I am a singer and a teacher of singing, so I have always appreciated good choirs. One of the best in the world is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As a venue for performance, the Salt Lake Tabernacle itself is a unique building with a fascinating history, and the organ it houses is world-renowned. However, the Choir is probably the most recognizable musical representation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Choir is one of the oldest and best known in the United States, and its influence has been recognized by many prominent leaders outside the Church. According to MormonTabernacleChoir.org, the Choir has been invited to sing for ten U.S. Presidents, beginning during the Taft administration. They have performed at five United States presidential inaugurations and thirteen World’s Fairs and expositions. They were also honored with the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush in November 2003.
However, the influence of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir reaches far beyond public life, and far beyond American soil. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a worldwide Church, with more members outside the U.S. than inside it. Every six months, in April and October, the Church holds a worldwide conference, which is broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake. Speeches and prayers from the leaders of the Church are broadcast in the tongues of the people who hear them: these General Conferences are translated into 89 different languages to accommodate millions of members worldwide. However, the music of the Tabernacle Choir speaks for itself to the hearts of listeners around the world. They teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ eloquently with power beyond the words they sing.
For nearly 80 years, the Choir has also broadcast Music and the Spoken Word, a weekly Sunday radio broadcast which has become the longest continuously running network broadcast. Combined with artfully written Gospel messages, the music of the Choir has touched millions of all faiths worldwide with this broadcast. It can be heard on many radio and television stations and online.
However, my most powerful experiences with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have been the occasional times when I have had the privilege of sitting in the Tabernacle or the Conference Center and listening live. Something about 360 musicians sincerely singing the same message in the same room amplifies my love for God. The message of the Choir is that God lives. Indeed, their faith in God is the motivating force behind their touching music. Their collective testimony reaches the ends of the earth in beauty and truth. May it so be for many more generations.