Joel Hills Johnson
Every now and then people recognize me, or those who have always known me will on occasion share their family story. I have had individuals offer me their ancestor’s journals. Trust me, I’m not complaining. It’s fascinating to me to hear and read the history of these ancestors, and some of this material I’ve shared in my books or this blog. I love it when people tell me they are related to so and so. At a book signing I had one dear sister tell me she was the daughter-in-law to Avard Fairbanks, the famous Church sculptor, and then shared a number of stories of this great gentleman. Just recently at work I was speaking with an individual who is a direct descendant of Joel Hills Johnson. He was a great man and early pioneer of the Church. In honor to him, I share the following story.
Benjamin Johnson states in his journal that his brother, Joel Hills Johnson, was instrumental in his conversion to the Church. Who is Joel Hills Johnson?
A) The body guard to Hyrum Smith
B) The man who shot Governor Boggs
C) He wrote the hymn, “High on the Mountain Top”
D) First official resident to construct a cabin in Nauvoo
(A) Mormon Trail hymns
The first hymn book was listed by sections. Some such sections were “Farewell hymns,” “Morning hymns,” and “Evening hymns.” Interestingly these morning and evening hymns were not to be sung at church, but rather for home use to be sung as families first thing in the morning and before the family retired for the evening. There were only six morning and six evening hymns, indicating, most likely, that one hymn was to be sung each morning and evening of the week.
Michael Hicks, “What Hymns Early Mormons Sang and How They Sang Them,” BYU Studies 47, no. 1 (2008), 99.