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LDS Easter videos celebrate Christ with virtual Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing 'Hallelujah Chorus'

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church launched its third annual Easter initiative today with three new videos about Jesus Christ, including one of a "virtual" Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing-along of the "Hallelujah Chorus."

More than 2,000 people submitted digital files of themselves singing the chorus from Handel's "Messiah." Their voices are blended with the actual Tabernacle Choir and video boxes with their faces are seen surrounding the choir in the video, which can be seen now at followhim.mormon.org, easter.mormon.org and lds.org.

The three new videos — the choir, the main Easter video and an Easter animation — are tied together with the hashtag #Hallelujah. If past videos are an indication, these will go viral.

"Follow Him" is also interactive. It asks people to share photos of themselves holding a picture of loved ones who have passed away and who they believe they will see again in the Resurrection.

"My father, my mother, my sister, my grandparents, my family, they all shall be made alive," people say in the video. "In Jesus Christ, I have found new life. Hallelujah."

The videos are expected to attract global attention. Last year, the church's "Because He Lives" video generated 29.6 million online views around the world, more than 75 percent of them outside the United States and in languages other than English.

"Follow Him" will be available worldwide in 29 languages. On Easter Sunday, an ad for the video will play in the YouTube masthead in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, said Steve King, manager of media production for the missionary department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church began online video initiatives surrounding Easter and Christmas two years ago. In 2014, the church's first Easter video — "Because of Him" — generated 5.5 million online views around the world.

The 2014 Christmas video "He is the Gift" was seen by 33.8 million people. The monthlong 2015 Christmas initiative "The Savior is Born" included two videos seen 54.5 million times.

The church first announced the "Follow Him" video in the March issue of its Ensign magazine. The article encouraged Mormons to share their own testimonies of the Savior using the social media hashtag #Hallelujah.

The church's social media push today is focused on the virtual choir video. On Thursday, it will launch its social media campaign around the "Follow Him" video. Members can download pass-along cards about the video now at mormon.org/download.

Beginning on March 20 — Palm Sunday — King said people will be able to download a new Easter meme and gif each day throughout the week leading up to Easter on March 27. Thousands of Mormons and other Christians share these memes on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

"It’s our way of standing for Jesus Christ," said Kathryn Skaggs, a Latter-day Saint blogger who started the Mormon Women Stand group. "It's our way to help build up the kingdom through social media, which I lovingly refer to as 'the Lord’s power tool.'"

Mormons like Skaggs enjoy sharing the videos and memes, she said, because of their high quality and "because they are presented in a way that allows anyone of the Christian faith to get behind it by also sharing it."

King said the church purposefully created ecumenical content with that in mind.

Another goal is to show the world that Mormons "absolutely believe in Jesus Christ and have faith in him," King said.

"We have found it's very easy in Christian countries for missionaries to talk with people about Jesus Christ at Easter and Christmas," he added.

While the "Follow Him" video is centered on Christ and Resurrection, it does not use the term Easter, so missionaries can better share its content from April until the next Christmas initiative is launched in late November.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com