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Music & the Spoken Word: The mighty Vasa

The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast with Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. This will be given Sunday, March 13, 2022.

On a Sunday nearly 400 years ago Aug. 10, 1628, to be exact not far from here at the navy shipyard in Stockholm, the mighty Swedish warship Vasa set sail. Built by command of the king, the ship was to be the mightiest of the sea a proud symbol of the nation’s wealth and military strength.

Excited crowds gathered to watch the Vasa launch into her maiden voyage. But within minutes, as wind caught the ship’s sails, Vasa heeled sharply, water poured in through the open gun ports, and because of faulty design, the magnificent warship began to sink. As thousands of spectators watched, the Vasa slowly disappeared into the deep waters of Stockholm’s harbor, eventually sinking into the seabed below.

But that’s not the end of the story.

More than three centuries later, a group of intrepid engineers, divers and marine archaeologists determined to bring Vasa back to life. After years of painstaking work to locate and rescue the impressive gunship, the Vasa finally emerged from its dark, watery grave to the cheers of a new crowd of thousands of onlookers. Today Vasa is the world’s best-preserved 17th-century ship, living on in the world-renowned Vasa Museum here in Stockholm, Sweden, where over a million visitors each year learn its remarkable story.

It’s a story of lost and found, of dashed dreams and restored hopes. The Vasa provides so many lessons: about careful planning and wise execution, about hard work and perseverance, about teamwork and community, about redemption and recovery.

There’s something universal about this story. Don’t we all have lofty expectations and high hopes that go unfulfilled? Tragedy or disappointment can make us feel sunk. But that isn’t the end of our story. None of us is a shipwreck, destined to remain alone and abandoned in the dark depths of heartache and pain. Everyone is worth rescuing, and even those journeys that got off to a rough start can have a heroic ending.

The Vasa is a testament that what was once lost can be found, and what was once great can be made great again. Courage, renewal and hope, always hope — that is the story of Vasa.

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