Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts by Elspeth Young

Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts


{ Phoebe }
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I commend unto you Phebe [Phoebe] our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

John 8:2-11

The story behind Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts

At the conclusion of his epistle to the Romans, Paul mentions the woman by whom Paul sent the letter from Corinth to the saints in Rome--a Cenchrean "servant of the church" named Phoebe (see Romans 16).  He describes her simply and movingly as "our sister," one in need of assistance "in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also" (Romans 16:1-2).  His praise, though brief, speaks volumes about Phoebe's character and discipleship, and inspired the composition of this painting.

Phoebe is depicted in the angelic role of "succourer of many"--one who emulates the Savior, who is described as One knowing "how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (Alma 7:12) and who "is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 12:18; see also D&C 62:1).  When Paul describes the Messiah as one who "is able to succour," he uses the Greek word "boetheo," meaning "to run to the cry of those in danger" to "help, succor, bring aid" (Blue Letter Bible at www.blueletterbible.org).

As a disciple of Christ, Phoebe does likewise.  Her compassionate arm encircles the widow at the focal point of the painting, and reminds us of the Lord's stirring injunction to "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees" (D&C 81:5).  


Paul also describes Phoebe as being liberal in providing temporal assistance by sharing her own substance.  Paul does so by using the Greek word "prostatis," which denotes  Phoebe's care as a "guardian, protectress, patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources" (Blue Letter Bible at www.blueletterbible.org).  He uses the word "diakonsos," meaning one commissioned to minister to and care for the poor and the needy, distributing "the money collected for their use" (Blue Letter Bible at www.blueletterbible.org).

In other words, Phoebe lived the reality of King Benjamin's teaching that a vital means of retaining a remission of one's sins includes "succor[ing] those that stand in need of succor" by "administer[ing] of your substance unto him that standeth in need...not suffer[ing] that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain" (see Mosiah 4:12-16).

Phoebe's example teaches anew the truth taught by the Savior that "whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister" and "if any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be" (see Mark 10:43 and John 12:26).

The title of the painting comes from the lyrics of Come, Ye Disconsolate (written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) and published in Sacred Songs, 1816):

Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish,
Come, at the shrine of God fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Symbolism in Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts

Phoebe's encircling arms remind us that we each need succor that only the Master can give.  He promises:  "I will encircle thee in the arms of my love" (D&C 6:20).  Perhaps, no one has more beautifully expressed what the Savior's love entails than this teaching by Boyd K. Packer:

"For some reason, we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us.  While we do not fully understand how the Atonement of Christ was made, we can experience 'the peace of God, which passeth all understanding'" ("The Touch of the Master's Hand," Liahona, July 2001, p. 26; Ensign, May 2001, p. 23).

The young widow cradles beautiful white cyclamen blossoms in her hand--a second focal point to attract the viewer's gaze.  These flowers represent the comfort, available to all who mourn; comnfort to be found in the joyful angelic pronouncement:  "He is not here, but is risen" (see Luke 24:6 and Matthew 28:6).  It is the hope echoed by Joseph B. Wirhlin's timeless promise:  "I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death--Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.  No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, in this life or the next, Sunday will come" (Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Sunday Will Come," New Era, March 2008, pp. 2-5).

The fresco behind the figures recalls Italian artistic traditions, and simply reminds the viewer of the setting for Phoebe's ministrations.

The two women have hairstyles akin to those in Rome during the period represented in the painting.  Extant marble busts of notable women from the Empire Period in Rome show styles consisting of intricate braids and piles of curls, which are echoed in the subdued hairstyles chosen by the artist--a "daily life" version mimicking the more elaborate trends of the day.  The widow wears a black head wrap and tunic, symbolic of her mourning, while the elaborate gold and blue wrap draped about Phoebe's shoulders symbolizes her thoughtful care ("the bond of charity," which, like a "mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace" enfolds both giver and receiver in the pure love of Christ (see D&C 88:125).

The painting, as a whole, also attempts to remind us that when confronted with the helplessness we feel upon hearing of the suffering of others, Phoebe's example as one who did "what she could" (see Mark 14:8) suffices to compensate for our own weakness whenever we attempt to succor those in need.  Her timeless example reminds us that "in the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance.  Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers" (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Happiness, Your Heritage," October 2008 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Curatorial Details

The panel is Masonite. Several gesso layers were applied directly to the panel. The gesso was manufactured by Utrecht Mfg. Corp., 6 Corporate Dr., Cranbury, New Jersey 08512 USA. Oil paints used in the creation of this painting include Rembrandt colors manufactured by Royal Talens, P.O. Box 4, Apeldoorn, Holland; M. Graham & Co., West Linn, Oregon 97068 USA; and Gamblin Artists Colors, PO Box 15009, Portland, Oregon 97293 USA. The medium used was Walnut Alkyd Medium, also manufactured by M. Graham & Co. The painting is coated with Cold Wax Medium (beeswax), also manufactured by Gamblin.
© By Elspeth Young, All Rights Reserved. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. For permissions, please review our FAQ page.



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Illustration: Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts

By Al R. Young
High-resolution digital copies are available from the Studios for use as illustrations.  Use the serial number—appearing below the thumbnail—in requesting permission from the Studios (see links at the bottom of this page for detail).


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Project Commentaries: Here Bring Your Wounded Hearts by Elspeth Young

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