George Manwaring and his family converted to the Church when he was 17 years old; then they immigrated from Cheshire, England to Utah. At only 24 years old, he had the opportunity to see C. C. A. Christiansen’s newly finished painting of the First Vision, entitled “The Vision”. This painting seems to be the first attempt to convey the momentous First Vision, so perhaps it isn’t so surprising that, faced with a fine artist’s depiction of the event for the first time, Manwaring was so overcome that he wrote a poem about it.
Oh, how lovely was the morning!
Radiant beamed the sun above.
Bees were humming, sweet birds singing,
Music ringing thru the grove,
When within the shady woodland
Joseph sought the God of love.
Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing—
‘Twas the boy’s first uttered prayer—
When the pow’rs of sin assailing
Filled his soul with deep despair;
But undaunted, still he trusted
In his Heav’nly Father’s care.
Suddenly a light descended,
Brighter far than noonday sun,
And a shining, glorious pillar
O’er him fell, around him shone,
While appeared two heav’nly beings,
God the Father and the Son.
“Joseph, this is my Beloved;
Hear him!” Oh, how sweet the word!
Joseph’s humble prayer was answered,
And he listened to the Lord.
Oh, what rapture filled his bosom,
For he saw the living God.
Interestingly, though, Manwaring was able to compose this profound poem despite having very little formal education. Instead, he received most of his education reading great books whenever he could get hold of them. He also managed to teach himself piano and organ.
You’ll be disappointed to note, however, that it is impossible to find a single photograph of the painting which inspired this poem anywhere on the Internet, so you will have to make due with your own imaginations! Here is a collection of C. C. A. Christiansen’s paintings for you to enjoy; perhaps once you are familiar with his style you can imagine what his painting of the First Vision might have looked like.
While you are imagining that, perhaps you can listen. Here is a lovely video with a youth choir singing:
Do you like Dallyn Bayles? Here he testifies that there’s nothing else quite like the First Vision to bring the Spirit into a missionary discussion, and then he sings for us.
And, finally, if you watch ONE video, watch this one. You will not regret it.
Jenna Dilts is a mother of three pre-school-aged children. Last year she led a discussion of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles on the AO forum. You can find her blogging at To Work Wonders, where she is currently working through AO year 1 for herself.