Her Candle Goeth Not Out By Night by Elspeth Young

Her Candle Goeth Not Out By Night

{ Charity Dickinson Pratt }
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Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...She riseth also while it is yet night...She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms...her candle goeth not out by night.

Proverbs 31:1,15-18

The story behind Her Candle Goeth Not Out By Night

This painting reflects the intellect, diligence and Christian devotion of an early American mother, Charity Dickinson Pratt.  Born in 1776, a descendant of religious martyr Anne Hutchinson, she nurtured her own children's love for the Savior and His word.  Without the aid of organized religion, she provided careful teaching to her little ones from the truths she had received, which provided her sons with a strong foundation on which their own faith could flourish.  Despite long and arduous days of work as a farmer's wife, this young mother provided spiritual nourishment for her growing family.  She is depicted stealing precious hours from the night to study, so that she might more ably teach her family, just as the virtuous woman praised at the conclusion of Proverbs.

Her thirst for light and knowledge was a virtue she shared with her husband, Jared, who looked upon the history of ancient Christianity, as recorded in the Bible, as something most sacred and worth possessing.  Together they instilled this quality in their children, encouraging them to be regular students of the Bible and often expressing their own wish to belong to the Church of Christ, if it could be found (see History of Orson Pratt, 1858).  They reared five remarkable sons at the outset of the young republic in America.

Two of their sons were called as Apostles of the Lord, another was called to the Quorum of the Seventy; all three accompanied the Prophet Joseph as members of Zions' Camp.  The five boys were avid scholars, and three played important roles in the exploration and settlement of the American west.  Their sons were scientists, mathematicians, poets, philosophers, and teachers.

Following the death of Jared, Charity accompanied her sons in their colonization efforts, eventually uniting with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, two years before Joseph Smith Smith's martyrdom.  In 1845, just prior to the Saints' expulsion from Nauvoo, Charity was baptized and endowed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having found the Church of Christ for which she and her husband had yearned.  Charity, along with six members of her family, journeyed West, glad to know they were going to a place of plenty, as well as peace, but with a lonely feeling in [their] hearts because of family members left behind (Mary Ann Stearns Winters Journal, 19-20).

Charity and her family endured Winter Quarters, Nebraska with no more protection from the cruel winter than a tent.  The family sought better conditions in Missouri, but, sadly, Charity and son, Anson, died in a cholera epidemic in 1849, before they achieved their dream of religious freedom in the west.

Symbolism in Her Candle Goeth Not Out By Night

The young Pratt family was originally well-to-do, but the industrial revolution ended Jared&aposs employment as a weaver and he struggled to make a living.  At times bright prospects of wealth...seemed to open up before them; but a succession of misfortunes kept them down in the low vales of poverty.  Nevertheless, Charity managed to supply her children with experiences rich in learning.  Her third son, Parley, described Charity's efforts on his behalf:

At the age of seven years, my mother gave me lessons to read in the Scriptures; I read of Joseph in Egypt, his dreams his servitude...I read of David and Goliath; of Saul and Samuel; of Samson and the Philistines—all these inspired me with hatred to the deeds of evil doers and love for good men and their deeds.  After this, I read of Jesus and his Apostles and O, how I loved them!  How I longed to fall at the feet of Jesus; to worship him, or to offer my life for his (Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, p. 2).

Charity's fourth son, Orson, also described his mother's watch-care in providing her children with every principle of morality and honesty....My parents instructed me to read the Bible, Orson continued, and the early impressions of morality and religion, instilled into my mind by my parents, always remained with me...  After Orson's lifetime of faithful sacrifice, discovery, and devoted Apostleship, he dictated the words for his tombstone: my testimony lives and shall endure forever.

This painting is also a reminder of the devotion and watch-care of all mothers the world over, who nurture their children in light and truth, and loving wisdom.  The candle flicker is the light a mother's own testimony gives her children in the dark world surrounding them; it is also a reminder of the Savior's teachings: Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

In the language of flowers, blue violets are the sign of watchfulness and faith; the hallmarks of exceptional motherhood.
© By Intellectual Reserve, Inc. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. Al Young Studios cannot make or sell any prints of this artwork at this time. Read more...

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