This pamphlet compiles several letters Orson Hyde sent on his famous mission to Jerusalem, and includes his dedicatory prayer for the Holy Land at the Mount of Olives. Hyde (1805-1878), a member of the original Quorum of the Twelve, received a vision (described in the pamphlet) in which he was called to go to Jerusalem, as alluded to in his dedicatory prayer:
Now, O Lord! thy servant has been obedient to the heavenly vision which thou gavest him in his native land; and under the shadow of thine outstretched arm, he has safely arrived in this place to dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy prophets—for the building up of Jerusalem again after it has been trodden down by the Gentiles so long, and for rearing a temple in honour of thy name.
The prayer is a substantial portion of the pamphlet, but he also discusses his travels, his reception, and the state and future of Jerusalem and its environs. (For more general information on his mission, there’s a good Ensign article here.) His commentary on the future of the Jews is interesting and indeed prophetic:
It was by political power and influence that the Jewish nation was broken down, and her subjects dispersed abroad; and I will here hazard the opinion, that by political power and influence, they will be gathered and built up; and, further, that England is destined, in the wisdom and economy of heaven, to stretch forth the arm of political power, and advance in the front ranks of this glorious enterprise. The Lord once raised up a Cyrus to restore the Jews, but that was not evidence that he owned the religion of the Persians. This opinion I submit, however, to your superior wisdom to correct, if you shall find it wrong.
On a similar note, his discussion of the state of Syria at the time seems all too familiar:
Syria at present is in a very unsettled state. The Drewzes and Catholics are fighting almost constantly. They sometimes kill hundreds and hundreds of a day. In some sections it is not unfrequent that the traveller meets some dozen or twenty men by the way-side without heads, in a day. In a letter from Bavaria, I stated that hostilities had recommenced between the Turks and Egyptians; I took the statement from a German paper, but it was a mistake. The hostilities were between the lesser tribes in Syria. The American missionaries at Beyrout and Mount Lebanon have received official notice through Commodore Porter, our minister at Constantinople, from the Grand Sultan, that hereafter they can have no redress by law for any violence, outrage, or cruelty, that may be practiced upon them by the people; and advises them to leave the country. This course is approved of by Commodore Porter. I read the correspondence between him and Mr. Chassan, our consul at Beyrout; but all is going on in the providence of God. Syria and Palestine must ferment and ferment, work and work, until they work into the hands of Abraham’s children to whom they rightly belong; and may the God of their fathers bless the hand that aids their cause.
Beyond the historical/political aspects of this pamphlet, it’s fun to get a first-hand feel for missionary work in the early years of the Church. This is actually one of a number of pamphlets in what you might call the “mission report” genre that we hope to produce in the coming months and years.
The proofreading for this pamphlet was done by Renah Holmes, one of our tireless volunteers, and Samuel Shreeve, our Utah State University volunteer intern. Thanks!