Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Passes 5 Million Views!

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was one of the very first songs uploaded to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s YouTube channel when the channel was launched in 2012, and now it has officially surpassed 5 million views.

The popularity of the hymn has grown in recent years for several reasons. One reason is that it’s not in the current LDS Church hymnbook, which makes it a bit mysterious, and therefore it seems a bit more obscure. Another reason is the amount of cover versions that are popping up on YouTube. Some of the more popular versions are from artists such as Chris Tomlin, Hillary Scott and the Scott Family, Chris Rice, David Crowder Band, Mumford and Sons, and many more.

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Where Does the Saying “Pull Out All the Stops” Come From?

This will be one of those rare “Aha!” moments in life where you’ll think, “Oh, I get it—that makes so much sense.”

How many times in life have you heard someone say something along the lines of “They pulled out all the stops for this wedding?” Chances are, it was more than once. And chances are, you’ve probably never questioned where the saying came from. Well, now is the time to find out once and for all.

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Join Us for “An Evening of Brahms” Spring Concert!

On Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, 2018, the Temple Square Chorale and Orchestra at Temple Square will join their musical talents for this year’s Spring Concert in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

This year’s program will include two much loved Johannes Brahms works. The Orchestra will perform The Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80, one of Brahms’ most beloved instrumental music compositions.  The Orchestra and the Temple Square Chorale together will perform Brahms’ renowned Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem)

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Clay Christiansen: Living a Life of Music

How do you say goodbye to a good friend? Clay Christiansen, a Tabernacle organist for nearly 36 years, recently announced he will retire from his full-time position at the end of April 2018. On Sunday, April 1, after playing the organ during Sunday morning’s Music and the Spoken Word broadcast and the general conference session, Clay Christiansen received a standing ovation from the Choir and others in the Conference Center. Christiansen acknowledged the applause by raising his arms in gratitutde and nodding a silent “thank you,” first to the Choir and then to the audience.

“I’m going to miss being in the best seat in the house to hear that marvelous sound,” Christiansen remarked. “It’s all a great labor of love, and I feel like the most blessed man on the face of the earth to have been a part of it for over 35 years.”

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How Does Lloyd Newell Come Up with His Spoken Word Messages?

Last year, there were 52 episodes of Music and the Spoken Word—there will be 52 this year—and there will be 52 next year. This is the way it’s been since July 1929, when the beautiful sounds of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir coming from the historic Tabernacle on Temple Square began to be a familiar Sunday morning soundtrack to people around the world.

Less than a year after the initial 1929 broadcast, Richard L. Evans was named as the first regular program narrator, a position he held until 1971. He was followed by J. Spencer Kinard, who served from 1972 to 1990. Since 1990, Lloyd Newell each week has delivered messages of inspiration, hope, joy, comfort, and love. These faithful messages are nondenominational and demonstrate universal principles, and they are filled with simple eloquence and uncommon wisdom.

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Former Choir Guest Artists Perform Music from The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is an American musical film, released on December 20, 2017. Surprisingly, in the first week of its release, the film was actually considered a box-office bomb. An early review boldly stated, “Considering the film that triumphantly declared itself ‘the greatest show’ had an $84 million budget, this is a flop for 20th Century Fox. Condolences to Hugh Jackman and his passion project.”

But then something extraordinary happened. The film caught on—in a BIG way. While typical Hollywood films rely on big opening weekends, The Greatest Showman ran opposite to box-office trends and has become the biggest film story of 2018. A recent article in The Guardian marveled, “The Greatest Showman’s success is not just surprising: it’s bordering on miraculous.”

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Los Angeles Concert Announced for 2018 Tour!

A new concert location has been announced—The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California—for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square’s 2018 Classic Coast Tour this summer. The concert in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 20 completes the list of seven locations where the Choir and Orchestra will perform. The 2018 Classic Coast Tour begins on Monday, June 18, and will conclude 16 days later on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, with visits to California, Washington, and Vancouver, Canada.

“We are thrilled to be able to return to The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world,” remarked Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “In such a hall the music of the Choir and Orchestra envelops the audience in a blanket of elegant sounds.” The Choir and Orchestra performed in this hall in 2005 for a concert at the American Choral Directors Association Conference.

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Clay Christiansen’s Final Solo as Tabernacle Organist

For more than 35 years, Clay Christiansen has been a familiar face to fans of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In 1982, he was appointed as a Tabernacle organist, where he has become a familiar face to countless viewers of Music and the Spoken Word. Throughout the years he has recorded many Choir albums; performed in general conferences, Christmas concerts, and other special concerts; toured the world; and published compositions for chorus, string quartet, woodwind trio, and chamber and symphony orchestra.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, Christiansen performed in his final Music and the Spoken Word broadcast. The broadcast featured “Morning Mood,” from Peer Gynt—a piece by Edvard Grieg, transcribed by Clay Christiansen. Music director Mack Wilberg chose this particular organ solo for the final broadcast because he felt like it was Christiansen’s signature piece and wanted to hear it one final time. “His transcription of Grieg’s ‘Morning Mood’ epitomizes his great skill. I am so pleased he agreed to play this piece on his final broadcast,” said Wilberg.

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“Jesus, Once of Humble Birth”: A Poetic Reflection of the Savior’s Life

The poetic hymn “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth” was written by Parley P. Pratt, a member of the original Twelve Apostles of the Restoration. Pratt, who was nicknamed “the poet Apostle,” wrote the text for seven hymns that are included in the current hymnbook of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Author Karen Lynn Davidson describes the hymn as “a triumphant meditation on the paradoxes of the Savior’s life and ministry” (Our Latter-Day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages [1988], 229). In his lyric, Pratt set up alternating contrasts of “once” and “now,” which repeat throughout the hymn. The contrasts begin each verse with the Savior’s humble birth, suffering, and pain and end with His divine power, Atonement, and Resurrection.  

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