Yesterday was, by attendance counts, the most popular sacrament meeting of the year in our ward: the Primary Program.
I have always loved the Primary, ever since, as a child, I attended Primary with my Mormon friend Kerry. It was the first LDS church meeting anyone in my family attended. I first taught in Primary before my mission, when it was still meeting during the week. Through the years I’ve gotten to visit as a bishopric member and substitute in lots of classes (usually my own kids’), and even take a few weeks subbing as the Primary music leader, one of my favorite things to do.
Our ward’s Primary presidency did a few really cool things with our program this year. Of course it was a blend of songs and short spoken parts from all the kids in the Primary.
I’m not quite sure how they did it, but somehow all the words that the Primary children spoke were their own. I don’t know if the Primary leaders took notes during the year and recorded thoughts and then pieced them together, or if they asked specific kids their feelings about particular themes. But every child who spoke spoke his or her own words.
The other thing they did was that classes did not march to the podium together. Instead, ages were mixed on the stand, so that 10- and 11-year olds helped 3- and 4- year olds get to the stand, climb up and speak (well, most of those little ones had no trouble speaking once they heard how cool their voices were over the microphone…). More often than not, it was older children helping younger children, not teachers or presidency members doing so. My 11-year old daughter (an age at which being in a Primary program could seem a little childish) was thrilled to help some of the younger children.
Of course the kids sang beautifully (and more than just in a Professor Harold Hill Think System kind of way). We have a large Primary, so even longer songs, where some clearly didn’t know the second verse, had plenty of support. The ward choir joined with the older Primary kids to sing “How Will They Know,” one of my favorite Primary songs. Our super-talented Primary music folks did a great job keeping the energy up in the singing, and the children followed their music leader like a choir. (The fourth verse of “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer” was particularly dramatic.)
By the end of the program, there was quite a sweet spirit in the room; I also knew from that witness that the scriptures are true.