Monday, June 29, 2015

"The Family: A Proclamation to the World" songs

I love The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I love the simple, inspired doctrines it teaches and the clear way it sets out eternal truth. Last year, during our morning devotional time, we decided to memorize it as a family.

When we memorized our church's Articles of Faith, we found that using the Article of Faith songs from the Children's Songbook made it easier for everyone. We like to sing together, and music has the added bonus of getting caught in your head often! :) So, I looked online and found that a few people had set the Family Proclamation to music, but none of the songs I found fit my requirements for a good "memorization aid" song. What I wanted was:
  • The Proclamation divided up into shorter sections as songs that could stand alone
  • Each section to flow into the next, so that the sections could be sung as one large unit if desired (the Articles of Faith songs work this way—you can sing one at a time, or all 13 together)
  • The words to take priority: that is, they would be sung naturally, as you would speak them. I didn't want drawn-out syllables or awkward pauses in service of the music to obscure the important meanings of the words. And I wanted us to learn the exact words in all their density and power, unabbreviated and unconstrained.
After some thought, I decided that I would have to write these songs myself. I made each paragraph of the Proclamation into its own song. I'm no Janice Kapp Perry, but I have some background in composition (I was a music major in college and wrote a set of Art Songs to words of T.S. Eliot for my Honors Thesis) so I thought it was worth a try.

I tried to make the melodies simple enough for children to sing or hum, but since I was committed to making the song rhythms follow the rhythms of natural speech, there are a few places where I had to use unconventional or changing time signatures (the Proclamation, obviously, was NOT written with a nice ABAB form in mind. I could have wished for it to say, "The family is good/ Do what you should" or something, instead of "We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed." But it's better the way it is.) :) And I suppose the types of melodies that appeal to me are not always the most straightforward, tonal ones, so I can't promise that everyone will like them.

However, with all that said, these songs were a great success for us in memorizing The Family: A Proclamation to the World. We learned it one paragraph at a time until we could sing (and say) the Proclamation all the way through. Paragraph 7, which is the longest song, is also my favorite (with Paragraph 6 a close second). Over a year later, we can still remember the words we memorized, and judging by the humming I overhear from the children, the songs are often running through all of our heads. I don't know if I can adequately describe how nice it is to have "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ" ringing in your ears—rather than whatever other mindless lyric could be stuck in there. :)

I wrote these songs with only my little family in mind, but as I've thought it over, I've decided that maybe someone else struggling to memorize the Family Proclamation will find them useful. I've included them in three formats below: videos of my family singing each paragraph in turn (the little girls don't know it very well, but they are cute), audio files of just the accompaniment to each song, and .pdfs of the sheet music if you want to print it out for playing on the piano or following along with the audio files.

I hope these songs are helpful to someone! I can testify that studying and memorizing these words has been a great blessing to me and to my children, and I'm so happy we did it!

(I wrote more about our experience memorizing the proclamation, and some things it taught me, on my friend Montserrat's blog. You can find those posts here and here.)
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Here are the audio files of just the accompaniment (no words) to the songs.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World songs, audio files:

And here are the .pdfs if you want to download the sheet music.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World songs, sheet music:

11 comments:

  1. I'm in awe! I am most definitely going to use this with my family. I can't wait! Thank you for sharing your amazing talents!

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  2. You are amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us. And I'm thrilled that you included the sheet music!

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    1. Thanks Emily! I'm glad you like it! :)

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  3. I had already decided that we would start memorizing The Proclamation after we finished with the Articles of Faith when I stumbled upon your post on Chocolate on my Cranium. This is so wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing, and especially for including the audio, since I don't play the piano! :D

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    1. I'm so glad you can use the songs! Just ignore my piano mistakes… :)

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  4. My kids and I have a binder full of things that we have memorized (scriptures, primary songs, AofF) that we review daily. Because snippets of the Family Proclamation have been monthly themes in Primary, those are in the binder, too. And I was just telling them the other day that we should take out those snippets and memorize the whole Proclamation! They thought I was crazy. But now this is going to be awesome! Thank you!

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  5. Yay! I'm happy it can help you! And you aren't crazy at all! :) I hope you have fun working on it as a family.

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  6. Thanks for this! The songs you wrote are spot on for memorizing. I'm trying to memorize the proclamation for a school assignment and was looking for something like this (I always memorize and retain things better with music). Keep writing!

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    1. Awesome! I'm so glad they are helpful. Good luck with your memorization! :)

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  7. Thank you for the sheet music! My children are still quite young but we've taken a key phrase or two from each song to learn as we discuss the proclamation. It's been a very useful resource. And I love what I'm memorizing as well.

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    1. Thanks Autumn! Good luck memorizing! I need to find a way to learn "The Living Christ" now. :)

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