The Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Tabernacle Choir performing a concert in front of the Nauvoo Temple on June 29, 2002.

Choir Honored Town of Quincy for Love and Compassion

The enduring legacy of compassionate actions of the residents of Quincy, Illinois was referenced in the Choir’s recent special event which focused on the biblical counsel to “Love Thy Neighbor.”

The encouragement to show love to our neighbors has deep roots in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reaching back to the dark days of 1838-39, the members of the Church fled religious persecution in Missouri leaving behind their homes, businesses, and farms.1 Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri had issued an “extermination order” to rid his state of these religious settlers. Beleaguered Joseph Holbrook wrote, “We found that there was no more peace or safety for the saints in the state of Missouri…Every exertion was made in the dead of winter to remove as fast as possible.”2

In the Bible, Jesus says, “I was a stranger, and ye took me in.”3 During those dark times of 1839, the residents of Quincy, Illinois did just that for members of the Church:  feeding them, helping them find work, and sheltering them for the winter.  And they did it to an amazing degree. Some 5,000 people sought refuge in Quincy which was only a small town of 1,500 residents. The citizens of Quincy showed love and compassion to all.

The Quincy Herald-Whig, a newspaper that existed in 1839 when the beleaguered Church members arrived reported, “A large number of families are encamped on the opposite bank of the Mississippi waiting for an opportunity to cross…If they have been thrown upon our shores destitute, through the oppressive people of Missouri, common humanity must oblige us to aid and relieve them all in our power.”4  The Democratic Association of Quincy, instrumental in helping the residents show “sympathy and kindest regard,” asked “the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the persons who are in affliction.”5

Fast forward to 2002, just a little over 20 years ago. On June 28, 2002, the Choir performed at the dedication of the reconstructed Nauvoo Temple just up the river from Quincy. To honor the goodness the people of Quincy had shown to struggling Church members, The Tabernacle Choir presented a special benefit concert in Quincy. That 2002 concert, a renewed expression of connection neighbor-to neighbor, was jointly sponsored by the Choir and the Quincy Herald-Whig, still in existence after all those years.

The Choir performed hymns, anthems, choral masterworks, and folk songs. The program included its signature tunes, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Come, Come Ye Saints” which drew standing ovations from the appreciative audience of more than 1,700 filling the largest available facility in the area—the local junior high school auditorium with air conditioning piped in just for that concert.

During his remarks at the concert, Lloyd Newell, announcer for the Music & the Spoken Word broadcast, asked all the members of the Choir and the Orchestra who could trace their ancestry to these early Church members to stand. Nearly two-thirds of the combined ensembles stood in a moment that brought much of the audience to tears.

All of the proceeds of the concert were donated to a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering arts and culture in Quincy. Gordon B. Hinckley, then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came personally to the Quincy concert to present the $75,000 donation. He told the gathering, “In the annals of the Church, this city and its citizens will always occupy a station of the highest esteem. We will always be grateful for the kindness, the hospitality, the civility with which your people met our people who were exiles.”6 Truly, this historical act of loving thy neighbor is as much of an inspiration today as it was in 1839.

The “Love Thy Neighbor” special event can be viewed on demand on YouTube here.


  1. See LDS Newsroom Facts and Statistics.
  2. See
  3. Matthew 25:35.
  4. See
  5. History of the Church 3:268-9.
  6. R. Scott Lloyd, “Choir concert thanks Quincy for kindness,” Church News, 5 July 2002.