Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — "Music & the Spoken Word" celebrates a new milestone in 2021, marking 30 years of its host Lloyd Newell sharing universal, inspirational messages of hope during the weekly broadcast with the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
For decades, great voices have echoed throughout the Tabernacle.
During the last 30 years and nearly 1,600 broadcasts, Lloyd Newell has been the singular voice accompanying the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square — rejoicing during times of celebration and renewal and providing comfort when we need it most.
Newell recently shared his thoughts with KSL-TV about reaching this milestone.
"I'm so humbled to be able to do this," he said. "I never imagined when I started this as President (Gordon B.) Hinckley called me that, 30 years later, we would be having this conversation."
KSL joined Newell in an empty Conference Center, all part of pandemic adjustments, as he recorded a new batch of "Spoken Words."
"I get letters from people from all over the world that this is their bright spot," said Newell.
In 2020, "Music & the Spoken Word," which is normally broadcast live in front of an audience, was silenced by COVID-19 restrictions,
"I just felt like, we need to say something to the world that is in turmoil through this global pandemic," said Newell.
With a little creativity, Newell, along with a small production crew, came together to record new "Spoken Word" messages.
Those messages were then edited into previous broadcasts.
"We can't bring 400-500 choir and orchestra members in to record some music, but I can come in with a crew and we can record new 'Spoken Words,' where we talk about the pandemic, hope, about peace in troubled times," said Newell.
As churches stood in isolation and congregations sat quietly, "Music & the Spoken Word" continued reaching people across the world.
"This is their hope for the week, especially over the pandemic, where they say, 'This has been my worship service. This has been my spiritual uplift. This has been my inspiration,'" said Newell.
The nondenominational messages abscribe to universal themes of hope, peace and connection.
"When President Hinckley called me, his counsel was, 'Each message needs to be an inspirational gem.' Those two words ring in my ears and in my heart regularly," said Newell.
Newell's and the choir members' roles are callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This isn't their full-time job and they aren't paid.
"That's something that always surprises people," said Newell.
Newell writes each unique "Spoken Word." He said his inspiration comes from his everyday life, family members and even complete strangers.
"I can't tell you the letters of people that I've received from around the world that say, 'What is it about this program? What is this? It's more than music, it's more than just a little message,'" said Newell. "It's the power, I believe, the power of Godliness coming through music that touches people's hearts."
A power Newell feels can withstand the test of time as the broadcast's longevity — the longest-running in history (since 1929) — can attest to.
As he looks back on the last 30 years, Newell said he's grateful for the calling that helped shape his life.
"As President Hinckley told me, 'This calling will change your life,'" he said. "It has changed my life for the better in ways that I can't even fully express or give utterance to."
There is still no word on when "Music & the Spoken Word" will be able to fully reconvene.
As for Newell's future with the choir, he shared he will continue serving.