“Great Mourning and Howling and Weeping Among All the People Continually”

Brant Gardner

This verse serves to shift the focus away from the natural phenomena and towards the effect that it had on the people. The transition from geological to human moves on the basis of sound. The earth had been making great noises (thunderings) and now the people themselves make great noises. Here we have “mourning and howling and weeping,” and “groanings.” The earth visibly and audibly complains, and now the people echo that sentiment. They too emit sounds terrible to hear because they indicate mourning. This description of the great sounds is quite in line with the ancient forms of mourning which typically required visible and audible signs of the grief. Certainly we may see in these descriptions of the lamentations of the people the cultural forms of visible and audible mourning. What may perhaps be implied is that this mourning is paralleled by the earth itself.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon