Adagio Penseroso

Harris, Roy


  • Roy Harris, Composer-in-Residence at the Pennsylvania College for Women, describes his belief in an intelligent designer, in natural laws, in the limitations of human intelligence and the need for humility, and in the great evil and great good of which humans are capable. Audio also contains advertisement for "This I Believe" book.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
view transcript only

And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Roy Harris is one of America's leading composers. He was born in a log cabin in Oklahoma, brought up on a California farm, and first drove a truck to earn a living. After some years of study, he taught while he composed, and is now composer-in-residence at the Pennsylvania College for Women in Pittsburgh. He has written in various musical forms, and throughout, there is a rough-hewn directness and flavor of his native land. Here now are the personal beliefs of Roy Harris.
I believe that a divine intelligence conceived the universe and universal law, which governs
it. And that universal law is too vast and intricate to be understood by human mentality, which is itself such a small and ever-changing part of the universe.
I count on the infallibility of universal law as it governs my own life--on the law of gravity which holds me and my fellow men on this revolving planet, on the consistent nature of matter and energy, on the miracle of life and regeneration. I count on universal law which determines the rhythm of my own heartbeat and breathing, the delicate strength of my senses.
I believe that man's struggle to understand and use universal law is clear evidence of kinship to divine intelligence. I believe that divine intelligence conceived matter and energy as integral parts
of precise patterns of universal order for ultimate purpose. And therefore, man's discovery of the chemical-physical nature of matter and energy is only the smallest and most discernable fraction of the total comprehension of matter and energy.
I believe that man is making the same error of fractional discovery about himself as part of the universe, and is therefore slow to comprehend the limitations of his own rational processes and the danger to himself of his own incomplete comprehension and short-range outlook.
I am convinced that power, separated from its universal purpose, is evil. I fear that man, in ignorance and blind egotism, could succumb to the lure of releasing power over which he has no control. That
man's only hope of fulfilling his destiny is receptivity to universal intelligence, wherein man's intuitive faculties can be awakened, strengthened, and guided toward a larger and clearer understanding of universal law.
For this reason, I believe that the theologian, the philosopher, the artist, the lover, the parent, the friend, is sometimes able to gain a clearer vision of universal order through creative intuition than is the scientist within the scope of the empirical method. Certainly my experience as a composer has taught me that an objective use of acquired technical skill, without the subjective impulse of intuition, yields neither the drive nor depth of creativity.
It seems to me that intuition may be as old and wise as mankind's total evolution in the scheme of universal law, but that individual rationality can only be as wise as the perceptions of the individual in life experience.
I believe, then, that an inescapable consequence of man's struggle to understand and use universal law must be an eager willingness to be used by it as an instrument for it. That understanding of universal law can only lead to scrupulous fidelity and personal responsibility to divine intelligence of which the universe was created and, within it, mankind--so headstrong, so impotent, so eager, so faltering, so loving, so selfish, so promising.
Those were the personal beliefs of Roy Harris. They were chosen from the beliefs broadcast in the past two years for inclusion in the new This I Believe book, now at your bookstore.