We are blessed to often see prophets behind the pulpit, but how about behind the piano? In recent years, President Russell M. Nelson has shared at least three piano performances with the Church—and not all of the songs were hymns.
President Nelson has often spoken of his love for music. He once shared that he had given his family a “compact-disc recording of musical memories.” He said, “I sat at the piano and recorded a variety of music that I had sung or played to the children through the years. They liked it. Some of the grandchildren told me that the CD was ‘cool.’”
We may not have our own exclusive CD from President Nelson, but we can still be uplifted by his musical talents. In case you missed them, here are three piano performances from our prophet.
► You may also like: 6 songs from the new youth album you might mistake as Top 40 radio hits
1. The 2021 Youth Music Festival
Most recently, President Russell M. Nelson provided both the concluding message and song in the 2021 Youth Music Festival. Without the aid of sheet music, President Nelson played a few lines of the hymn “Hope of Israel.” Then he paused to say,
“I have always loved music. Good music has amazing power. It has had a profound influence on my life, and it can on yours, too. It has lifted my spirits during sad days, and it has helped me feel joy at other times. I have used music to praise our Heavenly Father and to worship our Savior. I’ve also found that listening to uplifting music is one of the best ways to feel the Spirit and hear the voice of the Lord.”
At the conclusion of his brief message, President Nelson turned back to the piano and resumed playing “Hope of Israel,” while a Zoom choir of youth sang along.
2. President Nelson’s 95th Birthday Celebration
President Nelson’s 95th birthday celebration held in October 2019 included performances by The Bonner Family, Donny Osmond, GENTRI—and the guest of honor himself.
President Nelson shared a video of him playing “Prelude in C Minor” by Frédéric Chopin. Ruth Todd, one of the emcees of the celebration, said that the song was “one of [President Nelson’s] favorites.”
The performance drew roaring applause from the surprised—and delighted—audience.
3. Special “Silent Night” Christmas Video
In December of 2019, the Church released a video of President Nelson accompanying 7-year-old Claire Crosby, a YouTube star, as she sang “Silent Night.”
The Church News reported that President Nelson was “the first leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make a music video.” He did so without the aid of sheet music.
Bonus: Did you know President Nelson also wrote a hymn?
In the April 2003 general conference, then-Elder Nelson ended his address by explaining he had written new words to a song in Hymns. Elder Nelson’s new song was called, “Our Prayer to Thee.”
“I have felt impressed to conclude this message on prayer with a prayer presented as a hymn,” he said. The choir at the Conference Center then performed the hymn.
When the song concluded, the camera returned to the pulpit where, with head bowed, Elder Nelson said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen” and then returned to his seat.
President Nelson’s hymn was sung at the June 2018 Worldwide Devotional for Youth by a combined seminary choir, and then again by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square at the close of the October 2018 general conference.