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At inauguration, Mormon Tabernacle Choir earns respect as part of history

SHARE At inauguration, Mormon Tabernacle Choir earns respect as part of history

WASHINGTON — The Mormon Tabernacle Choir turned groans to cheers on Friday during the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump.

After Mike Pence took the oath of office as the new vice president of the United States just before noon, the anticipation was too much for some Trump supporters who couldn't wait for him to stand up next and take the oath as president.

Some in a crowd of an estimated 800,000 groaned, when it was announced the Tabernacle Choir would perform first.

"Oh, no, don't make us wait," said one man in a ticketed standing-room-only section behind the seated area.

A few moments after the choir began to sing "America the Beautiful," the choir won over the man, who joined others in singing along.

"The choir was in prime-time real estate in seats above the podium and was just fantastic," said Don Peay, founder of Trump for President Utah, who said he called former choir president Mac Christensen to congratulate him and share how well he though the choir performed.

"America the Beautiful" was appropriate for the day, according to the choir's music director.

"It's one of our great songs because it talks about our great heritage and our continued potential as a great nation," Mack Wilberg said in a news release.

The 215 choir members dressed in crème-colored coats with matching turtleneck sweaters and red plaid scarves. By 7 a.m., they were in place for the 11:30 a.m. ceremony. Trump took the oath at noon.

They performed under cloudy, drizzly skies with temperatures in the low 40s.

"The opportunity for us to be in Washington, D.C., is an opportunity to serve this great country of the United States, an opportunity for us to share the healing and powerful message of music with the entire world," choir president Ron Jarrett said in the release.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has 360 singers. Organizers conducted a lottery to select the 215 who could fit on stage at the inauguration.

The 58th U.S. Presidential Inauguration Committee invited the choir to perform in that prominent place in the program.

"We are incredibly happy to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir back again at the inauguration," the committee's Jason Goodman said. "It is a part of America's history, and the music is incredibly beautiful."

Friday was the choir's seventh inaugural performance.

It previously sang at the official swearing-in ceremonies for Lyndon Johnson in 1965 and Richard Nixon in 1969.

The choir performed during inaugural parades for George W. Bush (2001), George H. W. Bush (1989) and Ronald Reagan (1981) and at a devotional service as part of Nixon's second inauguration (1973).

The choir represents The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the faith's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also represented the church at the inauguration. Their participation continued a practice that stretches back 144 years.

The first LDS leader to attend inaugural ceremonies was Elder George Q. Cannon, a territorial delegate to Congress and member of the faith's First Presidency when he attended the inaugurations of Ulysses S. Grant in 1873 and Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877.

Elder Reed Smoot of the Twelve was at President Theodore Roosevelt's second inaugural in 1905 as a U.S. senator from Utah. Elder Smoot served as both apostle and senator until 1933 and was present for the inauguration of every president during that time, including William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

Other senior LDS leaders to represent the church at inaugurations include President Hugh B. Brown ('65), Elder Richard L. Evans ('69), Elder Boyd K. Packer ('73), President N. Eldon Tanner ('77), Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin ('81), Elder James E. Faust ('93), President Henry B. Eyring ('97), President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder M. Russell Ballard (2009) and Elder L. Tom Perry and Elder Quentin L. Cook (2013).