"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

What’s New with The Tabernacle Choir

Taking a Step Back on the Ice

Even though the Choir organization has been cautiously moving forward with pandemic precautions one step at a time, it has become necessary to take a step back “on the ice” as the current surge in COVID cases continues to set new records each day. (See “The Tabernacle Choir ‘Walking on Ice’” for details.) After careful consideration of advice from state health care officials, the Choir’s medical team, and creative and administrative leaders, The Tabernacle Choir presidency has temporarily paused all of The Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square, and Bells at Temple Square rehearsals and live performances through the end of January.

When members of The Tabernacle Choir organization resumed in-person rehearsals last September, Michael Leavitt, president of the Choir, used the analogy of “walking on ice” to explain how the resumption would work. When a person wants to cross a newly frozen lake, you “pause to assess if the thickness of the ice will hold your weight,” President Leavitt explained. “You take a few careful steps, pausing to listen for cracking sounds, knowing you can step back to safety is necessary. You repeat the process until your full confidence has been gained, mindful that you must choose carefully.” The current surge in COVID cases represents hearing “cracking sounds” necessitating the “step back to safety.”

An Unusual Year for Choir’s International Broadcast Growth

It has been an unusual year for The Tabernacle Choir organization and its members who for the past year have been watching Music & the Spoken Word from home with the rest of the world. As pandemic restrictions have continued, the weekly Music & the Spoken Word program—now in its historic 92nd year of continuous broadcasting—has still found increased international viewership.

There is no question why. Around the globe, audiences have been searching for additional inspiration and uplift during these trying times. Many people have been accessing Music & the Spoken Word as part of their Sunday worship service while meetings of congregations of all faiths have been temporarily on hold. It hasn’t mattered where they resided or what language they spoke, the music of the Choir was able to touch their hearts. As former Church president, David O. McKay (1873-1970) once remarked: “Music is truly the universal language, and when it is excellently expressed how deeply it moves our souls.”

“Good Tidings of Great Joy”

How many times have you read and heard these poignant words, “. . . and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger?” There’s no need to explain who “she” is, or who “he is.”  The familiar account is drawn from Luke 2:1-14 describing the fateful night when over shepherd’s fields near Bethlehem the heavens were filled with angels proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Every year The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square close their annual Christmas concert spectacular with this familiar account of the Nativity scene followed by the inspiring musical finale “Angels from the Realms of Glory” arranged by Choir music director Mack Wilberg. Adding to the program are often favorites like “Carol to the King,” “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly,” “Silent Night,” and “Hallelujah” from Messiah.

Stream The Choir's Christmas Music: Our Gift to You

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square invite you to stream our Christmas music—our gift for you!

During the Christmas season, music helps remind us of heavenly choirs appearing to shepherds watching their flocks, and of angels singing about peace on earth, good will toward men, and announcing the birth of Jesus Christ to the world. For almost everyone, Christmas music brings back memories of joyful childhood experiences, families gathered around the Christmas tree, and gift exchanges with dear friends.

This Week! Watch 20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir on PBS and BYUtv

Recapture the Magic of Twenty Years of Inspiring Concerts

Starting Monday, December 13 (PBS) and Thursday, December 16 (BYUtv), our 2021 Christmas special—a unique two-hour retrospective special 20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choirwith narrator and performer Tony® Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell. When COVID precluded the taping of a live concert in 2020, this special was crafted to bring the joy and peace of Christmas to audiences with uplifting music and messages for the holiday season.

Watch “That’s What Christmas Means to Me”

When you think of what Christmas means to you, what comes to mind? Memories of gatherings with family and friends? Melodies of favorite Christmas songs that have delighted you through the years? Perhaps Christmas evokes memories of people reaching out to help one another and wishing each other a joyful season? Or does Christmas bring feelings of hope and gratitude for the birth of the Savior born in a manger in far away Bethlehem?

When The Tabernacle Choir music director, Mack Wilberg, travels to a new city, he doesn’t go sightseeing to check out the landmarks or tourist sites; he goes to the local music shops. “I’m always doing a lot of research and detective work,” he says. And sorting through music, he finds what he calls “remarkable things” not heard much on the concert stage today.

Watch Richard Elliott’s Feet “Dance” on This Christmas Organ Solo

It has been said that the annual Christmas concert of The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square would be incomplete without a show-stopping solo from principal organist, Richard Elliott—and they would be correct!

This year’s 2021 Christmas gift from the Choir, the PBS and BYUtv special program and DVD 20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir has a new organ solo audiences that will love: Richard Elliott’s arrangement of “Trepak” from Nutcracker Suite, a 20-minute orchestra piece derived from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker. While not everyone will recognize the title “Trepak,” all will recognize the familiar music as the famous “dance of the Nutcracker” which Tchaikovsky based on a traditional Russian and Ukrainian folk dance.

The Tabernacle Choir to Sing at First Presidency Christmas Devotional

For decades The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has taken part in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' annual First Presidency Christmas devotional commemorating the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. This year is no different.

The First Presidency's long-standing tradition of inaugurating the sacred season with messages and music of joy, hope and peace is scheduled for Sunday, December 5, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. MST. The Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square will perform in person at the annual event. Due to Covid restrictions the public is not invited to attend this year but can view the program on one of the following channels: 

Discover the Magic of The Tabernacle “Virtual” Choir

Because the Choir’s 2021 Christmas gift to the world, 20 Years of Christmas with The Tabernacle Choirboth the PBS and BYUtv online and television specials and new DVD—was planned and produced during the pandemic, it is natural to ask, “Did the Choir and Orchestra contribute something new this year?“

From early in the process, a virtual choir was considered. But the role it would play was uncertain. Would it be just another musical selection, performed without a live audience, recorded in isolation on mobile devices? As the Choir’s music directors and production team considered how a virtual choir might add value, they recognized that virtual singers are somewhat like angels—crossing time and space to make their appearance and deliver their message. Perhaps the Choir’s first virtual performance could be suggestive of angelic messengers proclaiming the good news of the holy birth. With that as the plan, the entire Choir was invited to participate.