BYU Studies Quarterly
David O. McKay, David Oman McKay, Marriage, Emma Ray McKay, Love poetry, American, History, criticism
David Oman McKay and Emma Ray Riggs were married January 2, 1901, making them, as David noted, the first couple sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in the twentieth century. As David's public profile rose with his call as Apostle in 1906 and then as President of the Church in 1951, the McKays became known popularly as the Church's happiest couple. During their marriage, President McKay wrote poems and other expressions of endearment for Emma Ray. He delivered these "heart petals," as he called them, from the Tabernacle pulpit and in the Deseret News Church Section on their anniversary, her birthday, holidays, and other occasions. He publicly wooed his wife and intermittently even said to his audience, "May I give you what I call a 'heart petal' as we sit in sacred communion?" Latter-day Saints identified with their prophet's charm. Emma Ray McKay valued her husband's efforts. She expressed her appreciation and affection:
In marriage, a woman's happiness is committed to a husband's tender care. David has given me that care always, trying to make everything as easy as possible in the home. He is neat in his habits, always desirous of getting help when needed, especially concerned with my state of health, never reproaching me for my personal or mental defects, ever making me feel that I am of the greatest importance to him. "A man never appears to greater advantage than in proving to the word his affection and preference for his wife." It is a joy to have my birthday and Christmas roll around, not so much for material gift from my sweetheart as for the "heart-petals in rhyme" with which he continues to woo me and which always thrill me... Charm... is a natural to him as life."
Woodger, Mary Jane
"“Twenty Years Ago Today”: David O. McKay's Heart Petals Revisited,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 44:
2, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol44/iss2/10