Faithful and devoted brother
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The 41st annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium was held at BYU Oct. 26-27, with presenters addressing the theme " 'You Shall Have My Word': Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants." Reports on other presentations from the conference can be found in previous editions of the Church News and online.
Recorded in scripture as a man who lived in such a way that "his name may be had in honorable remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever" (Doctrine and Covenants 124:96), Hyrum Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith's older brother, represents someone who strengthened the Church continually, said BYU professor Craig K. Manscill.
From the humblest of beginnings, the contributions and influence of Hyrum Smith reach far beyond his origins and extend into the realms of eternity, Brother Manscill said. Understanding his contributions is essential to understanding the Doctrine and Covenants and history of the Church.
"There was a welded bond between Joseph and his older brother Hyrum. … Not more than six months were they ever apart and Joseph always considered Hyrum his right hand man, his counselor, his confidant in every such way. … They went to Carthage together, to the martyrdom."
The third child of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, Hyrum was born on Feb. 9, 1800, and was more than just an older brother to the Prophet. Described by Joseph as someone who had the mildness of a lamb and integrity as Job, with the meekness and humility of Christ, Hyrum was faithful and devoted to his brother. Hyrum's assistance, influence, wisdom and support to Joseph — as well as the larger Church — helped the gospel come forth during the Restoration.
Looking to the Doctrine and Covenants, it says in scripture that Hyrum was told, "thy heart is opened, and thy tongue loosed; and thy calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church continually" (Doctrine and Covenants 23:3).
"To strengthen the Church continually was a call of service, of devotion and loyalty to a Church which Hyrum had chosen by covenant of baptism to uphold and come what may."
Brother Manscill said his research shows that "the contributions of Hyrum Smith to 'strengthen the Church continually,' as seen through the Doctrine and Covenants, is a worthwhile study that will clearly show that Hyrum Smith deserves to be considered one of the important religious figures that contributed to the success of Joseph Smith and Mormonism."
When the charge came to bring forth the Book of Mormon, Hyrum played an important role in helping that come about. Prior to the printing of the first installment of the 24-page manuscript, Hyrum physically transported the scripture to the press. In order to protect the precious manuscript he held the paper closely under his vest, which he wore under his buttoned coat. Hyrum was involved in returning the plates to the Hill Cumorah, and was a witness to the Book of Mormon.
It was also on one Sunday evening — a day when the press wasn't even open and operating — that Hyrum felt uneasy and decided that he would go check out the printing press. There he found a man tampering with the production and copyright of the manuscript in order to thwart the work from progressing.
In addition to his missionary service, Hyrum was involved in the raising of funds and construction of the Kirtland Temple. He helped prepare the Saints for the spiritual instruction that occurred with its dedication on March 27, 1836.
Hyrum Smith was one of the first six members of the Church, organized on April 6, 1830, in the log home of Peter Whitmer Sr. at Fayette, N.Y. He was a patriarch, member of the First Presidency and Assistant Church President. Hyrum accompanied his younger brother to Liberty Jail, and became a martyr with him at Carthage. "The hand of the Lord was working with Hyrum Smith in the early days of the Church," said Brother Manscill. "He was one of the many the Lord is using to accomplish His purposes."