'Who Shall Sing If Not the Children?' : Primary Songbooks, 1880-1989
Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought
Harris chronicles the history of the songbooks of the Primary Association. These songbooks show the complexity of 'the development and articulation of principles and points of doctrine in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' and reflect the 'thoughts, beliefs, and hopes of generations of Saints.' Early songs emphasized what contributions children could make now, while later songs suggest that childhood is a time of learning and preparation. Songs in earlier hymnbooks focus on 'physical contributions children should make' and seem to emphasize that work is to be done out in the world. Later songs focus on the work to be done at home and emphasize 'prayer and scripture study, and more abstract virtues.' There was also a shift from singing about Christ as a millennial ruler and a child's friend to singing about Jesus as Savior. This 'spiritualization' shows how members of the Church have moved from worrying about the Church's survival to looking at the long-term future of the Church and its doctrines.