Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Short Attention Span Sunday School: Lesson 37 Joseph and Hyrum Smith Are Martyred


image of the Sacred Grove from lds.org


Write on the board:
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.


Have D&C 135:3 printed out in separate sections/separate pieces of paper (see below for how I plan to separate them)
Each section lists a different accomplishment of Joseph Smith.
Tape each section up onto the wall in a grid or however you'd like and have a Nerf type ball to use.
Let them take turns tossing the ball and trying to hit one of the papers.
If they hit the paper, take it down and discuss it.

D&C 135:3
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.  In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; // has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; // has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; // gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. // He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; // and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. // In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!

Today we are going to talk about not only the life of Joseph Smith, but his death.
I’ve mentioned before that he dies, and today we are going to learn about how it happened.

In lieu of illustrations, I will simply get a big image of him from the ward library and have that on display. And use the video mentioned below...

So remember we learned all about Nauvoo and how it was built up to a great city?
And they built a temple there?
And remember how I told you Joseph was actually killed before it was finished, and the new Prophet Brigham Young helped the Saints before they all left...after the temple was finished.

So for this lesson we’re going to go back in time a little to before the temple was done and before Joseph was killed.

So it’s 1844 and the city is doing well.
More and more Church members are moving there.
And remember what happened each time a lot of members moved to a place all at the same time?
Other non-members got nervous that they’d take over!
So when they get afraid, they get mean and they persecuted the Saints.

These mean enemies believed if they killed Joseph or got rid of him somehow, the Church wouldn’t exist anymore and would just fall apart.
They started rumours in a newspaper and told lies about him.
Guess who this made pretty angry? Church members!
Joseph Smith called a meeting of the city council. He was mayor of Nauvoo at the time.
The city council decided the newspaper was a “public nuisance” - what does that mean? Something that doesn’t help the people in a city but hurts them, and should be ended
They decided the printing press where the newspaper was printed should be destroyed!

This made the enemies even more mad.
The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, wanted Joseph and other Church members to go to Carthage, Illinois and stand trial for destroying the press!
The governor promised the men would be safe.
Had Joseph been promised by a governor before that they would be safe? Yes, Dunklin and Boggs both seemed to want to help but then didn’t

Joseph didn’t think the trial would be fair and he didn’t think the governor would protect them.

Joseph and his brother Hyrum believed they were the only ones the enemies really wanted.
They decided to go into hiding and planned to move west with their families.
What does “move west” mean? Show a map or draw a map of the US on the board and show where Illinois is, etc.

But a mob came from Carthage to Nauvoo and demanded Hyrum and Joseph! And said they would take over the city if they weren’t found.
Some Saints were afraid of this mob and thought Joseph and Hyrum were cowards for leaving Nauvoo and hiding.

Joseph was sad to hear this and said, “If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to me.”
He asked Hyrum what they should do, and Hyrum said “Let us go back and give ourselves up, and see the thing out.”

Joseph knew if they went back, they would be killed.
He told other Church leaders, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me “He was murdered in cold blood!”

What does that mean? Discuss his statement

So they went to Carthage on June 25th, 1844.
They were falsely accused of rioting and treason (working against the government).
They were put in jail and some of their friends were too.
In Carthage Jail, mobs threatened and cursed them.
They prayed and read the Book of Mormon.
Joseph bore his testimony of the truth of the gospel to the guards.

On the morning of June 27th, 1844 the prison guards hinted that they would be killing Joseph.
Governor Ford was told about this, but didn’t really believe it. He left Carthage, and left some of the worst enemies of the Prophet in charge of the jail.

That day most of the Prophet’s friends were ordered to leave the jail.
Just four men remained there: Joseph and his brother Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. They were two Apostles.
The four men had two guns with them that they were given by friends who had visited them.

They knew their lives were in danger.
That morning, Joseph wrote a letter to his family telling them he loved them and was innocent.
He blessed his family and friends in his letter.
That afternoon, John Taylor sang “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” which comforted them.
The Prophet asked John Taylor to sing it again.


Around 5:00pm that evening, a mob of 100 men attacked the jail.
Many men had blackened their faces with mud and gunpowder so they wouldn’t be recognized.
The guards at the jail were friends with the mob, so they didn’t help stop the attack.
Some members of the mob shot at the windows of the jail!
Others ran upstairs to shoot into the room.

The Prophet and others tried to keep the door shut and use their two guns to drive off the mob.
Joseph Smith fired a gun and John Taylor used a heavy cane to try to knock down the mob’s guns.
But the mob was too big.

Hyrum was shot by a bullet fired through the door.
As he fell he was hit by three other bullets.
The Prophet cried out, “Oh dear, brother Hyrum!”

John Taylor was shot but didn’t die.

The Prophet moved to the window and was hit by two bullets fired from inside the room and another bullet from outside the jail. He cried out, “Oh Lord, my God!” and fell out of the window.

Willard Richards was not hurt in the attack.
John Taylor lived through it too.

The Prophet’s other brother Samuel was heading to Carthage Jail to help his brothers.
He was chased along the way by mob members, so he was exhausted when he got there.
He found out his brothers had been murdered!
He helped move their bodies to a home in Carthage.
He was so tired and weak from all those happenings that he got really sick and died the next month.

The bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were carried back to Nauvoo in wagons.
The next day, 10,000 Saints waited in line to walk past the caskets and pay their respects.
They were all very sad.


We are going to watch scenes from a Church movie that show some of this.

Skip to timestamp: 58:00 to start the Carthage Jail section


What are martyrs? Someone who chooses to die rather than deny or reject what they believe in

Why do you think hearing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” would have brought them comfort?

What else did they do to be comforted? Prophet bore his testimony, they prayed and read the Book of Mormon

So remember how the mob thought killing Joseph would end the Church?
But we know that it didn’t. Why not?

Why is it important for us to have a testimony that Joseph was a prophet of God? If we do not believe he was a prophet, we can’t believe the Book of Mormon is true or that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been brought back to the earth

William W Phelps, remember him? He had a printing press for the Doctrine & Covenants, etc.
He spoke at the funeral for Joseph and Hyrum.
And he wrote a beautiful poem called Praise to the Man - that became a hymn!

There’s a lot of beautiful music about the life of Joseph Smith!
We’re going to sing some of them as we sing the story of his life...


Adapted from the Friend
Use a laptop to show the images or gather them in other ways (perhaps the Gospel Art Book or your ward library)


When Joseph was young, he wanted to know which Church to join.He’d already read the Bible, and he was studying in James 1:5 - “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

THEN SING (portions of):
Seek the Lord Early


In the Sacred Grove, he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They told Joseph not to join any of the church.

THEN SING (portions of):
Joseph Smith’s First Prayer or The Sacred Grove


Moroni visited Joseph when he was 17 years old, and continued to visit and teach him until he was ready to receive the plates.

THEN SING (portions of):
An Angel Came to Joseph Smith


Finally he was allowed to receive the plates!

THEN SING (portions of):
The Golden Plates


With the help of Heavenly Father, Joseph translated the plates!

THEN SING (portions of):
Book of Mormon Stories


As we’ve learned about all the amazing experiences in his life, many of them hard where Church members were persecuted and hurt, where the Prophet himself was killed, where people had to cling to their faith as they struggled to sacrifice to build up cities and temples and to serve mission, I hope that your testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith has grown

THEN SING (portions of):
Praise to the Man


Testify that Joseph was a prophet and saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that through him the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth. Challenge them to gain their own testimonies.

1/Give them a small art card from Deseret Book or Church Distribution of Joseph Smith
2/Give them a small bag of yellow treats, a small juice box of lemonade or something similarly yellow, or something in the shape of a sun. Include lyrics from Joseph Smith's First Prayer and a note about how we want to focus on the wondrous experiences of his life rather than his death:
Suddenly a light descended,
Brighter far than noonday sun,
And a shining, glorious pillar
O’er him fell, around him shone,


  1. This is great!!! Thank you so much!! I was asked to sub this week, and I was trying to figure out a way to present it that would be interesting, but also stick to the lesson material. This is perfect! :)

  2. You're amazing and I appreciate you sharing your talents with us. My primary class is so much better and interesting because of your lessons and your willingness to share. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! That's so nice. I hope your class went great today!