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Music and the Spoken Word: The thankful heart

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Nov. 20, 2016.

Long before the New England colonists held their now-legendary autumn feast nearly 400 years ago, and well before Thanksgiving was ever a holiday, giving thanks has been essential to the human soul.

And that’s true not only in times of plenty. On good days and bad, through abundance and scarcity, we make life sweeter when we count our blessings.

Perhaps that is why gratitude is said to be “not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all … virtues” (see Marcus Tullius Cicero, in Abram N. Coleman, ed., "Proverbial Wisdom: Proverbs, Maxims and Ethical Sentences," published in 1903). We would all do well to pause and ponder how blessed we are. It doesn’t require a holiday to live in thanksgiving daily.

Yet on days when we feel weighed down with burdens, it can be difficult to see the beautiful and hear the positive. But that doesn’t mean they are not there!

The story is told of a young girl and her grandmother taking a walk together. “The song of the birds was glorious to the little girl, and she pointed out every sound to her grandmother. ‘Do you hear that?’ the little girl asked again and again. But her grandmother was hard of hearing and could not make out the sounds. Finally, the grandmother knelt down and said, ‘I’m sorry, dear. Grandma doesn’t hear so well.’ Exasperated, the little girl took her grandmother’s face in her hands, looked intently into her eyes, and said, ‘Grandma, listen harder!’” (see “Fourth Floor, Last Door,” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, November 2016).

While this advice may not help a grandmother hear the birds chirping, it’s excellent advice for us when life’s worries make us deaf to its beauties. All around us are blessings, large and small. Listen, and you will hear the glorious sounds around you. Look, and you will see the beauty around you. Cultivate the habit of finding the good, and give thanks continually.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote, “The unthankful heart … discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and … it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” (see "Connecticut Families of the Revolution: American Forebears from Burr to Wolcott" by Mark Allen Baker, 2014).

The difference is in the outlook of the thankful heart. Blessings can always be found when gratitude lights our way.

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 The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. MST on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at