December 5 is the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is nearly impossible to say just a little about this magnificent yet enigmatic man who Latter-day Saints – and I – believe to be God’s legitimate messenger in the world’s modern age.
Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844), often referred to as the Prophet Joseph Smith, was the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints call him “the Prophet” because, in the tradition of Old and New Testament prophets, he depended on revelation from God for his teachings, not on his own learning. They accept his revelations, many of them published as the Doctrine and Covenants and as the Pearl of Great Price, as scripture to accompany the Bible. As a young man, Joseph Smith also translated a sacred record from ancient America known as the Book of Mormon. These revelations and records restored to the earth the pure gospel of Christ. Joseph Smith’s role in history was to found the Church of Jesus Christ based on this restored gospel in preparation for the second coming of Christ.
(Richard L. Bushman and Dean C. Jessee, in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, where this comprehensive article would be a good place for anyone to begin learning – or to review their existing knowledge – of the Prophet Joseph Smith.)
In honor of his birthday, I share this nicely filmed music video from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The complete lyrics to the hymn Praise To the Man – themselves a tribute – appear below.
Text: William W. Phelps, 1792-1872
Music: Scottish folk song
1. Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.
2. Praise to his mem’ry, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heav’n while the earth lauds his fame.
3. Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
4. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.