In 2013, my husband and I had an extraordinary adventure, the highlights of which were blessing a new granddaughter in Wales and attending the first ever British Pageant. An impressive tent was constructed on the grounds of the Preston, England temple wherein over 1600 people a night could experience the highest quality sound, lighting, and stage effects as the remarkable history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Great Britain was celebrated. My husband’s grandmother’s family was among the thousands of converts who responded to the gospel message brought by Apostles of the early church to that area.
The story of how the Lord prepared the hearts of so many to accept the gospel upon first hearing it is a remarkable one. One whole congregation of Christians who had organized themselves around the belief that many of the original gospel principles Jesus taught had been lost through the centuries — along with the authority to act in His name — heard their position validated by modern Apostles of the Lord’s church . . . and rejoiced in the opportunity to be baptized. Here is some additional historical background:
The production was first rate in every way, which is all the more impressive when you realize that the performers — including whole families with children — were simply members of the Church from across Britain who accepted the call to prepare and take part in this monumental undertaking.
Also, the larger stateside pageants (i.e., Palmyra, Manti) take place in open air sites where thousands watch at once and both spoken lines and all the music must be pre-recorded and simply “mouthed” by performers. The British Pageant was performed live every night. In addition to the “actors,” a magnificent chorus provided music that at first we did not believe was live, until we looked to the back of the performance tent and saw the conductor, leading the chorus with flashlights in her hands.
During the emotional finale, missionaries currently serving in the area whose own ancestors were among those early immigrants, marched down the aisle and mounted the stage to the strains of “Called to Serve.” Then, as they and the full cast broke into “Oh, Say, What is Truth,” nearly the whole audience at our performance spontaneously stood and joined in, tears streaming down many of the faces. _________________________ Lisa Riska, Site Director
Though the soundtrack is partial and does not begin to capture the choral quality, you can hear it right here:
Additional Church press releases on the event can be seen at these links: