History: A Larger Way of Looking at Life – Sunday, January 22, 2023

When you hear the word history, what comes to mind? Many of us have memories of a high school history class, where we had to memorize dates, names, and places. Because of such experiences, we might think of history as kings and presidents, wars and treaties, maps, and timelines. But history is so much more than that.

Years ago, David McCullough, a two–time Pulitzer Prize–winning author and historian, appeared as a guest narrator with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. On that occasion, he explained: “History is not only politics and military events but also includes art, music, literature, drama, and architecture. To leave out music and these other elements leaves out the soul of the human story.”[1]

In other words, when we read a poem by Elizabeth Browning or Gwendolyn Brooks, when we listen to the music of Beethoven or Gershwin, when we enjoy a painting by Michelangelo or Mary Cassatt, we are studying history. We are connected with the soul of the human story.

At its best, history reminds us that the human story has a soul—that behind the names and dates are real people full of personality and passion. To paraphrase the Old Testament book of Job, “There is a spirit in man”—and in woman—enriched by “the inspiration of the Almighty” (Job 32:8). The more we learn about what these people loved, what they feared, and what brought them joy, the more we see in them that divine spark that lies within us all. We see that their story is our story. History, then, does more than detail the past—it bridges the past and the present.

In that sense, we are all part of history. We each contribute to the stream of events that make up the human story. Every time we take a picture, make a scrapbook, jot some feelings down in a journal, or tell a child about an experience from our own childhood, we add an indispensable chapter to that story. In a sense, we’re making history.

David McCullough, who passed away last summer, said it well: “History, I like to think, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, of inspiration. … It is about people, and they speak to us across the years.”[2]

 [1] In “David McCullough (2009),” TheTabernacleChoir.org/about/guest-artists/david-mccullough.html.
[2] David McCullough, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (2017), xiii.

January 22, 2023
Broadcast Number 4,871

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg
Ryan Murphy

Richard Elliott

Lloyd Newell

Come, Ye Children of the Lord
Come, Ye Children of the Lord

Look at the World
John Rutter

Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
Johann Sebastian Bach

Alabaré (I Will Praise)
Jose Pagan and Manuel Jose Alonso; Arr. Mack Wilberg

Morning Has Broken
Gaelic melody; Arr. Mack Wilberg

Let Us All Press On
Evan Stephens; Arr. Richard Elliott