"Tonight there has been a wonderful reunion," Bishop Nielson said. "President Hinckley has been reunited with his wonderful wife."
The congregation then stood and tearfully sang the hymn "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet."
"Barely anybody could sing because we were all crying," Batman said.
Closer to home, youths attending a stake event in the South Jordan Stake Center Sunday night had their cell phones buzzing with text messages relating the news. As the meeting finished, stake President Blair Bangerter announced the death from the pulpit to a stunned and silent crowd, who reacted with a mixture of sadness, reverence and quiet comments about how the church leader will now be reunited with his beloved wife.
As news of their prophet's death spread, a small crowd of Latter-day Saints gathered at Temple Square to pay tribute. In the lights illuminating the square and the temple itself, a few dozen followers embraced and sang hymns. For most, emotions were mixed.
"It's a strange feeling for us when someone dies," said Justin McTee, a student at LDS Business College. "We're sad, but at the same time, there's a happy feeling. We know after this life, we'll be together (with loved ones) again."
Several followers said they believed President Hinckley's death was a blessing, an opportunity for the man to reunite with his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who died in April 2004.
That sentiment was affirmed by church spokesman Olsen, who said President Hinckley often expressed his desire to join his wife both in public and in private. The church leader also "had pled with the Lord not to have to linger," incapacitated by illness as a few of his predecessors had, Olsen said.
Between 8:30 and 10 p.m. local time, the church's Web site at LDS.org had registered more than 100,000 hits from people seeking details about President Hinckley's death, and many trying to access deseretnews.com were unable to connect, as the site was swamped with hits.
"He was universally loved and respected," said Olsen, noting President Hinckley was two months shy of serving 13 years as president of the church.
"He had a great love for the people and often said, 'I fall in love with them when I am with them."' He had a great affinity for the youth of the church, was tuned into their world and was "worried about it," he said.
With his death, the First Presidency was dissolved, Olsen said, and the church is now governed by the Council of the Twelve in what is called "apostolic interregnum." He said organization of a new First Presidency will likely take from a week to a month.
- Doug Robinson: Advocate's plea: Please return...
- Rally in support of police also draws counter...
- Fire at Little America Hotel forces overnight...
- 'Somebody knows what happened,' daughter...
- Bringing joy through simple acts of kindness
- Baby's first Christmas comes with gift of hope
- Park City police nab pair suspected of...
- Gary (and Rose) Neeleman: Q and A with a...
- Hatch 'sorry to see' Lee called an... 131
- List of potential prison sites cut to... 44
- Rally in support of police also draws... 39
- Poll: Nearly two-thirds of Utahns... 29
- Doug Robinson: Advocate's plea: Please... 22
- Mia Love names KSL reporter to head... 19
- Police: Gunman said he shot at trooper... 13
- Judge issues summons for 'Super Dell' 9