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SUNDAY SCHOOL JUBILEE.
SEMI-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SUNDAY SCHOOLS OF THE CHURCH.
The general jubilee celebration commemorative of the establishment of the Sunday schools of the Latter-day Saints, in the Rocky Mountains, was held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sunday evening, October 8, 1899, this year being the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the first Sunday school in Utah.
The large Tabernacle was filled to its utmost capacity, before the opening hour, chiefly by Sabbath school workers, and very many people were unable to gain ingress. In addition to the general decorations of the building, there were placed in promiment positions large portraits of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, and Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow; also a heroic bust picture of Richard Ballantyne; life size portraits of General Superintendent George Q. Cannon, President Joseph F. Smith, Elders George Goddard, John Morgan and most of the members of the Quorum of the Apostles and Deseret Sunday School Union Board. Besides the general and Stake officers of the Sunday school organization in places reserved, there were also seats reserved for and occupied by those who had been members of the first Sunday school, those who had been Sunday school workers forty-five, forty, thirty-five, thirty and twenty-five years, and for the husbands, wives, and children of members of the first Sunday school, and reciters, from different nations, of the Articles of Faith, prize winners, awarding committees, the blind and deaf representatives; also the families of the late Elders Richard Ballantyne, George Goddard and John Morgan.
On the stand were, of the general authorites of the Church: Presidents Lorenzo Snow, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith; Patriarch John Smith; members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Teasdale, Anthon H. Lund, Matthias F. Cowley, Abraham O. Woodruff, and Rudger Clawson; members of the First Council of Seventies, Seymour B. Young, C. D. Fjeldsted, George Reynolds, J. Golden Kimball, Rulon S. Wells and Joseph W. McMurrin, and Presiding Bishop Wm. B.
Of the Deseret Sunday School Union officers there were: George Q. Cannon, general superintendent; Karl G. Maeser, assistant general superintendent; George Reynolds, general treasurer; George D. Pyper, general secretary, and Leo Hunsaker, assistant general secretary; of the members of the Sunday School Union general board, George Q. Cannon, Karl G. Maeser, George Reynolds, Thomas C. Griggs, Joseph W. Summerhays, Levi W. Richards, Francis M. Lyman, Heber J. Grant, Joseph M. Tanner, George Teasdale, and Joseph F. Smith; aids to the general board. L. John Nuttall, James W. Ure, John F. Bennett, John M. Mills, Wm. B. Dougall, Wm. D. Owen and Seymour B. Young.
General Superintendent George Q. Cannon presided.
At 7 p. m. Held's Military band, which had kindly volunteered its services for the occasion, and which occupied a place in front of the choir seats, played an overture by Suppe, "Poet and Peasant."
At 7:20 p. m. General Superintendent
George Q. Cannon announced the opening hymn, "Our God, we Raise to Thee," which was sung by the Tabernacle choir and the congregation, under the leadership of Prof. Evan Stephens, Prof. Jos. J. Daynes being the organist.
Prayer was offered by Assistant General Superintendent Karl G. Maeser.
The Tabernacle choir sang the hymn, "For the Strength of the Hills we Bless Thee."
The roll of Stakes in the Church was then called by Secretary George D. Pyper, there being present representatives from all the forty Stakes of Zion, as follows: Alberta, Bannock, Bear Lake, Beaver Bingham, Boxelder, Cache, Cassia, Davis, Emery, Fremont, Juab, Juarez, Kanab, Malad, Maricopa, Millard, Morgan, Oneida, Panguitch, Parowan, Pocatello, Salt Lake, San Juan, San Luis, Sanpete, Sevier, Snowflake, St. George, St. John, St. Joseph, Star Valley, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Wasatch, Utah, Wayne, Weber, and Woodruff. GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT GEO. Q. CANNON then spoke as follows:
"It is gratifying to know that every Stake has a representative here this evening.
"I see that I am on the program for some introductory remarks. The time is so short that what I shall say will be very brief.
"I am sure that everyone present must be profoundly impressed with this assemblage of people this evening. Of the many sights we have had of a
gratifying character, connected with the Sunday schools, this certainly excels them all. It is exceedingly delightful to see the interest that is taken by the whole people in this grand work. The Sunday school has become an institution that is very dear to the hearts of this entire people. Every day that passes impresses its importance more and more on the minds of all. Every parent that has right conceptions concerning the future of their children, feels a deep and abiding interest in the Sunday school. The Sunday School Union board has very little occasion to find fault with the management of the
Sunday schools, or with the lack of interest manifested by those who ought to take interest in it. Everybody recognizes the value of the Sunday school, and of its teachings, but there remains a great deal yet to be done. As Sunday school workers we should not be content until we have brought all the children of the land into the Sunday school and under its influence, so that these little fellows that now grow wild may be humanized and made to feel the responsibility that will rest upon them when they grow to manhood. I am sure that everyone that labors in the Sunday school feels the importance of training their children and getting them to observe the Sabbath day and to refrain from visiting the street corners, behaving rudely and boisterously, or going fishing or hunting on the day which has been set apart by the Almighty for His worship, and which ought to be sacred in all our hearts. Our children should be impressed with the sacredness of this day. I hope to see the time when we shall have less of this unruly element in our streets and in our homes, and when our children shall become students in the Sunday school. The Sunday school is dear to the hearts of those children who do attend. They feel interested in it, and the influence of our teachings in the Sunday school is going to make, it may be said, a new generation. It is but a few years from childhood to manhood, and in our hands, Sunday school teachers and superintendents, is the formation of the character of the rising generation. As we impress them with the proper feelings and thoughts and teach them correct habits, so will they grow up to manhood and womanhood, and their influence will be felt for good wherever they
"I pray God to bless this Sunday school movement, to bless every man and woman who labors in this cause and who devotes himself and herself to the promotion of righteousness in the midst of the rising generation. I ask this blessing in the name of Jesus. Amen."
ELDER FRANCIS M. LYMAN read the following paper:
"Today we celebrate the Jubilee of the
establishment of Sunday Schools in these mountain vales. In attempting to briefly review the progress and development of the Sunday School cause among the Latter-day Saints for half a century past we cannot hope to more than glance at the most prominent events and refer to a few of the pioneers and leaders in this great work. Fifty years ago the Saints, after being driven from their homes in the East, were settled here in peace but not in a land of plenty. In search of that peace and religious liberty they had come to a land dry and barren, a land that was forbidding to all who did not put their trust in the true and living God, and show forth their faith by hard and persistent toil. Yet amid the struggles and privations of pioneer existence they did not forget the education of their children. But how meagre were their facilIties for education then compared with those we now possess! More than three years had passed since they left their beautiful city of Nauvoo, on the banks of the Mississippi, and set their faces towards the wilderness to find a haven of rest in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains. All their supplies had to be hauled by team more than a thousand miles. Their houses were necessarily small and poorly lighted. They had but few books; and, as a people, their numbers were small.
"While the Saints were in the midst of these adverse circumstances, Brother Richard Ballantyne, then in the prime of life, saw and felt the need of religious instruction being imparted to the young. When he arrived here in 1848 he settled in the Old Fort, and while still there, in the month of May, 1849, he formed the purpose of starting a Sunday school for the education of the youth in the principles of the Gospel and a knowledge of the scriptures. In speaking of this he said, "That was the main purpose,-to teach them the Gospel, because I felt it was very precious to me and I thought it would be precious to them, and it was my duty to do that.' Having no suitable place in which to carry out his noble design, he determined to build one. He had a city lot in the Fourteenth Ward,-now designated as the northeast corner of First West and Third South Streets. He
moved his two wagons there and about the last of May commenced to gather materials and erect a building that was to be his home and school house. From then until early winter he labored to accomplish this purpose. The rock was hauled from Red Butte, and adobes from the old adobe yard, the lumber from Mill Creek canyon, which he paid for by hauling the logs on shares. Excepting the doors and windows he did the work of building with his own hands. In front of his lot he placed a neat pole fence. Not unmindful of the good influence of pleasant surroundings and with all other labors before him, in the spring he procured cottonwood trees from City Creek canyon and planted some for shade in front of the lot and others for a small grove near his future school and home. The house, when finished, was built of adobes, with a dirt roof, the windows and paneled doors were painted; in size it was 18 feet wide by 20 feet long outside, besides a smaller room used by the family for a living room. The school room, for those times, was well lighted. The seats were long benches, made of slabs, extending the width of the room.
"On the morning of the second Sunday in December, 1849, all was ready. He with his wife and babe and the members of the school were gathered there. In their presence he solemnly dedicated by prayer the room for the purpose for which it was designed. The Sunday school numbered about 50 pupils, among whom were members of the families of Apostles John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Parley P. Pratt, Franklin D. Richards, and others. They furnished their own books. The lessons were from the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, mostly from the New Testament. The children were willing to attend. They were seldom absent although the school began at 8 o'clock in the morning, closing in time for those who wished to attend the general meeting of the Saints. His Bishop, John Murdock, to whom he was second counselor, was in hearty accord with him in all his efforts. He carried on the school himself successfully for about a year. In the meantime the Fourteenth Ward had erected a meeting house, and in the
fall of 1850 the Sunday school moved into it. Bro. Ballantyne was the Superintendent, assisted by Bro. Joseph Horne, Bro. Phineas Richards and several teachers. When Bro. Ballantyne left on a three years' mission to Hindustan, in 1852, Bro. Horne succeeded him as superintendent of the Sunday school.
"In succeeding years, many others inspired with a similar interest in the education of the children, became pioneers or leaders in Sunday school work in other wards and settlements. Bro. Ballantyne, after his return home, organized a Sunday school in 1856, in the Fifteenth Ward, which he thought was one of the best he had ever seen, because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon it, and especially in the spirit of testimony that rested upon the pupils. Thus other Surday schools were organized and maintained amid the many privations, hardships and charges that marked the early settlements of the Saints. With the increase of population and facilities for education the interest in Sunday schools has grown until a ward is not considered complete without one or more live Sunday schools in it.
"On the 4th of November, 1867, a meeting of those interested in the Sunday schools of the Saints was held at the Thirteenth Ward Assembly Hall, Salt Lake City, for the purpose of organizing a Sunday School Union. This was the first meeting held for that purpose. There not being so many present was anticipated, the meeting adjourned until the 11th of that month at the same place. On the latter occasion there was a large attendance; among those present were Presidents Brigham Young and Daniel H. Wells, also Apostles George A. Smith. Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Brigham Young Jr. At this meeting the first steps were taken towards a permanent organization, and Elder George Q. Cannon was elected president, with a secretary and two corresponding secretaries. A committee of three were also appointed to examine and decide upon books suitable for use in our Sunday schools.
"During the meeting President Brigham Young spoke at considerable length, instructing those present on
various points connected with the Sunday school movement, and the cause of education in general. He was followed by Elder George A. Smith and George Q. Cannon. The latter stated that Elder David O. Calder had kindly volunteered to teach the tonic sol-fa system of music to the Sunday school teachers, as soon as a sufficient number came forward to form a class.
"It was not until 1872 that the Sunday School Union assumed a more compact and definite shape. In the June of that year a committee, appointed at a meeting of Sunday school officers and teachers, and composed of Brothers George Goddard, John Morgan and John B. Maiben waited upon General Superintendent George Q. Cannon, presented the minutes of the meeting for his approval and invited his counsel and co-operation in bringing about a wider concert of action to give greater impetus and solidity to the efforts of the Union. The result was that from that time the efforts and labors of the Union assumed a more practical shape, and thereafter monthly meetings of the teachers and superintendents were held in Salt Lake City with great regularity; at first in the City Hall, then in the 14th Ward Assembly Rooms, afterwards in the Council House, and still later in the Assembly Hall. These meetings continued to grow in proportions and interest until they were among the most popular and most largely attended of any of the assemblies of the people of Zion.
"In reading the minutes of the regu'ar meetings of the Union, it is exceedingly interesting to note that the same subjects that are still considered among the most important were then canvassed with much vigor, and that the instuctions given were, to a very great extent, the same, slightly differing according to altered circumstances, as those that it is still found necessary to inculcate. The subjects of punctuality, the grading of the schools, prizes, rewards, the necessity of readers adjusted to the use of the Sabbath schools of the Saints, of a collection of hymns and songs composed by members of the Church, with suitable music; of a primary catechism, and the publication of other suitable works, keeping better registers of attendance,
improved records, correct and punctual It was directed that this should be done reports, selection of suitable books for Sunday school libraries, securing larger average attendance, and the use of the scriptures for text books in the classes all these and many other subjects that still have to be considered, are to be found among the teachings of the general superintendency and others of the brethren from the time that these meetings were first held. These instructions have not been in vain. Not only has the Union increased in numbers, year by year, but in compactness also, and a greater uniformity has been reached in the methods of teaching and in the modes of conducting the schools. At first there was considerable diversity of operation in the Sunday schools situated in the various Stakes of Zion; but today, through experience, better methods have been attained which secure greater uniformity and more satisfactory results. Class readers, such as those used in the day schools, and which were once so widely used in the Sunday schools are now almost entirely excluded from the latter, and in their place we have the First and Second Readers published by the Union.
by the Bishops or under their direction. The effects of this counsel, where carried out in the spirit of the instructions given, have been marked for good. A better understanding of the divine mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and of His atonement for the sins of the world has been given to our children, and they are constantly reminded by partaking of these emblems, together with suitable hymns sung, and instructions given on this subject at these times, of the necessity of honoring their Savior, of reverencing His name, and obeying His laws.
"The organization of schools into the Union for some time proceeded slowly In the more remote settlements, but in the more complete organizations of the Stakes of Zion, which took place a short time previous to the death of President Brigham Young, was found the means by which the good influence of the Union could be extended to the most distant schools, through the presiding officers of those various Stakes; and Stake superintendents of Sunday schools are now almost invariably appointed when the organization of a Stake is perfected; so that, today, in every Stake of Zion, as there is a Stake president, there is also a Stake superintendent of Sunday schools, subject to the president of the Stake, with assistant officers to look after and care for the Sunday school interests in that Stake.
"In the year 1877 a new feature of much importance was introduced, by direction of the First Presidency of the Church, into the services of the Sunday schools. We refer to the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
"Nor in our review of what the Union has accomplished must we forget the impetus it has given to the development of musical talent in the midst of the Saints. We feel satisfied, we can say without undue vanity, that no single agency has done so much in this direction as it has and the results are eminently satisfactory, showing as a people, we have many among us whose compositions are worthy of high praise, with a constantly developing standard of excellence. The means adopted by the Union to accomplish this have been various. Among others, the constant inculcation of the necessity of good singing in the Sunday schools by all the teachers and pupils; the establishment of the Deseret Sunday School Musical Union and the organization of the Union's brass band; the holding, for many years, commencing in 1874, of musical festivals in the Large Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, an example which has been followed in many of our other large settlements; the awarding of prizes for the best original musical compositions and poetry; the publication in the Juvenile Instructor of numerous pieces of original music; the issuance of scores of thousands of musical cards; later of a Union Music Book, then a Hymn Book, and still later the publication of the Song Book and the Hymn Book now in use. Of these several editions have been already published.
"With pleasure we refer to the value that the Juvenile Instructor, edited by Elder George Q. Cannon, has been in aiding the great Sunday school work. Its advent in January, 1866, antedated