The Tabernacle Choir Blog

German Members Impressed President Monson with their Singing

In 1968 when Thomas S. Monson, then an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, first visited members of the Church in a small, second-story room of an old warehouse in Görlitz, East Germany [formerly known as the German Democratic Republic] he was deeply moved by the beautiful singing of church hymns and the spirit of the people he met.                            

“Elder Monson had ‘never heard such singing.’ Indeed, ‘the Saints showed their love for the Lord by the manner in which they sang hymns,’ and there was a unity that came from joining their voices,” wrote President Monson’s biographer, Heidi Swinton.

In the years to follow, whenever Elder Monson listened to the German members singing in church meetings, it always “stirred his heart.” At one particular priesthood leadership meeting, singing could be heard coming from another room. Elder Monson asked if the choir was practicing for their next meeting. “No,” he was told, “The men are just passing the time until their meeting.” Instead of waiting quietly, they had begun to sing church hymns together – feeling the peace and spirit that comes when they unitedly sang

Singing in the local choirs and congregations was important to these Church members. “Elder Russell M. Nelson once reported that a church leader told him that if he wanted to get the attention of anyone in his congregation, he simply had to ban that person from singing in the choir."

One of Elder Monson’s favorite hymns, “Sehet ihr Völker,” was sung regularly in Church meetings in Germany. With Elder Monson’s encouragement, the hymn was later translated into English and published in the 1985 edition of the Church hymnbook as “Hark All Ye Nations.” The hymn had been written by Louis F. Moench (1847-1916), a German-born convert and Utah educator when he returned to Europe as a missionary for the Church. The music was composed by George F. Root.

Watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the English version of “Hark All Ye Nations.