Music & the Spoken Word: Self-control, liberty and law

Wasatch Mountains of Utah, east of Utah County, at sunset, as seen from a passenger airplane on June 14, 2005. photo by Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News. Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News
Elder Richard L. Evans, announcer from 1930 until his death in 1971, gives the “Spoken Word” portion of the program. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Wasatch Mountains are reflected in the Great Salt Lake near North Ogden on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Clouds hang over the Wasatch Mountains and the Salt Lake Valley on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given July 3, 2022. 

For over 40 years, Richard L. Evans was the voice and writer of “Music & the Spoken Word.” In 1956, he delivered a message that today feels as timely as ever. He began by quoting a line from a well-known patriotic hymn: “Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” (See “America the Beautiful,” Hymns, No. 338.) He then made keen observations about the relationship between self-control, liberty and law:

“[These principles] are basic to life, basic to the eternal plans and purposes of the Lord. … But sometimes we seem more to have remembered freedom than self-control, liberty more than the law.

“As we come together, live together … in a world where physically we come ever closer together, always we have to have self-control, always we have to live our lives with law as well as with liberty. Always we have to consider the rights, the privileges, the comfort, the convenience of others, with an awareness that we have no right to do anything we want, to take anything we want, or irresponsibly to say anything we want, or to befoul the moral atmosphere, or the water others use, the air where others are, the peace that others have, or their rightful privacy, or to live uninhibited lives. We have to be considerate of others always. Self-control, with law, is the only safeguard of liberty; and not the existence of law only, but respect for law, obeying the law — the laws of God, the laws of the land. 

“[Acclaimed filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille] said this of laws and liberty …: ‘We are too inclined,’ he said, ‘to think of law as something merely restrictive — something hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. … God does not contradict Himself. He did not create [us] and then, as an afterthought, impose upon [us] a set of arbitrary, irritating, restrictive rules. He made [us] free — and then gave [us] the commandments to keep [us] free. …’ (See “The Ten Commandments and You,” by Cecil B. DeMille, Brigham Young University commencement address, May 31, 1957,

“To this great utterance we would add: The greatest threat to liberty is lawlessness. And the greatest assurance of liberty is respect for law. ‘Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.’” (See “May Peace Be With You” by Richard L. Evans.)

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM,, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the, and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages

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