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9 patriotic moments with the Tabernacle Choir


9 patriotic moments with the Tabernacle Choir

Known as “America’s choir,” The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square has been recognized and honored by peers and critics, leaders of countries and enthusiastic audiences around the world. Some of its best-known and most-loved songs are patriotic numbers from the United States of America, and the choir has often been invited to sing these songs at events containing reflection, commemoration or celebration.

Below are some of these highlights from the Church News archives.

President Gordon B. Hinckley addresses memorial service.

President Gordon B. Hinckley addresses memorial service.

Credit: Photo by Tom Smart

1. ‘A tragic, solemn and dark day,’ Sept. 11, 2001

“In a day darkened by the ugly face of hatred there is shining through the heavy overcast of fear and anger the solemn and wonderful image of the Son of God, the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Exemplar of universal love — and it is to Him that we look in these circumstances,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley during a Sept. 11 memorial service held the evening of the day terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Read more of President Hinckley’s remarks

2. Opening ceremonies of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics, Feb. 8, 2002

There were 55,000 attending in person and some 3.5 billion viewers globally who tuned into the Olympics opening ceremonies on Feb. 8, 2002. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, then known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was part of those ceremonies, where U.S. President George W. Bush opened the Games.

See coverage of the event and find out some of the choir members’ memories

3. Singing with the Boston Pops in Boston, Mass., on July 4, 2003

Promoting patriotism on the Charles River in Boston, Mass., the Tabernacle Choir takes part in famous Independence Day celebration with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Choir’s signature “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was featured on television.

Promoting patriotism on the Charles River in Boston, Mass., the Tabernacle Choir takes part in famous Independence Day celebration with the Boston Pops Orchestra. Choir’s signature “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was featured on television.

Credit: Photo by Gerry Avant

More than 600,000 people packed Boston’s Esplanade by the Charles River for a concert during the choir’s 2003 summer tour, when it performed at the annual Fourth of July Celebration on the Esplanade — called America’s premier Independence Day celebration.

Keith Lockhart, director of the Boston Pops as well as the Utah Symphony, said in his opening comment, “If the Boston Pops is America’s symphony then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is America’s choir.”

See how the vast crowd responded and joined in a patriotic sing-along

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at the National Convention Patriotic Religious Service for the American Legion convention Aug. 28, 2006, at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at the National Convention Patriotic Religious Service for the American Legion convention Aug. 28, 2006, at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Credit: Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret Morning News

4. Spiritual emphasis in patriotic ceremony, Aug. 27, 2006

From the posting of the American flag, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square performing the national anthem at the beginning to the sounding of taps at the conclusion, the program was just what it was promoted to be — a patriotic ceremony with a spiritual emphasis. The Pledge of Allegiance almost seemed to be a prayer; many struggled to control emotion-choked voices.

Learn about the American Legion’s Patriotic Religious Service

The Tabernacle Choir performs for the “Today” show at the Tabernacle, Sept. 11, 2002.

The Tabernacle Choir performs for the “Today” show at the Tabernacle, Sept. 11, 2002.

Credit: Michael Brandy, Deseret News

5. Special 9/11 memorial performance, Sept. 11, 2011

Mack Wilberg, music director for the choir, said: “As much sorrow and grief as came from 9/11, there have also come positives. In this program, we wanted to show how the indomitable American spirit turned a tragedy into a triumph of coming together and caring and serving. The message of this show is that, as individuals and as a nation, we can find healing and strength in adversity and literally rise above all the negatives.”

Read about the planning for the program

6. Pregame singing of the national anthem at Yankee Stadium, July 3, 2015

In front of 18,000 fans, the 320 singers opened the Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays by performing “Cohan’s Big Three,” a medley of show tunes featuring “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” They topped it off with a rendition of the U.S. national anthem, which is traditionally sung at the beginning of ballgames.

Find out the backstory of how they got there and read about the other stops on the tour, including New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Wang Theater

7. Tabernacle Choir joins with band at West Point for Independence Day celebration, July 4, 2015

In addition to “Alma Mater,” a traditional song of the U.S. Military Academy, the choir and the West Point Band, supplemented by the string section from the Orchestra at Temple Square, performed a selection of patriotic songs, including “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “America the Beautiful,” the national anthem and the choir’s signature piece “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Learn about the secret planning for the surprise appearance

8. Singing at a seventh presidential inauguration, Jan. 20, 2017

In 1965, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sang for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration.

In 1965, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sang for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration.

Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“It is an act of state, not of politics,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of the inauguration ceremony. “Its primary purpose is for the president-elect to take the constitutionally required oath of office, and for the people by witnessing it to bind him to that oath.

“It is a time to reaffirm collectively the enduring principles that have sustained this country for over 200 years, including the peaceful transfer of power, which remains a remarkable event even in this modern world.”

Find out what happened at previous inaugurations and see a full list

9. Tabernacle Choir special ‘Coming Together’ commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented “9/11, Coming Together” on Sept. 11, 2021.

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square presented “9/11, Coming Together” on Sept. 11, 2021.

Credit: Screenshot from YouTube

Television journalist Jane Clayson Johnson hosted the program: “Having had a front-row seat as a news commentator, it is an honor for me to be part of this ‘Coming Together’ special commemorating human kindness during the tragedy of 9/11,” she said. “In a way, this special parallels the challenges in today’s world and reminds us that embracing each other with love and respect can help heal the human heart.”

Read about the historic backdrop for the event

More from the archives

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