I listened to two young Primary boys bear their testimonies last Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. One spoke of the help his mother had given him in learning to repent, and expressed his love and gratitude to her. This was a young boy of ten who doesn’t seem the gentle sort at all. The other boy, aged nine, spoke of getting lost in a corn maze. He went through the maze the first time with a group and must have felt confident that he could find his way. When they were finished, he went back into the maze by himself to find another group. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the group or his way out the second time. He spoke of the tears he shed as he felt so lost and then his joy at being found and shown the way. He compared it in a very mature way to our situation here in this maze we call life.
The sweet, sincere testimonies of these two young boys touched my heart. I could not have felt the spirit any stronger had I been listening to more elaborate talks on the same subjects. Things do not have to be complicated. Sometimes there is great substance in simplicity.
I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES is like that. It is very short and simple, yet bears a poignant testimony:
“I know my Father lives and loves me too.
The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me it is true,
And tells me it is true.
He sent me here to earth, by faith to live his plan.
The Spirit whispers this to me and tells me that I can,
And tells me that I can.”
In a very few words, we learn the essence of what we need to know to find our way here on earth. We need to know that we were sent here by a loving Father in heaven who continues to love us throughout our sojourn here, and who has given us the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be a comfort and a guide to us. Through faith, we can return to live with our Father again. We need to know that He believes in us and knows we can do it.
We need to know He lives and to know Him. As President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974 (1975), 313).
- History of I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES
Reid Nibley’s purpose in writing this song was “to express a testimony as a child would.”
Brother Nibley was asked by Tabernacle organist, Robert Cundick, to write a song for the new children’s songbook. As Brother Nibley tells the story, “He suggested several categories, and I was immediately drawn to ‘Testimony.’ The words ‘I know my Father lives’ came to my mind, and the music came almost simultaneously. The remainder of the piece came very quickly, but I thought it was too simple, so I began working on it. It became more and more complicated and less and less spontaneous. After two weeks of struggling with it, I began to erase all the excess notes, and soon it emerged in its original form. Thank goodness I had a big eraser. I have been deeply touched when I have heard children sing this little song. I have the feeling that it no longer belongs to me, but it is the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.” (Davidson: Stories and Messages of the Hymns, p. 304) (Friend, Oct. 1985, p. 15).
- Music of “I Know My Father Lives”
This hymn is in the 1985 LDS hymnbook and the Children’s Songbook. Brother Nibley was asked to write a different arrangement for the Children’s Songbook than the one in the hymnbook. He chose to make a duet accompaniment. One person plays the accompaniment, which is a series of broken chords harmonizing with the melody, while another person plays the voice/melody parts one octave higher. I have never seen it actually done this way, since there are rarely two pianists available in our Primary. Usually, the non-melody accompaniment is sufficient and the children are able to carry the tune without the melody parts.
- Congregation Choir Arrangements
Our Congregation Choir arrangements add a beautiful, alternate accompaniment to the original one found in the hymnbook. This alternate accompaniment could be used with the organ part for a piano/organ duet accompaniment for the entire congregation or for a large choir. It could also be used alone as a more embellished accompaniment for a solo singer or group, or just to enjoy as a piano solo.
In the first music sample below, you will hear the organ alone doing the introduction. The piano joins in on the first verse and then the vocal countermelody joins in for the second demonstration verse. In the second music sample, computer vocals perform the hymnbook part. The piano joins in for the first verse and a violin countermelody for the second. To make a longer number out of this short hymn, it could be performed as follows:
Verse 1: congregation and choir with organ part
Interlude verse: enhanced piano accompaniment with flute, violin or vocal countermelody
Verse 2: congregation or choir, organ part, piano part and countermelody
I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES with vocal countermelody.
I KNOW MY FATHER LIVES with flute/violin (in this case a violin) countermelody.