President Thomas S.

Monson joined Mormon Tabernacle Choir members, staff and friends Sunday,

April 26, 2009, to say thanks and farewell to one the largest single groups of

choir members to retire at one time. Twenty-three choir members — seven men and

16 women — said goodbye to their fellow singers Sunday because they have reached

the age or years of service that choir policy dictates they must retire from

active membership in what President Ronald Reagan called \"America's Choir.\"Tabernacle Choir members, all of whom are volunteers but join the choir by

invitation following an extensive audition and training period, can serve only

between the ages of 25 and 60 and for no more than 20 years. At age 60, or 20

years of service, they must retire, always a bittersweet moment for those who

have given so much of their own time and expense to sing with the choir through

rehearsals, broadcasts, concerts, recordings and tours.

Sunday's group of 23 retirees (actually 24, but one, Lou Ann Crisler, left

earlier in the year to accompany her husband in England) represents 393 years of

service to the choir. Half, 12 of the group, served the maximum of 20-plus years

under the batons of Jerold Ottley, Craig Jessop and today's musical director

Mack Wilberg. Three of the retirees have served for fewer than 10 years, with

the others going back 10 to 20 years each. The average for the group is 16

years.Read the full story on

This story is provided by The LDS Church News, an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is produced weekly by The Deseret News.