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Music and the Spoken Word: 'The picture window of the soul'

"The Birth of Jesus" is by Carl Heinrich Bloch.
"The Birth of Jesus" is by Carl Heinrich Bloch.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given Dec. 18, 2016.

It was a busy night at the inn, 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem — so busy, in fact, that when Mary and Joseph arrived, there was “no room for them" (see Luke 2:7).

And so, the couple was forced to seek refuge in a lowly stable. There, the baby Jesus was born, attended by humble animals and simple shepherds. Surely, the King of Kings should have had more comfortable surroundings, but he didn’t, and perhaps there is a lesson in that for all of us.

Our lives today can often feel as busy as the crowded inn at Bethlehem, with many priorities competing for space. Ironically, this seems to be particularly true at Christmastime. It’s helpful to remember that the first Christmas was a silent night, a holy night, away from the busyness of the inn.

Where can we find such a peaceful, hallowed place today? For some, it may be a home where family and friends are gathered. For others, the solitude of nature or the serenity of a rising or sinking sun. Others may find it in a chapel, echoing with sacred music. Or it may not be a place at all but rather a sacred moment of prayerful soul-searching.

In truth, the spirit of Christmas comes not from our physical surroundings but from within. Religious leader President Thomas S. Monson has said: “The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things” (see "Because He Came" by President Monson, Dec. 4, 2011).

When the spirit of Christmas shines on our picture window, what do we see? Is our attention drawn by the flashy and superficial, or do we notice the simple and sacred? Yes, life can feel crowded, but whenever we make room for the King of Kings, somehow our hearts seem to expand, and we find ourselves welcoming into our lives more and more of those in need around us. This is, in part, the miracle of Christmas.

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