It was time to sing.
The 360-member choir, the lyrical voice of Mormonism since pioneer days, was on a mission with multiple levels, historians and surviving singers say. They were to be the featured musical anchor later that day for the first international satellite television program — a blast of American culture and technological prowess aimed at Europe, using a wobbly, 170-pound satellite that had been launched into orbit that month.
Small stories and large ones were interwoven — in the off-camera dreams and fears of the singers and organizers and in the on-camera references to the Kremlin and the arms race. A brash, ambitious television station manager from Rapid City, S.D., named William F. Turner, who happened to know some Mormons — and some Kennedys in the White House — played a part. Darleen Merrihew, then a 32-year-old alto, was three months pregnant with her fourth child.