This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, once dubbed "America's choir" by President Ronald Reagan, belted out "America the Beautiful" ahead of Donald Trump's oath of office Friday, earning applause from a crowd stretching down the National Mall.
Select members of the Utah-based choir, accompanied by the Marine Band, wore cream coats and plaid scarves as they performed the song on the west front of the Capitol. It marked the seventh time the choir has sung at a presidential inauguration.
"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," Ron Jarrett, the president of choir, said in a statement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not make choir members available for interviews.
The church said that 215 members of the 360-strong choir were part of the ceremony.
At least one member of the choir had refused to join the group, resigning her choir membership in protest of Trump.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert praised the "stunning musical performance" by the choir.
Trump didn't mention the choir during his address.
"Singing in inaugurations is a family tradition," choir member Richard Bigler said in the church news release. "My parents sang in the choir for over 20 years, my brothers also. They sang for the inaugurations of George H. W. Bush and also Ronald Reagan, and I'm excited to be a part of this family tradition."
Jason Goodman, a representative of the Presidential Inaugural Committee that planned the post-swearing-in festivities, said in the church release that it was good to have the choir back.
"We are incredibly happy to have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir back again at the inauguration," Goodman said. "It is a part of America's history, and the music is incredibly beautiful."
The choir last performed as George W. Bush was sworn in as president in 2001.
One member of the choir, Jan Chamberlin, resigned her membership from the group, saying she couldn't "look myself in the mirror again with self-respect" if she performed for Trump.
"Since 'the announcement,' I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony. I have reflected carefully on both sides of the issue, prayed a lot, talked with family and friends, and searched my soul," Chamberlin wrote in a resignation letter to the choir president and fellow members.
Two Mormon apostles D. Todd Christofferson and Gary E. Stevenson also represented the Utah-based faith at the inauguration.