Pre-school Address to BYU Faculty and Staff
September 12, 1967
I am constantly impressed with this beautiful campus. I am awed by the power of the administration and faculty and as I see the thousands of students, I want to sing, "Behold! A Royal Army."
In all the world, the Brigham Young University is the greatest institution of learning. This statement I have made numerous times. I believe it sincerely. There are many criteria by which a university can be judged and appraised and evaluated. The special qualities of Brigham Young University lie not in its bigness; there are a number of much larger universities.
It should not be judged by its affluence and the amount of money available for buildings, research and other facilities. It should not be judged by prestige, for there are more statusful institutions as the world measures status.
The uniqueness of Brigham Young University lies in its special role--education for eternity--which it must carry in addition to the usual tasks of a university. This means concern--curricular and behavioral--for not only the "whole man" but for the "eternal man." Where all universities seek to preserve the heritage of knowledge that history has washed to their feet, this faculty has a double heritage--the preserving of knowledge of men and the revealed truths sent from heaven.
While all universities seek to push back the frontiers of knowledge further and further, this faculty must do that and also keep new knowledge in perspective, so that the avalanche of facts does not carry away saving, exalting truths from the value systems of our youth.
In addition, this faculty must aid the youth of the kingdom in establishing yet another educational expectation--that there are yet "many great and important things" to be revealed which require an intellectual and spiritual posture of readiness and openness. Where other institutions of higher education aim, in part, at educating and training students for various careers, this faculty must do that vital job and do it superbly well, but it must do far more. It must train a cadre of committed, educated youth who can serve effectively, not only in the world of work but in the growing kingdom of God in which skilled leadership is such a vital commodity.
This time of intellectual testing must also be a time of equivalent testing and flexing in things spiritual too. "The spirit giveth life" is so true in so many ways. When there is an inner-emptiness in the life of man, his surroundings, however affluent, cannot compensate. When there is a crisis of purpose, nothing will really seem worthwhile or meaningful. When man's relationship with God has been breached, we will be as Isaiah said, "restless as the 'sea which cannot rest."'
A university or an individual can have all the surface signs of security and yet still be empty inside. You must fill the classrooms and halls of this campus with facts, but fill them also with the spirit of the Master Teacher who said to the Nephites of the things He had done: "Even so shall ye do unto the world."
"Education for eternity" is not the kind of phrase one would expect to have carved in the stone of a new secular university; it is not the kind of commitment that would be widely shared in the retreat from real religion we see around us in the world. Yet it is a task for which we do not apologize. Those who do not share this purpose, however, will respect this faculty for its genuine achievements in the world of secular scholarship. The extra missions noted previously do not excuse you from reasonable achievement in your chosen field. You can, in fact, often be more effective in the service you render students if students see you as individuals who have blended successfully things secular and things spiritual in a way that has brought to you earned respect in both realms.
As I see you leaders here, knowing you personally and recognizing the depth of your knowledge, your outstanding accomplishments in your chosen fields, I honor you and appreciate you greatly. And then I realize also that in the breast of every one, there is a deep, spiritual feeling with the Master. We know there are good men and women elsewhere, but here, here we have the choice group.
When measured with the true measuring rod, the Brigham Young University stands pre-eminent. Certainly, the true measure of an institution of learning would be the impact it makes on the total lives of its students. On high levels in business, industry, professional and other fields, great men and women of prominence in many areas are BYU alumni. Orison S. Marden wrote:
It is a sad sight to see thousands of students graduated every year from our grand institutions whose object is to make stalwart, independent, self-supporting men turned out into the world saplings instead of stalwart oaks, "memory glands" instead of brainy men, helpless instead of self-supporting, sickly instead of robust, weak instead of strong, leaning instead of erect.
You tell me that these nearly 7,000 returned missionaries render a stabilizing influence with their deep religious convictions and their serious application. You tell me that a high percentage of the 20,000 students actually hold positions of leadership in Church organizations and that nearly all of them attend sacrament meetings, and that the large majority who have income pay their tithing. These students voluntarily assemble weekly to hear religious messages from the leaders of the Church. What a great institution, where professors, staff members, and students work together in glorious harmony in stake presidencies, bishoprics, quorum and auxiliary leadership.
It is notable that numerous students change their lives on this campus. Many who had never seriously planned missions for themselves now eagerly look forward to that day. Many who had given little thought to a temple marriage are here inspired to chart their course in that direction.
How the world needs a light in the dark, even a refuge--a vault for keeping the jewels and treasures of life, a big wastebasket into which could be dumped the trash and filth and destructive ideologies and eccentric activities. While great universities and colleges seem to have abandoned all attempts to influence the moral lives of their students, this University must "hold the line." Apparently such an attitude seems to be growing on the campuses of our nation, and what can we expect of the graduates tomorrow?
There are holes in the fabric of our political system; our social world continues to show corruption. A climate is coming into being which seems to not only permit crimes against society but to actually encourage them indirectly. "Do We Have A Sick Society?" the U.S. News and World Report. asks in a recent issue.
In the current issue of The Instructor, President David O. McKay, after speaking of our carelessness in keeping our bodies fit and calling attention to the physical decay, reminds us that spiritual decay is more serious. He says:
But great as is the peril of physical decay, greater is the peril of spiritual decay. The peril of this century is spiritual apathy. As the body requires sunlight, good food, proper exercise and rest, so the spirit of man requires the sunlight of the Holy Spirit, proper exercise of the spiritual functions, the avoiding of evils that affect spiritual health that are more ravaging in their effects than the dire diseases that attack the body. . . .
Never before have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation as they are now. . . . Satan and his forces are attacking the high ideals and sacred standards which protect our spirituality. One cannot help but be alarmed by the ever-increasing crime wave . . . (David O. McKay, The Instructor, September, 1967, p. 338.)
In our sick society children are not required to work; time hangs heavily on their hands. Their crimes run into theft and beatings, and even murders fill more of their time. Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., East Village in New York City may be net results of some of the laxities and looseness in morals with increases in illegitimacy. And numerous evils of our times may look to the deteriorating ethical standards proposed often by professors in what are termed great universities. God's ways and eternal standards are laughed at and "situation ethics," making each person his own moral judge and authority, all seem to be responsible for the sickness of our society. How can it survive ?
When these numerous other things are weighed and considered, we come to realize our responsibility at BYU becomes greater and greater. We must carry the torch and light the way, and this faculty and staff must stand like a concrete wall to prevent these strange, worldly ideologies and concepts from invading this, one of the last bastions of resisting strength.
We should be knowledgeable. When we talk of godhood and creatorship and eternal increase, we have already soared far out beyond the comprehension of most men. To attain those great accomplishments, one would need to know all about astronomy, biology, physiology, psychology, and all of the arts and sciences. The obtaining of all this knowledge will come largely after our earth life. The question is often asked, "Why a doctrine-teaching, a character-building university?" "Why not let men do, think, and move as they please ?"
Milliken said, "... that science has gone ahead so fast, man can spend fifty to a hundred years just learning how to use wisely what he already knows." It is stated further that the western world has in the past hundred years seen more changes in the external conditions under which the average man lives, and also his fundamental conceptions, than occurred during all the preceding four thousand years.
Our Brigham Young insisted:
Learn everything that the children of men know, and be prepared for the most refined society upon the face of the earth.
Then improve on this until we are prepared and permitted to enter the society of the blessed--the holy angels, that dwell in the presence of God. . . .
The Lord seems never to have placed a premium on ignorance and yet He has, in many cases, found His better-trained people unresponsive to the spiritual, and has had to use spiritual giants with less training to carry on His work. Peter was said to be ignorant and unlearned, while Nicodemus was, as the Savior said, a master, a trained one, an educated man. And while Nicodemus would in his aging process gradually lose his prestige, his strength, and go to the grave a man of letters without eternal knowledge, Peter would go to his reputed crucifixion the greatest man in all the world, perhaps still lacking considerably in secular knowledge (which he would later acquire), but being pre-eminent in the greater, more important knowledge of the eternities and God and His creations and their destinies. And Paul gives us the key:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:44.)
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (I Corinthians 2: 11.)
It is interesting to note that most of us have a tendency to want to ape the ways of our neighbor, in styles or curricula or universities. If New York or Paris speaks, the dresses are lengthened or shortened; if San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury speaks, men's hair grows longer, beards appear and baths are less frequent. If the Joneses have a Cadillac, all want Cadillacs. If a nation has a king, all want a king. We seem reluctant to establish our own standards, make our own styles, follow our own patterns which are based on dignity, comfort and propriety.
Israel did want a king. "Now make us a king," they cried to Samuel, "to judge us like all the nations." And when Samuel prayed, the Lord said, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." And then with the inspiration of the Lord, Samuel pointed out to them the hazards of having a king. The king would recruit their sons in battle. Their daughters would serve in confectionaries and kitchens and bakeries. Their sons would have to work his ground and reap his harvests, and make his spears and swords and rebuild his chariots and train his horses. He would appropriate their vineyards and olive yards to feed his servants, and he would tax them heavily.
In spite of all these dire predictions, the people still said, "Nay; but we will have a king over us . . . like other nations."
Though our world reels and trembles, we must stand firm and see that behavior troubles do not invade our campus like other campuses, and that we are not like other universities.
We have been speaking of mind and spirit and body; of the immortal man and the mortal man. We have been speaking of earthly things and spiritual things; of time and eternity. Of the two; the spiritual development is the greater for it is permanent, lasting, and incorporates all other proper secular development.
The Lord inspired Nephi to correlate the secular and the spiritual, when he said, ". . . to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Nephi 9:29.)
Someone has said, "... if the world needs a bomb to destroy the cities and its peoples and the world, the laboratory of the American university can supply it." And we say, "If the world needs messengers of peace and teachers of righteousness and builders of character and inspirers of faith in God, here is the university that can do all this--here at the Brigham Young University."
Even here we give to the first cause our lesser attention and though we are far in front of other institutions, still we give less time, less thought, less effort to the actual teaching of the spiritual as contrasted with the secular. But perhaps this imbalance of time and energy and effort is considerably compensated for if all of you instructors in all classes teach the gospel, especially by example. Most of you teach eloquently in this manner. Most of you will be frequent attenders at the temple, will serve in the stakes and wards, priesthood and auxiliary organizations. Some of you will be leaders in general church positions. All of you will be living all the commandments of the Lord--paying a full tithing, observing the Word of Wisdom, not because it is expected, but because it is right.
In your homes will be an absence of friction and conflict, not because forty thousand eyes are upon you, but because you love the Lord, your family and the program. You will observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy as you live all other commandments--not because the multitudes might see you but because of the Lord who gave them. Your home evenings will be regular and inspirational and your family prayers, both morning and night, will be constant--not because you are under command, but because you love your family and our BYU family of 20,000 who will feel the spirituality emanating from you. You will always keep solvent, be honest to the nth degree and always full of integrity, not because you are required to do so, to keep your position, but because you believe fully that God gives no commandments which are not for our own good. Your example is better than even your precept, for to teach one thing and to do another is like sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
This University is not the place for mercenaries. The Revolutionary War was lost by the British, partly, because they employed mercenaries to fight for them. But the winning colonists had a real Cause. If your salary, which we hope is adequate, should be incidental and your grand and magnificent obsession would be the youth and their growth, their vision, their development, I would hope that each of you in joy and peace and satisfaction would continue to lift the souls and carry forward the character-building program.
It would be my hope that 20,000 students might feel the normalcy and beauty of your lives. I hope you will each qualify for the students' admiration and affection. It is my hope that these youth will have abundant lives, beautiful family patterns, after the ideal of an eternal family, with you for their example.
This would lead me to expect from you honor, integrity, cleanliness, and faith. I would expect you to appear before these young people well dressed, well groomed and positive--happy people from homes where peace and love have left their warm, vibrant influence as your day begins. I would want them to have the feeling that you, their instructor, that very morning had come from a loving home where peace reigns and love is enthroned, and to know instinctively by your spirit that you were that morning on your knees with your family, and that there were soft words of pleading to your Heavenly Father for guidance, not only for your little family kneeling with you, but for your larger family also at that moment scurrying about their apartments to get ready for your class. Brigham Young said:
Let our teachers ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, to bestow upon them and upon their scholars the Spirit of Wisdom and intelligence from heaven.
Ask for skill and ability to teach on the part of the teacher, and willingness to be controlled and adaptability to be taught on the part of the scholars . . . .
I would like these youth to see their instructors in community life as dignified, happy cooperators and in Church life as devout, dependable, efficient leaders, and in personal life honorable, full of integrity and, as President John Taylor said, "Let us live so . . . that angels can minister to us and the Holy Ghost dwell with us."
Here there should be loyalty at its ultimate best. Loyalty is the stuff of which great souls are made. I would expect that no member of faculty or staff would continue in the employ of this institution if he or she did not have deep assurance of the divinity of the gospel of Christ, the truth of the Church, the correctness of the doctrines, and the destiny of the school.
The BYU is dedicated to the building of character and faith, for character is higher than intellect, and its teachers must in all propriety so dedicate themselves. That goal is the same as that of our Eternal Father: "To bring to pass the eternal life of man." Every instructor knows before coming to this campus what the aims are and is committed to the furthering of those objectives.
If one cannot conscientiously accept the policies and program of the institution, there is no wrong in his moving to an environment that is compatible and friendly to his concepts. But for a Ford employee to downgrade his company or its products; for a General Electric man to be unappreciative of his company; for an employee of a bank to discredit that institution would be hypocrisy and disloyalty. There are ways to right wrongs, to improve services, to bring about proper changes. To set about to counter the established policies or approved interpretations of the doctrines of the Church would be disloyal and unbecoming of anyone.
No one could justifiably accept salary or favors from an institution, the policies of which he could not in principle accept and defend.
This is an institution peculiar and different from all others. Other schools have been organized by states, countries, churches, groups and individuals. This great University was organized by the Lord God.
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., expresses clearly our concepts:
Science and worldly knowledge must question every demonstration, every experiment, every conclusion, every phenomenon that seems a fact, for only by this method may the truths of the natural law become known to us, save by specific revelations.
But we shall also expect you to know that in matters pertaining to our spiritual lives, God's revealed Will, His laws, His commandments declared not only directly by Himself . . . but by and through His servants must be taken unquestioned, because they are ultimate truths that shape and control our destinies.
Now brethren and sisters, it is your privilege to teach the revealed word of God. You are not expected to advance new theories, give private interpretations nor to clarify the mysteries. You do not need to, nor can you nor anyone else answer all the questions that the youth can ask. You need not be embarrassed to tell them that you cannot fully answer certain questions, and that the Lord has not seen fit to reveal all His mysteries. Perhaps many would like to know the age of the earth, the exact method of its organization, the method of spirit procreation.
The doctrines of the Church will be revealed through the Prophet and he will interpret them as is needed. To one such member who presumed to dictate to the Prophet concerning a matter which has been settled long years, I wrote:
I cannot believe you would presume to command your God to make demand on the prophet of God! No situation or condition could possibly justify you in any such monumental presumption. To any such, I must quote the Lord: "And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the Church." (D&C 28:6.)
When the Lord has set a policy and His leaders have established it, certainly it would be bad taste and improper for people to keep sniping at it.
I knew a man who received his bank salary yet secretly robbed his bank of its money. I knew a woman who was supported by a business but she constantly revealed its inner weaknesses to her associates. I knew a man who received the confidences of persons in trouble and revealed them to his associates. I knew a man who belonged to the Church and enjoyed its blessings but secretly was constantly downgrading it.
This institution and its leaders should be like the Twelve as they were left in a very difficult world by the Savior:
. . . the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14-16.)
I liked your president's statement in an address:
. . . If most institutions of higher learning aspire to be only communities of scholars, we are privileged to be also a congregation of disciples . . . our roots spring from Palmyra rather than Cambridge.
We are men of God first and men of letters second, and men of science third and noted men fourth, men of rectitude rather than academic competence. . . . Our academic training must be as impeccable as our lives.
A defection that would pass unnoticed elsewhere is exploited relentlessly when it occurs at BYU. (Ernest L. Wilkinson)
There are relative truths and there are absolute truths. The gospel is absolute--its basic functions and teachings do not change.
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. wrote:.
The philosopher, in his worldly way, may speak of relative truth in the field of ethics and worldly knowledge, a concept that today and here may be truth, but that tomorrow and there may be error, a truth based upon man's development, his learnings, his ethics, his concepts, his hopes, his aspirations, his God . . .
As our knowledge is widened, we to Job's incomprehensibles, have added almost a universe of unknown physical phenomena. . . .
But we have at our hands unchanging, ultimate truths which God has vouchsafed to us for our guidance, salvation, and exaltation; They are shields against temptation, and are our redemption from sin. They give us the light for our feet; they guide us on our way.
They draw aside for us the curtains of heaven, that, like Stephen of old, we may see " . . . the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55)
They are the rocks upon which we build our house, that the winds and storms wash not away. They are the bridge connecting time with eternity, mortality with immortality; over it, we walk from worldliness into salvation. (J. Reuben Clark, Jr.)
Whereas, in other institutions, there seem to be faculties and administration groups and students who are fighting for supremacy as to the policies and conduct of the university, BYU is entirely different. It is financed and operated and sustained by the tithes of the people--poor and rich. It is governed by the Board of Trustees who are General Authorities of the Church. The Prophet, Seer and Revelator is the interpreter of the doctrines. It must be ever thus.
And Paul warned us:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
It would not be expected that all of the faculty should be categorically teaching religion constantly in their classes, but it is proper that every professor and teacher in this institution would keep his subject matter bathed in the light and color of the restored gospel, and have all his subject matter perfumed lightly with the spirit of the gospel. Always, there would be an essence and the student would feel the presence.
Every instructor should grasp the opportunity occasionally to bear formal testimony of the truth. Every student is entitled to know the attitude and feeling and spirit of his every teacher. Certainly, a science instructor or a physical education teacher or a math or art teacher could find an opportunity sometimes to mention spiritual experiences or comment on the gospel truths. This would be in harmony with the spirit of Brigham Young's charge to Karl G. Maeser, so often quoted:
President Young looked steadily forward for a few minutes as though in deep thought, then said, "Brother Maeser, I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Goodbye."
That statement has been used over and over but we must never forget it. If we begin to ape the world and forget this injunction, we are lost. We pay our taxes; we support state schools; therefore, there is no justification whatever for our spending these millions of dollars on this institution unless we mind the purposeful objective given by the prophet.
Many of us have had dreams and visions of the destiny of this great Church University. Joel said," . . . your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." (Joel 2:28)
Now that we have reached maximum in enrollment, much of the energy formerly given to growth and expansion can now be concentrated on making our dreams come true. With this revolving 20,000 choice, last dispensation students from all over the world running into hundreds of thousands through the years, can we not build dream castles in the air and build foundations solidly under them to develop students, faculty, campus, and university which would eclipse all others within the limitations of our courses?
In our world, there have risen brilliant stars in drama, music, literature, sculpture, painting, science and all the graces. For long years I have had a vision of the BYU greatly increasing its already strong position of excellence till the eyes of all the world will be upon us.
President John Taylor so prophesied, as he emphasized his words with this directive:
You mark my words and write them down and see if they do not come to pass.
You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters.
God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings hearing of her fame will come and gaze upon her glory . . . (Sermon, September 20, 1857; see The Messenger, July 1953)
With regard to masters, surely there must be many Wagners (Richard Wagner, 1813-1883) in the BYU, approaching him or yet to come in the tomorrows--young people with love of art, talent supreme, and eagerness to create. I hope we at BYU may produce men greater than this German composer, Wagner, but less eccentric, more spiritual.
Who of us has not sat spellbound with Aida, Il Trovatore or other of the masterpieces of Verdi (1813-1900)? Can there never be another Verdi or his superiors? Could we not find and develop a Bach (1685-1750) to whom music, especially organ and choral music, owes almost as much as a religion does to its founder, say some musicians.
Is there anyone here who has not been stirred by the rich melodic voice of Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), Italian-born operatic tenor? Surely, there have been few voices which have inspired so many. Considered to be the greatest voice of his century by many, year after year, he was the chief attraction at the Metropolitan Opera.
Would someone say that they produce singers best in Italy, in Germany, in Poland or Sweden? Remember we draw our students from all these places. BYU should attract many and stir their blood with the messages of the ages. And they will sing songs of accomplishment, eternal marriage, exaltation, and we at BYU shall encourage and train them.
And then there was Patti--Adeline Maria Patti--who was scintillating in her accomplishments and her greatness. She is known as an Italian singer though she was born in Madrid (1843-1919). Not only did Patti have a pure clear-toned voice but a wide range which was excelled only by her personal grace and charm, her pure style, her loveliness. Surely at this University we can produce many Pattis in the tomorrows.
Then we remember the celebrated Jenny Lind, the Swedish singer (1820-1887), with such tone faculty, such musical memory, such supremacy, and with such unprecedented triumphs. Do you think there are no more voices like Jenny Lind's? Our day, our time, our people, our generation, our BYU should produce such as we catch the total vision of our potential and dream dreams and see visions of the future.
Brigham Young said, " . . . Every accomplishment, every polished grace, every useful attainment in mathematics, music, and in all sciences and art belong to the Saints . . . "
Many of us can still remember the enchanting Mme. Schumann-Heink, the Bohemian-Austrian, later American lady (1861-1963--died at Hollywood), who was by many regarded as the greatest contralto of her time and a noble character also. She had sons in World War I on both sides and lost one in the American army and one in the German army.
And here at BYU many times I have been entranced with sweet and lovely voices. I believe that deep in the throats of these BYU students of today and tomorrow are qualities superior which, superbly trained, can equal or surpass these known great singers. There was also Nellie Melba, the great Australian prima donna, the Melba (1860-1931) who captivated her audiences as she sang.
BYU certainly must continue to be the greatest university, unique and different. In these fields and in many others, there should be an ever widening gap between this school and all other schools. The reason is obvious. Our professors and instructors should be peers or superiors to those at any other school, in natural ability, extended training, plus the Holy Spirit which should bring them light and truth. With hundreds of "men of God" and their associates so blessed and trained, we have the base for an increasingly efficient and worthy school.
What is the future for BYU? It has long had a strong music department, but we have hardly begun the great work that could be done here.
I envision that day when the BYU symphony will surpass in popularity and performance the Philadelphia Orchestra or the New York Philharmonic group or the Cleveland Symphony.
One great artist was asked which of all his productions was the greatest. His prompt answer was, "The next."
If we strive for perfection, the best and greatest, and are never satisfied with mediocrity, we can excel. In the field of both composition and performance, why cannot the students from here write a greater oratorio than Handel's Messiah? The best has not yet been composed nor produced. They can use the coming of Christ to the Nephites as the material for a greater masterpiece. Our BYU artists tomorrow may write and sing of Christ's spectacular return to the American earth in power and great glory, and his establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth in our own dispensation. No Handel (1685-17S9) nor other composer of the past or present or future could ever do justice to this great event. How could one ever portray in words and music the glories of the coming of the Father and the Son and the restoration of the doctrines and the priesthood and the keys unless he were an inspired Latter-day Saint, schooled in the history and doctrines and revelations and with rich musical ability and background and training? Why cannot the BYU bring forth this producer?
George Bernard Shaw, the Irish dramatist and critic (1856-1950), summed up an approach to life: "Other peoples," he said, "see things and say, 'WHY?' But I dream things that never were--and I say 'WHY NOT?'" We need people here who can dream of things that never were, and ask "WHY NOT?"
Dom Jae gave us this:
Blessed is the man with new worlds to conquer. For him the future beams with promise. He never attains ultimate success, is never satisfied, is ever on the way to better things. Ahead of him there is always another dream castle glittering in the sun--and what fun it is to build foundations under it!
Freed largely from expansion and growing pains, we can now pour many firm foundations under our dreams for the future.
And Niccolo Pagininni, the Italian violinist (1784-1840)! Why cannot we discover, train and present many Pagininnis and other such great artists ? And shall we not here at BYU present before the musical world a pianist to excel in astonishing power of execution, depth of expression, sublimity of noble feeling, the noted Hungarian pianist and composer, Liszt (1811-1885)? We have already produced some talented artists at the piano, but I have a secret hope to live long enough to come to the BYU auditorium and hear and see at the piano a greater performer than Paderewski, the Polish statesman, composer and pianist (1850-1941). Surely all Paderewskis were not born in Poland in the last century; all talented people with such outstanding recreative originality, with such nervous power and such romantic appearance were not concentrated in this one body and two hands! Certainly, this noted pianist with his arduous super-brilliant career was not the last of such to be born!
The Italian painter and sculptor, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), with his masterful and wonderful technique made his portraits, figures, and designs true to life. His "Mona Lisa" is celebrated, and in it he was striving to catch the fleeting manifestations of the secret soul of his attractive and winsome subject. He seems to have given inspiration to Raphael and others of the great.
On our last visit to Copenhagen, we were excited and inspired as we drank in the beauty of Thorvaldsen's "Christ and the Twelve Apostles." We wondered if any one, any time, could produce a greater masterpiece, and yet time and the BYU may surprise the world. Can you see statues on this campus of the Lord, His prophets and His disciples ? There are many of the martyrs and prophets of the centuries who have never been so honored.
Michelangelo (Buonarroti--1475-1564) thought of himself only as a sculptor. He was called upon by Pope Julius II (in 1505) to build a great monument which the Pope desired to have finished within his lifetime. This monument was never completed and the controversies which arose embittered a large part of the great artist's life. His 3500 square foot painting in the Sistine Chapel is said to be the most important piece of mural painting of the modern world.
To be an artist means hard work and patience and longsuffering. This artist said, "I am a poor man and of little merit, who plods along in the art which God gave me. . . . I am more exhausted than ever man was." And when we see Michelangelo's masterpieces of art, we feel as did Habakkuk:
Behold, ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. (Habakkuk 1:5)
But then we ask, "Can there never be another Michelangelo?" Ah! Yes! His "David" in Florence, and his "Moses" in Rome inspire to adulation. Did all such talent run out in that early century? Could not we find an embodied talent like this, but with a soul that was free from immorality and sensuality and intolerance?
Could there be among us embryo poets and novelists like Goethe? (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832.) Have we explored as much as we should? Of the creator of Faust, Emerson said, "The old eternal genius that built the world had confided itself more to this man than to any other." But Goethe was not the greatest nor the last. There may be many Goethes among us even today, waiting to be discovered. Inspired students will write great books and novels and biographies and plays.
Can we not find equal talent to those who gave us A Man for All Seasons, Doctor Zhivago, Ben Hur? This latter book I read when a small boy and many times I have returned to it; Critics might not agree with me, but I feel that it is a great story. My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music and such have pleased their millions, but I believe we can improve on them.
We have the great Rembrandt (1606-1669) whose style is original, founded on the work of no other artist, whose coloring is somber and reaches its highest achievement in combinations of browns and grays. There are few paintings about which so much has been written as Rembrandt's "The Night Watch," or his self-portraits. His morals also have been subject to criticism.
And we have the Italian painter, Raphael (1483-1520), generally accepted in the European world as the greatest of religious painters.
It has been said that many of the great artists were perverts or moral degenerates. In spite of their immorality, they became great and celebrated artists. What could be the result if discovery were made of equal talent in men who were clean and free from the vices, and thus entitled to revelations?
We have scientists who can help harness the limitless powers and turn them to good for all humanity. There have been Pasteur (1822-1895) and Curie (1867-1934) and Albert Einstein (1879-1955), and there are the Harvey Fletchers, the Henry Eyrings and there will be greater yet.
Then there is Shakespeare (1564-1616). Everybody quotes Shakespeare. The English poet and dramatist was prodigious in his productions. His Hamlet and Othello and King Lear and Macbeth are only prelude to the great mass of his productions. Has anyone other ever been so versatile, so talented, so remarkable in his art? And yet, could the world produce only one Shakespeare?
The Lamanite-Nephite culture means much to the people of the Church, and properly so. Here at BYU, should we not have the greatest collection of artifacts, records, writings, concerning them in the world? Through revelation, we have received much knowledge concerning these peoples. Should not BYU then be pre-eminent in this field of culture ?
Perhaps growing up in a backwoods forest in Indiana or Louisiana or in Oregon or Illinois, there may be some little deprived boy doing his elementary math on a wood fire-shovel and borrowing books from neighbors and splitting rails, who will find his way tomorrow to the BYU, and here in the proper departments, get the background, knowledge, and inspiration which will send him skyrocketing to fame and honors, perhaps even to the White House, and a man to be ever after heralded for his wisdom, bravery, conscience, humanity, leadership, and to be quoted till eternity. His name might be Abraham, his mother's name might be Nancy, and could this be written concerning him as was written of his 19th century counterpart ?
Oh, well, send the women,
Send them there to Nance;
Poor little young un'
Born without a chance.
The little Abes could have their chances and their greatest talents improved and perfected, and their notoriety spring from humble but influential BYU.
Oh, how our world needs statesmen! And we ask again with George Bernard Shaw, "Why not?" We have the raw material, we have the facilities, we can excel in training. We have the spiritual climate. We must train statesmen, not demagogues; men of integrity, not weaklings who for a mess of pottage will sell their birthright. We must develop these precious youth to know the art of statesmanship, to know people and conditions, to know situations and problems, but men who will be trained so thoroughly in the arts of their future work and in the basic honesties and integrities and spiritual concepts that there will be no compromise of principle.
For years I have been waiting for someone to do justice in recording in song and story and painting and sculpture the story of the restoration, the re-establishment of the kingdom of God on earth, the struggles and frustrations; the apostasies and inner revolutions and counter revolutions of those first decades; of the exodus; of the counter reactions; of the transitions; of the persecution days; of the plural marriage and the underground; of the miracle man, Joseph Smith, of whom we sing "Oh, what rapture filled his bosom, for he saw the living God! "; and of the giant colonizer and builder, Brigham Young, by whom this University was organized and for whom it was named.
The story of Mormonism has never yet been written nor painted nor sculptured nor spoken. It remains for inspired hearts and talented fingers yet to reveal themselves. They must be faithful, inspired, active Church members to give life and feeling and true perspective to a subject so worthy. Such masterpieces should run for months in every movie center, cover every part of the globe in the tongue of the people, written by great artists, purified by the best critics.
Our writers, our moving picture specialists, with the inspiration of heaven, should tomorrow be able to produce a masterpiece which would live forever. Our own talent, obsessed with dynamism from a CAUSE, could put into such a story life and heartbeats and emotions and love and pathos, drama, suffering, love, fear, courage, and the great leader, the mighty modern Moses who led a people farther than from Egypt to Jericho,who knew miracles as great as the stream from the rock at Horeb, manna in the desert, giant grapes, rain when needed, battles won against great odds. And the great miracle prophet, the founder of this University, would never die.
Take a Nicodemus and put Joseph Smith's spirit in him and what do you have? Take a da Vinci or a Michelangelo or a Shakespeare and give him a total knowledge of the plan of salvation of God and personal revelation and cleanse him, and then take a look at the statues he will carve, and the murals he will paint, and the masterpieces he will produce. Take a Handel with his purposeful effort, his superb talent, his earnest desire to properly depict the story, and give him inward vision of the whole true story and revelation and what a master you have!
What a great University the BYU now is! A much greater one it can yet become! One of the rich rewards coming from doing great things is the capacity to do still greater things.
The architect Daniel H. Burnham said:
Make no little plans; they have no magic (there)
to stir men's blood
And probably themselves will not be realized.
Make big plans; aim high and hope and work,
Remembering that a noble, logical diagram once
recorded will never die,
But long after we are gone,
Will be a living thing,
Asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.
Remember that our sons and grandsons are going
to do things
That would stagger us.
Let your watchword be order and your beacon
The BYU must keep its vessel seaworthy. It must take out all old planks as they decay and put in new and stronger timber in their place. It must sail on and on and on.
And now may we suggest to you as did the commanding officer on the sands of Dunkirk when 300,000 troops were hemmed in by enemy tanks and they had to be gotten off the beach. Hundreds of men with motor boats and dinghies rushed to help. There were no charts--no time for pep talks nor pampering. They were told: "Now off you go and good luck to you--steer for the sound of the guns. No time for loitering. We must be engaged with it."
May God bless this great University and you and us, and its impressive student body, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.