Monday, June 2, 2008

LDS Church Leaders on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

This is what I found that the LDS General Authorities have said about the Mormon Tabernacle in LDS publications.

On Saturday, January 14, 2006 in the Church News M. Russell said:

"I think it's a healthy thing for us to have great faith in each other and, particularly, to have great faith in the missionary force of the Church. But accidents will occur." He spoke of several members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who, returning home from a European tour, died when their plane crashed into a Wyoming peak in 1955, an accident that prompted then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve to deliver an address that later was published in booklet form, "Tragedy or Destiny."

In that (address) he made it very, very clear that certain things happen. Accidents will happen. When accidents occur, there is no answer to it. The more you try to understand why, the less it helps you. The thing you have to do, in my judgment, is understand that this was an accident, this was a terrible thing that happened..."

In the November 2003 Ensign Elder M. Russell Ballard said:

"Let me say again that the family is the main target of evil’s attack and must therefore be the main point of our protection and defense. As I said once before, when you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense to Satan. When he wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he doesn’t poison the world’s peanut butter supply, thus bringing the Church’s missionary system to its collective knees. He doesn’t send a plague of laryngitis to afflict the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He doesn’t legislate against green Jell-O and casseroles. When evil wants to strike out and disrupt the essence of God’s work, it attacks the family. It does so by attempting to disregard the law of chastity, to confuse gender, to desensitize violence, to make crude and blasphemous language the norm, and to make immoral and deviant behavior seem like the rule rather than the exception."

In 2000 in a BYU Devotional Address M. Russell Ballard said:

"Beginning in 1930, national attitudes toward members of the Church started to change. We entered a new stage under the leadership of President Heber J. Grant. Radio began carrying throughout the country broadcasts of the Tabernacle Choir. The Church's welfare system received national attention, and the press became more positive than negative.

In the decade of the 1960s, President David O. McKay's slogan "Every member a missionary" became a household theme. As members of the Church responded to President McKay's inspired leadership and counsel, they shared the gospel with more nonmember neighbors and associates. The pace of missionary work accelerated."

In 1999 Virginia Pearce wrote in Majorie Pay Hinckley: Glimpses in to the Life and Heart about her mother's impressions 6 September 1958 the night before the London Temple dedication:

"During the London Temple open house preceding the dedication, we took a day off to spend some time in Preston, a rather gray industrial town north of London where my husband had labored as a young missionary. We were late coming home, and as we got off the bus we walked through the grounds. The sweet strains of the Tabernacle Choir singing "O My Father" were coming from speakers hidden in the huge oak trees. "Lovely, isn't it," my husband said. Lovely?! It was just like walking into heaven! Never before in my life was I so thankful for the gospel as I was at that moment. I didn't wonder anymore why people lined up for two and three blocks to visit this spot. It wasn't to see the beautiful grounds. It was because what they found there was peace and goodwill and the spirit of truth and light."

In the January 1998 Ensign President Thomas S. Monson told this remarkable story:

"Another example is a family in the mission over which I presided, a family by the name of Agnew. They were difficult people to convert. William Agnew, particularly, would not listen to the missionaries, but finally he consented to attend our Sunday School with his wife, three children, and the two missionaries. However, when the missionaries came on Sunday morning to escort the family to the chapel, there had been a little disagreement in their home. Brother Agnew had insisted, “I will not go to the Mormon Sunday School.”

His wife replied, “But you promised, Bill. You promised these young men that you would go.”

“I’m not going, and that’s that!” he said. He became rather angry, but somewhat reluctantly he permitted his wife and children to go to Sunday School. He later told me of the events of that morning. He said, “When my wife and children shut the door and left me alone in the living room, I had nothing good to say about the Mormon faith. I was about as angry a man as one could imagine. I picked up the morning newspaper to see if I could read about the problems of the world and get my mind off religion, but it was to no avail. I kept thinking, my wife and my children have gone to meet with the Mormons. I then went into my daughter Isabel’s bedroom. I thought that perhaps I could turn on the news and hear something different. As I turned on the little radio on her nightstand, what do you think I heard? The Mormon Tabernacle Choir! What message do you think I heard? Richard L. Evans spoke on the subject ‘Let Not the Sun Go Down on Thy Wrath.’ I felt as though the Lord were talking to me personally. I got down upon my knees and promised my Heavenly Father that I would no longer rail against Him—that I would do what these young missionaries had taught me to do.”

When his wife and children returned from Sunday School, they found a new husband and a new father. They couldn’t understand why he was in such a pleasant mood. Finally they asked him what had happened to change his attitude.

He said: “I’ll tell you. I was so upset when you left that I read the paper in an attempt to get my mind off all of you. No success. Then I went to Isabel’s bedroom and turned on the radio to hear the news, and of all things, I heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This man, Richard L. Evans, spoke to me and said, ‘Don’t let the sun go down on thy wrath.’ I felt closer to God at that moment than I have ever felt in my life. I am ready to go with you to the meetings. I am ready to pursue a diligent study with the missionaries.”

Isabel said, “Dad, that’s a wonderful story—-if only it were true.”

Her father said, “Isabel, it’s true.”

She said, “No, Dad. Did you say that you turned on the radio on my nightstand?”

He replied, “That’s the one—the little white one.”

“Dad,” she said, “that radio hasn’t worked for several weeks. I think the tubes are burned out.”

“Isabel,” he said, “that radio works. Come with me.” He led his family into Isabel’s bedroom, walked over to the nightstand next to her bed, and turned on the radio as he had done just one hour earlier, but no sound came forth. That radio did not work! But when our Heavenly Father needed to communicate a message to an honest seeker after truth, that radio not only worked, but it tuned him into the very program and to the very message he needed to bring him to a recognition of the truth. Little wonder that he later became the bishop of that ward. Little wonder that all three of his children are active in the Church and continue to fill positions of responsibility."

In 1996 Carlos Asay formerly of the Seventy said in his book the Seven M's of Missionary Work:

"Another step up the missionary involvement scale is to send materials that will advance the missionary cause-something that any timid soul can do. Send contributions to the Church's general missionary fund. These monies will enable others in underdeveloped countries to serve in missionary callings. Send copies of the Book of Mormon to nonmember friends. The book will teach and convert as it is read and prayed about. Send Church magazine subscriptions to truth-seeking friends. Many people hunger for wholesome reading materials, especially materials that include messages from living prophets. Send names and addresses of friends to the missionaries; it is, however, important that you obtain permission from your friends to submit their names as referrals. Send Tabernacle Choir tapes, Church videos, and other audiovisual items to interested friends. Many times these professional presentations will provide spiritual experiences that lead to conversion. Send, send, send! Each of us has a circle of acquaintances.

Also in 1996 in Howard L. Buddulph's Morning Breaks: Stories of Conversion and Faith in the Former Soviet Union he relates the following story:

"When missionary work was able to commence in Leningrad, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered a special prayer of gratitude and rededication in that city on 26 April 1990. In Moscow during the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's tour, Elder Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oaks went to a park near the Kremlin walls on 25 June 1991, where Elder Nelson offered a blessing on the people of the Soviet Union. On the previous day, 24 June, Elder Oaks and Elder Nelson, accompanied by Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy and president of the Europe Area, had gathered with others in a brief ceremony to bless and dedicate the Republic of Armenia. Elder Oaks offered a prayer in Yerevan, at a site in view of Mount Ararat (see "Two Republics in USSR Are Dedicated," p. 3)."

In the Ensign in August 1994 Kahlil Mehr wrote:

"After a forty-year absence, missionaries reentered Czechoslovakia in May 1990. The Church formally reestablished the Czechoslovakia Prague Mission (now the Czech Republic Prague Mission) on 1 July 1990. In June 1991, a great blessing occurred for the prestige and recognition of the Church in Czechoslovakia. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir came to Prague and sang in a historic opera house. Their concert was televised throughout the nation. A church once required to go underground for survival now was electronically acknowledged nationwide. This significant visit by the Choir helped firmly establish the Church as an important entity worthy of serious consideration by the Czech people."

In the April 1993 Ensign LaRene Gaunt related the following story involving President James E. Faust:

"Another spiritual highlight came two days later in Haifa in the form of an apostolic blessing. The physical and professional demands had been overwhelming for everyone involved with the tour. The following comments of a choir member are representative of similar stresses experienced by others: “Three months of arduous rehearsals, several performances, a dozen broadcasts, personal preparations for the tour, family Christmas activities, and the death of my mother had taken their toll. When I boarded the plane on December 26, I was utterly exhausted. That’s no way to begin a choir tour.” Then after arriving in Israel, the choir had four major rehearsals, including three rehearsals of the Berlioz Requiem (nearly an hour and a half long) and a rehearsal and a performance of the a cappella concert.

Before the choir’s first concert in Haifa, Elder James E. Faust pronounced a blessing upon the group. He blessed them that their bodies would be renewed and that they would have the strength to perform.

“I could physically feel the strength gradually come into me,” says choir member Toni Davis. “By the time we were on the stage, we were there in power. I believe that after you do all you can do, the Lord fills in the rest. When I returned to the hotel, I dropped to my knees and gave thanks to the Lord for the strength, not just the spiritual but also the physical.”

A week later, during a sacrament meeting in Tiberias near the Sea of Galilee, Elder Faust testified of the divinity of the work in which the choir was engaged and pronounced a second apostolic blessing upon them. Echoing the words of Helaman 10:4–5, Elder Faust’s blessing emphasized the Lord’s promise that because “thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed” (Hel. 10:4–5).

In the November 1991 Ensign Russell M. Nelson wrote:

"In June of this year, Sister Nelson and I had the great privilege of accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on its historic concert tour in Europe. We are grateful to the First Presidency for that assignment. Much has been written regarding the success of the choir and of its favorable influence that will yet continue. Members and friends of the Church worldwide join with me in expressing appreciation to the officers, staff, directors, accompanists, and to all vocalists for their wonderful service. I won’t mention anyone by name; I will simply refer to them all as members of the choir.

I’ll not comment as a music critic would. While musical experts of the world focus on what choir members can do, I would like to focus on what choir members can be. This I do because I witnessed in choir members great examples that can inspire and improve the lives of each of you who honestly strives to emulate the Lord who said, “I am the light; I have set an example for you.” (3 Ne. 18:16; see also John 13:15.) So we should strive to learn from His example—and from the good example of those who love and follow Him.

Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are not superhuman. They are ordinary people with ordinary frailties. But therein lies the power of their example. They believe this promise from the Lord: “Because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong.” (D&C 135:5.)

Before attending their first rehearsal, choir members brought with them not only musical education and talent but qualities of personal righteousness. Before singing to their first audience, they were blessed by another promise from our Savior:

“Ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 17:11.)

Have you not learned that strength comes to an ordinary soul when given an extraordinary calling? The choir has! Indeed, each member seemed to be imbued with a real sense of mission, striving for those ten traits that missionaries are expected to possess and practice:“Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.” (D&C 4:6.)

Those are attributes the Lord deserves from His disciples. Because each of us is to be “an example of the believers” (1 Tim. 4:12), I would like to address those ten topics as members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir “were our examples” (1 Cor. 10:6) in many memorable ways."

He also said in the same address:

Knowledge is essential to competent service for any missionary. So it was with members of the choir in this tour to eight nations. To communicate more effectively, the choir sang in ten languages! In these times of changing political views, much study was also required to determine which songs should be sung, and which should not be sung.

But their quest for knowledge did not begin or end with music. They eagerly studied the culture, history, and ways of the people they had come to serve. On a moment’s notice their knowledge of the gospel had to be retrieved when questioned by the media or interested individuals.

In these lands that have known so much of hardship and strife, choir members echoed the scriptural hope “that perhaps they might bring [others] to the knowledge of the Lord their God, . . . that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land.” (Mosiah 28:2.)

Members of the choir knew “that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness” (Alma 24:30), lives would never again be the same.

Just think of the good you can do if you accept a difficult challenge and pursue knowledge—then use it to bless others, as did the choir!"

In the December 1991 Ensign Russell M. Nelson wrote:

"In June 1991, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir made its historic concert tour of eight countries of Europe. Included in their itinerary were performances in Warsaw, Poland; Friedrichsdorf, Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin, Germany; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czechoslovakia; and Moscow and Leningrad in the U.S.S.R. Concerts were also presented in Strasbourg, France; Zurich, Switzerland; and Vienna, Austria. Hearts were touched wherever they sang their beautiful songs of faith and devotion. The impact of this important tour has been well reported in articles appearing in the Ensign. (See Jay M. Todd, Ensign, Oct. 1991, pp. 32–53; and Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, November 1991, pp. 59–61.)

Elder Oaks and I were privileged to join the choir on that significant journey. Upon our return, we reported to President Ezra Taft Benson on 3 July 1991 the success of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s tour. Then we showed him certified copies of documents that attested to full recognition for the Church in the Republic of Russia. We shall never forget his look of joy. That has become one of our most cherished memories shared since our call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1984."

In the October 1977 Ensign Elder Thomas S. Monson said:

"There is another very significant element of the conversion process. The majority of people do not join the Church after their first exposure to it! Studies show that the average convert has been exposed to some aspect of the Church three or four times. For example, he may hear the Tabernacle Choir; he may know a Latter-day Saint; he may have read something about the Church; he may have attended an open house. This means something vital to all of us engaged in member missionary work—that we should not become disheartened if our first attempt with a person is not successful. Just keep making appropriate and timely exposures of the gospel message. What did Paul say?—“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6.) This is an important factor."

In the November 1979 Ensign Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy said:

"I would like to extend our warm and sincere appreciation for the angelic voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. During their recent trip to Japan and Korea, they were magnificently accepted by both members and nonmembers. Their wholehearted appreciation can be seen in the excellent comments of the reviews in some of our most important newspapers. I would like to share these comments.

One reviewer wrote: “You could find beauty and the profound sound of completeness or perfection” (Yomiuri Tokyo, 8 Sept. 1979).

Another wrote: “They gave us a taste of the glorious quality and power of music” (Kobe News, 10 Sept. 1979). And still another wrote: “The choir found its way to the depths of our hearts, leaving us with the most indescribable sense of beauty and feeling.” (Kyoto News, 11 Sept. 1979). The president of Chukyo Television, a major sponsor for the trip and of course he is a nonmember, said that the eyes of the choir members were so beautiful and pure that he and his associates were left deeply touched. As our beloved prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball, has told us before, “As we incline our hearts to our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ, we hear a symphony of sweet music sung by heavenly voices proclaiming the gospel of peace” (Ensign, May 1974, p. 46)."

In the May 1979 Ensign N. Eldon Tanner said: " In 1896, about two years before I was born, Mr. R. M. Bryce Thomas from London, England, paid a visit to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he first learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Following this visit, and after a thorough and searching investigation into the practices and doctrines of the Church, and a comparison of the teachings of the primitive Church of Jesus Christ which was established by Him, with his own church in England, he subsequently became a baptized member.

On May 24, 1897, in London, England, he penned an article which he entitled, “My Reasons for...Joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” . . .

I found that this people possessed a beautiful Temple and a very fine Tabernacle, with prettily laid out and well cared for grounds; their houses too were neat and picturesque, with nice gardens attached to them, while they could boast of a Tabernacle Choir … , the best that I have ever heard. Everything to do with this people appeared to be most excellently managed and looked after, while their missionaries were preaching the Gospel in most parts of the world, having gone out altogether at their own cost, and at a very great sacrifice of self in all cases. The Church organization of the Saints too appeared to be complete and effective. . . . I therefore decided to secure some of their books, especially the Book of Mormon, in order to learn more of their character and of their doctrines.” (Thomas, first edition, p. 3.)

In the January 1979 Ensign Elder Jacob de Jager of the Seventy wrote:

"We have found that there are “many men, many minds,” and that to reach each one effectively, we must know what kind of mind he has. Since the Holy Ghost already knows, I bear my witness that praying for help and listening carefully is the best way to find out how to approach each person. Here are some of the ways of talking about the gospel that work, as Sister de Jager and I have learned by experience:

The eager person. He has been praying for the truth, and we need merely to testify that we have it. He will usually be more than willing to receive the missionaries. Of course, this kind of person is more rare than those that follow.

The affable person. He is delighted to learn that you are a Mormon. He used to follow the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast for many years.

“What a marvelous speaker Richard Evans, the narrator, was!” And in a few minutes, he smiles cordially and excuses himself and is gone. How to proceed? One of the things we try to do is to bear testimony to the unique circumstances that have brought us together, testifying that the Lord has an important message for him about the Church, and get his name and address for the missionaries. We then write him, reminding him of his desire to learn of our message, telling him of our associates who will call upon him. We are not responsible for teaching, just for making the link with the missionaries."

In the November 1978 Ensign Elder Thomas S. Monson told of an experience of Evan Stephens:

"Who can help but be uplifted and inspired just to worship in this historic tabernacle and to listen to this glorious choir?

It has been said that “when Evan Stephens was conductor of the Tabernacle Choir, he was thrilled on one occasion by a sermon delivered by the late President Joseph F. Smith on the subject, [of “The Faith of Latter-day Saint Youth.”] At the close of the service Professor Stephens strolled alone up City Creek Canyon [to the north], pondering the inspired words of the President. Suddenly [the inspiration of heaven] came upon him and seated upon a rock which was standing firm under the pressure of the rushing water, he wrote with a pencil” these words:

Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall [they] shrink or shun the fight?
No!

True to the faith that [their] parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command, Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true [they] will ever stand.
(Hymns, no. 157; J. Spencer Cornwall, Stories of Our Mormon Hymns, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1963, p. 173.)

In that early day, I am confident that youth were faced with difficult challenges to meet and vexing problems to solve. Youth is not a time of ease nor of freedom from perplexing questions. It wasn’t then, and it surely isn’t today. In fact, as time passes it seems that the difficulties of youth increase in size and scope. Temptation continues to loom large on life’s horizon. Accounts of violence, theft, drug abuse, and pornography blare forth from the television screen and peer constantly from most daily newspapers. Such examples blur our vision and fault our thinking. Soon assumptions become generally accepted opinions, and all youth everywhere are categorized as “not so good as yesteryear,” or “the worst generation yet.” How wrong are such opinions! How incorrect are such statements!

True, today is a new day with new trials, new troubles, and new temptations, but hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint youth strive constantly and serve diligently, true to the faith, as their counterparts of earlier years so nobly did. Because the contrast between good and evil is so stark, the exceptions to the prevailing trends are magnified, observed, and appreciated by decent persons throughout the world."

In the September 1973 Ensign we learn this interesting fact:

"A Church program initiated in 1965 to host visiting dignitaries has now grown so large that two couples, Brother and Sister W. Stanford Wagstaff and Brother and Sister A. Palmer Holt, have been called to assist the Church hostess, Sister Irene E. Staples.

In addition, Sister Phyllis Sandberg has been named chairman in charge of hostesses for the new General Church Office Building.

Sister Staples has hosted many thousands of people since her call eight years ago, and last year she assisted some 22,000 official visitors at Church headquarters.

Many of the European guests to Salt Lake City have been invited to attend the area general conference in Munich in August, as well as special receptions and Tabernacle Choir concerts in Munich, Paris, and London. Sister Staples will be traveling with the choir as she has done on their previous concert tours.

"With the contacts I make here, I send thousands of referrals to the missionaries. I don’t know what happens to all of them, but often I receive reports of people joining the Church because of the work we have done here.”

In the October 1962 General Conference President David O. McKay said:

"This has been one of the greatest conferences, I suppose, that we have ever held in the Church. The music today, as you know, has been furnished by the Tabernacle Choir. We have been inspired by their singing at both sessions today and Saturday morning when their singing was heard by millions. Many radio and television stations have been opened to us because of the singing of this great organization. Their contribution to our missionary work is inestimable. In July of this year, they participated in the first formal world-wide television program by way of Telstar satellite, held at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. At this time the choir was seen and heard on television by millions across the ocean in Europe and England in addition to the millions in this country.

In August they made a tour of the Northwest, giving two concerts on August 15th and 16th at the Seattle World's Fair. People from all over the world attended these concerts, and it was reported that the concert hall was so crowded on both nights that many were turned away."

Stephen L. Richards in October 1955 Conference said: "I thank the Lord for the inspiration of this great conference, coming to us from lovely singing, part of which we ave jug listened to, and from the lofty, inspirational messages of our brethren. I humbly pray that I may contribute a little to the appreciation of the great work in which we are engaged and to its advancement in the world. I think the missionary work of the restored Church of our Lord has received major emphasis at this conference. The extended and outstanding labors of our beloved President; the dedication of a European temple with the prospect of others to follow; the history-making tour of the choir over the seas to foreign lands; the organization of new missions on the other side of the world, and the extended visits of existing missions by our brethren of the Twelve, have all served to arrest and focus our attention on missionary work to an extent probably never exceeded in the history of the Church, except perhaps in its early beginning when such a vast propotion of the means and energies of the people were devoted to the carrying of the gospel to foreign lands.

What an encouragement, and what rejoicing this has brought to all those love the Lord's work of the latter days! On every hand are heard expressions indicative of the gratification and joy of the people in these accomplishments. They voice their love for and admiration of the President, their jubilation over the successful trip of the choir, and their expectation of great results to follow."

Stephen L. Richards in the April 1952 Conference said:

Since singing usually begins our public worship, at this point I would like to speak a little of the choirs of the Tabernacle. Here is and has been for over seventy-five years the home of the Tabernacle Choir. I would not venture to say whether the Tabernacle has made the choir or the choir has made the Tabernacle famous. It is sufficient to know that all through the years we have had a great choir in a great setting. As many as sixty years ago the Tabernacle Choir had a national reputation.

Through eisteddfod, its high placement in contest in the World's Fair, and through concerts in big cities, east and west, it early attained renown in musical circles. In recent times, through national and international broadcasts, the Tabernacle Choir and the Spoken Word are household words throughout the land. During its history, both before and after enlarged facilities became available, two aspects of its work have been outstanding and conspicuous: First, the devotion of the members; and next, the excellence of its leadership.

I doubt if any comparable volunteer organization of its size and responsibilities can present as fine a record for as long a time. The Church is and has been for these many years proud of this great organization, and I believe we all feel a lasting debt of gratitude to the great conductors, the great organists and technicians, and the great members of this illustrious organization. I attribute their greatness, in large measure, to the deeply religious fervor which has always actuated them. I know that with their artistic temperaments they have loved to sing, but the consistency of their performance has come out of a sense of conscientious duty and opportunity to serve the Lord and advance his kingdom.

From that sentiment have come some of the great contributions which the choir has made-contribution which breathe the spirit and essence of the latter-day work, contribution which have inspirited the missionary for his work, which have honored and venerated the pioneers who laid the foundations, which have extolled the glory and virtue of Christ our Lord and his honored prophets, and which have brought comfort and solace to the poor, the discouraged and bereaved. Here is a choir which, through the generations, has seen purpose in its work, which has striven steadfastly to advance a great cause, which has made art serve its Author, the Lord of the universe. God bless our Tabernacle Choir, from the beginning through the generations, as an emissary of art and truth in the earth."

In the October 1934 Conference Elder David A. Smith of the Presiding Bishopric said:

"I thank the Lord for the inspiration of this great conference, coming to us from lovely singing, part of which we ave jug listened to, and from the lofty, inspirational messages of our brethren. I humbly pray that I may contribute a little to the appreciation of the great work in which we are engaged and to its advancement in the world. I think the missionary work of the restored Church of our Lord has received major emphasis at this conference. The extended and outstanding labors of our beloved President; the dedication of a European temple with the prospect of others to follow; the history-making tour of the choir over the seas to foreign lands; the organization of new missions on the other side of the world, and the extended visits of existing missions by our brethren of the Twelve, have all served to arrest and focus our attention on missionary work to an extent probably never exceeded in the history of the Church, except perhaps in its early beginning when such a vast proportion of the means and energies of the people were devoted to the carrying of the gospel to foreign lands.

What an encouragement, and what rejoicing this has brought to all those love the Lord's work of the latter days! On every hand are heard expressions indicative of the gratification and joy of the people in these accomplishments. They voice their love for and admiration of the President, their jubilation over the successful trip of the choir, and their expectation of great results to follow. . . .

It was an inspiring sight during that week to see the people come into the great Ford Gardens, two thousand or more at nearly every performance. At night nearly every seat was taken. Several nights every seat was taken, and one night nearly a thousand, as near as I could reckon, sat for more than a half hour in a rain storm to hear the balance of the program.

During the week we were invited to sing on the street in Chicago. We left the hotel where we were staying, in a fleet of Ford cars as the guests of the Ford Motor Company, and were escorted through the streets of Chicago to the plaza between the Daily News and Chicago Civic Opera buildings, where the concert was given. It was a wonderful sight. As far as we could see the streets were filled with people anxious to hear. And as the choir began to sing the windows of the buildings thirty and forty stories high were filled with people. As I stood there and listened I thought of the contrast when about ninety years before our fathers had been driven from a city in Illinois by mob violence, and now we, their children, had returned, and on every hand found the spirit of kindness, and words of encouragement and praise.

It was an inspiring sight during that week to see the people come into the great Ford Gardens, two thousand or more at nearly every performance. At night nearly every seat was taken. Several nights every seat was taken, and one night nearly a thousand, as near as I could reckon, sat for more than a half hour in a rain storm to hear the balance of the program.

During the week we were invited to sing on the street in Chicago. We left the hotel where we were staying, in a fleet of Ford cars as the guests of the Ford Motor Company, and were escorted through the streets of Chicago to the plaza between the Daily News and Chicago Civic Opera buildings, where the concert was given. It was a wonderful sight. As far as we could see the streets were filled with people anxious to hear. And as the choir began to sing the windows of the buildings thirty and forty stories high were filled with people. As I stood there and listened I thought of the contrast when about ninety years before our fathers had been driven from a city in Illinois by mob violence, and now we, their children, had returned, and on every hand found the spirit of kindness, and words of encouragement and praise. . .

We found a friendly attitude wherever we went and came away feeling that we had performed a wonderful missionary service. We had in mind constantly the saying of the Lord: "My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing on their heads." We wanted a blessing. We felt the Lord was fulfilling his promise upon our heads, and we pray that his blessings shall continue to be upon us, that we may continue to serve him in song, in faith, and in a desire to be worthy of the blessings which he has bestowed upon us and which he has promised to bestow upon us all through our faithfulness."

In the October 1930 Conference President Heber J. Grant said:

"But the real thrill came when I heard the two selections that were rendered by our Choir. I have never heard our sweet singer, Sister Laurinda P. Brewerton, who sang the solo part in "Inflammatus," sing better at any time than she did on that occasion. It seemed to me that she was inspired. I know that the band must have been inspired.

I rejoice in the broadcasting. I repeat the gratitude of the General Authorities to the employers of the members of our Choir who are excused each week in order to participate in this broadcast."

In 1912 in the Improvement Era Heber J. Grant said:

"I say God bless our individual singers and the members of our musical organizations.

I know of no more self-sacrificing and loyal people than those who constitute our choirs, and who are constantly singing at funerals and in our meetings for the benefit of the Saints. Their talents are given freely, and almost without exception without financial reward. I for one appreciate, beyond my ability to tell, the self-sacrificing and loyal devotion of our singers. I wish them God-speed, and there is no blessing too good for these faithful workers. From the bottom of my heart, I pray that the choicest blessings of the Lord may ever attend them, and that they may constantly grow and improve in their art, and that they may also advance in a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Improvement Era, 15:787).

It was interesting finding out what the General Authorities had to say about the Mormon Tabernacle choir over the years. I hope these quotes are of some interest to you.

1 comment:

savanahm said...

Y @ H in CONCERT
Tuesday June 10, 2008 at 7:30PM - AARP and the Salt Lake Regional Medical Center present the Young @ Heart in Alive and Well at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W 200S Salt Lake City, Utah. Tickets on Sale at ArtTix location or by phone at 801 355 ARTS or on line. Pre-concert reception by CHG HealthCare Services. Call for details:801-746-7000.
Proceeds support the programming by the SLC Film Center and Brolly Arts