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March 1, 1897, was a joyous moment in Mormon history.
Thousands filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle to celebrate President Wilford Woodruff’s 90th birthday. None of President Woodruff’s three prophetic latter-day predecessors had reached even their 80th birthday—so his passage into a 10th decade prompted gratitude and celebration.
As a tribute to the Church’s fourth President, Mormon Tabernacle Choir director Evan Stephens wrote the words to a new hymn entitled “We Ever Pray for Thee”:
We ever pray for thee, our prophet dear,
That God will give to thee comfort and cheer;
As the advancing years furrow thy brow,
Still may the light within shine bright as now,
Still may the light within shine bright as now.
(“We Ever Pray for Thee,” Hymns, no. 23)
Those heartfelt words—penned over a century ago—seem relevant at this moment in the Church. One of President Woodruff’s successors, President Thomas S. Monson, marks his own 90th birthday on August 21. (See related story.)
Every day countless Latter-day Saints say a prayer for their “prophet dear.” They too ask God to bless President Monson with “comfort and cheer.”
President Monson’s long life has been defined by Christlike service. He was called as a bishop at age 22, a mission president at 31, and an Apostle at 36. Since then, he has visited the globe’s many climes, testifying of Jesus Christ and bringing comfort, hope, and direction to legions.
Now in his 10th year as the Church’s leader, President Monson knows well the advancing years that furrow his own brow. And, as the hymn implores, we too hope for light to shine bright from within this beloved nonagenarian.
So what would President Monson wish for on his 90th birthday?
To read the full article on the Church News, click here.