Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: The Canary with the Best Song


Thomas S. Monson
From “Yellow Canaries with Gray on Their Wings,” Ensign, Aug. 1987, 2–5.

The Canary with the Best Song

President Monson teaches that the Lord looks not on appearance but on the heart.

Some years ago, I was called to serve as the bishop of a large ward. One evening, my telephone rang. I heard a voice say, “Bishop Monson, this is the hospital calling. Kathleen McKee, a member of your congregation, has just passed away. Your name is listed as the one to be notified of her death. Could you come to the hospital right away?”

Upon arriving there, I was presented with a key to the apartment in which Kathleen had lived. I entered her apartment, turned the light switch, and discovered a letter. It read:

“Bishop Monson,

“I think I shall not return from the hospital. In the kitchen are my three precious canaries. Two of them are beautiful, yellow-gold in color and perfectly marked. On their cages I have noted the names of friends to whom they are to be given. In the third cage is ‘Billie.’ He is my favorite. Billie looks a bit scrubby, and his yellow hue [color] is marred by gray on his wings. Will you and your family make a home for him? He isn’t the prettiest, but his song is the best.”

Kathleen McKee had befriended many neighbors in need. She had brightened each life she touched. Kathleen was much like “Billie,” her prized yellow canary with gray on its wings. She was not blessed with beauty. Yet her song helped others to more willingly bear their burdens.

The world is filled with yellow canaries with gray on their wings. Some are young people who don’t know who they are, what they can be, or even what they want to be.

We are sons and daughters of God. True, we live in a world where moral character is [often considered] secondary to beauty or charm. But what are the inspired words of God? The counsel of the Lord to Samuel the prophet echoes in our ears: “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

He calls you and me to serve Him here below. May we reflect our love of Him and of all mankind as we do so.

Illustrated by Richard Hull