President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is speaking Tuesday at Brigham Young University, his first speech at the school since becoming the head of the worldwide church.
Since 1950, BYU has hosted the president of the church for speeches 38 times, according to BYU Speech Archives.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was president of the church between 1995 and 2008 spoke the most often at BYU while serving as prophet, with 12 speeches. David O. McKay, who was president of the church from 1951 to 1970 spoke nine times and Spencer W. Kimball, who served from 1973 to 1985 spoke eight times at BYU.
Howard W. Hunter, who was only president of the church for nine months between 1994 and 1995, never spoke at BYU. George Albert Smith and Harold B. Lee spoke once, Joseph Fielding Smith and Ezra Taft Benson spoke twice and Thomas S. Monson spoke three times at the university.
President Thomas S. Monson
“Be a Light to the World”
Nov. 1, 2011
Though he would go on to be the prophet for another seven years, Monson’s final speech at BYU was in in 2011 at a BYU Devotional.
Monson encouraged students to be a light to the world, defining light at “something that illuminates.”
He encouraged that to be examples of of the believers, people must first believe themselves and encouraged students to gain faith.
Key Quote: As you keep the flame of testimony burning brightly, you will become a beacon of righteousness—even a light—for all to see. Said the Savior: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
“True to the Faith”
Sept. 18, 2007
Hinckley gave his final BYU devotional address on Sept. 18, 2007 titled “True to the Faith.”
In his speech, Hinckley congratulated students at the university for winning the most “stone-cold sober” student body award from the Princeton Review and related what a unique university BYU is.
He then went on to share the elements of the church’s 13th Article of Faith that BYU students should strive to follow, to be “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.”
Key quote: “God is no respecter of persons. All are deserving of our consideration. Love and mercy must be the foundation principles of our relationships.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
“The BYU Experience”
Nov. 4, 1997
Hinckley spoke at a BYU Devotional in 1997 on what he called “The BYU Experience.” He asked the question “What is unique about attending this university in contrast with another?”
He pointed to the answers that BYU has student wards and stakes, the proximity of the Provo Temple, the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom, a dedicated faculty and religion classes that make it a unique place.
Hinckley also expressed that he hoped students learned tolerance for those not of their faith and to go the second mile.
Key Quote: “You came because you wanted the BYU experience, although perhaps you could not define it. Having gained it, never lose it. Cultivate it in your lives and hold its very essence until you grow old and gray.”
President Ezra Taft Benson
“The Constitution - A Heavenly Banner”
Sept. 16, 1986
Speaking the day before Constitution Day — which commemorates the anniversary of the Constitutional Convention — President Ezra Taft Benson gave an address to BYU students at a devotional on the U.S. Constitution.
Benson spoke about the connections between the constitution and faith, the church and the role of members of the society to the constitution and country.
Key Quote: “Today I would like to pay honor—honor to the document itself, honor to the men who framed it, and honor to the God who inspired it and made possible its coming forth.”
President Spencer W. Kimball
“The Second Century of Brigham Young University”
Oct. 10, 1975
Kimball gave a devotional address on Oct. 10, 1975 for the Centennial Celebration of the University, which was created in 1875.
He briefly mentioned the history of the university, but then turned his attention to the tasks of the university in its second century.
He talked about the unique features that the university must have including education for eternity, pursuit of academic excellence and the cultivation of spiritual values.
He also gave several challenges for BYU in the future, including becoming a “language capital of the world in terms of our academic competency,”
Kimball then dedicated the Carillon Tower and Bells on BYU’s campus.
Key Quote: “There are many ways in which BYU can tower above other universities—not simply because of the size of its student body or its beautiful campus, but because of the unique light BYU can send forth into the educational world.”