Remembering Sissel’s Stunning Performance of “Slow Down”
When Norwegian-born guest artist Sissel performed “Slow Down” during the 2019 Music for a Summer Evening concerts with The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, she brought the concert to a standstill. It happened both nights.
Sissel began her stunning performance of “Slow Down,” based on Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” with no introductory comments. When she finished the song, after a brief moment of total silence, the audience of nearly 20,000 immediately jumped to their feet with an emotional and heartfelt standing ovation. As the clapping and cheering subsided, an emotionally moved Sissel said, “Thank you very much! This song, 'Slow Down,' describes an experience many of us have—to be able to hear the still voice in our hearts, we have to slow down.”
It was obvious the audience understood.
Even now, more than a year later, the appreciation for this special performance continues to grow and resonate with people from all faiths. From those who experienced the live concerts in 2019 to those who have found the music online, praise for this uplifting and touching performance continues to come in. “The sincerity and purity of her voice captivates everyone who hears it,” remarked Mack Wilberg of Sissel’s talented singing. Sissel’s performance from the 2019 full concert and from the standalone video has been viewed over 1.1 million times. It was this phenomenal reaction that prompted Wilberg to include an encore performance of the song in the recent 90th anniversary celebration of Music & the Spoken Word.
Comments like “heavenly,” “tender,” “spiritually moving,” “calming,” “inviting,” “impactful” and “a musical treasure” are woven throughout the online comments. “This must be how heaven feels” was a common thought expressed by fans about Sissel’s heartfelt performance of this song.
Many comments left online indicate that in the complicated and challenging world we live in today, people are pondering the beautiful lyrics and message of this song as often as they can, weekly—even daily—to remind them to “slow down and hear His voice.”
Later Sissel spoke about “Slow Down,” and why she chose to sing it. “’Slow Down’ is a song for those moments when you feel time is just passing by and you feel like it’s hard to manage your time. Maybe you think what’s the meaning of your life. It’s hard to find the solutions. Everything might seem problematic. And then it’s time to take a deep breath and slow down—get an overall picture, and maybe you want to consider what you want to fill your life with.”
Following her 2019 performance, Sissel received an email from the song’s composer and lyricist Chuck Girard with his congratulations of her moving interpretation of his music. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was so impressed by the message of the song and its applicability to today’s young adults that he requested special permission to play the 6-minute song in its entirety during a worldwide devotional he and his wife gave earlier this year.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sponsoring organization of The Tabernacle Choir, affirms that “when we take time to listen with our hearts, the heavens open and He speaks….You will feel His love for you.” See #HearHim.
We all need to remember: Slow down. Be still. And know that He is God.
In case you missed it, watch the full 2019 Music for a Summer Evening concert with Sissel: