On a crisp, clear winter morning in downtown Salt Lake City, thousands of mourners began gathering early to the Conference Center for the funeral of President Gordon B. Hinckley. Days of snowstorms gave way for one day of blue skies and warmer temperatures as some 16,000 filled the center built by the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Attending in stake centers throughout the Church were countless thousands gathering to bid farewell to the Church president known for having traveled more than one million miles to more than 160 nations. Proceedings were broadcast via Church satellite in 69 languages to more than 6,000 Church buildings globally, as well as over BYU Television, KBYU, local television stations and via Internet streaming on www.lds.org.
The funeral for President Hinckley was held Saturday morning, Feb. 2, 2008, with President Thomas S. Monson presiding, conducting and offering the final address. President Monson had served as first counselor to President Hinckley. Also speaking during the services were President Henry B. Eyring, who had served as second counselor to President Hinckley since last October general conference; President Boyd K. Packer, who served as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve during President Hinckley's administration; Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy; Presiding Bishop H. David Burton; and Virginia H. Pearce, a daughter of President Hinckley. (Please see excerpts from those addresses on pages 10-12.)
Clark B. Hinckley, a son of President Hinckley, offered the invocation; Kathleen H. Walker, a daughter, gave the benediction. The family prayer prior to the services was given by Jane H. Dudley, also a daughter; and the Church president's grave at the Salt Lake City Cemetery was dedicated by Elder Richard G. Hinckley, a son and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. President and Sister Hinckley had five children, 25 grandchildren and 62 great-grandchildren, most of whom were in attendance in the Conference Center, filling the first several rows. (Please see articles on viewing and grave dedication on pages 13-14.)
During the service in the Conference Center, as prelude music filled the air, those attending rose to reverent attention as President Hinckley's casket, draped in red and white flowers, was rolled in front of the pulpit he had so many times stood before to address the Church — the same pulpit made from the black walnut tree he had grown at his Salt Lake home.
President Hinckley, 97, died Jan. 27, 2008, at his home in Salt Lake City after serving for nearly 13 years as Church president. His wife, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, died in 2004. (Please see Feb. 2, 2008, Church News for special 20-page commemorative edition on the life of President Hinckley.)
Music for the funeral was performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with Craig Jessop and Mack Wilberg conducting and Richard Elliot and Clay Christiansen accompanying on the organ. Included in the musical selections were the hymns, "My Redeemer Lives" and "What Is This Thing Called Death," the words to both of which were written by President Hinckley.
As the casket left the Conference Center for the journey to the Salt Lake Cemetery, several hundred in attendance waved white handkerchiefs. Many wiped tears. Later, they lingered to watch proceedings from the cemetery via live visual and audio feed. After the dedication of the grave, a bagpiper approached the grave site playing "Danny Boy," known as one of the Church president's favorite songs, "Amazing Grace" and "Praise to the Man." As the bagpipes faded, those in the Conference Center rose spontaneously in tribute and then sang "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet," offering their last goodbye to President Gordon B. Hinckley.
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