Music and the Spoken Word

But One Life to Lose for My Country - Sunday, June 30, 2019

Nathan Hale was a schoolteacher, fresh out of college, teaching in a one-room school in New London, Connecticut, when the American Colonies went to war against the British in 1775. Inspired by the cause of independence, he joined the fight and quickly rose to the rank of captain. But the colonists faced a series of defeats in the early months of the revolution, and victory did not seem likely. It was in these circumstances that General George Washington asked for volunteers to spy on the British forces. It was a dangerous mission, and being captured would mean certain death. At first no one volunteered. Then 21-year-old Nathan Hale—alone—stepped forward.
Disguised as a civilian schoolmaster, he slipped behind enemy lines on Long Island to gather information on the opposing troops. The disguise worked for over a week, fooling multiple guards, until finally he was recognized, captured, and identified as a spy. He was immediately sentenced, without trial, to be hanged in the morning. A British officer who witnessed the execution reported Hale’s last words: “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.” 1

Today statues of Nathan Hale stand in the cities of New Haven, Hartford, Chicago, and New York. But of course, he isn’t the only patriot who gave all he had for freedom—and then wished he could give more. The pages of American history are filled with the accounts of such patriots, and the story is still being written through the heroic acts of today’s patriots. Nathan Hale’s dying words expressed what many of us feel—that freedom is as precious as life itself and the opportunity to defend those freedoms is an honor and a privilege, even if it is also a sacrifice.

As we celebrate Independence Day, we pay tribute to the long line of brave patriots, past and present, who left the comforts of home, volunteered in the face of danger, preserved and protected our freedoms, and added richness to the American story. We will never forget their sacrifice.

1 In William J. Bennett, ed., The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories (1993), 716
June 30, 2019
Broadcast Number 4,685

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Richard Elliott

Lloyd Newell

This Is a Great Country, from Mr. President
Irving Berlin; arr. Michael Davis

God Bless America
Irving Berlin; arr. Roy Ringwald

Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean
Thomas A’Becket and David Shaw; arr. Richard Elliott

This Land Is Your Land
Woody Guthrie; arr. Percy Faith; adapted by Michael Davis

God Bless the USA
Lee Greenwood; arr. Michael Davis

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

You’re a Grand Old Flag
George M. Cohan; arr. Arthur Harris