Here is a readers’ theater that could be presented at a family home evening during July. Either make copies of this page for those who take part, or share this page. Adapt the parts to fit the number of people in your family. Ask your father or an older boy to read the part of William Clayton. If possible, have someone play “Come, Come, Ye Saints” on the violin or piano and have everyone sing along.
First Reader: Many of the wonderful stories we have about pioneers were recorded in their personal journals. Because William Clayton kept a journal, we are able to learn more about him and about other early members of the Church.
Second Reader: William Clayton joined the Church in England in the early 1800s and was the leader of the first company of Saints who journeyed from England to Nauvoo. He was a trusted secretary of the Prophet Joseph Smith and, on occasion, transcribed revelations under the Prophet’s direction. William Clayton was a gifted violinist, and he entertained for meetings and parties. He helped build the Nauvoo Concert Hall.
Third Reader: In the fall of 1845, after the Prophet Joseph had been martyred and the Saints were preparing to move west, Brigham Young asked William Clayton to purchase musical instruments and to organize a brass band. The band’s music lifted the hearts of the Saints at their evening camps. Sometimes the band performed concerts at settlements in Iowa in exchange for grain, supplies, or money for the Saints’ journey.
First Reader: We have invited [name] to take the part of William Clayton in recreating a scene from pioneer history.
Brother Clayton is sitting by a campfire somewhere in lowa, but a large share of his heart is back in Nauvoo with his wife, Diantha, who had to remain behind. It is late at night on Wednesday, April 15, 1846 …
William Clayton: Ah, [Yawns] this has been a long day for me, but I cannot sleep tonight until I finish writing in my journal. Let’s see, have I forgotten anything?
[Reads from journal] “Last night I got up to watch, there being no guard. The cattle and horses [were] breaking into the tents and wagons. … This morning Ellen Kimball came to me and wishes me much joy. She said Diantha [my wife] has a son. I told her I was afraid it was not so, but she said Brother Pond had received a letter. I went over to Pond’s and he read that she had a fine fat boy on the 30th … , but she was very sick with ague and mumps. Truly I feel to rejoice … but feel sorry to hear of her sickness. … In the evening the band played. … We had a very pleasant time playing and singing until about twelve o’clock. … This morning I composed [the words to] a new song—‘All is well.’ [Plays “Come, Come, Ye Saints” on violin or reads first verse] I feel to thank my heavenly father for my boy and pray that he will spare and preserve his life and that of his mother and so order it that we may soon meet again.” [Kneels and bows head]
Second Reader: The words of “All Is Well,” written to an English melody, gave encouragement to the pioneers. Soon it became almost a theme song. It was decided in the camps that when anyone started singing it, everyone would join in.
Third Reader: “Come, Come, Ye Saints” has been sung by Latter-day Saints for over a hundred years. It has been performed by the Tabernacle Choir in concerts all over the world. People of every nationality understand the message of hope contained in the words of the hymn: “All is well! All is well!”
Imagine that we are at the pioneer camp when William Clayton first taught his new song. Please join in singing this inspiring pioneer hymn. [All sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints”]
Invite a man (a violinist, if possible) to prepare the part of William Clayton. He should memorize the sentences before the journal entry, give an expressive reading to the journal entry, and play the melody on the violin.
Other inspiring stories relating to this hymn could be told. See “Song of the Pioneers,” Children’s Friend. July 1965, page 37; “Happy Day! All Is Well,” Sharing Time Resource Manual, page 97; and Stories of Our Mormon Hymns, J. Spencer Cornwall, page 17.
Discuss Abraham 1:31 [Abr. 1:31] in relation to pioneer and present-day journals.
By William Clayton