"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

Videos

August 01, 2021 - #4794 Music & the Spoken Word

The Music & the Spoken Word broadcast airs live via TV, radio, and internet stream on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. mountain time. For information on other airtimes, visit “Airing Schedules” at musicandthespokenword.org.

This encore performance of Music & the Spoken Word has been specially selected for airing while the Choir and Orchestra are practicing social distancing. It contains a new Spoken Word written and delivered by Lloyd Newell.

Music

Conductors: Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy
Organist: Brian Mathias
Announcer: Lloyd Newell

“Hallelujah Chorus”1 from Christ on the Mount of Olives
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Lyrics: Scripture

“The Lord My Pasture Will Prepare”2
Music: Dmitri Bortniansky
Lyrics: Joseph Addison
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Toccata in Seven” organ solo
Music: John Rutter

“Peace Like a River”3
Music and Lyrics: African-American spiritual
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Over the Rainbow”4 from The Wizard of Oz
Music: Harold Arlen
Lyrics: E. Y. Harburg
Arrangement: Arthur Harris

“Standing on the Promises”5
Music and Lyrics: Russell K. Carter
Arrangement: Ryan Murphy

  1. On the CD America's Choir.
  2. On the CD This Is the Christ.
  3. On the CD Peace Like a River.
  4. On the CD Showtime! and in the CD set Encore Collection.
  5. On the CD Let Us All Press On.

The Spoken Word

Seeing and Knowing

A beloved poem from the 1800s tells of six blind men who wanted to find out what an elephant is like. So they went to visit one. Each man approached it from a different direction, each taking hold of a different part of the elephant and describing what he discovered. One felt a tusk and concluded that an elephant is like a spear. Another, feeling a thick, sturdy leg, decided an elephant is like a tree. Still another, grabbing the trunk, declared that an elephant is like a snake, and so on. 

The poem concludes that these men

Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.
1

They were right about their descriptions of what they had experienced. They were being true to what they knew. But they were wrong because they failed to account for what they didn’t know. How can an elephant possibly be like a spear, a tree, and a snake? It’s clear when we see the whole picture. It’s not so clear when we refuse to consider anyone else’s experience.

This mistake is humorous when applied to elephants but tragic when applied to people. Sometimes we are so quick to judge. We make casual assumptions about people based on limited information—the way they look or talk. But in reality, we are all blind. Our perceptions, our experiences are limited. It takes patience and humility to withhold judgment, gather more information, and hear other viewpoints. 

The same applies to many of the confusing and divisive issues of our day. Many people seem so adamant that they are right and anyone who disagrees is wrong. But those who come closest to the truth are those who are willing to look for it everywhere—even in the perspectives of those who see things differently.

In our quest for truth, we can look to God for guidance. After all, He sees and knows things we cannot, no matter how observant we are. So with one hand, we hold to the truths we know, and with the other we reach out in humility and goodwill, because there’s always more truth to receive. 

  1. “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” in The Poems of John Godfrey Saxe (1873), 260. See also Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “What Is Truth?” (Brigham Young University Devotional, Jan. 13, 2013), https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/dieter-f-uchtdorf/what-is-truth/