Recently my husband and I came across a set of rather old LDS song books. As my ward’s primary chorister my favorite was The Primary Song Book: Including Marches and Voluntaries. The edition is missing the title page and so I’m not sure when it was published (and am at a loss as to how I would find out). Let’s just say that it’s really old.
Among the very few songs that have survived from this edition to the current one are, “Give said the little Stream”, “I Thank Thee Dear Father”, “Can a Little Child Like Me”, and “Tell Me Dear Lord.” The most interesting songs, though, are the ones that didn’t make the cut. My personal favorite among these songs is #148 Tooth Bugs, by Ivy W. Stone and N. Lorenzo Mitchell:
“I do not want to clean my teeth, a little boy once cried,
“I’ve washed my face and combed my hair, Thats quite enough,” he sighed;
Some tooth bugs hiding in his mouth, Began to dance in glee;
“At last we’ve found a home,” they cried, “We do not have to flee!”
“This boy has such a nice warm mouth, We’ll linger here all night;
His teeth are filled with bits of food, We’ll eat with all our might!”
The small boy heard their shout of glee, “Get out of there,” he cried;
He grabbed his brush and scrubbed and scrubbed ‘Till every tooth bug died.
The general tone of the whole book is drastically different than the current book. There are instructional songs about doing chores and obeying parents, (“Scrubbing Song” “Setting the Table” “Washing Dishes” ) songs about health and hygiene, (“Come to Healthland” “Early to Bed and Early to Rise” “Little Brother Vegetable”) songs specific to abandoned or updated programs and classes, (“Primary Penny Song” “Builder Boys” “The Bluebirds”), songs far too secular or pagan to be permitted in today’s Sunday meetings (“Jack Frost and I” “Hallowe’en Surprise” “Fairy Fiddles”), yet surprisingly few songs that teach scripture stories or gospel principles like “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.”
The part of me that enjoys variety (and songs about Tooth Bugs) would love to resurrect some of these songs. What holds me back is the part of me that feels uncomfortable teaching and singing songs that border on being propaganda (even though I agree with what is being taught). That part of me is rather glad to see some of these songs laid to rest.