Literary Joseph Fielding Smith #11: The Restoration by Gustive O. Larson

Gustive O. LarsonThe restoration of priesthood keys is a vital part of LDS teachings, something that is emphasized repeatedly in lesson manuals, such as chapter 11 in the current Joseph Fielding Smith manual. It is also one of the most emphasized elements of the lessons taught by LDS missionaries. So it is no surprise to find the restoration of priesthood keys as a central element in the following poem, composed by a young LDS missionary in 1922.

Born to Swedish immigrants in Holladay, Utah in 1897, Gustive O. Larson was an author,  long-time seminary and institute teacher, Mission President and eventually BYU History professor. After graduating from the University of Utah in 1920 with a B.A. in History, Larson served a mission in California, where he was responsible for introducing illustrated lectures to the mission. After receiving a master’s degree from the University of Utah in 1927, he became the principal of the Cedar City LDS Seminary, and while there he started the first college-level courses for students at the Cedar City Branch Agricultural College (now Southern Utah University), which led to the development of the LDS Institutes of Religion. From 1936 to 1939 he served as mission president in Sweden, where he worked to improve the perception of the Church. In 1954 he transfered to BYU, teaching in both the Department of Religion and then the Department of History. Among other things, he wrote Prelude to the Kingdom (1947), Outline History of Utah and the Mormons (1958), and The “Americanization” of Utah for Statehood (1971), the latter named the most significant work in Mormon History for 1971 by the Mormon History Association. Larson retired from BYU in 1972 and passed away in 1978. The following poem was composed during his mission in California.


The Restoration

by Elder Gustive O. Larson,
California Mission

The time had come. Prophecy fulfilled [Micah 3:6]
Found the earth defiled and in transgression; [Isaiah 24:5]
Apostasy brought famine in the land [Amos 8:11]
Where words of God found no expression. [John 16:2]
Spiritual darkness reigned supreme as night [Micah 3:6]
Till simple Faith again should bring the light. [James 1:5]


The message came. Fulfilling revelation,
An angel from the midst of heaven [Rev. 14:6]
Brought to earth the Gospel of Salvation,
And all the keys whose promise had been given; [Malachi 4:5]
And messengers from God came to restore [Malachi 3:1]
The priesthood, as it was on earth before. [Acts 3:21]


‘Tis drawing near. The Messiah soon [Matthew 24:30]
In all his glory shall again appear: [Luke 21:27]
Who lived his Law shall then come forth, [Matthew 7:21]
For at his coming all his own shall hear. [1 Cor. 15:23]
His Plan shall reach its consummation –
The power of god unto man’s salvation. [Rom. 1:16]


One Plan is given. So great its span
The dead within their graves shall hear it, [1 Peter 3:18]
That they, too, may be judged as mortal man,
But live according to the Lord in spirit. [1 Peter 4:6]
Not endless plans and worldly mysticism, [2 Tim. 4:2-4]
But one Lord, one Faith and one Baptism. [Eph. 4:5]

Liahona, the Elders’ Journal, v19 n24
23 May 1922, p. 463
[H.T., Keepapitchinin]


Larson’s poem puts keys at a central point in the restoration—necessary at the very beginning to allow the Church to exist. In fact, the events of the restoration are, apparently, the restoration of keys:

An angel from the midst of heaven
Brought to earth the Gospel of Salvation,
And all the keys whose promise had been given;
And messengers from God came to restore
The priesthood, as it was on earth before.

Given this perspective, understanding the purpose and role of priesthood keys seems vital to our understanding of the gospel.

4 comments for “Literary Joseph Fielding Smith #11: The Restoration by Gustive O. Larson

  1. MIssion President in Sweden from 1936 to 1939. That must have been interesting. What a time to serve in a leadership position in Europe.

  2. The source I used said that Pres. Larson and his wife were on the boat returning to the U.S. in September 1939, when the war broke out.

    But, yes, they must have experienced a lot of the buildup to war.

  3. Brother Larsen,

    Are you still planning to post for JSF #12? I’ve benefited greatly from reflecting on your literary postings as I’ve taught my EQ lessons. I’ve also set several to music, which I hope to record and publish in the future. You’re my favorite source as a starting point for preparing my lessons Thanks!

  4. I don’t know, Jared. I’ve been struggling with getting to these posts ever since I had a major responsibility given to me a couple of months ago. I’m still trying to get to it, but I haven’t figured out the balance yet.

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