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.
Church leaders always have applauded and encouraged the Choir. Wilford W. Woodruff, fourth president of the Church and his counselors, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, in a statement dated February 11, 1895 said of the Choir: “We desire to see this choir not only maintain the high reputation it has earned at home and abroad, but become the highest exponent of the ‘Divine Art’ in all the land; and the worthy head, example and leader of all other choirs and musical bodies in the Church, inspiring musicians and poets with purest sentiment and song and harmony, until its light shall shine forth to the world undimmed, and nations shall be charmed by its music.”
More recently Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed, “Unitedly members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir testify of the living Lord and of His Church restored in these latter days.”
Recently, a study showed that five hymns –all centered on Jesus Christ--have been sung at Conference more than any others. “Redeemer of Israel” is at the top of the list followed by “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah,” “High on a Mountain Top,” “How Firm a Foundation,” and “Rejoice the Lord Is King.”