Music and the Spoken Word

Music and the Spoken Word
Music and the Spoken Word
Genre Worship, classical
Running time 27 minutes, 56 seconds
Country United States United States of America
Languages English
Home station KSL NewsRadio (radio)
KSL-TV (television)
Starring Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Announcer Lloyd D. Newell
   (01990-11-01November 1990 - present)
J. Spencer Kinard
   (01972-02-01February 1972 - 01990-10-01October 1990)
Alan Jensen
   (01971-11-01November 1971 - 01972-02-01February 1972)
Richard L. Evans
   (01930-06-01June 1930 - 01971-10-01October 1971)
Ted Kimball
   (01929-07-01July 1929 - 01930-05-01May 1930)
Creators Earl J. Glade
Writers Joni Hilton
Luke Howard
Roger Miller
Lloyd D. Newell
Heidi S. Swinton
Directors Daniele Brown
Lynn Clayson
Wendy Crossman
Michael Hunter
Robert O. Morton
Lee Wessman
Brian T. Whitley
Nathan K. Wright
Producers Edward J. Payne
Terri Bryson
Russ Crabb
Eldon Griffin
Jody Hadfield
Mark Rencher
Candee Robinson
Reid Robinson
Recording studio Salt Lake Tabernacle and Conference Center
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Air dates since 01929-07-15July 15, 1929 (radio)
since 01949-10-01October 1949 (television)
No. of episodes 4284 (as of 02011-10-23October 23, 2011)
Audio format Stereophonic sound
Opening theme Gently Raise the Sacred Strain
Other themes As the Dew from Heaven Distilling
Ending theme God Be with You Till We Meet Again

Music and the Spoken Word is a weekly 30-minute radio and television program of inspiring messages and music produced by Bonneville Communications with music performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (often accompanied by the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ and the Orchestra at Temple Square).

The radio program is distributed by the CBS Radio Network and its broadcast center is KSL (AM) Radio, a Salt Lake City station owned by Bonneville International Corporation, which is in turn owned by the LDS Church. (KSL is a former CBS Radio affiliate; it switched to ABC Radio, now Citadel Media in 2005) In addition, it is currently broadcast by over 2,000 television and radio stations worldwide.[1][2]



The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's first network radio program, Music and the Spoken Word was first transmitted on July 15, 1929. The organ, choir, and announcer shared a single microphone which was attached to the ceiling of the tabernacle. The announcer stood on a ladder in order to speak into it. A telegraph was used to alert the sound engineer at KSL to start the broadcast.[3] Anthony C. Lund was the director of the choir for the first program, and Earl J. Glade the general manager of KSL was the director and producer of the first program.[4] Glade had been the moving force behind getting the program started.

Since its first broadcast, the program has run continually for 80 years and has been broadcast over 4,000 times. The unbroken length of broadcasts makes Music and the Spoken Word the oldest continuous nationwide network broadcast in the world.

In 2004, the program was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Hall of Fame, in conjunction with its 75th anniversary on the air. It is one of only two radio programs to be so inducted, the other being the Grand Ole Opry.[5]

In addition, the program was also inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.[6]


Each broadcast revolves around a specific theme which is usually based on a religious and uplifting topic which have included family, hope, faith, Christmas, patriotism, joy, peace, kindness, etc., and are usually universal in application.


The choir performs both sacred and secular pieces that correspond with the chosen message. In addition to hymns and sacred anthems, the choir has performed Broadway songs, such as "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music, patriotic songs, such as "America the Beautiful", as well as a wide range of other selections. The broadcast also regularly features an organ solo played by one of the tabernacle organists.

On some occasions, special guests will also perform with the choir during the broadcast. These guests have included Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Sissel, The King's Singers, Maureen McGovern and other well-known groups, musicians, and actors.


The Grammy Award-winning Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a 360-voice choir which was founded in Utah in 1847, one month after the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley.

Called "America's Choir" by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, all members of the choir are volunteers and are not remunerated for their time or talents. The choir is led by director Mack Wilberg.

In addition to Music and the Spoken Word, the Choir performs regularly throughout the year, including an annual Christmas Concert, Patriotic Concert, and various other concerts as well providing music for the LDS General Conference. The choir has also been on national and international tours.[7]


The Orchestra at Temple Square was created in 1999 in order to increase the aesthetic and musical quality of performances. The Orchestra frequently provides accompaniment for the weekly radio and TV broadcasts.

The Orchestra also undertakes its own concert season performing from standard orchestral literature, which has included Mahler's Symphony No. 4, the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky and Symphony No. 9 (from The New World) by Dvořák.

Like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the 110-member Orchestra is made up of volunteers, some of whom are also professional musicians.

Organ and organists

The organ in the Tabernacle is a very visible and notable part of the Tabernacle. The original organ was made by Joseph H. Ridges and contained 700 pipes. However, the number of pipes now counts 11,623, making the Tabernacle organ one of the world's largest pipe organs. The current organ is largely the work of G. Donald Harrison of the former Aeolian-Skinner organ firm. It was completed in the late 1940s. The organ has undergone a few minor modifications since that time.[8]

Presently, the Tabernacle organ is played regularly by five main organists when accompanying the choir. Clay Christiansen, Richard Elliott, and Andrew Unsworth are full-time organists, while Bonnie Goodliffe and Linda Margetts are part-time organists.

The "Spoken Word"

The announcer opens and closes the broadcast with an adaptation of Richard L. Evans' hallmark phrase, beginning with, "From the Crossroads of the West, we welcome you to [Temple Square in Salt Lake City for Music and the Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.]" The announcer introduces the music with information about the piece, or with short scriptural or literary passages. At some point, usually near the middle of the program, an inspirational spoken message is delivered. The quote, "Again we leave you, from within the shadows of the everlasting hills[; m]ay peace be with you, this day and always," signals the end of the program, and it is usually followed by the choir singing the hymn "God Be With You Till We Meet Again".


Since its inception in 1929, the "spoken word" segment of the program has been voiced by three separate individuals. The original writer, producer, and announcer of the spoken portion of the broadcast was Richard L. Evans, who continued in that capacity for over forty years until his death in 1971. At that time the writing and announcing assignments were split, with a committee doing the writing. J. Spencer Kinard was the announcer from 1972 until he stepped down in 1990. Lloyd D. Newell has been the announcer from 1990 to the present.

The Tabernacle

Tabernacle in 1937

The program is broadcast from the Salt Lake Tabernacle, more commonly called the Mormon Tabernacle. The dome-shaped building was built between 1864 and 1867 on the west center-line axis of the Salt Lake Temple and is located inside Historic Temple Square. The overall seating capacity of the building (since its renovation) is 7,000, which includes the choir area and gallery (balcony). The central feature of the tabernacle is the large pipe organ.

Between 2005 and 2007 the program was temporarily housed in the Conference Center located across the street from Historic Temple Square.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Music and the Spoken Word History: KSL, Bonneville Communications. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  2. ^ Music and the Spoken Word History: International, Bonneville Communications. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  3. ^ History of Music and the Spoken Word, Bonneville Communications. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  4. ^ Ensign, Feb. 1987, p. 76-77
  5. ^ NAB Radio Hall of Fame Inductees, National Association of Broadcasters. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  6. ^ National Radio Hall Of Fame Retrieved on Nov. 06, 2010
  7. ^ Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Frequently Asked Questions, Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  8. ^ Temple Square, C. Mark Hamilton. Retrieved on March 28, 2007.
  9. ^ Tabernacle Choir Getting to Know Unique Conference Center, News from the Church. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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