Old Timey Blessings

An ancestor, James Whitehead Taylor, converted to Mormonism in Britain during the initial Mormon mission in 1837. He stayed in Britain for well over a decade following that, acting as a missionary himself and finally emigrating to Utah in the 1850s. Taylor was a stalwart, though never a polygamist. After coming to Utah, he received a Patriarchal Blessing. Like so many at the time, it seems cut from the same cloth as those early revelations to the Whitmer boys: they all said basically the same thing (no, Whitehead Taylor’s blessing wasn’t a copy of the Whitmer revelations–but it was very like the others in that particular blessing book kept by the church historian’s office). The Historian was charged with keeping copies of the blessings and the church considered them official documents from the beginning. Joseph Smith Sr.’s earliest blessings were kept and preserved.

The clerks at the office copied the blessings during the 1850s and they ran into so many repeated phrases that they simply noted them with “&c.” His blessing consists of 133 words. This blog post has roughly 180 so far.

If you have ancestry in the church, you can retrieve their patriarchal blessings from the Church History Library by going to history.lds.org. Click on the Services link to find “Patriarchal Blessing Requests.” It’s a chance to connect a little with the life experience of your DNA. Go for it.

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4 Responses to Old Timey Blessings

  1. J. Stapley says:

    I love old blessings. And they are all short. Every single one from the 19th century. But you could also get multiple, so there is that as well.

  2. ricke says:

    Interesting. Nowadays, stake presidents are charged with reading an occasional blessing by the stake patriarch to make sure they are not too repetitious (or outlandish).

    • WVS says:

      Doing shorter more frequent blessings is a really fascinating idea. But so is having a presiding patriarch. What are you going to do?

      I wonder when blessings started being read for weirdness/repetition? Before stake presidents began ordaining?

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