I have been thinking today of Luacine Clark Fox. A few nights ago, I stumbled across the sheet music of her wonderful hymn, “Love One Another.”
She gave me that music, sweetly inscribed, back in 1999 — not long before she passed away.
I met her only that once and we spoke for about 30 minutes. But it often surprises me how well I remember everything she said.
Like her music and poetry, Fox’s conversations had a way of seeping into your heart and staying there.
I remember her speaking quite a bit about her father, J. Reuben Clark Jr. His name is chiseled in many slabs of stone at BYU and other places. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today may not remember him, but they hold him in high regard.
Those of us of a certain age, however, are fortunate enough to remember the man himself — his bearing, his speech, his mannerisms. He was a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church. And he was a brilliant and imposing soul.
The day Fox and I met, she told me a story about an “interview” she had with him when she was a young girl.
I want to share it, just so the wind doesn’t blow it away — too many stories die when the people who tell them pass away.
This one deserves a longer life.
Luacine Clark Fox, it seems, had been having some real success as a young poet. And her gifts hadn’t escaped her father’s notice. And one day, he called her into his office to talk.
She said her father had big desk. And she knew this was an “official” moment because he stayed behind it to talk with her.
“Luacine,” she remembered him saying, “I’ve been reading your poems and I think you have a future. In fact, I think you could probably sell them and make some money with your talent.”
She said she just looked down at the floor. After a moment, she looked up.
“Thank you,” she said, “I promised the Lord if he would give me joy I would never try to make money with my writing.”
She said her father looked at her for the longest time.
“He had that big lower lip,” she said. “And he kept thrumming it with his index finger.”
Finally, after what seemed like an hour, he spoke.
“Well, Luacine,” he said. “What can I say? I guess you’re stuck with joy.”
Years later, when she was in her 40s, Fox was working on a cantata when the words and music for “Love One Another” streamed into her mind as if angels were singing it for her. She said she wrote the hymn down as she heard it and never changed a note or word. And along with the hymn, she said, came sweet feelings of peace and joy.
Because Fox was willing to take “joy” as a reward, her hymn has kindled that same joy in the souls of millions of Latter-day Saints.
Fox was “stuck with joy.”
And, thankfully, when we hear that hymn, so are many of the rest of us.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company