Letter to Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 14 May 1840
JS, Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to [ and , , Hamilton Co., OH], 14 May 1840. Featured version copied [ca. 14 May 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 146–147; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
On 14 May 1840, JS wrote from , Illinois, to and , who were preaching in . The letter responded to one Hyde and Page wrote from , Ohio, two weeks earlier. Hyde and Page had been appointed at a the previous month to serve a mission to the Jews in , Europe, western Asia, and the Holy Land and were proselytizing as they circuitously made their way east.
In their 1 May letter to JS, and asked whether they were authorized to publish new editions and foreign language translations of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and a hymnal. They also proposed to write and publish a new volume in that would provide a “history of the coming forth” of the Book of Mormon, summarize its contents, and discuss Mormon theology and the church’s organization. In his response, featured here, JS addressed each of their questions and approved their proposed publication and any other publications they saw fit to write. He also granted them permission to publish translations and new editions of any existing church books except the hymnal, stating that a new hymnal would soon be printed in . JS additionally outlined the leadership responsibilities of and —specifically addressing the question of who was authorized to regulate of the church—and expressed his pleasure in how Hyde and Page were pursuing their mission assignment.
The original letter has not been located. copied the letter into JS Letterbook 2 sometime in 1840, likely around the time of composition.
to you, which you may get translated, and printed into any language you please. Should we not be able to send some to you, and there should be a great call for Hymns where you are may be; then I should have no objections to your publishing the present one. Were you to publish the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, or Hymn Book; I desire the copy rights of the same to be secured in my name.
With respect to publishing any other work, either original, or those which have been published before, you will be governed by circumstances; if you think necessary to do so I shall have no objections whatever— It will be well to study plainness and simplicity in whatever you may publish “for my soul delighteth in pla[i]nness”.
I feel much pleased with the spirit of your letter, and be assured, Dear Bretheren, of my hearty co-operation, and my prayers for your welfare and sucess.
In answer to your enquiry in a former letter, relative to the duty of the in regulating churches &c; I say that the duties of the seventies is, more particularly to preach the Gospel, & build up churches, rather than regulate them.— that a may take charge of them.
If a high priest should be remiss in his duty, & should lead, or suffer the to be led astray; depart from the of the Lord, then it is the duty of one of the seventies, acting under the special direction of the —being duly commissioned by them with their delegated authority, to go that church and if agreeable to a majority of the members of said church to proceed to regulate and put in order the same— otherwise he can have no authority to act [p. 147]
In their 1 May 1840 letter, Hyde and Page had asked whether they were at liberty to translate or publish original works or works previously published by the church if “the circumstances in which we are placed seem to require.” In 1842 Hyde published a pamphlet titled Ein Ruf aus der Wüste [A cry out of the wilderness], which included components of the publication he and Page had proposed in their earlier letter. (Letter from Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 1 May 1840; “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), 1842].)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.