, a plea that “the Spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism” which was inherited from the “Silver Grey’s” fathers might “descend unadulterated to our posterity.” Finally, he refers to the efforts Lucifer will make to “trouble the work of the Lord and destroy it if they can,” and to the fact that tests “lie ahead and they will be many,” but that “no unhallowed handcan stop the work from progressing.” 

President Packer’s reference to the celebration held in Salt Lake City in 1849 apparently comes from the Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow by Eliza R. Snow. President Packer hints at the importance of the record of this celebration. So, I have reproduced it in its entirety below and highlighted those parts I thought especially worthy of note. 

Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 96-107.

CHAPTER XVII.

The first celebration.—Lorenzo chairman of committee.—Description of Escort—Moves from Bowery to President Young’s.—Receives the Presidency.—Returns to Bowery.—Singing by the way.—Cheers.—Hymn.—Prayer.—Declaration of Independence read.—Speech by Silver Greys.—Ode sung by Silver Greys.—Shout of hosanna.—March to the dinner tables.—A rich feast.—Thousands of the Saints partake.—Gentiles en route to California, partake.—Scores of Indians partake.—Grandeur in Simplicity.—Gratitude to God.

THE first celebration in the valleys of the mountains was held on the twenty-fourth of July, 1849—the second anniversary of the entrance of the pioneers. In this, Lorenzo had much to do. In fact, the originating and compiling the programme for the exercises of the day, was the product of his fertile brain. The occasion was one which called into requisition his inventive abilities, and exhibited his taste and skill as an organizer; also the wonderful power of co-operative effort in carrying concerted plans into execution. Truly, it was not creating out of nothing; but when we take into consideration the circumstances of the people at that time—driven from their homes—robbed and plundered, and so recently located in a sterile waste, one thousand miles from all supplies, except what they extracted from a long-barren soil; it will be at once realized that it required no small stretch of thought and ingenuity to organize, and with appropriate honors, celebrate a day of so much historical importance as the one in question. But they had “the right man in the right place;” for in this instance, as in everything he undertook, Lorenzo verified the adage, “What is worth doing, is worth doing well.” And, to make a success of whatever he undertook, he neither spared labor nor application.

Although, since that early day of our mountain home, as circumstances have changed — means been multiplied, and foreign resources brought within the reach of this once isolated people, insomuch that in more recent celebrations of that ever memorable day, the twenty-fourth of July, mammoth displays have been crowned with wealth and magnificence, this first, the opening one—this display of civilization in a desolate wilderness has never been eclipsed.

As it may be interesting to many of the coming generation, we will here give a brief description of the celebration, as follows: The inhabitants were awakened by the firing of cannon, accompanied by music. The brass band, playing martial airs, paraded the principal streets of the city, in a gaily decorated omnibus, with prancing steeds, and with banners flying, returning to the Bowery, from whence they started.

The Bowery was one hundred feet long, by sixty wide; it was built on one hundred and four posts, and covered with boards; but for the services of this day, a canopy or awning was extended about one hundred feet from each side of the Bowery, to accommodate the vast multitude at dinner.

At half-past seven, the large national flag, measuring sixty-five feet in length, was unfurled at the top of the liberty pole, which was one hundred and four feet high, and was saluted by the firing of six guns, the ringing of the “Nauvoo bell,” and soul-stirring airs from the band.

At eight o’clock, the multitude was called together by music and the firing of guns—the Bishops of the several wards arranging themselves in the sides of the aisles, with the banners of their wards unfurled, each bearing an appropriate inscription.

At a quarter past eight a grand and imposing escort was formed, under the direction of Lorenzo Snow, Jedediah M. Grant and Franklin D. Richards, in the following order, to wit: (1) Horace S. Eldredge, marshal, on horseback, in military uniform; (2) brass band; (3) twelve Bishops, bearing the banners of their wards; (4) twenty-four young men dressed in white pants, black coats, white scarfs on the right shoulder, and coronets on their heads, each carrying in his right hand a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States, and each wearing a sheathed sword by his side—one of them carrying a beautiful banner, on which was inscribed, “The Lion of the Lord;” (5) twenty-four young ladies dressed in white, with blue scarfs on the right shoulder, and wreaths of white roses on their heads, each carrying a Bible and a Book of Mormon, and one carrying a neat banner, inscribed with “Hail to our Captain;” (6) P. P. Pratt, John Taylor, Charles C. Rich, Daniel Spencer, David Fullmer, Willard Snow, Erastus Snow; (7) twenty-four Silver Greys, led by Isaac Morley, Patriarch—each carrying a staff, painted red on the upper part, with a bunch of white ribbon floating at the top—one of them carrying the “Stars and Stripes,” bearing the inscription, “LIBERTY OR DEATH.”

The escort marched from the Bowery to the residence of Governor Brigham Young, and, at nine o’clock, when Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball had taken their position in the procession, in front of the Twelve Apostles, it moved forward, led by the committee, while the cannon roared, the musketry rolled, the “Nauvoo bell” pealed forth its silvery notes, and the air was filled with the soul-stirring strains of the brass band; and, as a soft, sweet and soothing refrain, intermingling harmoniously as they marched, the twenty-four young ladies and twenty-four young gentlemen sang the following, composed by Apostle P. P. Pratt:

THE MOUNTAIN STANDARD.

Lo! the Gentile chain is broken—

Freedom’s banner waves on high.

List, ye nations: by this token,

Know that your redemption’s nigh.

See, on yonder distant mountain,

Zion’s standard wide unfurled;

Far above Missouri’s fountain,

Lo! it waves for all the world.

Freedom, peace and full salvation

Are the blessings guaranteed;

Liberty to every nation,

Every tongue and every creed.

Come, ye Christian sects and pagan,

Pope and Protestant and priest—

Worshipers of God and Dagan,

Come, O come, to Freedom’s feast.

Come, ye sons of doubt and wonder,

Indian, Moslem, Greek or Jew;

All your shackles burst asunder—

Freedom’s banner waves for you.

Cease to butcher one another—

Join the covenant of peace;

Be to all, a friend—a brother,

This will bring the world’s release.

Lo! our King, the great Messiah,

Prince of Peace, shall come to reign;

Sound again, ye heavenly choir,

Peace on earth, good will to men.

On arriving at the Bowery, the escort was received with shouts of “HOSANNA TO GOD AND THE LAMB!” While the Governor and suite, Patriarch and Presiding Bishops were passing down the aisle, the people cheered and shouted, “HAIL TO THE GOVERNOR OF DESERET.” These being seated on the stand by the committee, the escort marched around the Bowery, singing an appropriate hymn—then down the aisle, and were seated in double rows on each side.

The assembly was called to order, and prayer offered by Apostle Erastus Snow.

Richard Ballantyne, chairman of the twenty-four young men, came to the stand, and, in a neat speech, presented the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States to Governor Young, which was received with three shouts, “MAY THEY LIVE FOREVER!” led by Governor Young.

The Declaration of Independence was then read, the brass band following with lively airs, after which the following Song of Liberty, by E. R. S. Smith, was sung by the twenty-four young ladies:

SONG OF LIBERTY.

Long, long ago, when Earth and Time

Were in the morn of life,

All joyous in their lovely prime,

With fragrant beauty rife.

All nature then in order crowned

With perfect harmony;

Luxuriant products clothed the ground,

O, there was liberty.

No vail obscured the worlds on high

From those that dwelt on earth;

But in the pathway of the sky,

They journeyed back and forth.

Then God and angels talked with men,

And woman, too, was free,

For both were pure and sinless then,

In perfect liberty.

The curse pursued transgression’s track,

And man from God was driven,

Until the Priesthood brought him back,

To do the will of heaven.

We’ll shout hosanna to the Lord,

For what is yet to be,

When earth and man will be restored

To God and liberty.

We see the lighthouse brightly blaze

Far o’er the boisterous wave;

With cheering prospects thus we gaze

On hopes beyond the grave;

For woman, if submissive here

To God’s divine decree,

Restored, will fill a noble sphere

In glorious liberty.

The Lord has set His gracious hand,

And by His mighty power,

He led His people to this land—

Preparing for the hour;

For Earth and Time are growing old,

And soon Eternity

Will to the Saints of God unfold

CELESTIAL LIBERTY.

The singing by the young ladies performed, Elder Phineas Richards came forward in behalf of the twenty-four aged sires, and read their loyal and patriotic address, as follows:

To our honorable President and this respectable Audience:

Respected Fellow Citizens:—Permit us, the aged Fathers in Israel, to mingle our voices with yours on this interesting occasion—an occasion which is calculated to call into exercise the most acute feelings of the human heart.

The circumstance which we this day commemorate, will form a very important item in the history of succeeding ages. Two years ago this day, when President Brigham Young first entered this valley, he completed the most extraordinary expedition ever recorded in the annals of history.

There are sometimes small and seemingly trivial events in the life of man, with which every other period most naturally associates. There are circumstances in the history of nations, which seem as fulcrums, around which everything else revolves. But the period, the circumstance, the event which we now commemorate, is one with which is associated the interests of the world—the salvation of the whole human family.

What must be the feelings, this day, of President Young, the leader of that noble band of Pioneers, while he contemplates the results of the last two years? Realizing the responsibility of his position as the head of a numerous people, persecuted and driven from their cherished homes, where their first leader and Prophet had sealed his mission with his blood; we say, what must have been his feelings when, with a little band, with barely necessaries sufficient to sustain life for a few months, and leaving their families nearly destitute, on lands claimed by faithless savages, he started forth into the wilderness in search of a home for his people, like Abraham of old, “not knowing whither he went?” But he knew that God had called him—he trusted in the arm of Omnipotence, and by the unseen hand of the Almighty Jehovah, their feet were directed across a trackless desert to this place. And who, fellow citizens, with the recollections of the past and the anticipations of the future, would attempt to describe the feelings that on this occasion fill the breasts of your aged fathers?

Soon, like the Patriarchs of old, we expect to be gathered to our fathers. Our bosoms swell with gratitude to the Most High, that after years of tossing to and fro, our feet are once more established upon a land of peace; although exiled by the bloody hand of persecution from the much loved lands of our nativity—our once beautiful homes and quiet firesides, where we inherited the sweets of domestic life from those who fought the battles of the American Revolution, to establish the principles of equity, and a government of peace. From them, too, as a natural inheritance, have we imbibed, and with ardor cherished, the holy fire of patriotism; which, having been constitutionally implanted in our natures, can never become extinct. As easily might the earth be removed from its orbit—as well might yonder sun be made to emanate darkness instead of light, as the glorious priciples of liberty be eradicated from our bosoms.

Little did our fathers think, while rehearing to their children the sufferings of the pilgrims who fled from the religious oppression of the Old World, and while recounting the scenes of hardship, privation and death, while passing through the struggle that “tried men’s souls,” to plant the tree of liberty, to establish freedom and equal rights, and to bequeath the laws of protection and republicanism to their posterity—we say, little did they think that we, their sons, would have to cower beneath the hand of oppression—be chased like the roe upon the mountains, and forced to flee before the reeking sword of an unhallowed mobocracy, and hunt a refuge, a hiding place, beyond the track of civilization! Little did they think that so soon the proud-crested Eagle would seek an asylum behind the western hills, and that the blood of the noblest martyrs that ever graced this lower world would remoisten the soil which had so lately been purchased by the blood of heroes!

But, brethren and friends, we who have lived to threescore years, have beheld the government of the United States in its glory, and know that the outrageous cruelties we have suffered proceeded from a corrupted and degenerate administration, while the pure principles of our boasted Constitution remain unchanged. President Joseph Smith experienced and well comprehended this corruption; and, inspired by the Spirit of the Almighty, foretold the sequel, and, with the pencil of heaven, portrayed the impending desolation and ruin; and, prompted by an unction from the upper world, essayed to put forth his hand to preserve the tottering fabric from destruction. “But they have done unto him as they listed”—they have driven the Saints from their midst—they have demolished the bulwarks of liberty and protection, and now the vengeance of insulted heaven awaits them!

In our humble opinion, having been taught by bitter experience, that under a defective administration of political government, religious toleration can exist only in name, it devolves upon us, as a people instructed by the revelations of God, with hearts glowing with love for our fallen country, to revive, support, and carry into effect the original, uncorrupted principles of the Revolution, and the constitutional government of our patriotic forefathers.

To you, President Young, as the successor of President Smith, do we now look, as to a second Washington, so far as political freedom is concerned, to replant the standard of American liberty, to unfurl the banner of protection, to re-establish equal rights, to nourish the broad-plumed eagle that has fled to the recesses of the mountains crowned with eternal snows, to unsheath the sword of justice, to do honor to the memories of the heroes of the Revolution, and to his memory whose blood now cries from the ground in behalf of a loyal, innocent, persecuted and exiled people.

From a long personal acquaintance, and a knowledge of the inflexible, godlike integrity which has characterized your adherence to, and your support of, our murdered Prophet; with the utmost confidence we pledge ourselves to uphold, and, as much as lies in our power, to assist you in resuscitating and re-establishing those glorious principles, while we live; and when we die, we bequeath this pledge as a sacred legacy to our children. As we have inherited the spirit of liberty and the fire of patriotism from our fathers, so let them descend unadulterated to our posterity.

Should not we, who have suffered atrocious cruelties, rise up and redeem our once sacred Constitution from the foul disgrace with which it has been stamped, and the eternal infamy to which it is destined, unless a spirit of philanthropy and independence shall somewhere be aroused for its rescue? Shall not we, fellow citizens, rise up in the spirit of freemen and do honor to the shades of the departed heroes of ’76? Let us show ourselves to be worthy sons of our noble, patriotic ancestors. Let us prove to the United States, that when they drove the Saints from them, they not only drove from their midst soldiers who were bravest in protecting their western frontier, but also the firmest supporters of American Independence. Let us be true to our trust. Profiting by scenes of suffering in the recent school of our experience, let us watch with jealous eye the first encroachment of civil power. Should the infernal monster despotism dare lift its hydra head upon this western Territory, Mr. President, although burthened by the weight of years, and worn down with hardship, privation and fatigue, we, the gray-headed, with you for our leader, are ready at any moment to step forth and unsheath the sword in defense of that which our fathers have taught us to hold dearer than life.

Yes, we are ready; and, as we follow you, we call upon these young men, our sons, to follow us; and sooner lay their lives upon the holy altar of liberty than submit to be crushed by the inquisitorial Juggernaut of oppression. Let the sacred motto “Liberty or Death” be inscribed on every scabbard, helmet, buckler and shield.

Yes, here, with this Territorial government, let a standard of liberty be erected that shall reach to heaven, and be a rallying point for all the nations of the earth. Here let the insigniaed banner begin to be unfurled that shall yet extend its benign protecting wand to every kingdom upon the face of the earth; that while revolution treads on the heel of revolution—while commotion, anarchy and devastation push forward the reckless besom of destruction, and with continuous sweep are annihilating the last hopes of comfort in human life; while in the prophetic language of Scripture, “all faces shall gather blackness,” here let the ensign of peace, like a heavenly beacon, invite to a haven of rest, an oasis of civil, political and religious liberty.

From here let peans of theo-democracy or republicanism reverberate from valley to valley, from mountain to mountain, from Territory to Territory, from State to State, from nation to nation, from empire to empire, from continent to continent, till the thrilling echo shall be responded from Behring’s Straits and the straits of Magellan, from Great Britain and the states of Europe, from Africa, from Hindostan and even from China, the proud, self-styled “celestial empire” of the east.

At the conclusion of the address, the assembly arose and shouted three times, “Hosanna! hosanna! hosanna to God and the Lamb, for ever and ever, amen and amen!” while the banners were waved by the Bishops. Then, after the band had played a lively air, the clerk read the Ode to Liberty, written for the occasion by E. R. S. Smith.

The ode was then sung by the Silver Greys, to the tune “Bruce’s Address.”

ODE TO LIBERTY.

Fairest spirit of the skies,

Fairest child of Paradise,

Once Columbia’s lawful prize—

Glorious Liberty.

Thee our noble fathers sought—

For thyself our heroes fought,

Thus our bleeding patriots bought

Precious Liberty.

When thy banner waves abroad,

All may freely worship God,

Fearless of the tyrant’s rod—

Sacred Liberty.

Never, never cease to wave

O’er the ashes of the brave;

Shield, O shield the patriot’s grave—

Flag of Liberty.

Should oppression boldly dare

From thy brow the wreath to tear,

Righteous vengeance shall not spare

The foes of Liberty.

Sooner than to bondage yield,

Bravely in the battle field,

Let the sons of freemen wield

The sword for Liberty.

God, who moved our worthy sires,

When they kindled Freedom’s fires,

Zion’s noble sons inspires

To cherish Liberty.

Here, with godlike grasp and bold,

We the Constitution hold,

Pure as when it’s sacred fold

Sheltered Liberty.

Freedom, Justice, Truth and Peace,

Shall throughout these vales increase;

Shout, O shout, till time shall cease,

Truth and Liberty!

Here, amid the mountain sky,

Freedom’s banner waves on high;

Let the heaven-born echo fly—

GOD AND LIBERTY!

The hour of intermission having arrived, the escort was re-formed; the Bishops collected the residents of their respective wards, and marched with them to the dinner tables, where thousands of Saints dined sumptuously on the products of the valley, judiciously and delicately prepared, and rendered delicious in connection with what foreign luxuries were obtained in exchange for staple articles, as flour, butter, potatoes, etc., from travelers to California. Several hundreds of those Gentile emigrants, who, en route to California, had stopped to recruit, partook of the social repast, as did also threescore of Indians. In proportion to the numbers, no celebration ever passed off with more eclat—no one has been conducted with more order, and no feast partaken of with better zest, with more mutual love and friendship, nor with hearts more filled to overflowing with gratitude to God for the outpouring of His blessings and for the manifestations of His overruling hand.

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