Favorite Primary songs about Mom have long history

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, May 10 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Janice Kapp Perry

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

Sunday is Mother’s Day, and in most wards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a chorus of Primary children will sing to honor mothers in sacrament meeting.

Diane Maciel, the Primary music director in a Spanish Fork, Utah, ward, let the children in her Primary choose which song from the “Children’s Songbook” they wanted to sing. After singing through several with the children, Maciel said “I Often Go Walking” and “Mother, Tell Me the Story” came out on top.

These and at least five other songs found in the LDS “Children’s Songbook” have been sung on Mother’s Day for many years. Here are some things you might not know about those songs.

Phyllis Luch (1937-1995), who was the major illustrator for the “Children’s Songbook,” penned the words for “I Often Go Walking.” She wrote: “My mother was mentally ill. ... Nearly the only time she was at peace was in the fields and meadows . ... She knew the names of wildflowers, which as a child I thought was amazing.”

Jeanne P. Lawler (b.1924- ) composed the music for "I Often Go Walking." She wrote the words and music for other Primary songs, including “The Holy Ghost.”

Written as a duet between a mother and child, Janice Kapp Perry’s (b. 1938- ) “Mother, Tell Me the Story,” is one of the more contemporary songs on the list.

“I remembered the many times my mother told me of where I came from, why I’m here, where I’m going, and how she loved me,” Sister Perry wrote about her experience composing this song. “I always felt peace at these times.”

Becky-Lee Hill Reynolds (b. 1944- ) was a homesick missionary serving in France when she wrote the words and music for “My Mother Dear.” When the song was included in the current “Children’s Songbook,” the title was changed from “Like Sunshine in the Morning."

Lorin F. Wheelwright (1909-1987), a well-known LDS composer, wrote that his love for his Danish mother, Valborg Rasmussen, inspired the words and music for “Mother, I Love You.”

Based on the composer’s dates, the oldest of the Mother’s Day songs, “The Dearest of Names,” was written by a prominent Utah early childhood educator and songwriter, Frances K. Taylor, (1870-1952).

Although Taylor authored an entire volume of “Kindergarten and Primary Songs,” she is best remembered for that song and “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.”

The words and music for Dearest Mother, I Love You” were written by Vernon J. LeeMaster (b. 1904-2001), from Moab, Utah. He is quoted as saying, “The sweet voices of children singing (create) a beauty unsurpassed.”

Most of the information about the songs used in this article came from: “Our Children’s Songs,” by Virginia B. Cannon, and “We Shall Make Music: Stories of the Primary Songs and How They Came to Be,” by Patricia Kelsey Graham.

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville, Utah. She enjoys creating multimedia projects. Her website is at www.dramaticdimensions.com.

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