The Circle of (Latter-day Saint) Life

The Circle of (Latter-day Saint) Life August 4, 2019


The fourth temple in the Salt Lake Valley
The Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple   (Photograph from


Mine has been a weekend full of transitions.  I’ve written here already about attending the funeral of our good friend Arnie Green.  One thing that I liked about it was singing a fourth verse of “How Firm a Foundation,” which I don’t believe that I’ve ever sung or heard before:


When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.


There is another hymn that would have been apropos.  It was written in 1901, I believe, in honor of Dr. Karl G. Maeser (1828-1901), the German-born convert who effectively founded the Church Educational System and who was a vital figure in the history of Brigham Young University.  Between 1948 and 1985, it was included in the official Church hymnal:


Come, lay his books and papers by,
He shall not need them more,
The ink shall dry upon his pen,
So softly close the door.
His tired head, with locks of white,
And like the winter’s sun
Hath lain to peaceful rest to-night –
The teacher’s work is done.

His work is done; no care to-night
His tranquil rest shall break.
Sweet dreams, and with the morning light
On other shores he’ll wake.
His noble thoughts, his wise appeal,
His works that battles won;
But God doth know the loss we feel –
The teacher’s work is done.

We feel it, while we miss the hand
That made us brave to bear,
Perchance, in that near-touching land
His work did wait him there,
Perchance, when death its change hath wrought,
And this brief race is run,
His voice again shall teach. Who thought
The teacher’s work was done?


This morning, we attended our ward’s sacrament meeting.  After years of service, our bishopric was released — my wife and I, by the way, are the assigned “ministers” to our now ex-bishop and his family — and a new bishop was called, with two new counselors.


Then, leaving the meeting early, we drove northward to the rough vicinity of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, where I was privileged to stand in the circle for the blessing of a nephew’s new daughter.  (There was also a baby blessing in our own ward this morning.)


Comings and goings.  Exits and entrances.  Arrivals and departures.  Sunrise.  Sunset.


If I were ever to write a basic textbook on “Mormonism” — several non-LDS academics who teach survey courses on world and/or American religions have told me that such a thing is needed — it would include a chapter on “The Latter-day Saint Life Cycle.”  And that chapter would include, among other things, a discussion of Latter-day Saint baby blessings, funerals, callings, and releases.  Such transitions make up the substance of everyday life for members of the Church



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