The Funeral of Orson Pratt.

A Vast Gathering at the Mormon Tabernacle Yesterday.
Addresses and Eulogies on the Departed Apostle.
Memorial Services in Honor of Feramorz Little Young.

The funeral of Apostle Orson Pratt at the Tabernacle yesterday, drew together a congregation at the morning services of about six thousand people.

The coffin which contained the remains was exposed on a raised pedestal between the audience and the portion of the edifice set apart for the leaders of the Church.  It was covered with floral decorations of a most elaborate character, and below it were designs in flowers and leaves representing sickles, wreathes, anchors, crosses, harps and similar emblems.  The table below the coffin was strewn with bouquets, the vast ceiling of the edifice was hung with wreaths of flowers and evergreens, and the church and organ were draped heavily in black.  The chandelier above the fountain was covered with evergreens and icstoons of trailing vines.

John Taylor’s Opening Address.

John Taylor called the congregation to order and opened the business by saying they had met together pursuant to an adjournment had six months previous.  That they were assembled for the good of the people of Zion, throughout the land of Zion, and for the purpose of attending to all matters relative to the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people of the Church.  That all present should be prepared with thankful hearts to attend to all matters, which were just and right and for the good of the Church, and that the blessing of God would rest upon the Church and its afflictions and business operations.  He called attention to the fact that the Church had been called upon to attend the semi-annual Conference, and at the same time take part in the funeral of one of its leading Apostles.  He thought the occasion a fitting one to attend to the obsequies of the dead brother, and at the same time hold a memorial service in honor of Feramorz Young, the son of Brigham Young, who had recently died while on a mission to Mexico.  He extolled the young man as an exemplary person in private life, and a good Latter-day Saint.

Wilford Woodruff followed with brief remarks, and announced that the congregation would presently have an opportunity of viewing for the last time the features of the man whose voice they had listened to for half a century.

The hymn, “Hark From Afar a Funeral Knell,” was sung by a choir of sixty voices, accompanied by the organ and stringed instruments.  Joseph Smith followed with a prayer.

Viewing the Remains.

The coffin was then carried from its pedestal and placed on supports in front of the stand.  When the face was uncovered the leaders of the Church and choir were allowed to view the features of the dead, after which the congregation passed by the coffin in two lines, from south to north, leaving the building through the north entrance, while the organ reeled a succession of solemn voluntaries.  Although the crowd passed the coffin with great rapidity, it took the congregation full two hours to pass the stand.  The Conference was adjourned at 11 o’clock, when the coffin was lowered for inspection, pursuant to being called at 1 o’clock.

The Afternoon Services. 

At one o’clock in the afternoon there was a much larger gathering, that being understood as the time when the regular funeral services would take place.  The body of the building was filled and about two thousand people occupied the gallery.

The choir opened with the hymn “Thou dost not weep to weep alone,” after which there was another prayer by Joseph Smith and Wilford Woodruff taking one of the pulpits, read from the Book of Mormon, what is known among the Saints as the revelations of Joseph Smith, commanding him to teach the gospel, etc.  From this text the speaker preached about half an hour.  He wanted power from the Almighty to help bear the affliction, caused by the death of Pratt, and said that sometimes he felt that he would like his deceased brother, like to burst the bonds which bound him to the earth and explore the mysteries of the hereafter, but as the matter stood he felt that he must submit to the will of God and wait his time.  He did not deem it possible, in the short time allotted, to give a thousandth part of the eventful life of the deceased, the good he had done for the faith, or the glories he was now enjoying beyond the grave.  The history of the man’s life would never be written.  He first heard Pratt preach in 1834, and it was that preaching that drew him to the Church.

The deceased had prayed more, preached more, and traveled more miles than any other man in the Church.  His garments were clean, his soul pure, and in the great day of the latter judgment, he would rise up, and bear testimony against the present generation.

Lorenzo Snow spoke of Pratt’s great labors for the Church, and believed that all the powers of earth and hell could not keep him from tasting the glories of the kingdom.  He believed that Pratt was already laboring to make converts to the true faith on the other side of the grave, and here he thought there was a great field for missionary work; that the elders could do more good in Heaven than on the earth and that their labors would be infinitely greater.

F.D. Richards mourned the loss of his friend and brother, who had for many years been as valuable in the service of the Church and so active in his counsels.  Few men had spoken for half a century, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pratt got the seal of his authority from men who got it direct from Peter, James and John.  He bowed to every revealed principle of the gospel even when his own views led him in contrary opinions, and obeyed higher commands when his obedience was a task.  Sometimes the speaker asked himself what right he had to so many good things of earth, when the old Apostles who were beheaded and boiled in oil had so little.  He sorrowed at times within his heart that he was placed in such a position when he had comparatively done so little for the Lord.  He spoke glowingly of the scientific and astronomical attainments of the deceased, and called attention to the fact that he had fifty-five grandchildren.

John Taylor next spoke, and said that the grand work of the Mormon Church was designed by God before the world rolled in space and the stars sang together.  The dead Apostles had been called to a higher life, and it was good to be so called.  He would not delay for a single day the flight of a soul so called.  Pratt was needed beyond the grave to cooperate with the holy priesthood.  Joseph Smith had been called to Abraham’s bosom, and was with him now, because Smith was a patriarch like Abraham.  Joseph Smith had visions and dreams, as the speaker had, and as all true Saints had at times.  He wanted more zeal and less weakness among the followers of the Church, in carrying out the commands which came from God Almighty.

Geo. Q. Cannon alluded to the deaths, almost simultaneously, of Orson Pratt, Feramorz Young and the laborer who had fallen from the Temple.  Feramorz Young was one of the most exemplary young men he had ever known.  Although he had mingled long with the world and had been subjected to the fiery trials of temptations he had never fallen by the wayside.  He never chewed tobacco, drank tea or coffee or other stimulants and was in fact and in truth a Latter-day Saint.  He was a sweet, pure soul, always doing what was right.  At the Annapolis Military Academy, he had a peculiar influence…over his father’s estate, he offered to give up his share to make peace and harmony.  He loved all these things, everything that was good and self sacrificing, and sweet, and pure and true.  The speaker then read extracts from some letters written by the young man in Mexico, in which he claimed that he had made some discoveries among the Indians, which fully corroborated the Mormon bible.

At the close of Cannon’s speech the family of Orson Pratt were allowed to view the remains, after which Miss Laura Nebeker sang a solo, “Mourn Not the Dead,” the choir joining in the chorus.  Daniel Wells pronounced the benediction and the congregation was dismissed, the organ playing Entre de Procession.  The coffin was then taken to the hearse, the following apostles acting as pallbearers: Wilford Woodruff, Franklin Richards, John H. Smith, Marion Lyman, D.H. Wells and Lorenzo Snow.

[Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 7, 1881]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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