Nay, Speak No Ill #233

What is gossip?

What is gossip?  How does it differ from a genuine concern for the welfare of others and a kindly interest in what is going on in your friends’ lives?  These are questions that I have wondered about as I have listened to lessons on avoiding gossip.  Ok… so what do our prophets and apostles have to say about gossip?

In his conference talk of April, 2010, Elder M. Russell Ballard makes the definition of gossip perfectly clear:

“… a faithful daughter of God avoids the temptation to gossip or judge one another” (M. Russell Ballard, April 2010).

So now we know – gossip is judgment, usually of a negative nature.

President Monson tells us more about gossip and the courage it takes to NOT do it:

May I speak first about the courage to refrain from judging others. Oh, you may ask, ‘Does this really take courage?’ And I would reply that I believe there are many times when refraining from judgment—or gossip or criticism, which are certainly akin to judgment—takes an act of courage.

“Unfortunately, there are those who feel it necessary to criticize and to belittle others. You have, no doubt, been with such people, as you will be in the future. My dear young [and older]  friends, we are not left to wonder what our behavior should be in such situations. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior declared, “Judge not.”1 At a later time He admonished, “Cease to find fault one with another.”2 It will take real courage when you are surrounded by your peers and feeling the pressure to participate in such criticisms and judgments to refrain from joining in” (President Monson, April 2009).

Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

So, the answer to my earlier question is: yes, we are to be concerned and loving about the welfare of our friends, but, no, we are not to judge them.   As my mother often said, “You never know what they are going through.”  We help where we can.  We remain positive in our language and actions.  This is the difference between caring concern and gossip.


We do not know the identity of the writer of this hymn – someone very wise is all we know.  He or she gives us some excellent counsel.  I particularly like the third verse:

Then speak no ill, but lenient be to others’ failings as your own.

If you’re the first a fault to see, Be not the first to make it known,

For life is but a passing day; No lip may tell how brief its span.

Then, oh, the little time we stay, Let’s speak of all the best we can.

We can replace gossip with speaking “the best we can” of others – as we would have them do for us.  I’m sure we all know friends who never, or rarely, speak ill of people.  Don’t you find you trust them more?  You know that there is little chance they will be gossiping about you when you’re not there.  Other friends, who regularly find fault with others, are probably just as enthusiastically finding fault with you to those others.

Congregation Choir Arrangements of NAY, SPEAK NO ILL

Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original SATB found in the hymnbook.  This alternate accompaniment could be used with the SATB for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for  a large choir.  It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.

Listen to our arrangements below.  You will first hear just the organ doing the introduction.  The piano joins in on the first verse and then the countermelody (vocal in one; flute in the other) joins in for the second demonstration verse.

“Nay, Speak No Ill” with vocal countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.


“Nay, Speak No Ill” with instrumental (flute in this sample) countermelody.  PURCHASE HERE.



Social media makes it so easy to anonymously hurl criticism and abuse, and quickly jump on the judgment bandwagon. It is very tempting when we are with a gossipy friend to be the same way.  We need to be better than that.  We need to be positive and find the good – there usually is some – in those around us.  That is Jesus’ way.



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