Early Secondhand Details about Joseph Smith’s First Vision in 1830-1833?

A late thirdhand account of the First Vision from John Alger in 1893 may be corroborated by some early secondhand (esoteric) references in some songs and hymns recorded in 1833, which may also have connections to a recorded revelation in 1830.

A late thirdhand account of Joseph Smith’s First Vision is recorded by Charles Walker, relating an account from John Alger:

2 February, Thursday, 1893, attended Fast meeting… Br. John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, john, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing the Father and the Son, that God touched his eyes with his finger and said, “Joseph this is my beloved Son, hear him.” As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger he immediately saw the Savior. After Meeting a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the Meeting house steps that he was in the House of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration; and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurrence on the minds of those unto whom he was speaking…

-Charles Lowell Walker, Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, ed. A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson, 2 vols. [Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1980], February 2, 1893, 2:755–56. See same citation in Cheesman here, https://archive.org/details/AnAnalysisOfTheAccountsRelatingJosephSmithsEarlyVisions/page/n31

Many decades earlier a hymnist, perhaps W. W. Phelps, adapted a hymn, “Age after age has rolled away,” where he may have also referenced finger touching in Joseph Smith’s First Vision, corroborating John Alger’s account. The hymn includes these lyrics:

With finger end God touch’d his eyes
That he might gaze within the skies.

-“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [168], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, written in the hand of Wilford Woodruff, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/172

This hymn seems to have come from an earlier record of a “song” in the Revelation Book 2 from 27 February 1833, recorded in the hand of Frederick G. Williams, which was “sung in tongues,” perhaps by David W. Patten and “interpreted” by Sidney Rigdon:

…Enoch of Old at a time when he stood upon the mount which was called the mountain of God as he gazed upon nature and the corruption of man of man and mourned their sad fate and wept and cried with a Loud voice and heaved forth his sighs Omnipotence Omnipotence o may I see thee— and with his finger he touched his eyes and he saw heaven he gazed on eternity

-“Revelation Book 2,” p. 48, The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/revelation-book-2/58

John Alger (1820-1897) would have been thirteen years of age at the time this song/hymn was written (a small boy?), perhaps around the same time when he heard Joseph tell about the finger touching in the First Vision. David Patten, Sidney Rigdon, and W. W. Phelps may have heard it too from Joseph at that time, and may have written this song/hymn and these lyrics. Joseph may have been the “Enoch” referenced in the song/hymn. “Enoch” is a known code name (esoteric new name) that was used for Joseph in early Mormonism (as well as Gazelem, Baurak Ale, Ahman Christ, and perhaps others).

At first glance the song/hymn seems to be in reference to the historical Enoch, but it seems to parallel Joseph’s experience. In the scriptural account of Enoch (revealed by Joseph between November-December 1830) it is Enoch who is commanded by God to anoint his own eyes:

And the Lord spake unto Enoch, and said unto him: Anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see. And he did so.

-Moses 6:35; cf. John 9:11

And this self-anointing may have also existed in the original Revelation Book 2 “song.” The “finger” with which “he touched his eyes” may have been “Enoch’s” (Joseph’s) own finger, just as in Moses 6:35, where the Lord commanded Enoch to anoint his own eyes.

In John Alger’s account, it seems it is God who touches Joseph’s eyes with God’s finger, as in the hymn, but Joseph demonstrated it by touching his eye with his own finger. You could also read this account as God touched “his eyes” (Joseph’s), with “his finger” (Joseph’s own finger). Perhaps Joseph touched his own eye in the actual First Vision too, just as in this account where he demonstrated it with his own finger, and that self-touch was also the touch of God. (See St. Symeon the New Theologian’s poem of awakening in Christ’s body, as Christ awakens our bodies.)

Frederick G. Williams (a later descendant of the Frederick G. Williams in whose hand the Revelation Book 2 was written), had this to say about the ambiguity of whose “finger” was doing the touching in Revelation Book 2:

The ambiguity present in the pronoun “he” is avoided in the [later] hymn version by naming God as the initiator of the action.

Frederick G. Williams, “Singing the Word of God,” BYU Studies 48, no. 1 (2009), https://byustudies.byu.edu/file/2093/download?token=Q5RHqX3x

But the ambiguity might have actually been hiding the fact that it was Joseph’s own finger, as “Enoch,” and that he was being commanded by God to touch/anoint his own eyes, just as in Moses 6:35. God may have been touching Joseph’s eyes through Joseph’s own finger.

This could be an early reference to the First Vision, in 1833, or if we go with Moses 6:35, as early as 1830, which would be the earliest (esoteric) mention of the First Vision we have (if we don’t go all the way back to the Book of Mormon, which may also have many esoteric references to the First Vision), and corroborating John Alger’s late thirdhand account. What else in this hymn (and the other surrounding hymns in the historical document, the Book of Commandments, 1833) might be in hidden reference to Joseph Smith and the First Vision? Possibly a lot!

Let’s take a look:

Hymn: Age after age has rolled away

Age after age has rolled away
Since man first dwell in mortal clay
And countless millions slept in death
That once supplied a place on earth

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [167], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/171

Humanity has been here a while, and many have “slept in death.” This may not be referring to biological death, but spiritual death. People do not know God. It is an age of darkness.

According to the fate of man
Which God had fixed in his own plan
So age must come and age must go
Till work complete is here below

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [167], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/171

What is the “fate of man”? Questions, questions. What is the “plan” for this universe? What is its purpose? What are we here for? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life, what are we doing here? What is the Absolute?

Which had been seen by saints of old
And by the prophets were foretold
Which wondrous things are drawing near
That Enoch saw and saints did cheer

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [167], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/171

Ancient “saints” have seen it, known it, it has been revealed to them, to the “prophets,” the mystics, the sages, the seers, these wondrous things. They have contemplated the big picture, the Beatific Vision, the enlightenment, the awakening. The “Kingdom” is drawing near, and is at hand, even at the doors.

“Enoch” also saw this. This, again, may be introducing not the historical Enoch, but Joseph Smith, and his First Vision experience.

Enoch who did convers with God
Stood on the mount and stretchd abroad
His soul wide as eternity
He rent the vail and wonders see

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [168], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/172

Again, “Enoch” here might be an esoteric (code) name for Joseph, referring to Joseph’s conversing with God, standing on the high “mount” in his vision, his soul being torn wide open, and the veil rent.

With mighty faith he did expand
O’er earth and heaven o’er sea and land
Till things above and things below
He did behold yea did them know

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [168], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/172

Joseph may have had a Beatific Vision, seeing much more than he ever wrote in his accounts, as he himself noted in his 1838 account: “and many other thing[s] did he say unto me which I cannot write at this time.”

His heart he turn’d to notes above
His soul o’erwhelm’d with boundless love
He sang a song in heav’nly lays
While angels tongues join’d him in praise

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [168], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/172

Here we have the idea of music (Muse-ic?) being heard, “notes,” “sang a song,” “heav’nly lays.” We also see that “angels” joined him in praise. This would corroborate the 1835 account where he said “and I saw many angels in this vision​.”

His voice he raised to God on high
Who he[a]rd his groans and drew him nigh

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [169], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/173

Joseph’s groaning is new. He does not mention his prayers or distress being a “groan” in other accounts. God “drew him nigh” might be in reference to mystical ascension.

With joy and wonder all amaz’d
Amid the heavenly throng he gaz’d
While heavenly music charmed his ear
And angels notes remov’d all fear

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [169], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/173

He gazed at a “heavenly throng,” perhaps mirroring Lehi’s vision in 1 Nephi, seeing numberless concourses of angels circling the throne of God. Again a reference to “heavenly music,” which “remov’d all fear,” perhaps in reference to the darkness and feeling the fear of the “enemy.”

Hosanna he aloud did cry
To God who dwells above the sky
Again Hosanna did resound
Among the heavenly hosts aroun[d]

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [169], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/173

Here are some words Joseph may have uttered vocally that are not in any other account of the First Vision: “Hosanna,” and “to God who dwells above the sky.” And again, “Hosanna.” The word comes from the Hebrew הושענא Hoshana, meaning “save, rescue, savior.”

His voice he rais’d in higher strai[n]
Echo’d and re-echo’d again
Till heaven and earth his voice did hear
Eternity did record bare

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [169], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/173

Again we have details about Joseph speaking, raising higher, echoing, reverberating, until all things heard him. Hear ye him.

The trump of God around the throne
Proclaim’d the power of God anon
And sounded loud what shou[l]d take place
From age to age from race to race

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [170], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/174

Here we have mention of the throne of God, perhaps that throne around which the angelic throng were seen earlier. A trumpet sound (Moroni?), proclaiming Godly power, the power of Godliness, sounding aloud what ought to be in humanity throughout all time.

Among the heavenly hosts he sang
God’s scheme of life for sinful man
And for the gospel’s saving grace
He prais’d the Father face to face

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [170], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/174

Joseph perhaps sang among these angelic hosts, the plan of salvation. Joseph sang it, this Grace made known to him, in him. Here we have the possibility of Joseph seeing the “Father face to face,” which might actually be the earliest historical account (1833) we have of Joseph seeing the “Father” specifically, explicitly by that title, and seeing the “face” of God as Moses, “face to face.” The earlier account of 1832 he only mentions that “I saw the Lord,” and that Christ would come “clothed in the glory of my Father.” The next earliest account of 1835 is the one where the two personages are introduced, which are implicitly the “Father” and the “Son.”

The end of all his labors here
Were all unfolded to him there
His city raised to dwell on high
With all the saints above the sky

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [170], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/174

Joseph was shown everything that he should do, taught in all his labors to the end, from the very beginning of his ministry. He would raise (resurrect?) a city, as Enoch, to dwell on high with all the saints.

He saw before him all things past
From end to end from first to last
Yea things before the world began
Or dust was fashioned into man

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [170], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/174

Joseph may have seen a timeless eternity, understanding all things past and future, from end to end, first to last, understanding the meaning of the world, and the creation.

The place of Adams first abode
While in the presence of his God
Before the mountains rais’d their heads
Or the small dust of balance weigh’d

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [171], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/175

Joseph may have experienced the “Garden of Eden,” this heavenly paradise, since he himself was “in the presence of his God.” He was as Adam/Eve. I’m not sure what the part about the mountains means, unless it is referring to creation, so “before” that would mean a primordial dimension. The “small dust” might be in reference to humanity, prior to their creation/evolution.

With God he saw his race began
And from him emanated man
And with him did in glory dwell
Before there was an earth or hell

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [171], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/175

Joseph was “with God” and may have seen “his race began,” and how humanity “emanated” from God, an early reference in Mormonism, perhaps from Joseph himself, to emanationism. Joseph might have experienced a transcendent glory, beyond the more mundane ideas of Earth or hell.

From age to age whate’er took place
was present then before his face
And to the latest years of man
Was plain before him heav’ns plan

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [171], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/175

Did Joseph perceive history, again, like a Beatific Vision, understanding the whole scope and breadth of the history of humanity and even of the creation, even to the “latest years” of humanity?

His eyes with wonder did behold
Eternal glories yet untold
And glorious things of latter time
Which angels have to tell to men

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [171], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/175

Joseph may have seen many “eternal glories” which are untold, and perhaps cannot be told, which are ineffable, unspeakable, indescribable, beyond language and thoughts and ideas altogether. They are transcendent. They transcend this sphere of thought and intellect. The only way to know them is by communing with the “angels” in that transcendent mystical experience.

He then did hear in days of old
The message that to John was told
The angel which the news did bring
He herd him talk and herd him sing

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [172], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/176

Joseph may have “heard” the same “message” as was told to John the Baptist, communing with this “angel” which brought the “good news” of the gospel, hearing talking and more singing.

And knew before the days of John
What glories were on him to dawn
The message which he did receieve
He herd and saw and did believe

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [172], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/176

Again, it was perhaps the very same gospel message that John taught, perhaps to Jesus as a pupil, Joseph also may have received in this visionary download from heavenly consciousness.

He knew full well what John should hear
Concerning times and latter years
When God again should set his hand
To gather Israel to their lands

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [172], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/176

Joseph, as “Enoch,” knew the same message as John, about the “gathering” of Israel, or the bringing of all people together as One.

The gospel then from darkest shades
Should rise and go with rapid strides
Till nations distant far and near
The glorious proclamation hear.

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [172], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/176

From out of darkness, out of that dark void, the dark cloud, would the “gospel” once again go, and flow, throughout all nations, East and West.

The angel that this news proclaims
Should come and visit earth again
Commit the gospel long since lost
To man with power as at the first

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [173], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/177

Joseph intuited that the “angel” that proclaimed this to him would “come… again,” revealing insight into the good news once again to humanity. This again seems to reflect an archetypal messianic mystical experience which “comes” to each person in their own time, and in their own way. Whenever it is lost, people experience the Truth again. The “angel” of God “comes” to them, in them.

Hymn: The great and glorious gospel light

The next hymn recorded is about a great and glorious gospel light, which again might be in reference to the Light of the First Vision.

The great and glorious gospel light
Has usherd forth into my sight
Which in my soul I have receieved
From death and bondage being freed

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [173], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/177

Joseph saw a great “light,” which contained the “gospel,” which not only entered his “sight,” but seemed to enter his “soul.”

With saints below and saints above
I’ll join to praise the God I love
Like Enoch too I will proclaim
A loud Hosanna to his name

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [173], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/177

Joseph perhaps felt he was joining with all the saints of all time, throughout a timeless history, in the praises he perceived in the “God I love.” Here we may have mention of the esoteric code name for Joseph, “like Enoch too I will proclaim.” And again, he may have shouted a “Hosanna” as part of the vision, “save, Savior.”

Hosanna let the echo fly
From pale to pale from sky to sky
And saints and angels join to sing
Till <​all​> eternity shall ring

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [173], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/177

Again, “Hosanna”! Singing is mentioned again, throughout time and all eternity.

Hosanna let the voice extend
Till time shall cease and have no end
Till all the throngs of heaven above
Shall join the saints in songs of love

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [174], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/178

Again, “Hosanna”! Time comes to a standstill, and yet is also endless. Joseph’s perception of time may have shifted radically into an eternal present now. The “throngs” are mentioned again, as is singing “songs of love.”

Hosanna let the trump of God
proclaim his wonders far abroad
And earth and air and skies and seas
Conspire to sound aloud his praise

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [174], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/178

Again, “Hosanna”! trumped of God, and all things seem to testify of this God, in Earth, air, skies, and seas.

Hymn: Ere long the vail will rend in twain

The next hymn is about the veil being pierced, as it was in Joseph’s First Vision.

Ere long the vail will rend in twain
The king descend with all his train
The earth shall shake with awful fright
And all creation feel his might

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [174], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/178

Joseph perhaps experienced a rending of the “veil” in his First Vision, and the “king” descend with a “train.” All the Earth (Adam) shook in fear, dread, terror, horror, a mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Joseph perhaps shook in fear, in “awful fright” at this mighty Presence. Was it the enemy of darkness or was it the God of Light, or both?

The trump of of God it long shall sound
And rase the nations under ground
Throughout the vast domains of heaven
The voice echoes the sound is given

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [174], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/178

This profound mystical experience seemed to have been as a trump sound, awaking all those who sleep “under ground.” They are perhaps spiritually dead, raising them to an awakened awareness. He heard a “voice” in that heavenly consciousness.

Lift up your heads ye saints in peace
The Savior comes for your release
The day of the redeem’d has come
The saints shall all be welcom’d home

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [175], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/179

Joseph experienced the “coming” of the “Savior,” the “day” of redemption has “come,” and the “saints,” perhaps referring to those who had slept in spiritual death, would be welcomed “Home.”

Behold the church it soars on high
To meet the saints amid the sky
To hail the king in clouds of fire
And strike and tune the immortal lyre

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [175], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/179

Here we hear a detail about a heavenly “church,” which meets those “saints” in the “sky.” They “hail the king” within “clouds of fire,” and there is more music, but this time of an “immortal” nature.

Hosanna now the trump shall sound
Proclaim the joys of heav’n around
When all the saints together join
In songs of love and all divine

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [175], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/179

Again, “Hosanna” sounds! This indicates the Joys of heaven, when all the “saints” together join in the One, singing songs of Love and the Divine.

With Enoch here we all shall meet
And worship at Messiah’s feet
Unite our hands and hearts in love
And reign on thrones with Christ above

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [175], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/179

“With Enoch here” could also be a reference to Joseph Smith, with whom the “saints” were meeting at that time, and in that presence they would “worship at Messiah’s feet,” perhaps referring to Joseph as the Messiah. The joining of hands (handfasting?), and the uniting of hearts in Love (in God), and they would reign on their own thrones with “Christ” in that heavenly consciousness.

The city that was seen of old
Whose walls were jasper and streets gold
We’ll now inherit thron’d in might
The Father and the Son’s delight

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [176], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/180

Joseph may have intuited a heavenly “city,” seemingly made of jasper and gold, in which all people would “inherit” a “throne,” in the delight of both “Father” and “Son.” Here again, we have mention of Father and Son, perhaps for the first time in explicit reference to the First Vision. In fact, none of the firsthand accounts reference the “Father” being seen explicitly, but only that the “Lord” was seen, and “personages,” one being the “Beloved Son” and the other implied as the “Father.”

Celestial crowns we shall receieve
And glories great our God shall give
While loud hosannas we’ll proclaim
And sound aloud our Savior’s name

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [176], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/180

The “crowning” of all of them, just as the “king” that had been seen, including more “hosannas,” and sounding the “Savior’s name” aloud, realizing that Savior, that Messiah, the Name.

Our hearts and tongues all joined in love
A loud hosanna to proclaim
While all the heavens shall shout again
And all creation say, Amen

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [176], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/180

All “hearts” are joined as One in that “Love,” in that God, “hosanna” shouted again, including the word “Amen,” which is perhaps later referenced in the Mormon word “Ahman,” which is translated as one of the names of God, referring to the Son God, which may be referring to the same Divine Human One.

Hymn: Come ye children of the kingdom

The next hymn is about the “children of the kingdom,” and it is noted that it is “for baptism.”

Come ye children of the kingdom
Sing with me for joy to day
Gather round as Christ’s disciples
Kneel with grateful hearts and pray

Theres a line contain’d in Matthew
What the Savior said to John
And the sacred words from heaven
This is my beloved Son.

As ’twas said to Nicodemus
So I must be born again
Tis by water and the spirit
I the promise may obtain

So I will obey the Savior
Keep his law and do his will
That I may enjoy forever
Happiness on Zions hill

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [177], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/181

Joseph too heard the words “this is my beloved Son” in the heaven of the First Vision, perhaps in reference to his own higher Self, or true Self, his Christic Self. Joseph was “born again” in this experience, by the Fire of the Spirit, and obtained the “promise.”

Hymn: My soul is full of peace and love

My soul is full of peace and love
I soon shall see Christ from above
And angels too the hallow’d throng
Shall join with me in holy song
 
The spirits power has sealed my peace
And filled my soul with heavenly grace
Transported I with peace and love
Am waiting for the throngs above
 
Prepare my heart prepare my tongue
To join this glorious heavenly throng
To hail the Bridegroom from above
And join the band in songs of love
 
Let all my powers of mind combine
To hail my Savior all divine
To hear his voice attend his call
And crown him King and Lord of all

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [178], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/182

Joseph saw “Christ from above,” in that heavenly consciousness, and again a mention of “angels” joining together in a song. He is “sealed” in that spiritual power, Joseph was “filled” with Grace, transported into the heart of “Peace” and “Love.” Joseph hailed the “Bridegroom” from above, and joined in the band in that “Love.” It takes great “powers of mind” to hail that “Savior” divine. It is perhaps in an altered state of consciousness where it is known, a mystical contemplative state of consciousness. There we “hear his voice,” as Joseph, and there he (Joseph) is crowned “King” and “Lord of all.”

Hymn: The happy day has rolled on

The happy day has rolled on
The glorious period now has come
The angel sure has come again
To introduce Messiah’s reign
 
The gospel trump again is heard
The truth from darkness has appeared
The lands which long in darkness lay
Have now beheld a glorious day
 
The day by prophets long foretold
The day which Abra’m did behold
The day that saints desired long
When God his strange work would perform
 
The day when saints again should hear
The voice of Jesus in their ear
And angels who above do reign
Come down to converse hold with men

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [179], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/183

Joseph’s First Vision may have been that “happy day,” that “glorious period” that had “come,” the “angel” that had “come again” as a Messiah’s second coming. The gospel was being taught again, the dharma, the Truth. It was in thick darkness that it appeared in Joseph’s vision, which opened into a “glorious day.” That “day” may be in reference to Joseph’s First Vision, and mystical experience generally, that all the prophets, mystics, saints, and seers have hailed since the beginning, that unitive mystical experience of oneness, of at-one-ment, of Love. Joseph heard the “voice of Jesus” in his ear, perhaps his inner ear, his spiritual ear, and had an “angel” “come down” to converse with him, in him. Perhaps he was that angel.

Hymn: Beyond these earthly scenes in sight

The next hymn is about transcendence, beyond “earthly scenes,” perhaps referring to how Joseph’s mind was taken away from his natural surroundings, the “earthly scenes” in the First Vision, to a “Celestial Home.”

Beyond these earthly scenes in sight
Immortal beings rest
In realms of infinite del[i]ght
The home of Jesus Christ
 
(chorus) O the home the glorious home
Of the beloved Son
Where the righteous all shall meet
And be forever one!
 
Celestial home! could our weak eyes
But half its charms explore
How would our souls desire to rise
And live on earth no more
O the home the glorious home &c
 
There pain and sorrow never come
No nothing there is vain
But perfect peace and ceaseless bloom
With endless pleasure reign
O the home &c.

No curse those blissful regions know
Nor fears create dispair
For sin the source of evry wo
Can never enter there
O the home &C
 
There changing time is never known
Nor Sun o’er mountain brow
But God upon his shining throne
Fills one eternal now
O the home &C.

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [180], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/184

Joseph was taken beyond “earthly scenes” in his First Vision, to where “immortal beings rest,” and where there is “delight,” where he thought he met “Jesus Christ” in his home. That heavenly reality was the “home” of the “Beloved Son,” where the “righteous” meet, and realize they are One. It is not something seen by “weak eyes” or natural eyes. There is no “pain and sorrow” there, but “Peace.” He had escaped the “curse” of that dark enemy to God, his ego perhaps, and transcended “fear” and “sin.” He perhaps transcended “time” itself, to a timeless “eternal now” present, where the “Sun” never sets.

Hymn: There is a land the Lord will bless

The next hymn is about a “promised land.”

There is a land the Lord will bless
Where all the Saints shall come
There is a day for righteousness
When Israel gathers home
 
Before the word goes forth— destroy
And all the wicked burn
With songs of everlasting joy
The pure in heart return

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [181], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/185

The “pure land” as Buddhists know is perhaps the same as the “promised land,” a heavenly consciousness. That spiritual “land” is blessed, perhaps also referring to the Earth or ground of Adam (adamah). That is where the Saints “come,” where all people are gathered “home” into One. The wicked “ego” is burned and destroyed, and the “pure in heart” return to the Presence of God, of Ultimate Reality.

Their fields beyond Missouris flood
Are in perspective seen
As unto Israel Canaan stood
While Jordan flowed between
 
Though wicked men and Satan strive
To keep us from that land
And frorom [from] their homes the Saints they drive
To try the Lords command
 
There all the springs of God will be
And there an end of strife
And there the righteous rising free
Shall have eternal life
 
There shall the will of God be done
And saints and Angels greet
And there when all in Christ is one
The best from worlds shall meet
 
There in the resurrection morn
The living live again
And all the children will be born
Without the sting of sin
 
How long our Father O how long
Shall that pure time delay
Come on come on ye holy throng
And bring the glorious day

“Book of Commandments, 1833,” p. [182], The Joseph Smith Papers, accessed November 6, 2019, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/book-of-commandments-1833/186

A greater perspective is seen in that heavenly mystical vision. The “wicked” ego, and “Satan” keep us from that pure land. There, there is a spring, living waters. There the righteous “rise” or are resurrected, being freed from the ego, liberated, realizing “eternal life” beyond the ego-self. There the Will of God is naturally done because the ego’s will is no more. All are realized in “Christ” and are “One.” Christ is that oneness. They are resurrected, the “living live again,” (not after biological death), reborn from their spiritual death and darkness of ego. They are born again, outside of the “sin” of separation that their egos produce. The “Father” brings that consciousness as a grace, “coming,” “coming,” realizing that One, bringing that “glorious day.”


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