The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Music to Celebrate the Life and Mission of Thomas S. Monson

On January 12, 2018, funeral services for President Thomas S. Monson, leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. President Monson died from causes incident to age on January 2, 2018, in Salt Lake City at the age of 90.

The music for the funeral services was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and closely reflected the life and mission of Thomas S. Monson. President Monson often quoted Doctrine and Covenants 25:15 when discussing the Choir: “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (D&C 25:12).

Consider the Lilies

The Mormon Tabernacle performed “Consider the Lilies” at the 85th birthday celebration of Thomas S. Monson. President Monson was known for reaching out to “the one,” as the Savior did, always considering the sheep of His fold. 

During the birthday celebration concert, co-host Steve Young said, “From the service he rendered as a boy, to his ministry among neighbors and nations, President Monson has practiced the golden rule. With compassion, he has looked out for the lost and the lonely, lifted up the weary hands, and strengthened feeble knees. Like the “lilies of the field,” he has relied upon the Spirit of God to lead him and upon the tender mercies of God to sustain him. And throughout his labors his prayer has always been to help bring Heavenly Father’s children home.”  

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O Divine Redeemer

President Monson has long considered “O Divine Redeemer,” with its prayerful plea to the Lord, to be his favorite hymn. During his closing remarks in the October 2009 general conference, President Monson said, "I love the song sung at the beginning of this conference session, ‘O Divine Redeemer.’ It happens to be my favorite, for He is our Divine Redeemer.” 

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Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd

Verse three from the hymn “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd” perfectly describes President Monson’s compassion and mission of reaching out to the “lost sheep” in need of rescuing. 

Dear to the heart of the Shepherd,
Dear are the “ninety and nine”;
Dear are the sheep that have wandered
Out in the desert to pine.
Hark! he is earnestly calling,
Tenderly pleading today:
“Will you not seek for my lost ones,
Off from my shelter astray?”

Out in the desert they wander,
Hungry and helpless and cold;
Off to the rescue he hastens,
Bringing them back to the fold.

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If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not

In an October 1995 general conference talk titled “Patience—A Heavenly Virtue,” Thomas S. Monson spoke about a November 1968 trip to eastern Germany, where he visited the town of Görlitz for a conference. He described the conditions of the country saying, “The flame of freedom had flickered and burned low.” Although the building they met in was shell-pocked from the war, he fondly remembered that “the interior reflected the tender care of our leaders in bringing brightness and cleanliness to an otherwise shabby and grimy structure.”

An excerpt from Heidi Swinton’s biography of Thomas S. Monson, To the Rescue, reads: 

That first meeting in Görlitz took place on the second floor of a damaged warehouse on a dingy street. The people were poor. They had little to ease their daily burdens. They had no patriarch, no wards or stakes—just branches. They could not receive the blessings of the temple. But they had hope. “The Spirit knows no borders; it needs no approvals to reach the hearts of those who are true to their beliefs,” Monson noted. And these people were truly Latter-day Saints.
Despite the conditions in Görlitz, the congregation exuded “a marvelous spirit,” new life, hope, and resilience. A hymn they sang at the meeting was particularly appropriate:
If the way be full of trial; Weary not!
If it’s one of sore denial, Weary not!
If it now be one of weeping,
There will come a joyous greeting,
When the harvest we are reaping—Weary not!

Monson claimed that he had “never heard such singing. The saints showed their love for the Lord by the manner in which they sang the hymns.”

During the meeting, as Monson stood at the pulpit, with tears in his eyes, he felt inspired to stray from his prepared talk and made a promise to the people. “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.”

“That night as I realized what I had promised, I dropped to my knees and prayed, “Heavenly Father, I’m on Thy errand; this is Thy church. I have spoken words that came not from me, but from Thee and Thy Son. Wilt Thou, therefore, fulfill the promise in the lives of this noble people.” There coursed through my mind the words from the psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

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