The Tabernacle Choir Blog

In 1987 the Choir Performed at the Historical Independence Hall

In 1987 the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed at the Constitution's bicentennial celebration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Independence Hall is a building older than the United States of America. Originally constructed between 1732 and 1756, it first served as the State House of the Province of Pennsylvania and later provided the meeting place for the Second Continental Congress. Each room in the building holds a history of freedom in the United States, and due to its extensive restoration, visitors today can step into the buckled shoes of America’s forefathers by viewing the rooms in a state close to their original style and design.

The First Floor

The Assembly Room was the meeting place for the Second Continental Congress, where delegates from the Thirteen Colonies gathered and eventually approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. Still inside the room are Washington’s chair that he used during the Constitutional Convention, known as the “Rising Sun Chair,” and the inkstand used by delegates to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The Supreme Court Room provided space for another important aspect of American history, the judicial system. This is where prisoners would stand in the dock throughout their criminal proceedings, which gave rise to the expression “stand trial,” a phrase well known to anyone who watches Law and Order.

The staircase leads to the second floor and to the tower, which originally housed the Liberty Bell. Now, the Centennial Bell fills the space. This bell was commissioned for the 1876th Centennial, which marked the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Second Floor

The Second floor includes the Governor’s Council Chamber, which recalls the days of when the Provincial Council used the building, a legislative body first orchestrated by William Penn in 1682. Later, in the 1850’s, the U.S. District Court used the room to conduct fugitive slave trials. Today, displayed on the table, visitors can see the surveyor’s tool that Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon used to determine the dividing line between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

The Long Gallery was the largest room in the Province of Philadelphia, and so was the natural place to hold balls, suppers, or other important events where attendance was high. In 1777, when British military occupied the Hall during the Revolutionary War, the Gallery became a hospital ward for wounded American prisoners of war. The Committee of the Assembly Chamber, positioned directly above the Assembly Room, was used both for meetings, and for the storage of military goods.

Independence Hall is a building with history in its very floorboards and walls. It is the site of American freedom making its first appearance, through the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. Through its remarkable restoration, visitors today can see and examine the place where the history of the United States of America first began.

Patriotic hymns hold a special place in the history of the Choir. Ronald Reagan was the first to refer to the Choir as “America’s Choir.” He went on to say, “No one sings the anthems of America quite like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.” In 2003 the Choir released Spirit of America, an album full of songs like "America the Beautiful", "God Bless America", "The Star-Spangles Banner", and other songs of patriotism.