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August 20, 2023 - #4901 Music & the Spoken Word

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Conductor: Mack Wilberg
Organist: Andrew Unsworth
Announcer: Lloyd D. Newell

“Glory to God on High”
Music: Felice de Giardini
Lyrics: James Allen
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Antiphon” from Five Mystical Songs
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Lyrics: George Herbert

“Dearest Children, God Is Near You”
Music: John Menzies Macfarlane
Lyrics: Charles L. Walker
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Carillon de Westminster” (organ solo)
Music: Louis Vierne

“Peace like a River”1
African American spiritual
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Hold On,” from The Secret Garden
Music: Lucy Simon
Lyrics: Marsha Norman
Arrangement: Ryan Murphy

“When in Our Music God Is Glorified”
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
Lyrics: Fred Pratt Green
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

  1. From the album Peace like a River.

The Spoken Word

Our Own Silent Minute

August 20, 2023
(Recorded at Big Ben, London, England, June 16, 2022)

Given by Lloyd D. Newell

Standing behind me in newly refurbished glory after almost five years of reconstruction, polishing, and paint is the British icon known as Big Ben. It stands prominently on the north end of the Houses of Parliament, on the edge of the River Thames.

To be precise, Big Ben is actually the name of the largest of the tower’s five bells. The tower itself is officially titled Elizabeth Tower, after Her Majesty the Queen, and the clock is named the Clock of Westminster. But to many people here in London and around the world, the bells, tower, and clock together are known simply as Big Ben.

Much has happened during Big Ben’s lifetime. Motor cars have replaced horses and carriages, electricity has replaced gas streetlights, and the Tube—London’s underground rapid transit system—was built below where this famous timekeeper stands. Since 1859, with only a few interruptions, the reliable chimes of Big Ben have helped Londoners mark the passage of time. But at a pivotal moment in British history, Big Ben’s chimes marked something more important than simply the start of another hour.

During World War II, when England was subjected to nightly air raids, a British major had the idea of inviting citizens to unite in a regular moment of silence—a time to pause and pray for peace. The idea was embraced by King George VI, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and millions of people in and out of the United Kingdom, regardless of their faith tradition. Each day at 9:00 p.m., Big Ben’s familiar bell tolled on British radio, signaling to listeners the nightly beginning of what came to be called the “Silent Minute.” It might be said that Big Ben was helping the people mark, in Churchill’s words, “their finest hour."1

World War II, of course, has ended. But the need for peace in our lives has not. And while we can’t stop time from ticking away, perhaps we can stop ourselves occasionally. Maybe we can pause and take some time—if only a minute—to pray and ponder and hope for peace. Our own silent minute could be just what we need to renew our intent to pursue peace of mind, peace of conscience, peace in our relationships, and peace in the world around us.

  1. Winston Churchill, “Their Finest Hour,” address to the House of Commons, June 18, 1940,