Music and the Spoken Word: ‘Tidings of great joy’

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 Dec. 16, 2018.

Some years ago, a group of friends were eating dinner together at Christmastime, bemoaning the busyness of the season. With exasperation and perhaps a little resentment, they spoke of hectic schedules and heavy burdens.

After listening patiently, one wise, seasoned woman humbly offered her opinion.

“I love Christmas,” she said. “It is the most joyful of all seasons. I love seeing the eyes of little children light up on Christmas morning. I love giving gifts. I love being with my family. We just need to simplify and remember what we are celebrating” (in "Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley" edited by Virginia H. Pearce, (1999) page 79).

Like magic, her words changed the tone of the conversation — and the hearts of her friends.

Many of us can relate to those who feel overwhelmed at Christmas. But we can also benefit from the optimism of this wise woman. There is, after all, a lot to love about Christmas — the lights, the decorations, the music, the gifts and the gatherings can inspire joy if we allow them to point us to a silent night in Bethlehem, to “shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night,” to a “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger,” and to the angel who announced his birth (see Luke 2:8–12).

In many ways, that cheerful woman who shared her feelings about Christmas was a lot like that angel. On another occasion she said of the Christmas season: “I love everything about it. … Through it all there is an escalating awareness of the Savior. We will, sure as anything, read again about his birth in Luke. We will sing and listen to all kinds of music about him. … But what does it all mean if it doesn’t do something to us inside?” (according to Marjorie Hinckley, "Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley," pages 213–14).

The angel on that silent, holy night declared Christmas to be a time of “good tidings” and “great joy,” meant for “all people” (see Luke 2:10). We follow him whose birth we celebrate when we share that joy with family, friends, even strangers. Thus we, in our small way, join the “heavenly hosts” who “sing Alleluia! Christ, the Savior, is born!” (see “Silent Night,” Hymns_,_ No. 204).

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