As far as I know, there have only been two recorded instances in LDS General Conference history when a singer performed a solo. The first solo occurred in 2009 when a Brazilian “mormon soprano” named Liriel Domiciano was invited by Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley to perform “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during a Sunday Conference session. The second solo moment in General Conference history happened on Sunday morning Oct. 7, 2012 when Choir baritone Shane Warby performed a little-known LDS hymn entitled “Does The Journey Seem Long?” as a special request by church apostle President Boyd K. Packer. A new arrangement by Mack Wilberg was written just for this Conference, which you can hear below.
The text of this hymn comes from a poem written by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972), tenth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whom Pres. Packer referred to as “a dear friend”.
President Smith liked to write his own poetry—little verses about animals, life and family, and above all, about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Several such poems have been put to music. President Smith was not only a poet, he also liked to sing. Once he treated an audience to singing an impromptu duet with his wife Sister Jessie Evans Smith. According to President Smith, he wrote the poem “Does The Journey Seem Long?” while riding on a train from Utah to Arizona to fulfill a Church assignment.
When this song was performed 18 months ago, I thought it was very nice, and I loved hearing Shane’s beautiful voice perform the solo. But, when I listened to this song today, it touched the deepest core of my soul and I sobbed. Songs have a way of doing that; taking on new meaning and becoming the message we needed.
“Though you may feel weary, though you sometimes may not be able to see the way, know that your Father in Heaven will never forsake His righteous followers. He will not leave you comfortless. He will be at your side, yes, guiding you every step of the way.” – Joseph B. Wirthlin, One Step After Another