Choir Notes

Things to Be Desired
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4364

Max Ehrmann loved to write. And so, after practicing law for a few years and bouncing between the meatpacking and manufacturing industries, he set it all aside, picked up a pen, and turned to writing full-time. Throughout his life he published books and essays and poems that reflected his wisdom, his passion for the written word, and his hopeful view of life.
His most acclaimed work, Desiderata, was published in 1927 but didn’t become popular until well after his death in 1945. Desiderata, which in Latin means "things to be desired,” contains this insightful advice for all of us in our hectic, hurry-up world:
• Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. 
• Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. … 
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. … 
• Be gentle with yourself. … 
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
These wise words echo the peaceful whisperings of truth. They strike the same note as the ancient words of the Psalmist: "Do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
As "noisy and hasty” as life may have been in 1927, the need to "go placidly” seems even greater today. How might the world be different if shrill, hateful voices were met with truth spoken "quietly and clearly”? We may not be able to change the world in all the ways we would like to, but if we truly do "keep peace in [the] soul,” we will see, as Max Ehrmann did, that "it is still a beautiful world."

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