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].
Old Israel that fled from the world for his freedom,
Must come with the cloud and the pillar, amain:
A Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua lead him,
And feed him on manna from heaven again.
We’ll sing and we’ll shout &c.
How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion
Shall lie down together without any ir[e];
And Ephraim be crown’d with his blessing in Zion,
As Jesus descends with his chariots of fire!
We’ll sing & we’ll shout with His 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.
President Smith then asked the several separately and then the congregation, if they accepted the prayer. The vote was, in every instance, unanimous in the affirmative.
The was administered.— blessed the bread and wine and they were distributed by several present, to the .
President J. Smith jr. then arose and bore record of his mission. bore record of the truth of the work of the Lord in which we are engaged.
President spoke and testified of the truth of the book of Mormon, and of the work of the Lord in these last days.
President bore record that a Holy Angel of God, came and set between him and while the was being dedicated.
President , (one of the building committee) made some appropriate remarks concerning the , congratulating those who had endured so many toils and privations to erect it. That it was the built by his commandment and he would bless them.
President then made a few appropriate closing remarks; and a short prayer which was ended with loud acclamations of Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to God and the Lamb, Amen, Amen and Amen! Three times. Elder , one of the , gave a short address in tongues; Elder interpreted and gave a short exhortation in tongues himself; after which, President J. Smith jr. blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord, and at a little past four P. M. the whole exercise closed and the congregation dispersed.
We further add that we should do violence to our own feelings and injustice to the real merit of our brethren and friends who attended the meeting, were we here to withhold a meed of praise, which we think is their just due; not only for their quiet demeanor during the whole exercise, which lasted more than eight hours, but for their great liberality in contributing of their earthly substance for the relief of the building committee, who were yet somewhat involved. As this was to be a day of sacrifice, as well as of fasting,— There was a man placed at each door in the morning to receive the voluntary donations of those who entered. On counting the collection it amounted to nine hundred and sixty three dollars. [p. 281]
Stephen Post recorded Williams stating that the angel came through the window behind the pulpit. Edward Partridge recorded that “Williams saw an angel” but interlinearly inserted “or rather the Savior”—possibly conflating Williams’s vision of an angel with the vision of Jesus Christ shared by JS and Oliver Cowdery a week later. Years later, Truman Angell recalled that JS identified this angel as the apostle Peter. After mentioning Williams’s vision, JS’s journal notes that “Presdt David Whitmer also saw angels in the house.” (Post, Journal, 27 Mar. 1836; Minutes, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Mar. 1836, 2:281; Partridge, Journal, 27 Mar. 1836; Angell, Autobiography, 16; JS, Journal, 27 Mar. 1836.)
Post, Stephen. Journals, 1835–1879. Stephen Post, Papers, 1835–1921. CHL. MS 1304, box 6.
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Partridge, Edward. Journal, Jan. 1835–July 1836. Edward Partridge, Papers, 1818–1839. CHL. MS 892, box 1, fd. 2.
Angell, Truman O. Autobiography, 1884. CHL. MS 12334. Also available in Archie Leon Brown and Charlene L. Hathaway, 141 Years of Mormon Heritage: Rawsons, Browns, Angells—Pioneers (Oakland, CA: By the authors, 1973), 119–135.