Last year my kids were asked to sing this song for a stake Christmas program. I didn’t see an arrangement, so I came up with it.
One fun part for me was writing to Patricia Kelsey Graham, the composer and lyricist, for permission. She actually played through it and gave a thoughtful suggestion. It made my heart happy to hear her say she really liked this, especially the piano that connects the two verses.
You can listen to my kids singing the song in all their cuteness. My youngest gets up and is totally distracted, but everyone thinks that’s cute, right? 🙂
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.
I follow the Primary Music Leaders facebook page. I noticed a few discussions about what to do/sing when someone in the ward passed away (a child or parent especially). I was thinking how it would be so nice to have a song that addressed this situation. Sure, there are songs that brush the topic but it’s such a big part of life I felt it needed it’s own song.
I have had very little experience with death. For that reason I felt I shouldn’t write this song. But the prompting was strong. I told my husband Sunday morning of the October 2018 General Conference about my prompting. I said, “If there is a talk about death, I will know for sure I need to write a song about this.” First talk of that morning was President Ballard’s talk, “The Vision of the Redemption of the Dead.” Heavenly Father blessed me with reassurance.
I started off trying to write about what happens when a person dies. Shortly after doing this I was stumped. I prayed about it. Later I had an impression to focus the song on the Savior. No wonder I wasn’t being inspired. Without the Savior, there would be no hope associated with death. The sting of death would be unbearable. Reading Doctrine & Covenants 138, as suggested by Elder Ballard, I found my chorus in verses 23-24: “And the saint rejoiced in their redemption, and bowed the knee and acknowledged the Son of God as their Redeemer and Deliverer from death and the chains of hell. Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.” That was a good place to start.
My first draft was about how people feel sorrow but, there’s Christ, so all will be OK. I felt like it was insensitive. I read articles and listened to people about their experiences. Some people who experienced the death of someone close said people would tell them they must be so grateful for the Savior and not address their grief. I really wanted to rewrite the lyrics to validate that everyone experiences a wide range of sad emotions: grief, sorrow, loneliness, anger, confusion while still manifesting the hope of Christ.
Let’s say to get that idea across took a lot of work. But every times I came up with something that worked, I was elated! I finished the song the week before April 2019 General Conference. At conference President Nelson spoke about people who refuse to receive essential ordinances. He said, “while there is a place for them hereafter–with wonderful men and women who also chose not to make covenants with God–that is not the place where families will be reunited and given the privilege to live and progress forever.”
The second verse to my song says, “While I have time on earth I will keep God’s commands. For I want to return to heaven and be with my loved one again.” Having previously written this line, and hearing President Nelson’s words, I felt the spirit guided me to hit that nail on the head. We must do our part to be with our loved one again and Christ will make up for what we lack. He is risen. He atoned for our sins. Because of Him we can be with our loved ones again but we need to do our part.
When my loved one departs
And on earth I remain
Do I feel loneliness or anger?
Am I wrong to feel so much pain?
If I turn my thoughts to the Savior,
Who knows all my sorrow and grief,
His peace will come as I ask
The spirit to comfort me.
My knee shall bow for my Savior, Redeemer.
My lips shall sing His praise.
He dries my tears and gives me hope
That life goes beyond the grave.
While I have time on earth
I will keep God’s commands.
For I want to return to heaven
And be with my loved one again.
So I’ll turn my thoughts to the Savior,
Atoning for all who would live.
This great vicar’ous gift brings
Deliv’rence from death and sin.
My knee shall bow for my Savior, Redeemer.
My lips shall sing His praise.
He dries my tears and gives me hope
That life goes beyond the grave.
I was reading a talk suggested by a Relief Society instructor: “A Sin Resistant Generation” by Joy D. Jones. One phrase struck me: “There is unusual power in making and keeping covenants with our Heavenly Father. The adversary knows this, so he has obscured the concept of covenant making.”
I thought, “If Satan wants children to be confused about what covenants are then I’m going to write a song about that. A song to help children remember what covenants are. ‘ I Will Not Forget My Covenants’ is what I should call it.”
I came up with the first verse very quickly. When it came time for a chorus I really wanted to be inspired so I took it to the temple. While sitting in the chapel, waiting for a session to start, I opened The Book of Mormon with full belief that I would find my answer. I flipped opened to Alma chapter 31. In verse 36 it mentioned that Alma “clapped his hands upon all them.” He gave these people the Holy Ghost (an ordinance, associated with baptism). Then in verse 38 it says, “And the Lord provided for them…and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.”
There have been many songs about Christ but none where I heard that phrase, “joy of Christ.” It is so beautiful. I almost felt that the phrase was written just for me. In further searching, it is the only place in all scriptures where that exact phrase is used.
When I took this song to an editor, my heart was elated when he told me when I sang the part of this song where there is a pause between the lyrics, “I will not forget” and “my covenants” he thought, “Wait, what am I not supposed to forget? Oh, my covenants.” That is exactly what I wanted! Hopefully children will pause to wonder (and always remember) the same thing.
The 2nd and 3rd verse came so easily I knew I had heaven’s help.
This recording has a few different lyrics. I will update the video soon.
A cov’nant is a promise, a promise that I make
With my Heav’nly Father on my baptism day
I promise to serve and keep God’s commands.
Great blessings await on the covenant path.
I’ll feel the joy of Christ enter into my life.
Eternity’s real. My cup is filled
When I don’t forget my covenants.
Sometimes I stray from the path
But true repentance brings
Sins that wash away and leave my hands pure and clean.
As I take the bread and water each week
I’ll cleave to the Savior and he’ll strengthen me.
When I enter the temple I’ll find myself prepared
To keep greater cov’nants that I’ll be making there.
The light I receive will give me great strength
To make righteous choices and reach up with faith.
I wanted to write a primary song that was good for nursery/junior primary: repetitive lyrics and actions that easily go with the lyrics. This tune and these lyrics came to my head one day. I have always loved the imagery of Jesus as the Good Shephard so it made sense that this is what I came up with 🙂
I love that while the music is simple, the message is inspiring. Making it applicable for senior primary too!
Of all the songs I’ve written, I really felt Heavenly Father wanted me to do this one. I was singing “Have I Done Any Good?” in my head. When I got to the end, I just started singing “Love One Another”. When I pulled out the music I was almost dumbfounded that both of these songs were in the same key, same time signature and the last note of “Have I Done Any Good?” is the same note as the first note in “Love One Another”. Therefore I would be able to easily transition between songs. When I did an online search I couldn’t believe someone hadn’t put these two songs together before!
I was further astonished when I found an if/then statement that connected the two songs. “Love One Another” ends with “…If ye have love…”. The chorus of “Have I Done Any Good?” starts with “Then wake up and do something more…” If we love as our Savior we would want to wake up and do something more. I was able to add this connection in my arrangement. Every time I get to these connected lines, I get goosebumps. I felt like this arrangement was complete revelation to me and I love the spirit these songs bring!
I have 3 voice options. The first does not have piano intro, the singer starts. I have learned some people don’t like that so the second option has a piano intro. The third voice option is made with primary children in mind. It is only “Have I Done Any Good?” and it follows the hymn book more closely.
A big thank you to the amazing violinist Rebecca Moench for wanting nothing but the best for this recording! Also to Kenny Amamcher for a great recording session. This is the first recording I have that I feel like maybe someone would want to listen to for fun and not just get an idea of what the song would sound like.
I originally started writing this song intending it to be a primary song. However, the more I got into it, the more I felt like it was a youth song. I think it’s actually a tween song but no one really categorizes songs that way 🙂
After this last general conference, and noticing how much emphasis was on following the promptings of the spirit, I thought the timing of this song was perfect.
I wrote this song in 2010. I recently realized the piano wasn’t quite right and the lyrics to the second verse were off. I fixed it up and feel so much better about it. Since my mother-in-law pulls it out every Thanksgiving I really wanted to make it something I could feel good about. I think it is so much better now!
I have wanted to do an arrangement of this song for a long time but I was kind of waiting for inspiration to strike. Well, strike it did and just in time for my son’s baptism this year! I wrote the violin/piano version first and really wanted a voice option too. So, I modified the music and created that also.
You’ll notice I did my signature signature 🙂 Yep, I changed it from 3/4 to 6/8. I may love 6/8 a little too much!
I’m hoping to get recording with a real violin when my sister-in-law comes into town next. For now, this will do. I hope you love this version as much as I do (I sit down just to play this all the time)!
Our stake presidency asked all bishops to take a whole sacrament meeting and discuss reverence. I was over activity days at the time and we were asked to do the musical number that day. I arranged this for the girls to sing. They got up right after the sacrament was passed and when the bishop got up to speak right after them he was almost in tears from the wonderful spirit those girls sang with.
This song goes through the song twice. I just felt like I should do that to really reinforce the meaning of the words. Hope you like it and as always, picture it with a better voice than mine 🙂
I have tried to contact the copyright owner of this music, through multiple methods, and have heard no response for over a year. If the copyright owner wishes for me to take this down I will. Please contact me and I will do it immediately.