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Dec 02, 2018 - #4655 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 standard time. For information on other airtimes, visit “Airing Schedules” at


Conductors: Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy
Organist: Richard Elliott
Announcer: Lloyd Newell

“Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Lyrics: Charles Wesley
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Ding Dong! Merrily on High”1
French carol
Lyrics: George W. Woodward
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“For Unto Us a Child Is Born”2 from Messiah
Music: George Frideric Handel

“Gesu Bambino” (Organ solo)
Music: Pietro Yon

“Dance and Sing”
French carol
Arrangement: Ryan Murphy

“Away in a Manger”3
Music: William J. Kirkpatrick
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

“Carol to the King”1
French carol
Lyrics: Jim Christian
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg

  1. On the CD Rejoice and Be Merry.
  2. On the CDs Messiah - Complete Oratorio and Messiah - Highlights.
  3. On the CDs Glad Christmas Tidings and Sing! Choirs of Angels.

The Spoken Word

The Meaning of Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you? One couple learned something about the meaning of Christmas several years ago when, the day after Christmas, their infant son passed away. Each year since that tragic event, they have placed a Christmas stocking by the fireplace in his memory.

The couple has also made it a tradition to go to the cemetery at Christmastime to visit their son’s grave. Every time they do, they discover that someone has already been there and has placed something special on the baby’s small grave: some flowers, a stuffed animal, a little toy. They tried for years to discover who the good-hearted giver could be; they asked family and friends, but no one would admit to leaving the gifts.

One year, heavy snowstorms made travelling difficult, and the couple was unable to visit the grave until several days later than usual. When they finally did make it to the cemetery, they were surprised to find on the grave a small, decorated Christmas tree, covered with snow. The couple was deeply moved; someone still cared so much about their grief and loss that they were willing to brave the snowstorms to show their compassion.

This couple never found out who this caring person was, and they have decided to stop investigating. The benevolent giver, after all, wanted to remain anonymous. So instead, they try to treat everyone as if he or she might be “the giver.” Their need to thank their unidentified friend has been replaced with a desire to simply live better. Now they pause to examine their hearts a little more, and they ask: Why do we give? Are we hoping to be praised or recognized, or do we give because we love, because we care?

For them, the true meaning of Christmas is symbolized by a little Christmas tree, “half-buried in snow, resting in a quiet cemetery.”1 It reminds them of the great gifts so abundant in this joyous season: pure love, compassion, kindheartedness. It brings to mind the greatest gift of love, given to the world some 2,000 years ago. Such gifts are what give Christmas its deepest meaning.

  1. See Darrell Smart, “A Small, Snow-Covered Tree,” Ensign, Dec. 2008, 18.