Kirtland Temple
A National Historic Landmark

Emma's Continuing Legacy


With Emma’s passing, she left behind a collection of hymns that continue to influence the Latter Day Saint hymnals of today. Emma’s love of song lives on and the Latter Day Saint movement continues to be a "singing people."

Emma’s son, David Hyrum, would in turn greatly influence the hymnody of the early Reorganization. "It appears that he inherited his father’s ability to articulate language into a smooth, charismatic form, while also using his mother’s gifts and talents in the area of music." His older brother, Joseph Smith III, born in the Whitney Store in 1832, also had a talent for hymn writing. Both brothers authored a number of hymns published in various hymnals over the last century.

Emma’s granddaughters, Vida E. Smith and Mary Audentia Smith Anderson continued her musical legacy in writing a beloved hymn known as "There’s an Old, Old Path." Vida, the hymn’s author was born in 1865 at Nauvoo, the daughter of Alexander Hale and Elizabeth Kendall Smith. Like her uncles, Vida was inspired to write the hymn during an experience of worship. She tells the story:

"It was after a tedious Sunday school session one Sabbath, a glorious summer day … I came up from the primary rooms in the Brick Church in Lamoni and seated myself in the usual place on the north side of the church. A slight breeze moved the branches of the trees near the window; birds flitted about and called or sat on some swaying branch, singing in the Sabbath softness; the choir sang and someone prayed – all as usual. The minister read his text, that old favorite… about finding the old paths and walking therein. He soon faded from my realization as my eyes rested on the swaying branches of the trees and the soft clouds against the blue sky, and I felt the nearness of congenial friends. I felt at home in the house of God, and I felt at ease before his mercy seat. The glory of the message of the ancient prophet flooded my soul and, opening my quarterly, I wrote on the flyleaf the words of the song exactly as they appear in the hymnal."

With the encouragement of a friend, Vida showed the lines to her cousin, Mary Audentia, daughter of Joseph III and Bertha Madison Smith. Mary Audentia quickly composed the tune to a hymn that continues to inspire.



 

 

Kirtland Temple Mission Statement:
Engaging visitors in the legacy of the Kirtland Temple, embracing the sacred and secular significance of the historic site, and promoting religious tolerance and open dialogue among all people.


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