SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — During the Christmas season, 10 acres in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City will sparkle with millions of lights, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will sing for 100,000 people and a Christmas devotional will be broadcast throughout the world from the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — all to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The centrality of Jesus Christ to Mormonism is highlighted in a document titled “The Living Christ,” which is a testimony of the divinity of Christ authored by leaders of the Church in 2000 and has become a standard reference document. It states:
As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
In an annual tradition to mark this most Christian of holidays, the switch was flipped the day after Thanksgiving on a glittering display of light and color on Temple Square and on the nearby plazas of the Church.
In addition, thousands of flickering floating candles, and hundreds of luminaries and lanterns glowing with such words as “hope,” “joy” and “peace” add to the Christmas spectacle.
“These lights are a family tradition,” said one visitor, “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without bundling up the kids and seeing the lights on Temple Square.”
Visitors will also enjoy Nativity scenes by artists from all parts of the world, including Poland, Nigeria, Japan, Alaska, New Zealand and countries south of the U.S. border.
The largest Nativity scene, directly east of the Salt Lake Temple, is a display featuring lifelike figures of Joseph, Mary and the Christ child in a stable, with shepherds tending their flocks nearby and wise men following the star to Bethlehem.
Accompanying this Nativity scene is a soundtrack relating the biblical account of the holy night and songs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with brief remarks by Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, who speaks of Latter-day Saints’ love for Jesus Christ.
That love is demonstrated through song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Temple Square Christmas concerts. The 13-16 December Concerts, which are free to the public, are in such high demand that all of the tens of thousands of tickets have already been reserved.
The King’s Singers, one of the world’s most sought-after vocal ensembles, will be the featured guest artists for this year’s concerts.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome back our dear friends, The King’s Singers, as our guests for Christmas this year,” said Craig Jessop, music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. “They are consummate musicians who can perform everything from classical to contemporary and in between. Plus, they have a flair for comedy, which should make this Christmas concert one of our most fun and festive ever.”
Those without a ticket should have no problem hearing a Christmas concert on Temple Square or in nearby Church buildings. Local choirs and musicians are scheduled to perform in more than 400 separate concerts throughout the Christmas season.
The musical production Savior of the World, based on scriptural accounts of the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ, will return to the Conference Center Theater for the holidays. The production features a soundtrack augmented by a live orchestra.
The annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional will also originate from the Conference Center on Sunday, 2 December 2007. This devotional will include Christmas messages from top leadership of the Church and music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It will be broadcast to members throughout the world.
But not all of the Church Christmas festivities will be held in Salt Lake City. The 30th annual Festival of Lights took place at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center on 28 November. President Boyd K. Packer, a senior Church leader, and His Excellency Sudjadnan Parnohadingral, ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia jointly illuminated 450,000 lights for invited guests.
Similar lighting displays will also be visible at the Mesa Arizona Temple, the Sydney Australia Temple and the Manila Philippines Temple.
This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.