A History Shall Be Kept

What are the most quoted scriptures in the Church? Check at the end of this post to see if you agree.

What do these scriptures have to do with Family or Church History?

I have been working today on my new calling as Ward Historian. I am trying to reconstruct my ward’s history for 2006. The post below is a short intro essay to that history.

A HISTORY SHALL BE KEPT
At the start of this dispensation, on the very day the Church was organized, the following instruction was given to Joseph Smith—BEHOLD, there shall be a record kept among you. Doctrine and Covenants 21:1

God cares about history. Sacred history is almost always a straight forward narrative of the hand (power) of God in the lives of His children and in the broader flow of history, past present, and future. It is a record of the impact of our covenants and of God’s hand in our individual and collective lives. It is a record of the faithful.

Virtually every week in the Sacrament Service we have the opportunity to remember and witness and renew every covenant we have made as we REMEMBER the single most important historical event in the history of the world (the Atonement of Jesus Christ.) We then witness (show) that we do REMEMBER by keeping His commandments that we may have His Spirit to be with us always.

We are all further strengthened when we when we remember and share (witness) our own testimonies of the gospel and the Lord’s influence in our lives. An annual ward history helps to fulfill the scriptural charge to keep a record and bare testimony of the Lord’s dealings with His people in our part of the latter day Kingdom. Our ward history can contribute to our collective memory as Latter-day Saints and be for the “good of the church, and for the rising generations.”[D&C 69:8]

We know what testimony feels like individually. We have also shared collective moments of testimony. We know individually and collectively about both triumphs and sacrifice –not only what we have suffered and overcome, but also times of joy. As we acknowledge, remember and witness we can look to the future with faith and hope.

This ward history for 2006 is not intended to be a “public relations” document, but rather seeks, within the framework of resources available to be a true and accurate record of the happenings of the [our] Ward in 2006— to be a witness to our collective efforts to establish Zion in this part of the earth. It is also intended to remember and bear witness to our efforts within the official records at the headquarters of the Church. It becomes in effect the testimony of our ward.

Alma wrote, I also command you that ye keep a record of this people . . and keep all these things sacred . . . for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept. . . . Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. . . . [it has] been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, . . . .and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls. [Alma 37:2, 6, 8]

Answer to opening question “What are the most quoted scripture in the Church?”
Moroni 4:3 and 5:2 and D&C 20: 77, 79

10 comments for “A History Shall Be Kept

  1. Sarah
    November 27, 2006 at 3:40 am

    I’m going to tentatively assert that those are not the most quoted scriptures in the Church. As far as General Conference goes… BYU already did the hard work for us.

    http://scriptures.byu.edu

    If you use the beta site, which includes Journal of Discourses quotations as well as all General Conference addresses from 1942-April, 2006, your top 5 are:

    Moses 1:39 [268]
    Dan. 2:44 [254]
    Rev. 14:6 [226]
    JS—H 1:17 [226]
    John 17:3 [214]

    If you use the original site, which doesn’t include the Journal of Discourses entries but DOES include the October 2006 Conference (finally), your top 5 are:

    Moses 1:39 [270]
    JS—H 1:17 [176]
    John 17:3 [139]
    Matt. 6:33 [121]
    A of F 1:13 [111]

    I created a “weighted” version of the frequency lists (which does not include any 2006 data, or the JOD references — that’s for after graduation ^_^) to account for placement on the old and new Scripture Mastery lists, to get a top 5 of:

    Moses 1:39
    2 Nephi 2:25
    Romans 1:16
    D&C 14:7
    John 17:3

    (in my “weighted” ranking, Moroni 4:3 has a rank of 395, Moroni 5:2 is unranked, and while D&C 20:77,79 is ranked 305th, plain old D&C 20:77 is a much higher 129th, which is fairly high up on the list for a scripture not found on either Scripture Mastery list)

    Now, in my ward, Moroni 10:4-5 is arguably the most recognizable scripture which is also most likely to be quoted in a generic Sacrament talk (to the point of having the whole congregation silently mouthing the entire quote as soon as the speaker mentions it.) I think it varies a lot by locality, which is why I prefer to work with the BYU Conference citation frequency data.

    As far as what any of it has to do with Family History… for me, personally, 2 Nephi 2:25 is a real winner. My father’s side of the family is split between those actively hostile to religion and those deeply committed to other faiths; when submitting my grandmother’s name for temple work (and later being baptized for her) it helped a lot to remember that I’m not ashamed of the Gospel — I believe it to be true, and I believe it to be a good gift for my ancestors, even if they might not have been inclined to agree with that stance in their lifetimes. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

    Oh, and we’re all about records in this family. The idea of keeping a record of one’s doings, and one’s beliefs, is a major theme even amongst the anti-religious family members. We used to spend hours listening to my grandfather’s recorded memories of his time as a POW in Spain when I was a kid, instead of, say, the radio. It’s funny, but because of that, I’ve never seen any of it as a particularly religious observance.

  2. Sarah
    November 27, 2006 at 4:11 am

    I’m going to tentatively assert that those are not the most quoted scriptures in the Church. As far as General Conference goes… BYU already did the hard work for us.

    http://scriptures.byu.edu

    If you use the beta site, which includes Journal of Discourses quotations as well as all General Conference addresses from 1942-April, 2006, your top 5 are:

    Moses 1:39 [268]
    Dan. 2:44 [254]
    Rev. 14:6 [226]
    JS—H 1:17 [226]
    John 17:3 [214]

    If you use the original site, which doesn’t include the Journal of Discourses entries but DOES include the October 2006 Conference (finally), your top 5 are:

    Moses 1:39 [270]
    JS—H 1:17 [176]
    John 17:3 [139]
    Matt. 6:33 [121]
    A of F 1:13 [111]

    I created a “weighted” version of the frequency lists (which does not include any 2006 data, or the JOD references — that’s for after graduation ^_^) to account for placement on the old and new Scripture Mastery lists, to get a top 5 of:

    Moses 1:39
    2 Nephi 2:25
    Romans 1:16
    D

  3. Slush
    November 27, 2006 at 7:31 am

    Good work Sarah.

    I\’d definitely agree that Moses 1:39 has to be the all-time champion.

    I am surprised that Moroni 10:4 didn\’t make the top 5, though I suppose it\’s rarely quoted and rather referred to obliquely

  4. Marjorie Conder
    November 27, 2006 at 10:44 am

    Really!?!

    I’ll bet these weighted analysis did not factor in the Sacrament prayers. These scriptures are heard in every congregation worldwide virtually every Sunday (except for conferences) I doubt anything else even comes close. We hear these scriptures so often that we may not even consider them scriptures. The idea of witnessing and remembering as the basis for sacred history is continually reinforced in the scriptures. And of course this is not at all abstract. We remember and witness both the Atonement and the influence of the Spirit in our own lives and the lives of others that we may have “His Spirit to be with us always.”

  5. November 27, 2006 at 11:14 am

    Sarah: I think she’s got you there.

  6. November 27, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Several years ago I was asked to write our Stake history for the year. It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had in the church. It was surprisingly moving to catalogue the spiritual experience of a large group of people over a year. I was amazed by the cumulative service that so many people had performed in small bits, and felt like I had a new perspective on one small corner of Zion. Also, recording things like an apostolic blessing left over our stake at a stake conference, the fast that our stake participated in on behalf of our Stake President battling cancer, and the collective experience our stake had of following a reading schedule given by the Stake President for the Book of Mormon gave me a new sense of the hand of the Lord over us collectively. It was very renewing and energizing to think of similar things happening in stakes all over the world.

  7. Sarah
    November 27, 2006 at 12:39 pm

    I would argue that those are functional prayers, rather than quotes — people are performing an ordinance; and it’s completely outside the ordinary rhetorical “quote” concept. For what it’s worth, I also wouldn’t grant D&C 20:73 a top “quotation” status. I dig the Sacrament prayers. But I’d argue that they fall into a ceremonial context that essentially elevates them beyond the realm of ordinary scripture — though note again that D&C 20:77, despite not being on the Scripture Mastery list (makes sense, when you think about it, since something close to half the Seminary age group has to memorize it for the Duty to God award, and the majority of the population at least knows the words, if not the citation,) manages a very respectable ranking.

    But I’ll grant that the technical “approximate repetition of words, clearly originating within the corpus canonized scripture, though not necessarily only in this particular verse” award goes to either Moroni 4:3 or 5:2. Probably, marginally, to 5:2 — it’s a bit harder to read it through, I think, than 4:3. At least, it gets repeated a lot more frequently (in attempt if not completion) in my ward than 4:3 is. And since D&C 20: 77, 79 postdates Moroni 4:3 and 5:2, Moroni gets the nod. The debate as to how rhetorically useful it is… won’t get my participation today, ’cause I deleted it all from this post.

    (and I won’t even argue in detail about the wine/water substitution — the “which scripture is most commonly paraphrased” contest would give everyone headaches, I think.)

    Incidentally, I think something strange happened with that second post. When I went to bed, there was still just one comment on this thread. ^_^ Moderators? Hellooo?

  8. Sideshow
    November 27, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    If you’re going to quote, it does have to actually match the text. Thus Moroni 5:2 and D&C 20:79 are definitely not the most quoted (except possibly once a year in young men’s during the lesson on the origin of the sacrament prayers), unless there are several church units that use wine instead of water.

    Also, are we talking about generally (and thus we’re not sure and this is an educated guess), or the most quoted in talks by general authorities for which we have the text as an enduring record and can make more objective claims?

  9. Marjorie Conder
    November 27, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    My point is that none of the scriptures, or any other written or spoken words for that matter, will have any impact on our lives unless we “hear” them. The things we hear the most often will/should have the greatest impact, especially if they have been designated by God for us to hear them frequently. I stand by my assertion that the sacrament prayers are the scriptures we hear the most often because they are the most important, with the greatest potential to change our lives for good forever if we pay attention and take them seriously.

    I also believe the concept of “sacred history”, from Genesis to our own lives, is grounded in the concepts of remembering and witnessing. And those things of most value to remember and witness are how things of the Spirit are manifest in our lives. I have learned that our journals are mostly for ourselves. In times, which happen to all of us, when our testimony burns low, it is helpful to reread our own witness and remember God’s concern and action in our own lives. It can be like throwing a new log on the embers of our testimony.

    Gina, I loved your comments they are very much in the spirit of what I am trying to accomplish. I am hoping to assemble such accounts for the ward history I have recently been asked to compile.

  10. November 27, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    Marjorie, this is an inspiring reminder of the value of history in a gospel context. It isn’t just a hobby, or a way to make a living, or a pleasant break from difficult ancient prophecy, or a tool to prove the church true or false, or an academic exercise like memorizing the books of the Bible in alphabetical order. You point out — in lyrical language — how the stories of our lives and times have a significance beyond ourselves. It’s a reminder of how we “stand as witnesses” in all times and places. Thanks!

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