It hasn’t happened often, but every now and then I have received a commission to write a song that will be for general church use in the Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society. When it happens, I feel both honored at the opportunity and somewhat unsure about my ability to compose something sufficiently worthy for the occasion. I have learned line-upon-line through the years, of my need to put myself in the Lord’s hands on these occasions—to do all I can to prepare myself for the task, and then to await His inspiration. It is, after all, His church, and He will guide His worthy disciples to bring about His purposes.
I Walk Faith
In 1985 I received a request from the Church to write a song that would list the new Seven Values for Young Women in order. That evening I attempted to organize them into a set of lyrics but found it awkward to list them in order. I called Sister Ardeth Kapp, Young Women General President, and asked if I might write more general lyrics that would broadly cover the values but not list them specifically. In her kind way she said, “No, we need them to be listed in order so the song can help the girls remember them. We thought it looked difficult too, but we’ll be praying for you!” She then explained the significance of the values and the fasting, prayer, study, and thought that had gone into developing the program over many months.
With my newfound understanding of my important assignment, I retired to my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon and asked my family that I not be interrupted for a few hours. I prayed with all the sincerity of my heart for guidance from the Spirit. I asked forgiveness for my shortcomings and recommitted my heart and soul to the Lord’s service. I asked specifically that any unworthiness in my life would not prevent the song from being written. And then I set a blank page in front of me, picked up a pencil, and tried in every way I knew how to listen to the Spirit’s prompting.
That warm, exhilarating feeling that writers yearn for (but which I have felt to this depth only a few times in writing hundreds of songs) came over me powerfully. What had seemed awkward and difficult two days earlier now seemed logical and possible. The words, including the preamble, were organized in just a short time, and the music came simultaneously. It is rarely appropriate to share personal experiences of the Spirit, but this one was so significant to me that I would feel ungrateful if I did not acknowledge it. I felt that any writer in the Church who had been given this assignment might have written the same song. (Note: In 2010 I updated the song to include the eighth value of Virtue. See the new CD recording and songbook listed at the end of this article—they also include the new song “The Value of Virtue” with lyrics by Joy Saunders Lundberg.)
I Walk by Faith (Janice Kapp Perry, 1985)
I will prepare to make and keep sacred covenants
Seek promised blessings of the priesthood through obedience
Live my life to claim the blessing sweet of exaltation
My testimony growing each new day
I walk by Faith, a daughter of heavn’ly parents.
Divine am I in Nature by inheritance.
The spirit whispers of mission, my Individual Worth
So I seek for precious Knowledge, for learning and for growth.
I understand the meaning of Accountability--
Every Choice for good or ill is my responsibility.
I want to build the kingdom, and Good Works is the key.
By doing what I know is right I show Integrity.
I cherish Virtue, and morality purity.
I walk by faith, a daughter of heavn’ly parents.
Divine am I in nature by inheritance.
And some day when God has proven me
I’ll see Him face to face,
But just for here and now I walk by faith,
Yes, just for here and now I walk by faith.
Just One Little Light
A year or so later, there was a day when I was fretting over the writing of a song for all the young women of the church on the importance of being a light to the world. I was sitting out in our carport puzzling over the words to complete this song when my neighbor, Brad Burton, walked across the street and asked, “What are you so engrossed in?” I explained that I was feeling the pressure of writing a song good enough for all the young women of the church to sing on an upcoming satellite broadcast. Brad, who is a psychologist, said, “Just make it good enough for the young women in our ward and it will be good enough for every girl in the world.”
That timely bit of wisdom helped me greatly to finish writing lyrics for the song “Just One Little Light”. In this instance the extra help from the Lord came from an angel disguised as my neighbor Brad.
Holding Hands Around the World/
I’ll Follow Him in Faith
In 2001, I was happy to receive a request to write a new song for the first Primary satellite broadcast which was to take place in 2002. I was given general guidelines and suggestions of ideas that should be included in the song, so I set aside some uninterrupted time in our mountain cabin where there would be no interruption. I took time to study the subject, pray, and ask for the help I was sure would come. I was surprised at the guidance I received! I felt that I should write two different songs and submit both. I argued with myself as to whether that would be appropriate since they had only asked for one, but the feeling persisted so I followed it.
I knew kids loved upbeat songs and yet I wasn’t quite sure what I could get away with for a satellite broadcast. The song “Holding Hands Around the World” just seemed to roll forth onto the page so naturally and was written in a short time. I even dared to put in some fun syncopation that I felt the kids would like. I set that song aside and started on a more sedate song which would express their theme in a more reverent way. Once again the song “I’ll Follow Him in Faith” almost seemed to write itself and was finished on the same day. My husband engraved the songs and I mailed them to Salt Lake with a note that said: “I felt I should write two songs: “Holding Hands Around the World” is the song I hope you want. “I’ll Follow Him in Faith” is the song I think you want.”
Doug and I soon left on a mission to Santiago Chile, without knowing for sure what the decision was about the songs. When it came time for the Primary satellite broadcast we went to our chapel in Talagante, Chile to enjoy it with the Chilean saints. Much to our surprise both songs were performed on the broadcast! Some of the syncopation had been removed from “Holding Hands Around the World” but it was fun to sit there in the dark with tears in my eyes as we heard both songs sung by a wonderful Primary choir.