January 20, 2019—#4662 Music & the Spoken Word

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Conductor: Mack Wilberg
Organist: Richard Elliott
Announcer: Lloyd Newell
With special guest Robert Sims
With Bells on Temple Square

“Oh, Peter, Go Ring Them Bells”
Spiritual; arr. Howard Helvey
Featuring Bells on Temple Square

“My Good Lord Done Been Here”
Spiritual; arr. Jacqueline B. Hairston; orchd. Paul Hamilton

“This Little Light of Mine”
Spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg
Featuring Bells on Temple Square

“Ride On, King Jesus” (Organ Solo)
Arrangement: David Kidwell

“Deep River”
Spiritual; arr. Hart Morris
Featuring Bells on Temple Square

“Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You ’Round”
Spiritual; arr. Lena McLin
Featuring Robert Sims

“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
Music: J. Rosamond Johnson
Lyrics: James Weldon Johnson
Arrangement: Roland Carter

The Spoken Word

To Be a Saint

Nelson Mandela spent nearly 27 years of his life in prison, from age 45 to age 71, for his efforts to end racial segregation in South Africa. Then, in what some people consider a modern miracle, Mandela became his country’s first black—and first democratically elected—president.1 But perhaps a greater miracle was his forgiveness of those who had imprisoned him. Nelson Mandela’s rare combination of courage and kindness made him one of the world’s most beloved leaders and citizens. But Mandela remained modest and unassuming, often reminding people, “I am not a saint—unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”2

What a profound statement!

Mandela’s words should reassure and encourage each of us. We all know that we aren’t perfect; we know we have room for much improvement. But if we just keep trying, we can change for the better. In that trying, our hearts begin to change and open to others. We become more accepting and generous, more loving and caring. And in the end, isn’t that what it means to be a saint?

As Nelson Mandela so clearly showed, saintliness is not just about improving ourselves. It’s about blessing the world around us. To do that, we certainly need to “keep on trying.” We need to recognize our shared humanity and treat all people with dignity and respect. We need to stand up not only for our own rights but also for the rights of others. We need to champion fairness and equality and oppose injustice and prejudice wherever we find it.

Because Nelson Mandela kept on trying, the world is today a better place than it was. But there is still room for improvement. And fair-minded, good-hearted people all around the world are still working to make a positive difference for others. Great leaders and citizens of the past and present know that human rights and human dignity are at the core of our shared humanity. They may not consider themselves saints, but they are, because they keep on trying—to love, to forgive, to welcome and embrace all the diverse and unique people of the world.

  1. See “Biography of Nelson Mandela,” Nelson Mandela Foundation,
  2. Address at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University, Oct. 26, 1999,