In reading through The Evening and the Morning Star, I came across an interesting piece in volume 1, #10 under the heading “Children”. It reads in part:
“When the Lord gave the children of Israel commandments through Moses, he said, And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
If it were necessary then, to teach these things DILIGENTLY unto the children, it is so now, that they may grow up without sin, and be able to abide the presence of the Lord when he comes in his glory.
It will be a joyful task to teach the Children of Zion, the printed commandments, and all things which may tend to eternal life…
Before they are old enough to think words for themselves, let them learn the Lord’s prayer, in the book of Mormon, and repeat it when they rise in the morning and when they go to bed at night: (namely:)
Our father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive out debtors.- And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever: Amen.”
What struck me was not only the admonition to teach children to recite The Lord’s Prayer, but that it was referenced from the Book of Mormon instead of the traditional place in the New Testament. As I’ve been reading here in The Evening and The Morning Star, I’ve been impressed with how much the Book of Mormon is talked of. Underwoods’ observation that the Bible was cited far more frequently than the Book of Mormon remains (“Book of Mormon Usage in Early LDS Theology”, Dialogue 17:3, 52) though in reading through, I’m brought to see that this notwithstanding, the Saints seem to have made a real effort to include the Book of Mormon in their discourse. As Richard Bushman noted, “Jan Shipps has argued that the Book of Mormon was one of the great foundation pillars of early Mormonism, and I agree.” (“The Book of Mormon in Early Mormon History”, 16, in New Views of Mormon History, edited by Davis Bitton and Marueen Ursenbach Beecher).