The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square welcomed the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Spelman College Glee Club from Atlanta, Georgia, for the Choir’s weekly Sunday broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” on October 22, 2023.
The combined choir showcased more than 400 voices, including some 60 singers from the historically Black colleges, accompanied by the Orchestra at Temple Square in the Tabernacle in downtown Salt Lake City.
“And we have ‘friends shaking hands,’ [which] is what we do with each other here. We are creating connections and friendships with the LDS community and vice versa. We can communicate, share resources, share ideas … all this that we can come together and create a better world,” said Lesh’In Edwards, co-student director of the Morehouse College Glee Club.
Dr. Wilberg conducted the opening and closing hymns, “In Hymns of Praise” and “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing.” Dr. David Morrow, director of the Morehouse College Glee Club, conducted “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “John Was a Writer.” Dr. Kevin Johnson, director of the Spelman College Glee Club, conducted “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord” and “What a Wonderful World.”
The Spoken Word “Observing God’s Hand in His Handiwork,” was shared by Lloyd D. Newell.
Following the broadcast, the glee clubs each performed two additional numbers for the live audience of more than 3,000 people, and Morehouse organist Dr. David Oliver performed a solo piece.
Bringing the choirs together has been a project years in the making, through the efforts of Rev. Dr. Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College.
“I thought if I could get the excellence of the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Spelman College Glee Club to be projected on the World Wide Web with The Tabernacle Choir, that would be a powerful, unifying, surprising, shattering of a stereotype,” said Rev. Dr. Carter.
Rev. Dr. Carter said that his appreciation for The Tabernacle Choir goes back to his childhood when he would hear the all-volunteer Choir sing over the radio.
“I believe this is what is most needed right now,” Rev. Dr. Carter said. “We’re all meant to have beautiful things. It’s in our hands to give, to have peace on earth.”
Elder M. Andrew Galt, an Area Seventy from Georgia of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sponsoring organization of the Choir, echoed Rev. Dr. Carter’s message.
“These are prayers to God to bring people together, and this is something the world needs right now,” said Elder Galt. “We need friends in all places around the world, and as we do that we sustain and support each other, and we can continue to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.”
“To be here on the mountain for a momentous moment of celebrating Spelman College [and] Morehouse College glee clubs, and this international tradition of The Tabernacle Choir, bringing meaning to many souls through the instrumentality of music is a blessing,” said Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.
Rev. Dr. Brown attended with his wife, Jane Smith Brown, and Dr. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
Rev. Dr. Brown is an alumnus of Morehouse College, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I feel that we actually represent what the world ought to be about— that beloved community that my teacher Dr. Martin Luther King envisioned in which people would live together not in dissonance but in harmony,” Rev. Dr. Brown said.
“I had high expectations, but this exceeded it. There was a sense of peace. There was a sense of common unity in our shared beliefs. There was a new friendship. It was a remarkable moment in Choir history,” said Choir President Michael O. Leavitt.
Earlier this year, in April of 2023, Morehouse College, a historically Black college in Georgia, honored President Russell M. Nelson with the first-of-its-kind Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize.
President Nelson began building bridges with the NAACP in 2018 with a joint call for greater civility and racial harmony in society. The participation of the glee clubs from Morehouse College and Spelman College in The Tabernacle Choir’s weekly broadcast is the next step in this valued relationship.
About the Choirs:
The Morehouse College Glee Club is the premier singing organization of Morehouse College, traveling all over the world and demonstrating excellence not only in choral performance but also in discipline, dedication and brotherhood for more than 100 years.
The historic Spelman College Glee Club has maintained a reputation for choral excellence since 1924. Generations of young women, including those majoring and minoring in music and those focusing on other areas of study, have given their time, talent and energy to this elite group embedded within the Spelman sisterhood.
The Tabernacle Choir’s weekly broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” is the world’s longest continuous weekly network broadcast. Since 1929, the broadcast has provided messages of hope and comfort through unifying music each week.