While Philo Dibble includes a lot of detail in his hymn about the “happy day” that “at last has come”, he doesn’t specify what day precisely about which he was writing. Was it the day of Joseph Smith’s first vision? The day he received the plates from Moroni? The day the church was officially organized? One could make a case of any of these and others.
Let’s see what Brother Dibble tells us about about this happy day and decide when it might be.
“The truth restored is now made known.”
This indicates that the day is post-apostasy, since the truth had to be restored. Anything from the day God and Jesus Christ appeared the boy Joseph in the Sacred Grove or after is a possibility.
“The promised angel’s come again to introduce Messiah’s reign.”
Here we get a little more ambiguous. Which angel are we talking about? Nephi teaches us a little something about angels: “Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.“(2 Nephi 32:2-3)
By this token, we could argue that anyone speaking by the power of the Holy Ghost is acting as an angel, a messenger sent by God. On this happy day, someone–heavenly being or divinely appointed mortal–has or will proclaim the best tidings of great joy mankind has ever heard: Jesus lives and will return again.
This happens a lot. With 15 million members and 83,000 missionaries, people are proclaiming the gospel all the time. And when they do, they speak with the tongue of angels.
(Do you see where I’m going with this “when is the happy day” business?)
“The lands which long benighted lay have now beheld a glorious day.”
The Americas were “long benighted” when the Nephites were destroyed and the Lamanites dwindled in unrighteousness. But the Holy Land and surrounding areas also sank into the night of apostasy as one by one Christ’s Apostles were killed and the gospel fulness was lost. Other lands that (as far as we know) were not even visited by the Savior have lain in darkness even longer. Much of the world has received the good news of the gospel, but not every country has been touched by its light yet.
But slowly, slowly the dawn is breaking.
The day was foretold by prophets and anticipated by Saints. (see verse 3)
The time of the Restoration was foretold. The building of temples was foretold. The spreading of the gospel through missionary work, the organization of stakes throughout the world…everything pertaining to this last dispensation has been prophesied by prophets in every other dispensation. The Saints have been looking forward to the end of times for countless generations. Each step forward is another fulfillment of prophecy, another happy day.
Which brings me to what I have concluded is the happy day of which we sing in this hymn.
“Saints again shall hear the voice of Jesus in their ear.”
Every day another child of God hears the gospel message for the first time is a happy day. Every time we read our scriptures is a happy day. Each General Conference weekend, each visit to the temple, each Sabbath when we are instructed, each Family Home Evening…whenever we hear the word of God, it is a happy day.
His gospel is good news. His word is hope and love and eternal joy in the presence of the Father. Go read Jesus’ teachings. Share them with your family, friends, and neighbors.
Make it a happy day.