Music and the Spoken Word: Why we gather to give thanks

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 Nov. 18, 2018.

Thanksgiving is a time of gathering. We gather together to enjoy a meal, to connect with loved ones, and to recognize and celebrate the good things in our lives. As we sing in "Prayer of Thanksgiving," (hymn no. 93), "We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing."

And in this changing, stressful world, we need such blessing more than ever. But in spite of any hardships we might be facing, in our Thanksgiving gatherings we humbly affirm that we have much to be thankful for — that our blessings outnumber our difficulties. And perhaps that's the greatest gift we can offer — to live in thanksgiving daily, to acknowledge heaven's hand in all things, and always, always to count our blessings.

It's appropriate, then, to note that Thanksgiving Day as an official U.S. holiday has its roots in a period of American history when it may have been difficult to find reason to be grateful. It was during the dark days of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln called for a day in November for "Thanksgiving and Praise." He proclaimed on Oct. 3, 1863: "The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God."

Maybe that is the best way to "ask the Lord's blessing" — to give thanks for the blessings we already have. A thankful heart is a soft heart, better able to receive the peace and reassurance we need. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that gratitude literally makes us feel better, both emotionally and physically. One study showed that when people expressed gratitude in a journal each day, they saw great improvements in their overall well-being.

Sometimes we are being blessed even when we don’t realize it. If we just pause and reflect on all the good in our life, we will see that good things, however small, and better days, however distant, are ahead for us. This is why we gather to give thanks.

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160 AM/102.7 FM,, KSL X-stream, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, BYU-TV International, CBS Radio Network, Dish Network, DirecTV, SiriusXM Radio (Channel 143) and on the Tabernacle Choir's website and YouTube channel. 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

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