Music and the Spoken Word: Great expectations

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music and the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.

With a new year on the horizon, it’s traditional to reflect on the year that has passed. And what a year it has been! A global pandemic, natural calamities, social unrest, political turmoil — so many problems and protests, disasters and disagreements have swirled around us. At the same time, we’ve also had moments we will forever cherish. As we look back on 2020, we see good and bad, ups and downs, things we’d like to forget, and things we hope to remember.

Even so, most of us feel like we’re ready for a fresh start, a new beginning. That’s the beautiful thing about a new year. It’s full of possibilities, full of hope — or, as Charles Dickens might say, full of “great expectations.”

Charles Dickens is the author of "Great Expectations."

In his novel by that name, Dickens chronicles the lives of characters who endure many injustices. Pip is orphaned, betrayed, jilted and humbled. Estella likewise endures cruel manipulations, heartache and disappointment. In the end, after these two characters have grown older and wiser, Estella reflects on their experiences. “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,” she says. “… I have been bent and broken, but — I hope — into a better shape” (see “Great Expectations,” by Charles Dickens, published in 1881, page 523).

We all face challenges that shape the course of our lives. But that shape and that course are still ours to choose. Will we be hardened or softened by our hardships? Will our difficulties drive us to seek better things in this new year, or will they drag us down, causing us to turn our back on belief and hope?

In the wake of sharp contentions, will we work toward reconciliation and peace or wallow in division and anger? When we feel bent and broken under the weight of life’s heavy burdens, will we, like Estella, be bent and broken into a better shape?

To be sure, this past year has been a struggle, a great sorrow for far too many of us. But through it all, we carry on, we hope on, we trust in God and find comfort and strength in Him. That is our “great expectation” — to bear with perspective and courage whatever the future holds, trusting that if we are bent and broken, we will emerge from it “into a better shape.”

Tuning in …

The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM,, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, 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