“LDS Scene,” Ensign, Feb. 1975, 85–87
Former Tabernacle Choir Director Honored
On September 19, 1974, Utah Governor Calvin Rampton hosted an appreciation dinner for Richard P. Condie, recently released as conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
One of the featured speakers at the dinner, Robert O’Brien, senior editor of Reader’s Digest, had praise for Brother Condie, the Choir, and the Church.
The text of his comments follows:
“Music to Match Your Mountains”
All good music, Brigham Young said, belongs to heaven, and this singing of the Tabernacle Choir is certainly the music of heaven—God’s love distilled into joy and harmony, serenity and peace, trust and unconquerable faith—keeping our stride firm and strong, keeping our eyes looking up, keeping God’s truth marching on, keeping us marching on in the ranks of his army, the army of righteousness and the army of truth.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. …” I listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing those words and I say, “My ears are hearing of the glory of the coming of the Lord. I am listening to the Lord glorified, to the Lord magnified, to the Lord made visible.”
Because these men and women do not sing with their voices they sing with their hearts. And that is what uniquely binds this choir together and makes it one triumphant, many-throated voice. That is what enables it to reach out and touch the soul of everyone who listens, no matter who or where, or what color or religion his or hers may be.
It is faith that does this—their faith—the bright, shining substance of things hoped for, an incandescent faith in the coming of the Lord, a coming of the Lord to all men and women, to all their cities and countries, to all their hearts and souls. And true believers that we are, we too know that some day his coming will glorify the dawn. And if for a moment we doubt it, we have but to raise the lid of our phonograph and put on a record of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the sound of the glory of his coming will fill the room, fill it as last Saturday night our good president [Gerald R. Ford] and his wife and 2,000 others heard it fill the great concert hall at the Kennedy Center in Washington; fill it as it fills the hearts of all who hear it with glory and love, and that blessed promise of redemption.
So, my good friends, it is a great gift that you and your people have given to the world. And in the words of your greatest hymn, so long as you “make the air with music ring, shout praises to our God and king”—and I am sure that will be forever—then, “all is well.” All, indeed, is well.
So hail to the Saints. Hail to their marvelous choir. Hail to the retiring director [Richard P. Condie]. Hail to the work that began right here across the street 127 years ago with the singing of those same hymns that brought the Mormon pioneers across the plains. Many of them, as you well know from tales told by the fireside, were without shoes, without coats or shirts, without blankets, women and children gaunt and hungry; but by heaven every man of them a king and a priest, as the Prophet had called upon them to be. And every woman a daughter of the Lord, and all of them afire with a flaming faith, that the Lord would bring them and now had brought them 1600 miles across the wilderness, rivers and plains and mountains, to their promised land, to their blessed Zion in this valley.
But in the words of your remarkable president, Spencer W. Kimball, “Faith precedes the miracle.” Their faith, thank God, was then. And the miracle is still with us today in this magnificent city, in your prosperous and powerful people, in your temples and great universities.
Ironically, on the very eve of the nation’s 200th birthday, many Americans feel bewildered, betrayed, and adrift. They seem to have lost their way. The thought of the manifest destiny of America no longer thrills them. They cannot bring themselves any longer really to believe in it. The old magic has gone from the bugles, from the trumpets and the flag. When this happens, they blame the government, Washington, Congress, the White House, the man in the Oval Room.
But the truth is that the fault lies, as Shakespeare reminds us, not in the stars, not in the government, but in themselves, in the emptiness and desolation of their own hearts, in their alienation from the Lord, in their lack of faith. Your forefathers and you yourselves know all about faith. Brigham Young said, “We have faith, we live by faith, we came to these mountains by faith.”
And today, more than munitions, more than markets, more than gold and silver, what America needs is faith—your kind of faith. And as I fly away from here tomorrow looking back into this valley, looking down into those canyons and across those rugged ridges that are now aflame with their autumn colors, I shall be blessing you good people and thinking that I and the rest of the nation and all the rest of the world owe you an unmeetable obligation, more than we can ever repay.
For you keep us believing in America and in the American dream. You put our longings and highest hopes into music, you give us music to match your mountains, you give us the soaring of the voice of the heart, you give us the loving voice of the Lord. And for all this and much more, you are indeed beloved.
And in you the Lord must indeed be well pleased.
God bless you and keep you, until we meet again.
President Kimball in Mexico
More than 12,000 members of the Church and their investigator friends filled the National Auditorium in Mexico City to hear President Spencer W. Kimball on December 14.
The price of admission for each member was a nonmember friend.
While in Mexico the president spoke to the missionaries of the Mexico Veracruz Mission and the Mexico Mexico City Mission and dedicated the meetinghouse at Puebla.
He was accompanied by Sister Kimball and Elder D. Arthur Haycock, his personal secretary.
New Director at Temple Square Visitors Center
Keith E. Garner, recently released Regional Representative of the Council of the Twelve, has been called to serve as director of the Temple Square Visitors Center.
Brother Garner, formerly of Menlo Park, California, succeeded T. C. Jacobsen, director, and associate directors Junius Jackson, LeGrand P. Backman, and Macoy A. McMurray.
Brother Garner will direct the activities of more than 260 volunteer guides on Temple Square as they share the gospel and the story of the historic Square with more than two million visitors a year.
The number of visitors to Temple Square has almost doubled since 1965.
The new director is a former president of the Hong Kong Mission (formerly the Southern Far East Mission.)
Latter-day Saint Indians Excel
Two graduates of Brigham Young University have recently been named to responsible positions in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C.
They are Martin Seneca, Jr., a Seneca Indian from New York, and Ronald L. Esquerra, a Chemehuevi from the Colorado River Indian Reservation.
Dr. Seneca has a master’s degree in public administration from BYU and a doctor of law degree from Harvard University. He has been named director of trust responsibilities for the BIA.
Mr. Esquerra, who was graduated from BYU in business management, has been appointed executive assistant to the BIA commissioner.
National Personnel President Is LDS
The managing director of the Church’s Personnel Department, Russell G. Williams, has been elected to serve as president of the American Society for Personnel Administration during 1976.
Brother Williams has previously served for three years as vice president of the society he will now lead. Members of the society include such major firms as General Electric, United Air Lines, Proctor and Gamble, and IBM.
LDS “Christmas Child” Viewed Nationally
“A Christmas Child,” a 30-minute television drama produced for the Church, was seen by millions of North Americans during the Christmas season. More than 200 television stations carried the show, often during prime time, with sponsors for the show approved by the Church. This sponsorship allowed the production to be shown during the evening hours to significantly larger audiences than usually watch television during the “public service” hours.
This drama is the story of an airline hostess who encounters the meaning of Christmas on an unscheduled layover in Salt Lake City on Christmas eve. She helps a lost boy find his parents, a search that takes her to Temple Square and to a concert by the Tabernacle Choir.
BYU Plays at Fiesta Bowl
President Spencer W. Kimball and Brigham Young University President Dallin H. Oaks were in Phoenix, Arizona, in late December for the BYU football team’s appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, the first post-season bowl appearance ever made by a football team from BYU.
Both participated in the Fiesta Bowl Parade, along with the BYU marching band and Church members from the Phoenix area who built a float. President Kimball, President Oaks, and BYU head football coach LaVell Edwards also addressed an alumni luncheon at Arizona State University at Tempe in connection with the festivities.
Also in attendance at the game were President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency and Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.
The game between BYU and Oklahoma State University ended in defeat for BYU.