How to Teach the Gospel through Music in Primary

We recently had our Stake Primary training. My current calling is the Stake Primary Music Leader, which has been a little bit of a stretch for me and has afforded me some amazing opportunities. In our stake, the music leader is included in the stake primary presidency activities. I attend the meetings help with and speak at the stake baptisms, visit the wards, etc. 

With singing time being the bulk of Sunday primary time, we wanted to focus much of our training on teaching the gospel through music. We have been so inspired that our primaries need to be following the direction found in Instructions for Singing Time, of teaching the children the doctrine of the gospel through the music.

I wholeheartedly believe that the music will penetrate our children's hearts and minds as they learn about the doctrine in the songs and be able to apply it into their own lives.

So, I thought I would share some of what we did for my portion of the training, hopefully it will be useful for someone else. Here you go.... 

Thank you so much for all that you do in your callings, you are each doing a wonderful job! I get to talk today about teaching the gospel through music. We learn in the For the Strength of Youth, “Music can enrich your life. It can edify and inspire you and help you draw closer to Heavenly Father. Music has a profound effect on your mind, spirit, and behavior.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t really remember the specific lessons from when I was a primary child, but I do remember the primary songs and the way they made me feel. I remember standing up in the primary room and singing “The Lord Needs Valiant Servants”, and how it made me feel empowered to go forth keep the commandments and do the Lord’s work. 

We have a unique opportunity in primary, music leaders you have the opportunity to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, through music. We read in the Instructions for Singing Time that,  “Primary songs are a powerful tool to help children learn about Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and the foundational truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As children sing about gospel principles, the Holy Ghost will testify of their truthfulness. The words and music will stay in the children’s minds and hearts throughout their lives.”

So, how do we teach the gospel through music?  We are instructed in the Instructions for Singing Time, to “Seek the help of the Spirit as you prepare to teach the gospel through music. Share your testimony of the truths you sing about. Help the children see how the music relates to what they are learning and experiencing at home and in Primary classes. The children and their families will be blessed by your devoted efforts.”

We also learn, “As you teach songs to the children, invite them to share what they have already learned about the stories and doctrinal principles the songs teach. You may want to review the Come, Follow Me—For Primary outlines that the children are studying in their classes. This will help you become aware of the stories and principles they are learning so you can consider how to support their learning with music.”

These primary children are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves them. We can help them to understand and apply the gospel in their lives. I love that singing time gives them an opportunity to share what they have learned at home and in their lessons.

When we were thinking about this training, we decided that we wanted to provide an example of what teaching the gospel through music would look like. So, you each get to be my "primary" for a moment. Today, we are going to be learning the song, “Search, Ponder and Pray”. I have some clues to help us learn this song and the importance of searching, pondering and praying as we study our scriptures. Can I have a few of you come up and help me. I had person one hold scriptures. Person two a heart. Person three paper that says True.  

Point to the Scriptures:  The first line of the song says, 
“I love to read the holy scriptures,
And, ev’ry time I do,”

Ask everyone to repeat that first line.

Point to the Growing Heart:  
“I feel the Spirit start to grow within my heart-”

Invite everyone to repeat that second line.

Point to the poster that says, TRUE: 
“A testimony that they’re true.”

Invite everyone to repeat that third line.

Who here loves to read the scriptures?? I do!! Every time we read the scriptures we can feel the spirit grow in our heart. And help us gain a greater testimony that they are true. What are some of your favorite stories found in the scriptures? How has your testimony grown as you read the scriptures?

Let’s sing it, remember as we sing we are showing our love to our Heavenly Father. 

Tell the helpers thank you and invite them to sit down.

For the chorus we are going to do some actions.

The chorus goes,

“Search, ponder, and pray” For search make your hands into a book. For ponder we are going to point to our head, because ponder means we are going to think about what we are reading. For pray, fold your arms.

“Are the things that I must do.” Point to yourself.  (Why do you think it is important to do those things? To search the scriptures, to ponder or think about the things we read in the scriptures and pray when we read the scriptures?)

Let’s repeat those lines.

The next two lines and actions go,

“The Spirit will guide, and, deep inside,” Point to yourself like it’s deep inside for deep inside.

“I’ll know the scriptures are true.” Make a fist and stomp, like exclaiming “I KNOW the scriptures are true.” 

How can we know that the scriptures are true? Because the spirit tells us they are true.

Let’s sing the chorus.

We learn in Moroni 10:4-5 which is towards the end of the Book of Mormon.
“4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

When I was a 9th grader, I read this scripture when I was reading the Book of Mormon and I prayed with faith to my Heavenly Father and I received a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. That witness has always stayed with me and has been strengthened as I continue to study the scriptures. 

Lets try now to sing the whole song. When we sing it, think about your testimony of the scriptures, your love of the scriptures and the spirit you have felt as you read them. 

Thank you so much for participating in our little mock singing time! There are wonderful resources on the church’s website to help us teach the gospel through music. I used a couple of the ideas here. I used visual aid and I used actions. The important thing is that we are teaching the children what the song is about. So for instance if I was teaching the song, "Hosanna". I would teach the children what the word Hosanna means. Which means praise and joy. That we are praising the Savior. In contrast, if one was to show a hose and a person named Anna, they would not be teaching the children what the song means. We are not merely trying to have the children memorize or remember the words. We are teaching what the songs mean and the doctrine they teach us. What did we learn from the song we just learned?  We learned that as we study the scriptures, ponder over them and pray about them, we will receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that the scriptures are true.

We should teach the gospel through music every Sunday! Even if we are not learning a new song, we can ask the children what the song they are singing is about, maybe how it helps them know of God’s love. They could share things that correlate that they have learned in Come, Follow Me. Or you could share your testimony about the gospel message that is in the song. 

These songs will be with them always. These songs are powerful, they invite the spirit into our lives and help us come closer to our Heavenly Father.

If you would like to print out the posters for the song, please click the free download button below:

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