Primary Songs for Girls

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Looking for ways to make Primary singing time and FHE lesson songs more gender inclusive? Do you want to engage children in learning about heroic and wise women in the scriptures? Here are some suggestions:

Gender swap pronouns

Because many of the Primary songs are about male Deity, men, boys, or mankind, we have to be purposefully inclusive to adjust our language toward the feminine. It’s easy and takes almost no preparation to swap out he for she. The little girls in my Primary always come alive with smiles and giggles when we do! Doing so can create a teaching opportunity to talk about Heavenly Mother, the capacity of women, and seeing women in a variety of opportunities and stewardships. Here are a few examples:

  • She Sent Her Son 
  • Stand for the Right (Mother’s Day Edition) “Our Mother has some words for you”
  • Mommy’s homecoming “I’m so glad when Mommy comes home!”
  • The Wise Woman and the Foolish Woman (can also use girl, Grandma, etc.) Check out EmilyCC’s post about this!

Pluralizing pronouns to include Heavenly Mother

In songs that refer to Heavenly Father, or God, try adjusting the masculine pronouns to plural pronouns and take the teaching opportunity to share the belief that God is a united Holy Father and Holy Mother.

  • I am a Child of God and THEY have sent me here. HAVE given me an earthly home…to live with THEM someday.
  • I Will Follow God’s Plan “…holding fast to THEIR word and THEIR love…etc.”
  • My Heavenly Parents Love Me “…beautiful world Heav’nly Parents created…They gave me my eyes/ears/life….Yes I know Heav’nly parents love me.” (also can do this one straight up as Heavenly Mother loves me)
  • Because God Loves Me  “….THEY gave the darkness…..because they love me.”

Singing about Women in the Scriptures

It’s so important for girls (and boys!) to see and learn about the experiences of courageous women in the scriptures! Sharing verses like these helps the children internalize their stories and messages.

  • Follow the Prophet  Teaching children about the women Prophetesses in the Bible can help them feel empowered to bear testimony of Jesus Christ (like Anna, Miriam and the others!) Here are some additional verses you can include to Follow the Prophet. From this post at fMh, Mary Ann shares these three verses:

(Judges 4)
Deborah was a prophet—
she judged Israel.
Led them into battle,
triumphed with Jael.
God will guide our leaders,
women can lead too.
They will show the way to
God for me and you.

(2 Kings 22 & 23)
Huldah was a prophet—
she warned Judah’s king
“keep the law, repent!
or evil I will bring”
Humbled by the word,
the king changed Judah’s ways
Huldah’s counsel lengthened
out the city’s days.

(Luke 2:36-38)
Anna was a prophet
in Jerusalem,
recognized redemption’d
come to all of them.
Anna testified that
Jesus was the one,
just as all the prophets
’fore and since have done.

This is a verse written by Neylan McBaine and shared in this post

Anna was a prophetess, in the days of Christ.
Serving in the temple, she would pray and fast.
Though she was quite old she served there night and day,
telling all she met the joy of Jesus’ way.

 

Book of Mormon Stories Here are some verses shared by Shelley Denison on some of the women characters from the book of Mormon (and one I wrote with a friend’s help)

(this first verse needs a pick-up note for the first syllable. I use an eighth note treble G for the first syllable, then continue with the printed pitches on the second syllable)
—-
Sa-RI-ah was a matriarch whose faith was surely tried
Living in the wilderness, afraid her sons had died
But when they were safe and sound she praised God thankfully
And she lived all her days righteously.
—-
Abish was a Lamanite who served the King and Queen
She told all whom she could find about what she had seen
She taught of God’s power as a true missionary
And she did testify righteously.
—-
Helaman’s 2000 knew their mothers loved the Lord
At their mothers’ knees they learned to love His holy word
Though they did not fear to fight, they trusted faithfully
They rehearsed, “our mothers knew!” righteously.
And finally, here are some songs published in The Friend that mention women from the scriptures.

Combine these songs with stories from the Girls who Choose God books, and maybe come up with a few new verses of your own!

Did I miss any? Please share your ideas in the comments!

 

 

Violadiva

Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, a yogi, a Suzuki violin teacher, a late-night baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist, happy wife of Pianoman and lucky mother to three.

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33 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    It makes me so happy when my daughter sings “I’ll Stand Tall.” I’ve loved so many of the Primary songs that have come through the Friend in the past 5 years, but this one might be my favorite.

  2. Lisa says:

    I once wrote “Queen Esther- the Musical” for a primary activity day. I took primary songs and rewrote them to tell the story of Esther. I am not sure that the kids appreciated it but I was highly entertained by my own genius!

  3. Ziff says:

    Great ideas, Violadiva! Thanks for putting this together!

  4. Rachel says:

    I love this so much (and try very hard to sing primary songs to my children about both Heavenly Parents who love them).

  5. Moss says:

    Great ideas! I’m the Primary Music leader in my ward and I am always looking for ways to make singing time more inclusive. Representation matters! When girls learn the work of God is their work, too, the work rolls forward!

  6. s says:

    Rejected by my primary president and the Bishop, added words to teach me to walk in the light:

    Mother in Heaven we know she is near
    Watching and loving us while we are here
    Following Jesus our hope will burn bright
    Loving, loving we’ll walk in the light

    Lots of wards are not open to acknowledging HM and I’ve gotten major flack for gender swapping.

    It stings every time.

    • Libby says:

      I’m so glad to have this verse, though! Thank you for sharing it.

    • Violadiva says:

      Oh, this is a lovely verse! Thank you so much for leaving it here. I’m sorry it was stifled by your local leadership.

      While completely rejecting the notion that mention of Heavenly Mother should be taboo, I’m also sensitive to the older generations within the church who truly do believe She should not be spoken and who find visceral offense at the perception of irreverence. However, I fully and completely believe that we MUST stop those taboos from perpetuating, and one of the best ways I know how to do that is by teaching the Primary aged children that Heavenly Mother is a normal, happy, important part of our gospel understanding. It seems as though we still have much room for improvement in this area…..

  7. Guest Post says:

    Love this post, so so much. If I heard any gender swapping, They-pronouning or women focused verses in songs, I think I’d burst into tears — it would mean that much to me.

    • Violadiva says:

      When I taught by children to sing, “She gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings, She gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sounds of things, She gave me my life, my mind, my heart, I thank her reverently, for all Her creations of which I’m apart, yes I know Heavenly Mother loves me” I could not make it through. It was that powerful. One of those undeniable witnessing moments…..xoxo

      • Kol says:

        Reading that just filled me with the Spirit. Thank you for sharing that gender swap. What a sacred thing to teach my son when he’s old enough to sing.

  8. Good Reason says:

    Bravo! Thank you SO much for this post. Great ideas, but the overarching idea is the most exciting–as we acknowledge Her existence, Her love, Her influence, we will see it more clearly and it will heal our children, especially our daughters!

  9. Joanne says:

    I like your new verses! I had already written these ones and wanted to share:

    Abish saw Lamoni and the queen learn Ammon’s word.
    They believed and sank with joy; their hearts he truly stirred.
    Abish spread her testimony, then bent down the knee,
    And she raised up the queen righteously.

    Anti Nephi Lehies put their weapons in the ground.
    Never would they fight again; their Savior they had found.
    Many died, and their example stands for all to see:
    Live or die, we must choose righteously.

  10. Rob Osborn says:

    Gender swapping is seen as feminism and sexism. From a male perspective I see it as you dont need males and females could do a better job. Its just not good.

    • Ziff says:

      From a male perspective, I think it’s awesome! And it’s pathetic that some men think that we’re not needed if anyone dares change things so that not all the songs are about us.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        We gonna start praying to Heavenly Mother too? Lets make Jesus a girl while were at it.
        Its pure mockery. When we start gender swapping we no longer uphold the patriarchal order.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        Its not insecurity, its respecting gender and their proper place in the gospel and eternity. And yes, I do think it is offensive to Christ when someone depicts Him as a woman. I dont want anyone depicting me as a woman. Christ is not a transgender.

      • Rob Osborn says:

        I dont want anyone depicting me as a women because I am a man. I feel its a disgrace before God and his holy angels that we live in a gender bender society. I respect women and men equally. Each have equal in importance roles of divinity. When we start mixing genders up we are gonna have to answer to our Creators.

  11. BBS says:

    Thanks for the brilliant post, Violadiva. I whole-heartedly agree that pronouns are important in teaching children the true nature of God. And I wanted to share the hopeful news that Deseret Book agrees with you too…in September, they will be releasing a children’s book about Heavenly Parents–using the pronoun “They” to refer to both Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. The book highlights how our Heavenly Parents created the human family and how They continue to jointly love us, guide us, bless us, and long for us. We (the co-authors) feel it is an exciting step forward in embracing and celebrating our LDS theology. An we hope the book cultivates a new generation of Mormon children that uses the correct pronoun “They” when referring to God. You can take a peak at the book here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Our-Heavenly-Family-Earthly-Families/dp/1629722383/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466480050&sr=8-1&keywords=heavenly+family+earthly+family

    • Violadiva says:

      This book looks so lovely, and the cover art is gorgeous! I’m with ya; we’ve got to start shifting the cultural taboos by teaching our children the familiarity and comfort that can come from embracing our male/female Deity.
      Please let us review the book for you! We’ll be happy to send traffic your way.

  12. Violadiva says:

    Just heard my husband singing this one to our children for bed tonight:

    “I need my Heav’nly Mother
    To guide me every day.
    She wants me to be happy, and choose the righteous way.
    She wants me to be happy, and choose the righteous way.”

    I loved hearing my husband sing to our two boys about needing his heavenly mother. So lovely.

    Childrens songbook, 18

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