Primary Program

September 30, 2007 | 17 comments
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On the sweetness of Mormon life:

Last week our primary children presented their annual sacrament meeting program. My description wouldn’t do justice it. The satisfaction the children feel and the affection we feel aren’t palpable things. I’ll just say that there were moving moments, like my problem cub scout sitting reverently until it was time to deliver his scripture, which he did it perfectly, beaming the whole time, his non-member father beaming too. There were also laughing moments, like the young boy who was just a little more logical than the other children and concluded that if his prompter was whispering his lines to him he was supposed to whisper them too. When we sang together with the primary at the end of the service we sang louder than we ever have.

After helping to bless his Down Syndrome grandchild, Bishop tried to talk about the primary program in his testimony this Sunday. He was struggling for words. “All those children. We feel elated. The privilege of raising children. My two sons passing the sacrament.” He paused for a long time and then said with intense conviction: “This is the best of life.” Many of us were choked up. There was a kind of spiritual hush over the congregation. He sat down and a little girl got up to say that she knew there were no rich or poor and the rich were mean.

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17 Responses to Primary Program

  1. Carol F. on September 30, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Your bishop is so cute. Our Primary Program is in three weeks and the kids are moving right along. I am chorister and the kids choke me up on a regular basis with their earnestness and devotion. I’ll hope that others feel it too come Primary Program.

  2. Ray on September 30, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks, Adam. The Primary Program is one of my favorite meetings each and every year. Last year, the Presidency laid out the basic outline and topics and asked the kids for their own thoughts. The entire program was a presentation of the actual thoughts of 3-11 year old kids. It was incredible.

  3. makakona on September 30, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    ray, that was like our program today. my sunbeam held up a picture she had colored and shared that she was thankful for our (650sf) house (that is home to five people, two dogs, and about which said sunbeam complains about all of the time). but when they asked her what she was thankful for, that’s what she wanted to say! she was the only one who had scrawled her name in huge letters across the picture, which made me and my husband laugh. she writes her name on EVERYthing!

    she also shared that “our family can follow jesus by being kind to each other,” no doubt a nod to my incessant screeching of “be kind to your sister!” (i don’t really screech. i bellow.) she worked hard to memorize and practice her lines and the pride she had in herself for perfectly pulling them off just made ME swell with pride. it was great to see her sense of accomplishment.

    the bishop afterwards expressed thanks for patient teachers. even after he AND his wife sat next to their son, mom had to leave the stand with the son. the bishop chuckled about the difficult kids.

    but the pinnacle was sacrament. we don’t let our kids take bread or water (partly because i used to be catholic and have issues and partly because it prevents problems). when the primary president passed the tray to my sunbeam, my sunbeam just stared at her. the pp nudged my daughter and my daughter took a piece of bread. the pp passed the tray and our daughter snapped her head up to look at us. the pp again nudged our daughter, who then ate the bread with a HUGE grin on her face. at lunch, she told us, “there’s a new rule and it is if you sit on the stand by the bishop, you can eat bread and water, but other than that, you have to be this many,” and she held up eight little fingers.

  4. makakona on September 30, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    “this is the best of life.” love it. i told my husband that we’d someday remember back to when the five of us were squished into this tiny, overpriced, rundown rental and we’d have nothing but great memories of our sweet, little family. he didn’t believe me until i reminded him of our first home together, where we had nothing but a bed, folding chairs, one pot, one pan, yahtzee, and a clock radio. so little and yet, with each other, so much! “this is the best of life,” indeed!

  5. Jack on September 30, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    We had our program two weeks ago–I played the piano. I wish I could play piano for the primary for the rest of my life. I prefer the straight forward simple principles/practices taught there over the tired doctrine taught in the adult classes. I think, perhaps, that’s one of the reasons the annual primary sacrament meeting is so refreshing. It’s a return to the basics via the land of Arcadia–a break away from the “meat” and all the burdensome morality we throw on top of it.

  6. Rick on September 30, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Sheesh! After all these positive comments, I am embarrassed to say that I was wondering why we do this to ourselves. I know first-hand how much pressure the Primary program brings to the family of the pp, let alone to the pp herself, her counselors, the chorister, pianist, etc. In our ward, we had two, two-hour long practices on consecutive Sundays, and then another one on the Saturday before the program. I thought it was a bit much, but then I don’t have any children involved in it any more.

  7. m&m on October 1, 2007 at 1:23 am

    Beautiful, Adam. Thank you for a wonderful end to my Sabbath.

  8. Adam Greenwood on October 1, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    During a hometeaching visit yesterday we got to talking about the primary program and one of the dad told me that if I looked forward to the primary program now there was nothing like having your own children in it.

  9. Marjorie Conder on October 1, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    As a kid I just hated these practices, long periods of milling around and enduring kids who had no clue about their parts.
    As Primary Pres. I think I largely solved the perennial problem of practices for the Sacrament Meeting program. If you think it through there are only three things the kids need to know—the songs, their speaking part(s) and how to move to the mike and back.
    We practiced the songs all year, as the outline suggests. We passed out parts 2 weeks in advance. The next Sunday we divided all of the children into small groups of 3-5 children, depending on how many adults we could rustle up. In each of these groups each child would give/learn his/her part down cold. As soon as they knew it (and some kids will on the first go round) they returned to the Primary room to sing, both program songs and favorites. No child had to endure another child stumbling away. And the stumbling child did not have to be embarrassed in front of their peers. We had a continual parade of children returning to the Primary room and before Primary was over every child knew their part well. This greatly increased the probability for every child to also feel like a success. (If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.)
    The second Sunday we practiced in the chapel. Everyone had preassigned seats with adults strategically located as needed. We had everyone run through coming up to the mike and returning to their seats. Then we did a complete run through with songs and speaking parts. Then we took a short break for bathrooms and drinks and if there was any time left we spent in on any rough spots, then it was a GO.
    No Saturday practices. Only one day in the chapel. I was always pleased with how it went. I can however imagine logistical set-ups that wouldn’t allow this to work. But I think the principles are the same.

  10. CS Eric on October 1, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Our primary program is in five weeks. Last week they released the chorister. This should be fun.

    On the bright side, since I get a copy of the program (so I know which songs to play when), I also get a list of the kids’ names. Even though I’ve been there about a year and a half, there are still a lot of kids that I only know as so-and-so’s son or daughter. But I also know most of the adults in the ward only by their connections to the primary kids I see every week.

  11. Ardis Parshall on October 1, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    We don’t have a Primary in our ward, but sometimes a small group of Primary kids comes over from a neighboring ward to sing for us, if not put on the whole program — sort of a Primary Roadshow for those parts of the city that are starved for children. Haven’t heard whether/when they’re going to do that this year, but I hope they come.

  12. kevinf on October 1, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    I love these programs. As a HC, I generally get to see two of them each year. Nothing is more spiritually enhancing than seeing those kids up there, and especially hearing them sing.

    One of our other members of the HC gave the spiritual thought in our HC meeting this week, and referenced several BoM scriptures about angels. He then recounted helping his wife do a primary program several years ago in the Cambridge, MA ward, with about 15 primary kids, and saying that he could hear the angels joining in with the kids singing. Beautiful.

  13. Amira on October 1, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll have to ask if our ward is going to visit other wards, Ardis, because we’re one of the wards in your stake with children (based on your mention of stake conference in the tabernacle a few weeks ago). I think that’s a great idea. Or you could just visit our ward that day.

  14. Janet on October 1, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Primary programs, yay! I do miss having a primary in our ward.

    When I served as primary chorister (best calling in the church!) watching the kids amp themselves up for the program made me dither with glee. We only had a small primary in our inner-city ward, but those kids could sing, emote, solemnly or comically repeat their “parts” with the any Utah primary. The PP is my favorite Sunday of the year. I hope Amira’s ward does visit!

    Adam, your bishop sounds like sweetie-pie, and the little girl’s comic addition makes it even better. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Sarah on October 2, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I love the idea of practicing in small groups and then rehearsing the walk to and from the podium. This year my CTR-8s were asked to sit directly behind the sacrament table, because they won’t mess with the microphone & bread — but that white tablecloth is just too tempting, especially since four of them are in folding chairs in front of me and the other two girls in the installed seats. And there’s no room for them to actually do anything (books won’t fit, markers are too hazardous, etc.) It’s like torture. Very, very wiggly torture.

    I love the actual performance, whenever it’s someone else’s ward. But the whole thing is too stressful, as an adult participant. And it breaks my heart to hear the kids begging to not have to sing the program songs again.

  16. Janet on October 2, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Sarah–when I was chorister I bribed them to repeat the songs. If they sang a given song “nicely, like we were in front of all your parents” we could then follow with a marching, dancing, clapping, or twirling version. Their favorite was when I gave them a sign that said “teachers only” and they could stop singing at random moments to see if their teachers could cut it if they were the star performers. Oh yeah–and I let them go outside. Big bribe, that one. Dang I loved that calling.

  17. Sarah on October 2, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    I love hearing the kids sing — I wish we bribed them more, so they’d be happy with it too.

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