Our Readers Write

President Joseph Fielding Smith

From the many letters that have poured into our offices since the distribution of the August issue in which the life of the late President Joseph Fielding Smith was memorialized, we print the following:

On the Evening of President Smith’s Leaving

To watch the sunset,
We climbed into the hills,
But the sun looked as if it might go down
In shifts from blue, to gray, to darkness,
And leave the valley to watch bright stars made dim with
Sabbath smoke.
However, high on the wind from the deserts beyond Moab
Blew in thin ice clouds,
Dust over the western hills,
Bringing sage, spice, cinnamon, cedar oil
In long processions like the ones which carried Jacob Israel,
Mother Sarah, Father Joseph home;
Ruddy gold over the salt wastes,
Desolate places to be crossed;
But the sky was filled with trains of red prophetic promise,
Darkened only to more royal and more somber scarlet,
Purple of the King of only kings of kings;
And we cannot say we wept with only sadness,
That our tears came only but of grief.

Stephen O. Taylor Provo, Utah

Joseph Fielding Smith

This day a door has softly closed,
An earthly mission now fulfilled,
His fruitful life of faith and love disclosed—
This spirit embodied in sweet humilitude, God-will’d.
A heart and soul endowed with kindly gentleness
Revealed his joy in every living thing,
The hurt, the suffering he never ceased to bless,
And to the sorrowing, comfort and mercy bring. …
The door swings wide to that celestial realm—
As a prophet walks the way.

Helen Reed Moffitt Pocatello, Idaho

As the shadows pass across the day,
As the embers slowly fade,
So a kindred spirit passes,
Released from this ephemeral frame.
A prophet dear, of men revered,
Has passed to his reward.
Yet in our minds his memory finds
Sacred teachings of the Lord.
Like Joseph of old, steadfast and bold,
He clung to the iron rod.
Fearless of sin and powerful in faith,
A prophet, wrought of God.

John L. Cobb Bethesda, Maryland


Majestic and humble,
The Lord’s anointed sits
In his chair.
The young-old, eyes
Which have looked
Forward and backward
In time
A sign is released
From his heart, and
His earthly labors
Are finished.
He rests for a season.

Tania James Salt Lake City

May I share an example of the kind of humor President Smith represented. Some time back he called at a reception honoring Sister Holbrook and me on the occasion of our golden wedding anniversary. He had married us in the Salt Lake Temple on February 19, 1919. While greeting us he turned to Sister Holbrook and said, “Sister Holbrook, have you ever forgiven me?”

Ward C. Holbrook Bountiful, Utah

I recall receiving a letter from him. I was a person he did not know, just another of the millions in the Church; but I had written him concerning a problem that seemed to fill the entire world at the time. This was during the time when he wrote his Improvement Era column and received letters from Saints. His counsel, written in longhand, was plain and simple, to the point. In fact, as I read, it was almost as though he were sitting there before me, taking a personal interest in the affair. I can only say I thank God for his tender heart, which took time to answer my plea for advice and counsel.

Elmer “Bud” Beers

It is fitting that on the Lord’s Sabbath day, one of his trusted and devoted servants should return home after serving long and well on earth. President Smith will undoubtedly by now have had perhaps the warmest welcome of his life among friends and relatives beyond the veil. For his part, passing from one estate to another is not really a sad occasion. Few men have been better prepared to submit an accounting of their services rendered to the Lord and to mankind.

There is, of course, some sadness for those of us left. We are obliged for a season to be estranged from his companionship and leadership in righteousness and truth. However, that same influence and power that prompted and sustained the actions of President Smith during a long and useful life is still very much a real and vital force among men here on earth, through the administration of the Savior. That same sustaining spirit and power that supported prophets and men of God in this and other times of trial and trouble will continue to sustain willing hearts and noble minds in the preservation of truth and virtue among the inhabitants of the globe.

Living as we do under a divinely inspired and operated organization, succession of leadership does not result in the same type of conflict that often exists among the organizations of men due to the fact that the Savior was the leader of our band before President Smith’s death, and he will continue to be our leader.

We at this time can humbly thank our God for the extended loan of his loyal servant. At the occasion of his passing, we bid him a farewell and pray that one day we too may be able to stand before our Maker and report our own role among men as nobly and honestly as President Smith will have the opportunity of doing.

Merrill Holton Glenn Brigham City, Utah

Conference Issue

May I say how much we members in Britain value the Church magazines, enabling us to keep in contact with the Saints throughout the world and to be able to read the messages of Church leaders. I can’t relax until I have devoured every word it contains.

Janet Dunne Leeds, Yorkshire, England

Often I’ve read something for hours and not gained what seemed like a minute’s worth of knowledge. But in reading the Ensign for an entire afternoon, I’ve gained what seemed like years of understanding, enlightenment, and a reminder that my ignorance is sharp and that I have only budding knowledge of the gospel.

Elizabeth Morris Reno, Nevada

The July conference edition of the Ensign is a masterpiece in reporting the conference. It is such a pleasure to see a magazine built around the important words of the present-day prophets of God. I want to thank you for the improved quality of the Ensign.

Mrs. J. Vance Miller Idaho Falls, Idaho

Congratulations to your photographer [Eldon Linschoten] for his inspirational photographs. One needs only to look at them to feel the spirit of unity that comes through the gospel.

Mrs. Ferris M. Johnson Salt Lake City

Even though there have been many times I have wanted to do so, I have never written to express my appreciation for the excellent quality of the Ensign. I find the articles and information in each month’s issue to be of tremendous value in my home as well as in my profession. I was very disappointed, though, to find that the April conference report was not in the June issue.

Don Beesley Fullerton, California

General conference reports will now be printed in the July and January issues.

The Holy Land Issue

I would like to say that I enjoyed the issue on the Holy Land [May] but report an error on page 63. The caption to the picture on the right-hand side says that men are gathered at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. No, they are gathered for morning prayers, and they are wearing little boxes containing their prayers, as your caption correctly notes.

Tobias Levy Springfield, Illinois

“Tin Can Saints”

I must say how much I enjoyed the article “The Thirty-Three Saints of Tin Can Island” [June]. I was fascinated to learn of the members on Tin Can Island and of their faith. I especially enjoyed the piece about their saving money to go to the temple. It made me realize how fortunate we are to have the London Temple just fifty or sixty miles away, and to have transport and money to be able to visit the temple.

It is always interesting to hear about Saints in different countries and cities, and this article interested me because of the tremendous faith and perseverance that those Tongan brothers and sisters had.

Margaret Sinclair Cambridge, England

“Judge Not …”

In his article “Judge Not, That Ye Be Not Judged” [July], President Tanner comments on a Church member criticizing a bishop. In a Protestant community where I once lived, there was a term, “having roast preacher for dinner.” There is a tradition in some Protestant neighborhoods to not criticize the minister and to not “have roast preacher for dinner.”

In our church meetings we have inspiring talks, but sometimes this inspiration is spoiled by someone making a critical remark about another church. Then the inspiration you have felt turns sour. I believe all of us need to be sure that we don’t go home from church and have “roast bishop” or “roast branch president” for Sunday dinner. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Marjorie B. Carriker Asheville, North Carolina

Sister, Not Mrs.

May I express a sentiment that I believe ought to be said to many people. Wherever I have lived I have enjoyed the practice of calling the men brothers and the women sisters. Occasionally, some of us forget this gospel practice, and it cuts me to the core to hear us announce over the pulpit “Mrs.” and “Mr.” I am proud to be a Mrs. to the world, but when I’m with Church members and in the Church, I much more love to be called Sister. There is such a close feeling and warmth in being called a sister.

Sister Jean Sysert Logan, Utah

Sing a New Song

My wife and I have just returned from attending our regional music festival—an hour and a half of music, choral and instrumental. It was so thrilling we had to share our feelings with others. All of our auxiliaries are doing a marvelous work. May they all continue to grow.

Marriner Swensen Oakland, California

“Books of Mormon”?

Please settle a friendly family argument. What are the plurals of “Book of Mormon,” and “The Pearl of Great Price”?

Ann Hansen Preston, Idaho

There is no plural for Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, just as there is no plural for the title of any book. Use the phrase “copies of” when referring to more than one copy of any of these books of scripture. Thus: The missionaries sold twelve copies of the Book of Mormon at the openhouse (not twelve Books of Mormon).