Music and the Spoken Word

In Harmony with Others - Sunday, July 7, 2019

There are many things in life that can be done alone. You can play a piano alone—or a violin or guitar or any other musical instrument. You can sing a solo, give a speech, or recite a poem alone. But then there are other things—some of the most beautiful—that simply can’t be done alone. For example, you can’t sing barbershop alone. Barbershop singing, by definition, involves joining with others in vocal harmony. It’s about music, but it’s also about community, about working together to create a thing of beauty.

Many historians trace the history of barbershop singing to the 1880s and ’90s, when African American musicians started adding multipart harmonies to popular contemporary songs. Over several generations, a unique style emerged, and the unmistakable sound we know as barbershop began to take shape.1

How do you describe that sound? It isn’t easy. Some would say you have to experience it. As one barbershop singer said: “When you’re singing, the sound around you is incredible. You feel like you’re being carried away with it. It’s absolutely inspiring. … The chords ring and you feel like you’re being swallowed up by the music itself.”2

For many, the music is only part of the experience. Relationships, to them, are inseparable from the sound. It’s friendship, as much as music, that keeps them singing. One expert has written that “barbershoppers feel a strong fellowship—a wave of warmth and friendliness—when they sing together. An important facet of the fun and personal enrichment gained from barbershop singing … is its camaraderie.”3

Something magical happens anytime people come together with a shared passion. Whenever they have sincere interest in doing something meaningful and a heartfelt willingness to cooperate rather than compete, they accomplish things that would not be possible working alone.

No, you can’t do barbershop alone, and you can’t do life alone either. We need each other. We need friendship and fellowship. We all do better, we all live happier and more peaceful lives, when we are in harmony with others.

1 See “Roots of Barbershop Harmony,”
2 In Robert A. Stebbins, The Barbershop Singer: Inside the Social World of a Musical Hobby (1996), 64.
3 Stebbins, The Barbershop Singer, 66.
July 7, 2019
Broadcast Number 4,686

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Guest Artists
Vocal Majority

Greg Clancy

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
German hymn tune; arr. Mack Wilberg

Holy, Holy, Holy
John B. Dykes; arr. Arthur Harris

Little David, Play on Your Harp
African American spiritual; arr. Andrew Unsworth

How Great Thou Art
Swedish folk tune; arr. Stuart K. Hine; adapted by Jim Clancy

I’ll Walk with God, from The Student Prince
Nicholas Brodszky; arr. Pete Rupay

All Creatures of Our God and King
German hymn tune; arr. Mack Wilberg