Latino Christmas in song and dance

Spanish-language 'Recibid al Rey' recalls Christ's birth

Festive sights and sounds filled the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Dec. 6 for two performances of the Church's annual Spanish-language Christmas program.

This year's offering, "Recibid al Rey" ("Receive the King"), featured representative dance, song and instrumental music from several Latin American countries as well as an address by Elder Jos?A. Teixeira of the Seventy.

"In the Latin American world, there isn't a more liberating tradition than Christmas," Elder Teixeira said. "This time of year brings feelings of joy and emotion to the children, the hope of being reunited with our family members, and the desire to share what we have with those who need it."

Elder Teixeira talked about the tradition of constructing a Nativity scene commemorating Jesus' birth that he said is a common practice in countries such as Mexico, Peru, Chile, Bolivia and Brazil. Recalling his own childhood in Portugal, Elder Teixeira spoke about the experiences he had as a boy of aiding in the construction of Nativity scenes every year during the first week of December.

"For us as a family, making part of the Nativity scene was very moving," said Elder Teixeira. "It prepared our minds and our hearts for the days that followed."

"Recibid al Rey" featured the talents of hundreds of volunteers. Directed by Alejandro Gomez and accompanied by organist Jay Powell, a large choir sang eight songs, joined by a wide array of instruments, including flutes, guitars, drums, an accordion and a harp.

An eight-member band played up-tempo Latin music, often accompanying the choreographed dance routines of children in traditional folkloric costumes. Interspersed among the musical numbers were segments of a family home evening that served as the program's narrative.

The annual Latino Christmas celebration is a valuable missionary tool. Initially, tickets were available only through the ward mission leaders of local Spanish-speaking Mormon congregations. Elder Limhi Catzim, a missionary serving in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission, reported that he and his companion had distributed tickets to 12 investigators.

Elder John C. Pingree, an Area Seventy, conducted the program. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve attended the Saturday evening performance.

Beginning Dec. 17, "Recibid al Rey" will be available for online viewing at the Web site.

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