Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

Choir Singing at General Conference for nearly 150 Years!

“Bless those that sing,” Brigham Young, second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in prayer October 6, 1867 in general conference in the new Tabernacle on Temple Square. That blessing has carried forward for 147 years as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has played a significant and meaningful role in general conference worship. The Choir was formed, in large part, to provide music for the conference sessions and to this day the Choir is the centerpiece of conference music.

This October 5-6 the 15 million-plus members of the Church will view conference now held in the Conference Center by many forms of media.  The Choir was singing in 1924 when conference was first carried on radio, in 1949 when conference was first broadcast on television, in 1979 when the first satellite broadcasts were produced, and in in 2009 when the first online broadcast for conference were accessible on the LDS Church’s website.

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Remembering John F. Kennedy’s Final Visit To Utah

When President John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Utah on September 26, 1963, thousands of Utahns, complete with welcome signs, gathered to greet the president at the airport. It was estimated that 125,000 people lined the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in hopes of seeing the president in his convertible limousine. His visit to Utah was part of a five-day, 11-state trip that would start in Pennsylvania and cross the country to California.

The president had previously come to the state twice as a senator in the 1950s and twice as a Democratic candidate in 1960. The tabernacle visit in 1963 marked his fifth and final visit to Utah. He gave a 27-minute speech mostly devoted to foreign policy, but he also commended Utah’s high school graduation rate. He also praised the Mormon pioneers saying, “Of all the tales of America's pioneers and settlers, none is more inspiring than that of the Mormon Trail."  

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"I Stand All Amazed"—Video and Lyrics

“I Stand All Amazed” is a hymn of praise and wonder that acknowledges gratitude for the Savior’s Atonement. Charles H. Gabriel, who composed between 7,000 and 8,000 songs, wrote “I Stand All Amazed” in 1898. Born in Wilton, Iowa, in 1856 and raised on a farm, he taught himself to play his family’s reed organ and never had any formal music training.

During his life he edited 35 gospel song books, 8 Sunday school song books, 10 children’s song books, and countless other music collections including anthems, cantatas, and instructional books.

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Inspiring Stories From the Choir’s Momentous 1991 European Tour

When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir toured Europe and Russia in 1991, they were met with an outpouring of the Spirit. Audiences in Frankfurt, Berlin, Zurich, Strasbourg, Budapest, Warsaw, Moscow, Prague, and Leningrad were touched by the emotional and inspirational music performed by the Choir.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, who traveled with the Choir during the tour, said, “How bold and inspired they were [the First Presidency and Choir leadership] to conceive this tour many months—even years—before Europe’s unwelcoming walls began to crumble! The Brethren had the faith to believe that the Choir could sing in cities such as Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Leningrad, and Moscow long before such dreams seemed plausible.” He also said that the tour was “part of the Lord’s plan to preach the gospel to the people of the world.”

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"Amazing Grace": Mack Wilberg’s Arrangement of the Famous Folk Hymn

We’ve all heard “Amazing Grace” sung in many forms, from the country to pop, Celtic to gospel. Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Rod Stewart and Willie Nelson have recorded it and it has been used in many films and pop culture settings. The hymn is one of the most recognizable English language songs and has been recorded over 6,600 times. "It may be the most recorded song on the planet," said Jerry Bailey, executive at Broadcast Music, Inc., of Nashville.

Mack Wilberg, director the Mormon Tabernacle Choir arranged his own version of “Amazing Grace,” which starts with the men singing in unison, gradually adds vocal parts and builds to an awe-inspiring culmination of harmonies. Of the hymn itself Wilberg said, "It's a perfect marriage of text and tune…it just resonates in a way that few other hymns do." He added, "It has universal appeal.”

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Seven Video Gems from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Many Choir fans have heard the well-known favorites such as “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Come, Come Ye Saints.” These and many other Choir performances have racked up a large number of views on YouTube and have become fan favorites. However, with over 700 videos on our YouTube channel, there are many gems that are worthy of attention. Here are seven videos we think you’ll love.

1. "Hold On," from The Secret Garden

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s Remarks on the Choir Singing “O Divine Redeemer”

In October 2009 at a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stepped up to the pulpit before he was about to deliver his talk and said, “To this Choir: may they accept the thanks of everyone in this audience and all who heard them sing this choral prayer, which is surely the ultimate sermon of this or any conference of this Church and the cry of every human heart.” He then turned to the Choir and said, “Thank you. Now if I can speak I’ll try to do so.”

The Choir had just sung the hymn “O Divine Redeemer” before Elder Holland’s remarks. Following his heartfelt thanks to the Choir, he then delivered a powerfully memorable sermon on the Book of Mormon, titled "Safety for the Soul."

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