1984 to 2014: Evolution of the Christmas Devotional

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President Thomas S. Monson, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf and President Henry B. Eyring host the annual First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional in the Conference Center on Dec. 7, 2014. (Photo courtesy Mormon Newsroom)

The First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, held last Sunday, is the most recent installment in a decades-long tradition in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The devotional began as a way for Church leadership to celebrate the season with Church employees and has evolved into the worldwide broadcast. This year’s event drew thousands of viewers from around the world.

Though the devotional has been held for decades, it has grown and changed notably in just the last 30 years. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of Sunday’s devotional and the one in 1984.

Number of speakers

1984: 3
2014: 4

From 1994 until 2013, all three members of the First Presidency spoke at the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional. Beginning last year, Church leaders from other quorums and general auxiliary presidencies have again been invited to speak.

Names and leadership positions of speakers

1984: President Gordon B. Hinckley, second counselor in the First Presidency
Elder Russell M. Nelson, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Sister Joanne B. Doxey, second counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency (read scriptural account of Christ’s birth from 3 Nephi)

2014: President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Richard J. Maynes, member of the Presidency of the Seventy
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president

Music provided by

1984: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
2014: Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square

Location

1984: Salt Lake Tabernacle
2014: Conference Center in Salt Lake City

Methods of broadcast

1984: Via satellite to chapels in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico
2014: Via radio, television and the Internet; also to local Church meetinghouses.

Translation

1984: None mentioned in report
2014: Video and audio translated into 58 languages

Topics addressed

1984: Birth, mission and example of Jesus Christ; service; the Restoration
2014: Birth of Christ, charitable service, family, gifts, love

Notable quotes

1984: “He, the Son of God, condescended to take upon himself a mortal body. His mother … gave him mortality. His father, the Eternal God, vested him with power over death. No other man, or woman, ever was born into the world so endowed. He came in the humblest of circumstances. He died the most painful and ignominious of deaths to rise again the third day as ‘the first fruits of them that slept.’” —President Hinckley

“The Restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the restitution of the priesthood, the universal proclamation of the gospel to the living, and the redemptive work for our kindred dead in temples throughout the world—all are part of the preparation for the Second Coming of the Anointed One.” —Elder Nelson

2014: “I felt joy in that way just days ago. Our first great-grandchild was born. I looked down on her and thought, ‘She seems to glow with a beauty I didn’t think was possible in a newborn.’ In an instant I realized that the beauty I saw and the glow I felt when I looked at her face came from her purity and, to me, by the Light of Christ.” —President Eyring

“This is a magical time of the year when miracles happen, hearts are softened, and the pure love of Christ is felt and experienced like no other time of the year. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love.” —Sister Oscarson

 

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Breanna Olaveson worked in the magazine industry before taking her writing from full-time to nap time with the birth of her first daughter. Her work has appeared in the Ensign, Liahona and New Era magazines, as well as Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley BusinessQ, Utah Valley Bride and the Provo Daily Herald. She lives in Utah county with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.breannaolaveson.com.

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