I Heard the Voice of David H. Smith
By Pamela Price
|David Hyrum Smith|
My life changed forever in 1969. I had been reared with the belief that conditions in the world would grow increasingly worse, but conditions in the Church would become better until Zion would be redeemed. One afternoon in 1969, I realized that this was not so, and that my life was never to be the same again. My husband, Richard, went to what I thought was a routine stake meeting of all the elders in the Center Place. Upon his return, I happily met him at the door with the question, “How did the meeting go?”
His answer was, “There is a conspiracy by the Church leaders to destroy the original beliefs of the gospel, and I must write a pamphlet and expose it.” I cannot convey the depth of my sorrow when I heard those words. A part of that conspiracy was the New Curriculum, which the Department of Religious Education was recommending for teaching all ages in the Sunday school. I was teaching a kindergarten class at the time, and we purchased the New Curriculum for all classes—from nursery to adult. I opened the nursery manual first and saw a picture of a robed priest baptizing a baby by sprinkling. Then I proceeded to read the curriculum for all church school grades and found Richard’s statement to be true. There was a conspiracy to destroy the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This realization only deepened my sorrow. I often wept as I read the New Curriculum.
I was baptized in August 1938 when I was twelve years of age, and since then I have witnessed many wonderful spiritual experiences. One of the most outstanding experiences was given to me in April 1974. The pamphlet which Richard had started had grown until it became a book. That book, The Saints at the Crossroads, which exposed the Liberal conspiracy, came off the press the Monday before the Saturday when the 1974 General Conference convened. We had ordered 10,000 copies of the book, and on the Monday night before Conference began, the first 2,000 copies arrived by truck. Some Saints formed a phone-calling chain and released the news of the book to many others. Soon dozens of people arrived at our home and carried out nearly a thousand books that first night.
Richard would have liked to have taken time off from Bendix, his place of employment, to assist with the distribution of the books, but we had exhausted our funds on books and research, and we had to have his income because two of our children would be in college the next fall. I had been working half days until the books were to be delivered, and then I quit my job to disperse them. As Richard left for work on Tuesday, his parting words to me were, “When the men arrive with the rest of the books, have them stack the boxes next to the walls, because all of that weight must not be in the center of the rooms.” Soon the truck arrived and two men started carrying in 8,000 more books. They carried in box after box, and I directed them to stack them against the east wall across the living room, dining room, and into the kitchen. They left me in shock, with boxes stacked almost as high as my head.
Soon our house was filled with Saints who wanted not only books, but also to discuss the contents of the book and the problems facing the Church. Some had been studying the New Curriculum and the Position Papers and were glad to see the conspiracy unveiled. Others were bewildered, not knowing what to believe, and some were hostile. Yes, my life had changed forever! Many Conference delegates came—from seven in the morning to eleven at night.
So many cars were parked in front of our home and in the vicinity that some of our visitors were warned by the police that their cars were obstructing traffic. After they reported this to me, I was very concerned. A day or so later I saw a policeman coming up the walk to my door. Fearing that he had some sort of warning or complaint, I approached the door with a prayer in my heart. Imagine my surprise when I greeted him, and he quietly asked if he could purchase “that book.”
Many Saints were supportive, for which I was very thankful. However, I was not prepared for those who were not, and I relied heavily upon the Lord to strengthen me. Sometimes Saints who were supportive were present when others came who were opposed, and debates ensued. This too was very upsetting to me.
I was all alone when several from the California delegation came, and some of them were very rude. They said very unkind things to me, condemned my husband for writing “untruths” against the leaders of the Church, and sharply condemned me for whatever I said in defense of the book. Their words were caustic. I felt sad after the California delegation left, and I dreaded having to meet the others who would come during the rest of Conference week. Yet I knew that we were right and that the Restoration Gospel had to be defended. Several years later one sister who was with that California delegation, and who had remained silent throughout the discussion, spoke to me about that occasion. In words most kind, she wanted me to know that at the time she had witnessed what was said to me, she felt that what they were saying was wrong, and that she did not feel the same as those who spoke to me so harshly. She wanted me to know that she was sorry for what had happened.
A morning or so later, as I was preparing to meet the public after Richard went to work, I walked into the living room and saw the wall of books stretching the entire length of it, and I burst into tears. I thought I could not bear the burden any longer.
Suddenly, I heard audibly the most beautiful male voice singing a familiar hymn, which I remembered was written by David H. Smith. It was “You May Sing of the Beauty of Mountain and Dale.” Never had I heard, nor have I heard since, a voice so rich and full and perfect. No musical instrument accompanied his singing. I stood enthralled, realizing that something wonderful was happening. The heavenly voice sang:
You may sing of the beauty of mountain and dale,
Of the silvery streamlet and flowers of the vale;
But the place most delightful this earth can afford
Is the place of devotion—the house of the Lord.
You may boast of the sweetness of day’s early dawn,
Of the skies’ softening graces where day is just gone;
But there’s no other season or time can compare
With the house of devotion—the season of prayer.
You may value the friendship of youth and of age,
And select for your comrades the noble and sage;
But the friends that most cheer me on life’s rugged road
Are the friends of my Master— the children of God.
I knew the first three stanzas from memory and remembered each word silently as they were sung aloud. I supposed the singing would end with the third stanza—but to my surprise, the heavenly singer continued with a fourth stanza and then a fifth, which I had never heard before. The words were:
You may talk of your prospects of fame or of wealth,
And the hopes that oft flatter the fav ‘rites of health;
But the hope of bright glory—of heavenly bliss,
Take away ev’ry other, and give me but this.
Ever hail, blessed temple, abode of my Lord!
I will turn to thee often, to hear from thy word;
I will walk to the altar with those that I love,
And delight in the prospect revealed from above.
When the words, “Ever hail, blessed temple, abode of my Lord” were sung, I was given to know that those words referred to the Lord’s true and holy Temple which is yet to be built on the dedicated spot in Independence (not the present one dedicated to peace and justice). The Spirit gave meaning and assurance to the promise that God’s people would yet walk to that altar with those whom they love, to worship their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
I stood motionless throughout, listening and realizing that the singing and the words were celestial. When the singing ceased, the Spirit spoke, informing me that because of the trial which I was passing through, I was permitted to hear the singing of David H. Smith, “the Sweet Singer of Israel.”
I pondered the beautiful words of the last two stanzas, and as soon as possible I set out to find if they had ever been printed. I checked the Saints’ Hymnal, The Hymnal, and Zion’s Praises, but they had only the first three stanzas. At last I found the hymn complete with stanzas four and five in the Saints’ Harp, number 1083—and the words were identical to what I had heard.
Later, Richard and I visited Lynn and Lorraine Smith, and I bore my testimony to them, because I felt that Lynn, being the grandson of David Hyrum, should know of my experience. They thanked me for my testimony, and said that two others had borne testimony to them that they also had been permitted to hear David H. Smith sing.
The spiritual experience of hearing the singing of David H. Smith was very strengthening to me at the time, and it remains a vivid testimony and assurance of the love of our Lord for us as individuals and as His Church. It also has made me aware that we are not alone—that we are a part of a much greater host of Saints, members of His Church, who have gone on before us (Vision 37:17–18).