Music and the Spoken Word

"Don't Be Afraid" - Sunday, February 18, 2018

In the middle of a frigid, snowy night in 1799, George Washington woke his wife and told her that he felt ill. She noticed that his breathing was labored and his voice was faint. Concerned about her husband, Mrs. Washington offered to go for help, but he insisted that she wait until morning.

It was discovered that General Washington had a serious throat infection and would likely not survive. As people at Mount Vernon tried desperately to relieve the general's pain and save his life, Washington noticed that one of his attendants seemed particularly anxious. He looked into the man's worried eyes and gathered the strength to say, as clearly as he could, "Don't be afraid."1

Washington may as well have been speaking to all of us-from generals and presidents who would have to lead the nation without him to ordinary men and women who have to face new personal challenges each day.

To be sure, there was reason to be afraid on the day George Washington died-and fearful experiences certainly lay ahead for the country he loved. But there was also reason to be courageous. Perhaps the most inspiring of these was the example of Washington himself.

We remember George Washington as the brave leader of the American Revolution and the first president of the United States. He was the first person to sign the Constitution and is considered the father of the country. But he preferred to think of himself as "Farmer Washington." Devoid of lust for power, he knew when to serve and when to resign. Where other great leaders quickly turned into tyrants, only to see power slip from their hands, Washington was courageous enough to let go.

Could this be why George Washington was able to say to his fearful friend, during a frightening time, "Don't be afraid"?

We honor Washington and other great presidents for the good things they do for the country, for leading with courage and letting go with courage. We don't know what the future holds, but if we are committed to doing the right thing, we can step forward confidently and say to others who might be fearful, "Don't be afraid."

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. See Tobias Lear, diary entry for December 14, 1799, National Archives,

February 18, 2018
Broadcast Number 4,614

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Bells on Temple Square

Leading a Nation

Mack Wilberg

Bells Conductor
LeAnna Willmore

Clay Christiansen

Lloyd Newell

God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
George W. Warren; arr. Mack Wilberg

This Is My Country
Al Jacobs; arr. Michael Davis

The Pledge of Allegiance
Charles Osgood; arr. Michael Davis

O Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
Thomas A'Becket and David T. Shaw; arr. Alexander Schreiner; transcribed by Clay Christiansen

America the Beautiful
Samuel A. Ward; arr. Arnold B. Sherman

My Country, 'Tis of Thee
Traditional hymn tune; arr. Mack Wilberg

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