Every time I hear the song “Love is Spoken Here”, my mind travels back thirty years to the Primary room in the chapel we attended when I was a small child. The song was new and had been approved for that year’s sacrament meeting program, so we were all busy learning it with the help of a poster board covered in pictures that were meant to represent the words of the song. I can understand why song leaders now are counseled against creating rebus-style learning aides, because even three decades later I still picture a drawing of a glass of water when I hear the phrase “and the things they teach are crystal clear.” Singing time is powerful and some of my fondest memories of Primary are based on music.
When the “new” Children’s Songbook for Primary came out I had just graduated and moved on to Young Women’s. I can still remember when we received a new songbook in the mail and how wonderful it was compared to the old orange book. There were so many new songs, plus the pictures and layout were so pretty. The other day I was playing through the songbook and realized how many songs I used to sing (that are still in the book) that just aren’t emphasized in Primary as much as they used to be. Here are some of my favorites from days gone by:
Give Said the Little Stream: I always loved both the tune and the words of this song. Although it is still around in LDS culture, I know my kids don’t sing it as often as I did while I was growing up, and the three times I’ve served in Primary we rarely used it at all. I’m not sure why; it’s a fun song to sing and it has a great message as well.
Children All Over the World: I loved the different languages in this song and always looked forward to singing it. But, it is a hard song to learn and has not been emphasized in any of the recent Primary Programs so I can see why no one sings it anymore. I still think it is due for a revival since it does teach the doctrine of prayer as well as the unity of all Church members worldwide.
I Wonder When He Comes Again: I don’t think I really understood what this song was talking about (the Second Coming) until I was an adult, but I loved the tune and the words and would sing it often.
Oh, What do You do in the Summertime?: This song is so much fun, but I think that it has gone the way of many songs that don’t have to do with doctrinal topics. Plus it is fairly American-centric in many of its images so it really wouldn’t work in a lot of other cultures. I will probably teach it to my kids just for fun, even if they never get to sing it in Primary.
I Am Like a Star: I think this is a very sweet song and a lovely tune, so we really should sing it more often. Now that we don’t have class names and ‘class songs’ this one gets forgotten and not used much, but I still think it is a great song.
Genealogy (I am doing it): I’ve noticed that in newer versions of the Songbook they have changed this song to “Family History”. I imagine that’s easier for kids to say, and it goes along with new Church conventions in calling it ‘family history’. I just always loved saying ‘genealogy” even if I didn’t really know what it was.
I now have my own children and I have also spent most of the last decade serving in Primary. There are plenty of songs that my children still sing that I remember fondly, like My Heavenly Father Loves Me, I Love to See the Temple, Book of Mormon Stories, and so on. I also love some of the newer songs, like Scripture Power, My Eternal Family, On a Golden Springtime, He Sent His Son, When I Am Baptized, and A Child’s Prayer. However, I don’t think my children know as many Primary songs as I did as a kid and I feel like there are many songs in the book that go unsung. I understand the emphasis on teaching doctrine through music, but miss some of the sillier songs and the songs about nature that we used to sing much more often when I was a kid. Now as an adult leader I feel like the time in Primary on Sunday flies by quickly and there just isn’t very much time for singing. If it were up to me, we’d just spend forty minutes singing and I’d probably include some songs about pansies and birds and hinges because those are just as important.
What are some of your favorite Primary songs, either ones that you remember from childhood or that you learned as adult? Have you ever been touched by a particular song?