Devotionals from the Past: 1950s and earlier


Karl G. Maeser first instituted daily assemblies at Brigham Young Academy for instruction and worship. A theology class was taught at the start of each school day during the late 1800s. Returned missionaries and faculty taught the students of the academy, along with special visits from General Authorities of the Church. Devotionals became a distinguishing factor of BYU. Moving from the Maeser Building to the old Joseph Smith Building and then over to the Smith Fieldhouse, the devotionals drew large crowds of students, a fact that still holds true today. The Marriott Center now holds thousands of student every Tuesday as they join together to hear the words of faculty, political leaders, religious leaders and General Authorities of the LDS Church. From the 1950s to today, the words spoken during devotionals still ring with truth.

Joseph Fielding Smith, then- Quorum of the Twelve, October 1949
“The gospel of Jesus Christ above all else should be taught and every student in this institution should go forth from it with an abiding testimony in Jesus Christ and likewise in the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. If this isn’t done than someone has failed. For every effort should be put forth to see that faith is planted in the hearts of those who come here.”

Franklin S. Harris, then- President of Utah State University, November 1949
“It’s your duty, your positive duty to learn all of the things you can learn that will assist you.”

John A Widtsoe, then- Quorum of the Twelve, December 1949
“Truth in itself is extremely simple. Truth is easily understood. Truth is easily comprehended.”

LeGrand Richards, then- Presiding Bishop, June 1950
“Many of us wouldn’t have amounted to a great deal in leadership had it not been for the church and the opportunities that the church affords to us.”

George Albert Smith, then- President of the Church, June 1950
“What a blessing we enjoy in this wonderful land of liberty, and in this particular part of it, under the shadow of these great mountains and by the beautiful lake on the other side of the valley. Fresh, delightful, pure air, I don’t know of any place in the world where there’s a school that has more advantage, natural advantage, than we have right here.”

J. Rueben Clark, then- Second Counselor in the First Presidency, December 1951
“The creator of universes, how very simple and commonplace are the miracles which He performed and which are giving so much trouble to our rationalists.”

Belle S. Spafford, then- Relief Society General President, July 1953
“The leaders of our church, from the Prophet Joseph Smith down to the present day leaders, have shown great faith in education.”

Matthew Cowley, then- Quorum of the Twelve, October 1953
“There’s no purpose in all of this obedience if there is no provision from that obedience for peace of mind, tranquility of soul. Have peace in your hearts, have peace of mind and then let that influence carry over into the lives of others.”

David O. McKay, then- President of the Church, October 1956
“We believe in being honest, true, true to the companions, true to the ideals…Oh, how glorious, the opportunities of youth! … And if you’re going to be true to the ideals you’re going to be true to yourselves and to the school and to excelling. But higher than that—the guide, the anchor in your life bringing happiness and peace to your soul, following those ideals in daily life, I know that you’re happier with it!”

Ernest L. Wilkinson, then- President of BYU, September 1959
“The very foundation and preservation of our society requires that the forces of good always report on the emissaries of evil. … May God bless each of us that this year on this campus through administration of the honor code by the students, we may give to the outside world as well as to ourselves the greatest example of honesty, integrity of any student body in the world.”

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