About the Inspiration:
The Church Submission Guidelines for the new Children’s Songbook suggested music to be written “in more modern or culturally varied styles.” I pondered this and felt a song with an African/Caribbean feel would be perfect. I listened to a few songs in that genre. I discovered two elements: a strong (fun!) beat and lyric repetition.
For months I couldn’t figure out how to create that or what subject to use. With two weeks until the July 1st deadline, I felt heaven was unlocked. First, I heard the spirit speak to my mind, “Go to Elder Rasband’s talk.” I had thought to look at that a few weeks prior but after reading it, I didn’t come up with anything. When the spirit spoke to me again I was more earnest and shortly after that, I came up with a super catchy chorus.
For me, two weeks is not a lot of time to write a song. I have four kids (ages 10, 8, 5 and 2) and a crazy supportive husband. I wanted to make a conscious effort to still give them the attention they needed.
I prayed, pleading, with Heavenly Father that if I gave them all the love they needed that he would consecrate my limited time on the piano. With summer break in full swing I made sure to help my kids with their new routines, take them to their activities and be there for them. While it did pain me slightly, one night I just sat next to my husband on the couch while he did some work on the lap top because I felt he needed me just to be there.
I know that because I did the important work first, I was blessed with inspiration more than is actually within me.
About the Lyrics:
I specifically didn’t want to list out the ways to build a fortress. There are too many! Also, this is exactly what the new singing time is supposed to be about: learn a song with discussion within. Each child can suggest their own ways using the lyrics as inspiration. How fun would it be to put their ideas on Lincoln Logs or on a picture of a fortress having them build it up their own fortress.
In the 2nd verse I wanted I wanted to make sure to say prophets (plural) because I read a sharing time from 2001 where they used the watchman metaphor and used all the apostles and prophets. Even though President Nelson has been teaching a lot about repentance, the last line “Repent each day” is more meant to mean that after they have heard the prophets’ words they repent of the things they have done wrong, being inspired from the words they have heard.
In the 3rd verse I was trying to condense home/family into one. Again, I didn’t want to just say everything you do in the home, that’s too much. I also didn’t want to say a line like “listen to your parents they know what’s best.” Kids would roll their eyes. The idea of teaching doctrine fixes that. Hence the first line, “Parents have a sacred trust to protect and watch over us.” Much better!
The next part of the 3rd verse I wanted to touch the parents just as much, if not more, than the children. “They seek guidance from the Lord. Watch their example. Heed their words.” I hope parents hear that and think, “I need to pray for my children more or better. That’s my duty.” Then the real kicker to “watch their example.” If we want our children to be good, we have to be an example of righteous behavior ourselves.
This song was put together piece by piece. I wrote out sooooo many melodies before finding the right ones. The left hand was just as tricky. There’s a reason why even though you want them, fast/fun primary songs are fewer in number than slow/beautiful songs–they are hard to write!
Also, a big thanks to my friend Melanie for meeting me last minute to review my draft. This music is rhythmically advanced and I needed a sanity check.