Book of Mormon musical to premier in St. George

ST. GEORGE – There is a new musical production based on the Book of Mormon set to premier in Utah’s Dixie on Oct. 22 and 23. No, it’s not the Broadway show produced by the creators of South Park, but rather a musical produced by well known LDS composer Janice Kapp Perry and Bonnie Hart Murray titled The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth.

The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth will be an hour-long musical fireside that will feature music with words taken directly from the pages of the Book of Mormon itself. The fireside will also portray the modern-day accounts of individuals whose lives have been positively impacted by the book. (A fireside is typically an hour-long presentation that can involve a sermon and motivational speaking, or a combination of music and speaking that takes place outside of regular LDS church services).

The fireside is the end result of a five-year-long collaboration between Perry and Murray.  It all started when Murray realized something: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) – the church that upholds the Book of Mormon as divine scripture – had very few hymns pertaining to the book.

“There are no standard, declarative hymns,” Murray said.

So Murray set to rectifying the problem. She penned the words the hymn The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth, yet felt she needed help with the musical accompaniment. She would end up contacting the LDS Church Music Department which ultimately referred her to Janice Kapp Perry for assistance. Perry composed the music and eventually a new hymn was born. However, Perry felt that more needed to be done, and convinced Murray to write an additional eight hymns based on stories from the Book of Mormon. Five years later the fireside came into being.

“We’re very excited about the production,” Perry said.

While it would make sense for The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth to premier in northern Utah, perhaps in the likes of Provo or Salt Lake City, but thanks to local connections, Perry and Murray’s musical fireside will be opening at the Historical St. George Tabernacle.

Bob Briggs, a professor of music history and choir director at Dixie State College, said his wife, a friend of Perry’s, was able to convince Perry and Murray to let the fireside premier be in St. George. As fate would have it, Briggs is directing the fireside while his wife acts as accompanist.

In addition to the Briggs, 120 participants from different LDS wards and stakes will be a part of the production.

Briggs is happy to be involved with The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth, and had high regard for the music Perry and Murray created.

“It’s very beautiful music,” Briggs said.

Along with Briggs, Perry and Murray said they hope The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth will touch the lives of those who see it.

“I hope something like this will impact people,” Perry said.

“We’re hoping it will strengthen testimonies and raise curiosity in the Book of Mormon,” Murray added.

Perry and Briggs will be present at the premier of the fireside program.

As The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth program becomes available for LDS wards and stakes throughout the world, both Briggs and Perry said they hope it will give potential non-Mormon audiences a more favorable and enlightened impression of the Book of Mormon and LDS Church than the Broadway musical.

The Book of Mormon Has Come Forth will be premiering at the Historic St. George Tabernacle at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 23. The program is free to the public.

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