Music and the Spoken Word

A More Perfect Union- Sunday, February 14, 2016

On June 17, 1775, Abigail Adams and her seven-year-old son, John Quincy, stood on a hill near their home and watched, terrified, as the Battle of Bunker Hill unfolded. It was a pivotal moment in the American Revolution. More than a thousand were killed or wounded, and nearby Charlestown was burned to the ground.

The next day, Abigail described her feelings in a letter to her husband, John, who was in Philadelphia serving as a member of the Continental Congress. She wrote: “The decisive day has come on which the fate of America depends. My bursting heart must find vent at my pen. … May we be supported and sustained in the dreadful conflict.”

Abigail Adams was right. It was a decisive day, and the fate of America did hang in the balance. The colonists lost that battle, but their courageous stand against the mighty British army brought hope to the revolution’s cause.

As it turned out, there were many more decisive days in Abigail’s lifetime. Her husband, John Adams, became the nation’s first vice president and its second president. Her son John Quincy grew up to become its sixth president. And through it all, Abigail was an indispensable source of strength and support to them both.

We may never know the ultimate impact Abigail Adams had on the course of our nation, but we do know this: not every decisive moment in history happens in congresses or on battlefields. Some of them happen in private moments, when the “bursting heart” of a devoted patriot finds expression in an act of service or a courageous sacrifice for the cause of freedom.

John, Abigail, and John Quincy Adams and their successors built a nation for us, but the work of nation building is never done. We each play a part—whoever and wherever we are. Through our support, loyalty, and courage, we all help build a more perfect union, a home where liberty can dwell.

Abigail Adams to John Adams, June 18–20, 1775 (electronic edition), Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive, Massachusetts Historical Society,; typography modernized.

Feb. 14, 2016
Broadcast Number 4,509

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Bells on Temple Square

A Perfect Union

Mack Wilberg

Bells Conductor
LeAnna Willmore

Clay Christiansen

Lloyd Newell

This Is My Country
Al Jacobs; arr. Michael Davis

This Is a Great Country
Irving Berlin; arr. Michael Davis

Prelude on “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”
Clay Christiansen

El Capitan
John Philip Sousa; arr. Cathy Moklebust

The House I Live In
Earl Robinson; arr. Michael Davis

Cohan’s Big Three
George M. Cohan; arr. Floyd E. Werle

Battle Hymn of the Republic
William Steffe; arr. Peter J. Wilhousky