"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
August 27, 2014
Tabernacle Choir Offers Missionary-themed Boxed Set
by Laurie Williams Sowby

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square have joined with Deseret Book to offer a set of four missionary-themed recordings, titled The Missionary Collection. The CDs have each already been released individually since 2008 and may already be in fans’ own collections.

But with the upsurge in missionaries called to serve, and the emphasis on member-missionary efforts, listeners shouldn’t mind hearing them again and finding new favorites. Surely these are also mission president-approved. (Interestingly, some of the selections are repeated on one or more CDs in the set.)

Praise to the Man, released in 2008 and featuring many arrangements by Tabernacle Choir Conductor Mack Wilberg, contains a dozen tracks totaling almost 49 minutes. They include a reverent, joyful “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” as well as “An Angel from on High” and “This is My Beloved Son,” musical retellings of the Restoration.

The album also includes the title selection in a men’s arrangement augmented by bagpipes and drums and, of course, “A Poor Wayfaring man of Grief,” which evokes the Prophet’s last hours in Carthage Jail.

LDS hymns about prophets fill in nicely overall (but I have to admit, I always skip over “Now We’ll Sing with One Accord” because it sounds to me like a children’s playground tune, even with the Tab Choir singing it).

Called to Serve, also produced in 2008, is a personal favorite because of our own missions as well as the opportunity to hear robust singing of the title song at the Provo Missionary Training Center every week over the past year. This version begins with men quietly singing four-part harmony and building strength with every line. The men only also sing “Ye Elders of Israel.”

Among the 15 selections, appropriately, are “I Believe in Christ,” “I’ll Go Where You Want me to Go,” and the iconic “Come, Come, Ye Saints.”

The singing on all four CDs is enhanced by excellent musical arrangements performed by members of the orchestra.

“How Firm a Foundation” opens with a trumpet fanfare and continues with more verses than we usually ever sing in church, and trumpets also feature prominently in “High on the Mountain Top.” Strings add to the sweetness of “God Be with You.” It ends with a rousing “The Spirit of God” with all the brass and percussion added to the choir’s highest volume.

Teach Me to Walk in the Light, released in 2012, is a collection of favorite Primary songs, new and old, conducted by Wilberg and Ryan Murphy. Beginning with a lilting “I Think the World is Glorious,” it moves through 15 songs, including a gentle “Give, Said the Little Stream,” “I am a Child of God,” “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” and “When He Comes Again” (which premiered during my own Primary experience).

A comparatively new favorite, “If the Savior Stood Beside Me,” the two-melody “Mother, Tell Me a Story,” a lively “Holding Hands Around the World,” and the previously-mentioned stellar arrangement of “Called to Serve” make it an album that will appeal to hearts of all ages.

This is the Christ, released in 2011, takes a more serious tone, springing from the title piece with words by James L. Faust and Jan Pinborough set to music by Michael Moody. Familiar LDS hymns such as “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,” “Sunshine in My Soul,” and “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” are interspersed with more “serious” music such as Gounod’s “O, Divine Redeemer,” Nygard’s “God So Loved the World,” and a lovely setting of “”Beautiful Savior” (“Crusader’s Hymn”). The choir offers a heartfelt rendition of “I Believe in Christ” to close the 14 tracks.

The four-CD set is available through LDS outlets and online, listed at $39.98.

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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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