Christmas in Nauvoo

Christmas in Nauvoo

submitted by Donna Cuillard

Here is the script we used when we did Christmas in Nauvoo a couple of years ago.

“Christmas at the Mansion House in Nauvoo – 1844”

Greeters: Joseph & Emma Smith, Hyrum & Mary Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor,

Opening Hymn – “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” – all verses
Opening Prayer: by invitation
Dinner
Program:

Brigham Young:
Brethren & Sisters – Brother Joseph has asked that I welcome you to the Mansion House this wonderful season of joy and worship. We rejoice that so many of you are here. Out of small beginnings we have come forth. We have endured much tribulation and persecution. From our first settlement in Kirtland we moved across the land and into Far West in Missouri. Persecution increased, mob rule became the norm, many of us were taken prisoners for Christ’s sake and we lived under Military occupation. We were driven from our homes and our lands.
Many of us walked the 150 miles across the muddy plains of Missouri & Iowa coming once again face-to-face with the frozen Mississippi River over which we had crossed only a year before in our journey to find a land where we could
worship freely. Many of you crossed on foot, with all you owned packed on your backs. Your little ones, frozen, hungry, tired and sick, rested in your arms and clung to your skirts. We have left a trail of shallow graves across the land that waited to welcome us. Ever pressing onward, we have been sustained by our testimonies of the restored Gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the building of the Lord’s Kingdom upon the earth.
This is the Christmas Season; a season of joy and love and gratitude. We celebrate the birth of our Lord & Savior. We are members of His Church. We are here tonight in the presence of our beloved Joseph, he who has seen the Savior
and who has communed with Him continually. In spite of our hardships, in spite of our grief, we have much for which to be thankful. While these past few years have brought to us much of persecution and anger, there has also been much
beauty that has come to the earth. When Joseph was only 14 yrs of age, he asked a question that opened the Heavens and changed the world forever. That same year, in Saltzburg, Austria, one of our familiar carols was written. We
have asked Sister Eliza R. Snow to begin our evening program by favoring us with this beautiful hymn.

Eliza R. Snow: “Still, Still, Still” – Karen Elder

Eliza R. Snow:
Our little Sister Elizabeth Richards has also prepared a song for us this
evening.

Jennifer Sugar:
My name is Elizabeth Richards. I was born in 1829 in Pennsylvania, just two
years after the Golden Plates had been delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith
by the Angel Moroni.
1829 was an important year for the restoration of the Gospel – The Aaronic &
Melchezidek Priesthoods were restored and also the ordinance of baptism was
restored. The translation of the Book of Mormon was also completed that year.
The following year in 1830, the Church was officially organized and Emma was
commanded to bring together a book of hymns that would be delightful to the
Lord. Persecution began to increase and that same year Joseph and Emma moved west
into Ohio. No matter how hard it became, each Christmas we were still able to
think about the birth of the Savior and to remember that night so long ago.

“The First Noel”- first verse, Jenny Sugar, congregation joins in for
remaining verses.

Lucy Mack Smith: Marie Trammell:
My name is Lucy Mack Smith. I was born on the 8th of July 1776 in New
Hampshire. On the 24th of Jan 1796 I was united in marriage with Joseph Smith, Sr.
Our son, Joseph, is the great Prophet of the restoration. We rejoice that he
and our beloved Hyrum are free from jail and are with us here this evening. We
joined the Church in the early days of the restoration. Many are the trials
we have been called to pass through.
I witnessed the dark night of March 24, 1832, when an angry mob broke into
Joseph & Emma’s home. They drug our dear prophet outside and tarred and
feathered him. Their little boy, Joseph Murdock, was exposed to the cold and died a
few days later. The very day after being tarred & feathered, I heard Joseph
preach a sermon on brotherly love.
When Joseph & Hyrum were taken into the enemy camp at Far West, they were
being taken away in a wagon. I pressed through the crowd to see them, but could
not get close to the wagon. Finally, in desperation, I cried out, “I am the
mother of the Prophet; is there not a gentleman here who will assist me to that
wagon, that I may take a last look at my children and speak to them once more
before I die?” Upon hearing this, one individual volunteered to make a
pathway through the army. When we reached the wagon, the same man spoke to Joseph &
Hyrum and told them their mother had come to see them. The wagon was
covered with a strong cloth and nailed down so close that they could barely get
their hands through. Joseph crowded his hand through between the cover and the
wagon and we caught hold of it. Upon grasping my hand he said,” God bless you,
Mother!” What more comforting or pleasing sound can be heard by a Mother’s
ears! We have been driven from Kirtland to Far West and then from Far West into
our beautiful Nauvoo. We have labored to build the kingdom wherever we have
traveled. I have seen my children, my beloved husband and my parents in the
grave. I have seen my children suffering through the most difficult of
tribulations and persecutions. And, yet, in spite of all that we have been through, I am
thankful for my testimony of the Prophet Joseph and for the restoration of
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his teachings and his example. He continually
reminds us to love our enemies and to be mindful of our Lord and Savior. At this
Christmas season I am thankful for the precious life of our Savior and His
goodness. The testimony which I have given is true, and will stand forever; and
the same will be my testimony in the day of God Almighty.

“What Child is This?” – Sister

Young Man:
My name is James Clayton. I was born May 25, 1824 in Farrington, England. I
sailed on the ship “Hope” which sailed from Liverpool, England on 5 Feb 1842.
I traveled with my parents and 7 brothers & sisters. We landed at New Orleans
in April of 1842. From there we made the journey to join the Saints. When I
was three years old and still living in the old country, a baby boy was born
who would one day compose the music to a hymn that we sing to celebrate
Christmas. The hymn is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. The words of this hymn
have great meaning to us. Verse three speaks of the anger that has plagued
us constantly, verse four reminds us that “God is not dead nor doth He Sleep.”.
And the refrain, “Peace on earth, good will to men” is that for which we
pray every day. Won’t you join in together and sing this hymn of praise and
hope!

“I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” Hymn #214 – Everyone

Mary Fielding Smith – Invite Primary Children to come up and sing.

Primary Children: “Away In A Manger”

My name is Mary Fielding Smith, wife of Hyrum Smith. Shortly after I was
baptized I arrived in Kirtland from Canada in the dark summer of 1837. Some of
the brethren met in the temple fasting and praying on behalf of the Prophet.
Soon after, the Saints gathered and Hyrum conducted the Sunday meeting. He
asked us if we did not then feel as humble as little children. He assured us that
he for one did . . . He was then affected to tears and had to sit down for a
short time to give vent to his feelings, after which he again arose and begged
the congregation to excuse his weaknesses. Before he concluded, he seemed to
be filled with the Spirit and power of God. In March of 1838 after Hyrum
and I had been married only 4 months, we had to leave Kirtland and make the
journey to Far West in Missouri. Hyrum’s first wife, Jerusha, and two of their
little children had already passed away. Our household consisted of Hyrum’s
children Lovina age 10, Hyrum Jr. Age 5, Jerusha age 2, and Sarah only a few
months old. I, myself, was in the second month of pregnancy. After many
privations and much fatigue, we reached Far West. The journey took us two grueling
months. When we arrived in Far West, Hyrum said to me that he “fondly hoped,
and anticipated the pleasure of spending a season in peace.” But by Christmas
of that year, the Extermination Order had been issued, the massacre at Haun’s
Mill had taken place, mob violence had caused burnings, pitched battles and
sorrows that I cannot describe. On Nov 1, 1838, a company of militia came for
Hyrum and Joseph and took them to Liberty jail. I was only 13 days away from
delivering my first child. Oh, how I worried about my sweet Hyrum! From
Liberty jail Hyrum wrote to me and included a message to the children He said,
“Little John, Little Hyrum, Little Jerusha, Little Sarah, you must be good little
children till father comes home.” He signed the note to me, “Yours in the
bonds of Love.”

Our Christmas celebration was subdued that year and we remembered the seasons
of peace when we could all celebrate together. One of our favorite hymns
gave us great comfort.

“Oh Holy Night” – Small group

Joseph Smith:
I have asked my brother Hyrum to favor us with his testimony.

Hyrum Smith:
I was born at Tunbridge, Vermont on 9 Feb 1800. My calling has been to
support, encourage and protect Brother Joseph, to bear testimony and to be a
servant of the Most High; a call which I accepted with gratitude and humility.
Most of my time has been spent in preaching the Gospel wherever we could find any
who would listen.” In November of 1826, while living in New York, I married
Jerusha Barden. We had 5 children. Our little Mary died when she was 3 years
of age, and our little Hyrum died when he was only 9. Only 10 days after our
little Sarah was born, Jerusha died while I was on a Mission to Missouri.
Shortly thereafter I joined in the marriage covenant with Sister Mary Fielding,
who has been a constant helpmeet and companion.
In early June of 1833, the First Presidency, Joseph among them, saw the
Kirtland Temple in vision. Immediately upon hearing this, I picked up my scythe
and began clearing weeds from the Temple site. Two days later we began digging
the foundation. I was among those who recruited and led a contingent of Saints
from Michigan to Missouri. This became known as Zion’s Camp. Joseph & I
were taken prisoner from Far West and sent to Liberty jail. There we “endured
almost everything but death, from the cold, damp and dirty cell and the wretched
food.” Four months after our incarceration, we left our dismal cell and
stepped into the bright sunlight. My thoughts at that time were, “I thank God that
I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had
seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had born testimony to.” This
testimony has only become stronger with the passing of time. Let us then
rejoice in this Gospel of Gladness. Let us offer up our prayers in thanksgiving and
praise. Some of my brethren of the Twelve and I have felt to join in this
grand season of celebration.
Brother Woodruff, Brother Taylor & Brother Pratt . . .

“Angels We Have Heard on High”, “We Three Kings” – barbershop quartet

Joseph Smith: –
Beloved Brethren & Sisters: Emma & I wish to welcome you this evening.
Having you with us and hearing your testimonies causes us to rejoice in the
goodness of the Lord and His blessings to His people. Emma has asked if she could
share some of the feelings of her heart with you this evening.

Emma Smith:
Dear friends. My heart is full this evening. Our beloved Joseph & Hyrum
have been freed and have come home to us. Your love and friendship has sustained
us and given us much strength. You have allowed us to live with you and given
us shelter during the storms of life. You have helped us and protected us.
I know that you love Joseph. He is a kind and gentle man and a faithful and
devoted leader. He is filled with courage and strength. From Liberty jail he
wrote to me, “We are prisoners for Christ’s sake and for no other causes. Oh
God grant that I may have the privilege of seeing once more my lovely family in
the enjoyment of the sweets of liberty and solace of life; to press them to
my bosom and kiss their lovely cheeks would fill my heart with unspeakable
gratitude. Tell the children that I am alive and that I shall come and see them
before long. Comfort their hearts all you can, and try to be comforted
yourself all you can. Oh, my affectionate Emma, I want you to remember that I am a
true and faithful friend to you and the children forever. My heart is entwined
around yours forever and ever, Oh may God bless you all.”
Even in his darkest hour, Joseph was concerned for the welfare of others.
We have endured every species of fatigue and hardship from month to month and
from year to year with unflinching courage, zeal and patience. We have been
tossed upon the seas of uncertainty, survived the storms of persecution and been
buffeted by the rage of men. But amidst it all, there have been times of joy
and peace. Each winter we have enjoyed sleigh rides for entertainment as well
as for travel. We made our sleighs by placing the wagon on runners, hot
stones and buffalo robes kept us warm. We hung bells on the reins and we made a
joyful sound as we journeyed across the snow. We love music and enjoy singing
church hymns. We have spent our days in service to mankind. We are grateful
for each one of you and for your sustained faith in the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Will you join with me in singing one of our favorite Christmas hymns,

“Joy To The World”

Joseph Smith:
Thank you, Emma. And thank you dear brothers & sisters. The feelings of my
heart this evening remind me of the joy I felt last year when I was in exile
and a band of dear friends came to visit me on an island in the river and
brought my Emma to see me. How glorious were my feelings when I met the faithful
and friendly band. What unspeakable delight and transports of joy swelled my
bosom when I took by the hand, my beloved Emma, my wife, even the wife of my
youth and the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I
contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through.
Oh, what a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, undaunted,
firm and unwavering – unchangeable, affectionate Emma. And dear Brother
Hyrum, who next took me by the hand. Thought I to myself, Brother Hyrum, what a
faithful heart you have got! Oh may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings
upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul. O, how
many are the sorrows we have shared together. So many have toiled in my
behalf. I hope to see you all again, that I may toil for you, and administer to
your comfort also. You shall not want for a friend while I live; my heart shall
love those, and my hands shall toil for those, who love me and toil for me,
and I shall ever be found faithful to them. We have heard many powerful
testimonies this evening,
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of Him, this is
the testimony, last of all, which we give of Him; That He lives! For we saw
him, even on the right hand of God, and we heard the voice bearing record that He
is the Only Begotten of the Father, that by Him and through Him, and of Him,
the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons
and daughters unto God.
Brethren & Sisters – May the Spirit of the Lord bless you this Christmas and
always, and may you continue in the faith, never wavering, enduring to the end
in all things, that you may be found worthy to sit at the right hand of God.
My blessings upon you until we shall gather again.
We have given much to bring forth the Book of Mormon. From that glorious
book let us read,

“I looked and held the . . . city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I
beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And (the) angel . .
said unto me: Behold the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of
God, after the manner of the flesh.

And . . I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had
been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time . . I beheld the virgin
again, bearing a child in her arms and the angel said unto me: Behold the
Lamb of God, yea even the Son of the Eternal Father
(Nephi abt 600 BC, 1 Nephi 11:13-21)

“But. behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that
day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might
know that their faith had not been vain.
Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers,
that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except
the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.
Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this
wickedness of his people his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the
earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were
about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their
fathers.
And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day;
and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand,
and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I unto the
world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused
to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled,
according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun
there was no darkness;
And it came to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words
of the prophets.
And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the
word.

Shepherd Reading:
Reading from Luke:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar
Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into
Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . .
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished
that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling
clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord
shone round about them; and they were sore afraid
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is
Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,
the shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see
this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying
in a manger.
And whey they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was
told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them
by the shepherds.

But, Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

~ Luke 2:1-19
_______________

“Mary’s Lullabye” – Sister

“Silent Night”

Closing Prayer – by invitation