PARIS — Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir wrapped up their three-week, central European tour Friday by re-creating a photo shoot from a 1955 tour, when their predecessors posed in front of the famous Eiffel Tower.

On the precise spot, the choir this time included members of its sister organization, the Orchestra at Temple Square, which has performed with it in all seven concerts on the tour at cities in the following order: Berlin and Nuremberg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Zurich, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Germany; Brussels, Belgium, and Rotterdam, Holland.

For logistical reasons, no performance was held in Paris, but a visit to the French capital held a special overall meaning for the tour, and not just because of the re-created Eiffel Tower photo.

The night before, during the French celebration of Bastille Day on the other side of the nation, dozens of people were massacred in the city of Nice, amounting to the third major terrorist assault to hit France in 19 months. The news cast a sobering pall, subduing what otherwise might have been a more festive occasion for the photo shoot at the Eiffel Tower.

Ironically, in a meeting the previous Sunday, July 10, Elder Patrick L. Kearon, an LDS general authority, had spoken to tour participants of the healing the performers were helping bring to a continent.

President of the church’s Europe Area, Elder Kearon noted that the performers would be performing next at Brussels, which, like Paris, had been beset recently with terrorist violence.

In Brussels, “you might not see on the streets the healing that is needed there, and as you go to Paris, the healing that is needed there,” he said, “although I can see the power that you have and that you will be given to bring healing and to bless those good people who have been hurt by those who have no understanding of truth and light.”

Elder Kearon spoke of the choir’s rendition of the Mormon hymn “Let Us All Press On,” performed at the church’s April 2014 general conference, and called it “an anthem for the church in Europe at this time.”

It is his personal favorite among the choir’s songs at the moment, he said, “because of where we are in Europe, because of these extraordinary times that we’ve arrived in the middle of.” He applied it to refugees, “the million or more who came into Europe last year, driven out of the Middle East and elsewhere, and others who have seen significant economic hardship in the last few years.”

Ralf Grunke, the church’s associate director of public affairs for Europe, said during an interview in Rotterdam that there had been “great success” with the choir and orchestra tour.

Local church members “consider the choir an embodiment of their faith, of the hope, of the peace that comes from the restored gospel, and many of them will never have a chance to see the choir perform at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City,” said Grunke, a resident of Frankfurt, Germany.

“So having the choir in the concert halls they’re familiar with in their own home cities has helped them feel appreciated and feel uplifted. And it has given them the hope they were looking for in many places.”

Regarding people of other faiths or no faith at all, “for many of them it was their first exposure not only to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but in some cases to its sponsoring organization, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Grunke said. “And we’ve heard from many of them that it has been a powerful experience.”

He added, “I got an email this morning from someone saying that it wasn’t so much the sound of the music that touched her but something that she couldn’t put her finger on — the atmosphere, the feeling — and referred to attending the concert as an experience of a lifetime.”

Some of the performers saw in the performances and the musical selections extra special meaning in consideration of the circumstances.

“That first night we sang, when we were in Berlin, the choir was unified in a way that I’ve never experienced in my almost 10 years with the choir,” said alto Lani Hyer Arnette. “The diction was perfect, and the music was together.

“That was an amazing beginning to the tour. And even though through the other concerts we were tired or hot or we just didn’t feel completely perfect, those who were listening said the concerts kept getting better and better for them.”

Arnette found meaning in the back-to-back placement of two selections near the end of the concert, “How Firm a Foundation” and “The Spirit of God.” The one has the line “Fear not, I am with thee,” followed by the hymn affirming that “the Spirit speaks to us, and we can all identify with that,” she said.

Individual performers spoke of memorable moments from the tour.

For Kim and Jeanette Eggette, it was the celebration of their 32nd wedding anniversary. She has been a choir member since just after its last European tour 18 years ago. The two celebrated their anniversary by taking an evening canal cruise in Amsterdam, Holland, where the performers were staying before the Rotterdam performance.

Marie Feinauer, a viola player with the orchestra, spoke of a memorable experience while on stage at the Nuremberg concert. A mother came up to a cellist on the front row and said her son was an LDS missionary companion to the son of a member of the choir seated high up in the loft, about as far away from her as possible. She wanted to communicate with the choir member.

“So we played ‘telephone,’” Feinauer said. "The cellist whispered to somebody who whispered to somebody else. And it goes through the cello section, through the violas, through the woodwinds, all the way up through eight rows of the choir to this missionary mom, and they’re waving to each other.”

Feinauer found special meaning in a line in the performance selection “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The line is “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wand’ring heart to thee.” It is an allusion to deity, but she saw in it a “microcosm,” the grace of God reflected in the goodness of music director Mack Wilberg and associate music director Ryan Murphy.

“I want to play my best for them because of their goodness and their love for us.”

rscott@deseretnews.com