June 24, 2018 - #4632 Music & the Spoken Word

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Conductors: Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy
Organist: Andrew Unsworth
Announcer: Lloyd Newell
With special guest Bryn Terfel

“This Land Is Your Land”
by Woody Guthrie
Arrangement: Percy Faith; adapted by Michael Davis

“All Things Bright and Beautiful”1
English melody
Lyrics: Cecil Frances Alexander
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“America the Beautiful” (Organ solo)
Music: Samuel A. Ward
Arrangement: Andrew Unsworth

“Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from Oklahoma
Music: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein
Arrangement: Arthur Harris

“What a Wonderful World”
by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“I Think the World Is Glorious”2
Music: Alexander Schreiner
Lyrics: Anna Johnson
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

  1. On the CD Then Sings My Soul.
  2. On the CD Teach Me to Walk in the Light and in the CD set The Missionary Collection.


The Spoken Word

“America's Best Idea ”

In 1872, United States President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill designating Yellowstone as America's first national park. In fact, it was the first national park in the world. More than that, it was the birth of a new idea−the preservation of a natural site of notable beauty and importance. The idea caught on, and over the next 44 years, another 34 national parks and monuments, along with an agency to maintain them, were created. Here at Yellowstone National Park, we celebrate what author and environmentalist Wallace Stegner called "the best idea [America] ever had."

"Absolutely American, absolutely democratic," Stegner wrote, "[national parks] reflect us at our best."1 For a relatively new nation seeking to distinguish itself from the rest of the world, the national parks helped give America a cultural identity. Europe had its ancient castles and palaces−all symbols of monarchy and social class; the United States had stunning natural beauty on an epic scale−a Grand Canyon; amazing geysers; majestic herds of bison, elk, and other wildlife; and the biggest trees in the world−all symbols of the grand aspirations of its people.2

The National Park Service now cares for 409 sites spread over more than 84 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories. Every year, visitors come by the tens of millions to see beauty that man could not create but could at least preserve.

Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, declared that the national parks were intended for all to enjoy. "A visit [to one] inspires love of country; begets contentment; engenders pride of possession; contains the antidote for national restlessness. . . . He is a better citizen with a keener appreciation of the privilege of living here who has toured the national parks. [They] do not belong to one State," he said. "They . . . are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest.”3

Magnificent places like Yellowstone−and America's other national parks−inspire awe and reverence. They take us back to a time when very little separated us from nature. But they are more than hiking trails and campgrounds, more than scenic vistas and wildlife preserves. They are our nation's "common ground.''4

  1. In Chuck Lyons, "Yellowstone National Park: A Truly American Idea," Hist01y, Aug./Sept. 2012, 19.
  2. See Katia Retter, "The Roots of 'America's Best Idea,'" Feb. 4, 2016,­ service-history-first-sites-feat/index.html.
  3. Report of the Director of the National Park Service (1920), 13-14.
  4. David Quammen, "This Land Is Your Land,'' National Geographic, Jan. 2016, 24.