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Music and the Spoken Word: Steady, reliable Old Faithful

Editor's note: “The Spoken Word” is shared each Sunday during the weekly Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. This will be given June 12, 2016.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, entrusted with the care of America’s national parks. The first of those parks was Yellowstone, known today for its wildlife, its mountain forests and especially its geothermal features — about half of the world’s geysers are in Yellowstone.

But before Yellowstone became a protected national treasure, it was a rugged, relatively unexplored region of northwestern Wyoming. In 1870, an expedition led by Henry Washburn made detailed maps and observations of the region, exploring lakes, climbing mountains, observing wildlife and, of course, marveling at the remarkable geysers. But one geyser in particular stood out to these early explorers — its eruptions occurred with such uncanny regularity that they decided to give it a name: Old Faithful. Since then, Old Faithful has endeared itself to generations of visitors to Yellowstone.

Experts have determined that Old Faithful’s eruptions are predictable with about 90 percent accuracy within a window of 10 minutes, every day, all year (see At Yellowstone, the saying goes, time is not measured by a clock but by Old Faithful. Visitors often decide when to eat, tour the magnificent park, stop and observe wildlife, or see exhibits in the visitors center all based on Old Faithful’s next eruption.

Old Faithful is not the largest geyser in Yellowstone; Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest, has been known to throw water more than 300 feet into the air — two or three times higher than Old Faithful. But Steamboat’s massive eruptions, though impressive, are unpredictable. In fact, from 1911 to 1961, a period of 50 years, Steamboat was completely dormant. Despite being less dramatic, Old Faithful has become the best-known geyser in the world because it is, in a word, faithful.

So perhaps a message for us is that being consistent is more important than being grand. In other words, you don’t have to be the best or the biggest or the most impressive to make the biggest impact. Think of all the parents, grandparents, spouses, friends and neighbors who are consistently there for their loved ones. They make efforts to be home for dinner with their family day after day. They attend soccer games week in and week out. They remember birthdays year after year. These consistent demonstrations of love, though not grand, are prized because they are steady, reliable and dependable — just like Old Faithful.

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, Sirius XM Radio (Channel 143), and The program is aired live at 9:30 a.m. MDT on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at