MISSIONARIES: Haw'n Islands Jubilee (1820-1870)

Last Updated: May 13, 2015

The Jubilee of the Arrival
of the First Missionaries
to the Kingdom of Hawaii

"The king [Kamehameha V (Lot)] consented to make the 15th of June, 1870 a national holiday, and to be present at the public celebration. He also directed a national salute to be fired on that day in honor of the occasion, and made liberal contributions for a grand collation." [1]

Wednesday was the Jubilee, and a day long to be remembered on these Islands. The people attended in great numbers, and the day was as pleasant as could have been desired. The Kawaiahao [Stone Church] was tastefully decorated by the hands of ladies. A procession was formed at ten o'clock. Two companies one of infantry and one of cavalry, all native soldiers, did honor to the occasion. The legislature had adjourned, and the members were in attendance, with the older missionaries, in carriages. The younger ministers, the native preachers and delegates, the faculty of Oahu College, the alumni of Lahainaluna Seminary, and the Mission Children's Society, added numbers and dignity to the display. But the most interesting feature of the procession was the array of children from the Sabbath-schools of the two native and two foreign churches of the city, eight hundred in number, all in neat holiday attire, and each school with its beautiful banner. The place of martial music was well supplied by hymns, ringing out in a multitude of harmonious youthful voices.

The children occupied the spacious galleries of the church, and the body of the house was filled to repletion by adults. The king then entered the church with Emma, queen dowager, attended by his ministers. He was received by the audience standing, the choir singing a version of "God save the King" in the Hawaiian language.

The scene was impressive. On the front of the gallery was the inscription in evergreen, "1820 - Jubilee - 1870;" and beneath, the national motto, "Ua mau ka ea o ka aina i ka pono" "The Life of the Land is preserved by Righteousness." The king sat at the right of the pulpit, and behind him were the members of his cabinet, and the diplomatic representatives of foreign nations. On the left were the missionaries; and a great mass of natives, numbering perhaps three thousand, crowded the edifice; and there was believed to be a greater number outside. [2]

Dr. N. G. Clark, Foreign Secretary of the American Board, speaking in behalf of the American Board, made the following address; which the Rev. H. H. Parker, pastor of the native church, translated sentence by sentence into the native tongue:

It seems to have been left to these Islands to present to the world one of the most remarkable illustrations of the developing power of Christianity. The procession that has just moved through your streets - that peaceful army with banners - and this great assembly, are witnesses to its triumphs. For the hour, local differences are forgotten; the places of business, the senate-chamber, and the court-room are deserted; rich and poor, the high-born and the lowly, meet on the higher level of a common humanity. We offer our prayer of thanksgiving; we raise our song of jubilee; royal munificence and private bounty unite to spread the feast on the nation's holiday.

This honor we pay to the gospel of Christ, and to the noble souls who here planted and nurtured the seeds of a Christian civilization. This is our recognition of the worth of the sainted dead, and of the honored living who still wait to put their robes of glory on.

The world's method of promoting the social and moral elevation of men is by commerce and civilization. We like the gospel better, and the culture that follows in its train. What did all the commerce and civilization of the world do for Africa before the introduction of Christianity? Let the midnight glare of blazing villages and the horrors of the slave-trade answer. What did they do for China? Witness the devastations of war and the opium traffic forced upon an unwilling people. What for the Islands of the Pacific, but to multiply the causes of disease and death? What household was made happier, what home purer, what man or woman raised to a nobler life?

But the changes wrought in these Islands during the last fifty years by the introduction of Christianity - who shall measure them? Where else have changes so great and so beneficent been witnessed in so short a period? A heathen nation has become Christian; the Bible, a Christian literature, schools, and churches, are open and free to all; law and order have taken the place of individual caprice; an independent government shares in the respect and courtesies of the civilized world; a poor wretched barter with a few passing ships, has been changed for a commerce that is reckoned by millions of dollars: but more than all, and better than all, the seeds of Christian culture, ripened on this soil, have been borne by the winds and found lodgment in lands thousands of miles away - in the Marquesas and in Micronesia [Hawaiian Missionaries].

And why these beautiful residences that line the streets of the capital, and stretch away up the valleys and down the coast? Why these houses of taste and culture, these gardens teeming with all the richness of a tropical clime, and enriched with the spoils of many lands? Why has this barren waste of a few years ago, where was neither tree, shrub, nor flower to relieve the eye, been changed as into the garden of the Lord, and made a fitting symbol of the moral changes that have passed over the Islands? Why these openings to enterprise and this delightful social life that attracts so many from other lands, but that Christianity has come with its better thought and nobler purpose, sending its quickening energies through every form of human activity, and demonstrating to this age of materialism, to this nineteenth century, that the highest progress of a nation comes not from commerce and civilization alone, but when a new life current has been poured through its heart and quickened its brain?

Other men have labored and we are entered into their labors. We are here to-day, we have come up to this Jubilee, because of the sacrifices, the patient toil and the heroic faith of Bingham, one of whose many monuments is this church edifice in which we are convened; of Thurston, whose name has gained new lustre these last few days; of Whitney, whose ardent zeal is lovingly remembered on Kauai, and because of their successors and compeers; - Andrews, the lexicographer of the Hawaiian tongue; Coan, who has been permitted to fill out the largest church roll allotted to any man in his generation [Hilo, Hawaii]; Alexander, the teacher of an able and efficient ministry, Lyons, the sweet singer of this Israel; and Richards and Judd and Armstrong, who in troublous times rendered invaluable aid to the government in the organization and maintenance of civil institutions; and many other equally devoted followers of Christ, whose praise is in all the churches.

We forget not to-day the generous support and the hearty cooperation in every good work of the noble men and women, of whom the Hawaiian people may well be proud; Kalanimoku, whose native courtesy was only equaled by his Christian fidelity; blind Bartimeus, who saw much and loved much, sitting at the feet of Jesus; Keopuolani, the daughter, wife, and mother of kings; Elizabeth Kaahumanu, who seemed to combine in one character, her imperial namesake of England and the Saint of Hungary; Kapiolani, who could alike illustrate the beauty of the gospel in a well ordered household, and its boldness in braving the wrath of Pele. But time would fail me to name or number those of high and low degree whose example, faith, and prayer, sustained and cheered the mission circle, and contributed so largely to the success of their labors.

Nor, as a representative of the American Board, can I forget the fathers and mothers, who gave of their sons and daughters to come to this then far-off land, nor the thousands and tens of thousands, who gave of their wealth and of their poverty, and when they had nothing else to give, gave of their prayers for the welfare of a people, of whom they asked and expected no return.

What may be the future of this nation, what its place in the future history of the church or the world, we presume not to foretell. He who reads the signs of the times need be at no loss in judging of its importance. For us, the past at least is secure. The story of the gospel on these Islands has gone forth to all lands, and stirred the hearts and quickened the hopes of the Christian world.

In view of these delightful memories, and the grand result achieved through the blessing of God upon the labors of his servants, shall we not pledge ourselves to maintain and round out into full-orbed completeness the work of the fathers? Shall we not, with larger faith and surer hope, consecrate ourselves to the evangelization of the world?

Here we fight the battle, and there we wear the crown; here the faith, the toil, the struggle, there the endless Jubilee. [3]

[1: page 343-344] [2: pages 345-346] [3: pages 346-350]
History of the Mission of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to The Sandwich Islands