I was the ward primary chorister for a long time—a very, very long time. A great annual challenge I faced was selecting a song for the children to sing on Mother’s Day.
Father’s Day was less difficult. You wouldn’t think that would be the case. After all, there are only three songs in Children’s Songbook written specifically for fathers. In contrast, there are six songs written just for mothers.
However, I like all three of these Father’s Day songs. Daddy’s Homecoming and My Dad are cute tributes to how fun and likeable a Dad can be. Fathers emphasizes the spirituality of fatherhood and draws parallels between earthly fathers and Heavenly Father. (Skip the red herring verse in the middle about bishops when singing Fathers for Father’s Day.) I like that two of these songs use the modern, frequently used terms of “Dad” or “Daddy” to refer to fathers and that two of these songs (Fathers and My Dad) teach some gospel principles rather than just being odes to Dad.
In contrast, there is no primary song that uses the term, “Mom” or “Mommy.” Unfortunately, several use variations of the term, “Mother Dearest.” (My Mother Dear, Mother Dear, Dearest Mother, I love you, The Dearest Names, I Often Go Walking). The authors of these old songs could not have predicted the negative connotations this phrase would develop in modern pop culture. Connotations aside, when I talked to other moms in my local congregation about these songs, many didn’t like “Mother Dear” lyrics simply because no one calls them that, especially not their own children.
Unfortunately, several Mother’s Day songs emphasize mother’s physical beauty (I Often Go Walking, My Mother Dear, Mother Dear). Nothing wrong with being pretty, but physical beauty hardly seems like the most praiseworthy attribute a mother can possess. I like romantic songs about physical loveliness as much as the next person. At church, however, it seems that we should encourage children to think about character, not appearances. In fairness, a fun personality is not very important either, but songs praising Dad for being fun don’t bother me. Perhaps pretty mother songs get to me because women are so frequently and unjustly judged by their looks and I do not wish to reinforce this behavior.
So, as a veteran Primary chorister, I offer up my recommendations for Mother’s Day songs:
From the Mother’s Day section of Children’s Songbook:
- Mother, Tell Me the Story This song highlights mother’s opportunities to both comfort a child and teach the gospel. Moreover, it is a lovely duet. Of course, the duet aspect is also the downside to using this song. It makes no sense unless an adult woman sings the Mother part of the duet. When I did this song with my Primary, I sang the mother part myself, but if you do not like to sing solos, or if you’re male, you will need to recruit someone.
- Grandmother This song demonstrates how grandmothers impact children’s lives by simply expressing affection. The downside is obvious; this song is about Grandma, not Mom. Only use it in Sacrament meeting if you have multigenerational families in your ward and as part of a medley with another song about Mom. You wouldn’t want to jip Mom on her special day. (Note: When Grandpa Comes is also adorable.)
The pickings are slim if you only look at the Mother’s Day section, but fortunately, there are nearly 300 other pages of material in the Children’s Songbook.
Songs about mothers from the rest of the Children’s Songbook:
- Quickly I’ll Obey Skip verse 2 on Mother’s Day (or sing it for Father’s Day, skipping verse 1). This song has a simple but fun ostinato.
- When We’re Helping This song can be about anyone; keep the lyrics with “Mother” for Mother’s Day. Or better yet, substitute “Mommy.”
- Teacher, Do You Love Me? Substitute the word, “Mother” for “Teacher”; the footnotes say this substitution is appropriate (as is the word, “Father”). Like Mother, Tell Me the Story, this song requires an adult female soloist to sing part of the song.
Songs about parents, appropriate for Mother’s Day, from the rest of the Children’s Songbook:
A different direction…
- How Will They Know? Would your ward consider not having the Primary children perform the Mother’s Day musical number? Although it is in Children’s Songbook, this beautiful song is intended to be sung by adults.
So, maybe you are challenging my World Record for longest term as Primary chorister and you’ve already used all of these songs from Children’s Songbook on previous Mother’s Days. You might need to branch out. Fortunately, Friend Magazine publishes new children’s songs that you may use in place of selections from Children’s Songbook. Unfortunately, when I was desperately searching the Friend for Mother’s Day material, I found only two choices. When Mother Bakes is a cute song, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the Mother’s Day musical number, since baking cakes is about as unnecessary to motherhood as being pretty. (Any songs out there about feeding kids carrot sticks?) I do recommend the other Mother’s Day song from the Friend, with a caveat.
Song about mothers from Friend Magazine:
- The Family is of God The rhyming sequence of this song is delightfully clever, with rhyming words placed right next to each other within lines, instead of at the end of lines. This song is fun to sing and teaches many gospel principles. The problem with this song is that it is based on the Proclamation on the Family, and like the Proclamation, talks about how fathers “preside,” which is insulting to many mothers. I don’t think it is nice to insult mothers, especially on Mother’s Day. Unlike the Proclamation, the song does not include any statements about how mothers and fathers are “equal partners” to counteract that frustrating “preside” statement. Perhaps the author thought such contradictions would be too confusing for a children’s song? For Mother’s Day, I would recommend singing verses 1 (about our Heavenly Family), 3 (about mothers) and 4 (about the children themselves). This way, you avoid that problematic “preside” word, and no one will think anything of the omission of the verse about fathers because it is Mother’s Day, after all. For general occasions, verses 1 and 4, skipping the verses about parents, works well too, but I do like including verse 3 for Mothers Day. In verse 3, mother teaches children to “love and serve in the family” and in verse 4, the children promise to do that very thing, which is quite lovely.