Mother Teresa, the Catholic sister who was beatified in 2003 for her work among the poor in Calcutta, India, said, "The world is hungry not only for food, but also for beauty."
In the spirit of that philosophy, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was honored on Nov. 19 as a Laureate of the 2006 Mother Teresa Award for "edifying the world through inspirational choral performances and recordings."
After the choir's Sunday morning weekly broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word, the Very Reverend Joseph Mayo, Rector of the Catholic Church's Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, presented the award on behalf of the St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art.
In a prayer, the Rev. Mayo said, "We honor this day the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as Laureates of the 2006 Mother Teresa Award. This award is presented to them for inspiring the world through their great gift of speaking to our souls through song. We invoke Thy choicest blessings of good health of mind, soul and body upon each member so that they may continue to be an inspiration to all. We ask that they, through the sharing of their musical talents, may lead new generations of musicians to have a revitalized faith and knowledge of Thee and that the centuries-old traditions of encouraging the arts and social actions may endure."
The Rev. Mayo expressed gratitude to the Lord for "being lavish in bestowing Thy gifts and we express appreciation for the many talented volunteers Thou has brought together to form the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square that serves with them." He also expressed thanks for the Lord's great love for all people "as the many gifts of Thy spirit are so generously shared with us. We pray that Thou will continue to protect us, inspire us and encircle us in the arms of Thy love."
He acknowledged the work of Mother Teresa and prayed, "May her example of service be a reminder to all of us that when we are in the service of others, we are truly in the service of our God."
The Rev. Mayo presented the award "with respect, warmth and admiration" to Mac Christensen, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Craig Jessop, the choir's musical director.
Brother Christensen accepted the award on behalf of President Gordon B. Hinckley, who is the choir's adviser, and the Church.
Brother Jessop said that receipt of the award represents the collective efforts of hundreds of musicians and the conductors, organists and others throughout the choir's nearly 160-year-history. He spoke of Mother Teresa's life, compassion and devotion to serving the humble people of the earth, and said that the choir and its leaders are "grateful to think that our efforts would be acknowledged by her representatives."
The award is in the form of a statuette of Mother Teresa standing with her right hand placed over her heart. The statuette was created by R.S. Owens Company of Chicago, which produces the Oscars for the Academy Awards.
Others who have been named Laureates of the Mother Teresa Award include Pope John Paul II; Maya Angelou, the second poet laureate of the United States; Andrea Bocelli, operatic tenor and music producer; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela; and Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and author.
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