Editor’s note: This is a question that we addressed a few years ago, but with recent temple dedications (or re-dedications, such as in Buenos Aires, Argentina), we thought some readers might be curious about what happens at a Mormon temple dedication. We’re reposting the information from this archived post. For more information about the significance of temples to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see the website Mormon Temples, or see links to other articles on our site at the bottom of this post.
After the construction on a temple is completed, the Church holds an open house so that anyone interested can walk through and see the inside of the temple, and learn a little more about what happens in temples and why temple worship is so important to us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Once the open house is completed, a dedicatory service is held. The service includes the singing and performing of sacred music, discourses from Church leaders, and a special dedicatory prayer. Members of the Church ages 8 and above are given the opportunity to participate in the services. In a sense, we are presenting the temple — which for Mormons signifies one of the most sacred places on earth — to God and to His Son, Jesus Christ. We ask Heavenly Father to accept the temple and bless those who serve therein.
We bring white handkerchiefs to participate in what is one of the most moving and memorable parts of the service — the Hosanna Shout. This is a sacred moment for us, when we join our voices in unison, praising God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is reminiscent of the praises voiced at the triumphal entry of the Savior (Matthew 21; Mark 11; John 12). There are also times in the Old Testament that are similar in this spirit of praise, where rejoicing was part of the sacred rituals of the tabernacle. We also see such sacred use of a cry of “Hosanna” when the Savior visited the American continent after His resurrection and ascension in Jerusalem, as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
Temple dedications have always been important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the first latter-day temple dedication in Kirtland, Ohio,
“[h]undreds of Saints came to Kirtland for the dedicatory services; some traveled long distances to attend. There were nearly a thousand seats inside the temple, but many more people wanted to attend the dedication. The Prophet told the people who could not get seats in the temple to hold a separate meeting in the schoolhouse nearby, and the next Thursday the dedication service was repeated so these people could hear it…. [This illustrates the reason that multiple dedicatory sessions will be held, thus allowing many people the opportunity to participate in the sacred event.]
While the Kirtland temple dedication was more extensive than dedicatory services held today (it lasted over seven hours!), reading about it can give an idea of what happens each time a temple is dedicated:
The Prophet Joseph Smith read the dedicatory prayer, which had been given to him in a revelation. This prayer is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109. In the prayer the Prophet thanked Heavenly Father for the blessings he had given the members of the Church. Joseph prayed that the temple would be a place of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, and order (see D&C 109:8, 16) and that those who came to the temple would grow in faith and wisdom (see D&C 109:14–15). He asked the Lord to accept the temple and make it a holy place (see D&C 109:4, 12–13). After the prayer the choir sang “The Spirit of God” (Hymns, no. 2), which had been written by William W. Phelps for the dedication of the temple. The congregation then…ended the service by giving the sacred Hosanna Shout: they raised their hands above their heads and shouted three times, “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb, amen, amen, and amen.”
Temples are dedicated today following the pattern of the Kirtland Temple dedication. The prophet (or someone he chooses) gives the dedicatory prayer, “The Spirit of God” is sung, and the entire congregation gives the Hosanna Shout.
(All quotes above were taken from this lesson.)
For more information on our site about the topic of temples, see the following articles:
What can you tell me about Mormon temples?
What the Temple Means to Mormons