Our Friend David McCullough Will Be Missed
David McCullough, celebrated historical biographer and narrator, stood on the Conference Center stage on Temple Square and narrated the 2009 Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir concerts. In his well-known voice from years of narrating documentaries, he shared a poignant account from World War II called “In the Dark Streets Shineth: a 1941 Christmas Eve Story” that was coupled with the Choir singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
Being a guest artist with the Choir had a reach long after that appearance. The narration was included on a DVD and became a book—by the same name—that is a holiday classic. It also was published in The Tabernacle Choir’s 2020 “Keepsake Christmas Stories” book that includes many of the memorable Christmas stories from past concerts. Audiences can now also experience David McCullough’s wonderful story narration performance here on the Choir's YouTube channel.
No question, he was one of the most well-liked, readable, and prolific historians of his time. At his death on August 7, 2022, at age 89, the world lost a gifted writer; The Tabernacle Choir lost a dear friend.
Performing with the Choir was natural for him. In a press conference in Salt Lake City prior to his appearance with The Tabernacle Choir he said, “History is not only politics and military events but also includes art, music, literature, drama, and architecture. To leave out music and these other elements leaves out the soul of the human story.”1
Having graduated from Yale University, McCullough began his writing career at a fledgling new publication, Sports Illustrated. Other jobs came, and he took seriously his desire to write the stories of America. On shelves in many homes and libraries are his prodigious Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies of two U.S. presidents: John Adams and Truman. He twice received the National Book Award for The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal; Mornings on Horseback, a book about the early life of Theodore Roosevelt; The American Spirit; Brave Companions: Portraits in History; and The Greater Journey: American in Paris and others. He was also known for narrating the documentary series "Civil War" and the PBS “American Experience.” He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.
Of his life, he said in a 2003 speech for the National Endowment for the Humanities, “The reward of the work has always been the work itself, and more so the longer I’ve been at it. The days are never long enough, and I’ve kept the most interesting company imaginable with people long gone.”