One of my favorite scriptures is found in the Sermon on the Mount. There Jesus tells us: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). How profound is that one small scripture. Jesus tells us that there is light, that we have it within ourselves, and that we can share it with others in many ways. We can spread the light of the gospel message through our words and through our deeds. We can be the light that others follow, the light on the hill that cannot be hid (Matthew 5:14).
From the time we are tiny three-year-old “Sunbeams” we come to know this, and this children’s song is one of the first things that teaches it to us.
In a BYU address given on July 10, 2007, Sister Tina Taylor Dyches talks about the six years she spent as a Sunbeam teacher, and how she loved those little people. After moving on to being the Valiant 9 teacher, she would often look at the six rows of children in front of her and think, “All of these children before me were once my Sunbeams! They are all just grown-up Sunbeams!”
In fact, we never need to stop being Sunbeams. We can spread the Gospel light throughout our lives. Here are six ways to be a Sunbeam forever:
The simple act of smiling makes us happier. Smiling (even a fake smile) sends messages to our brains to provide a matching emotion. How cool is that?! So we don’t need to wait to feel happy before we smile. We can smile first and then we will feel happy… or at least happier!
Smiling also encourages the world around us to view us as nicer people. People are drawn to the sunshine of those who smile. They will like us better and that will give us all the more reason to smile!
2. Be Grateful
The benefits of being grateful are endless. We are definitely happier if we are grateful. We feel more alive and live life more fully, thus making us better prepared to be grown-up Sunbeams.
President Uchtdorf suggests that we learn to be grateful even during times of trial.
It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?
Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I’m suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances—whatever they may be…
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain? (General Conference, April 2014)
3. Be positive in our outlook and in our speech
One of the best ways of spreading sunshine is by radiating positive thoughts in our attitude and in our speech. There is much more sunshine in seeing the good in the world and in building others up rather than brooding on negativity and tearing others down.
4. Take care of ourselves
We radiate sunshine more visibly when our faces glow with health and when we are energized by sufficient sleep. If we follow healthy guidelines for eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep, our bodies just might let the world know that we are grown-up Sunbeams!
5. Read good books
Reading good books fills our minds with good thoughts and gives us worthwhile ideas to share in conversation. Check out a site like goodreads https://www.goodreads.com where comments from others can help us determine the best books for us.
Keep in mind that the very best books are the scriptures. The LDS Library app on our phones makes it easier than ever to make daily scripture study a habit. The scriptures are right there with us constantly, ready to read whenever we have a spare moment. Two years ago, a friend of mine started a private scripture study group on Facebook. Five of us share our thoughts about our scripture readings on a daily basis. What a blessing that has been to me in keeping my commitment to read the scriptures daily.
6. Share the gospel
Our countenances can really shine as we share our testimonies. We know we have the true gospel in our lives, we know the blessings this gives us and what a joy it is to speak of that with heartfelt fervour. When the Spirit testifies of that truth to others, the glow radiates outward in a warm, sunny embrace.
History of JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM
Nellie Talbot wrote the words for JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM in 1899.
Racking her brain for material for her Sunday School class in rural Missouri, she thought to herself, “How can you say there’s nothing to teach about when you have the sun and the sky and the trees and the flowers!” [www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/l/l/illbeasb.htm]
Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1921), composer of “Count Your Blessings” (Hymns, 1985, no. 241) and the predominant arranger of “Amazing Grace,” wrote the music to the Sunbeam song, which was originally entitled “I’ll Be a Sunbeam.” [https://www.speeches.byu.edu/talks/tina-taylor-dyches_walk-children-light/]
The original version contained four verses, the ones we have in the Children’s Songbook plus these two:
I will ask Jesus to help me
To keep my heart from sin,
Ever reflecting His goodness,
And always shine for Him. [Chorus]
I’ll be a sunbeam for Jesus;
I can if I but try;
Serving Him moment by moment,
Then live with Him on high. [Chorus]
In the same BYU devotional address of July 10, 2007, Sister Dyches gives more background on this song and relates an interesting connection between the song and an ancestor of hers.
Tips for Teaching JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM
I have never seen this song sung without the children enthusiastically bouncing upwards as they sing the syllable “-beam!” The music just lifts them upward and they can’t seem to contain themselves. Since jumping up can get a little chaotic, many people choose to attach sun-shaped cutouts on the ends of popsicle sticks or paint paddles. These sun-shaped cutouts could have a picture of Jesus in the centre. The children can lift them exuberantly on the appointed beat. Or check out this picture. The sun shape is made out of a sturdy plastic plate that frames the child’s face. You could also attach a paint paddle to that sunshine frame to make it easier to hold up.
Congregation Choir Arrangement of JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM
Enjoy this fun new twist on an old favourite! Listen to our new accompaniment for JESUS WANTS ME FOR A SUNBEAM. It has more of a true accompaniment feel than the original as it does not follow the melody exactly. PLUS… we add a countermelody for voice or instrument to add even more variety and interest in singing this song. All in all, it does have a more grown-up Sunbeam sound. 🙂
Listen to our arrangement below. You will first hear the piano play an introduction and the first verse with just the piano accompaniment. For the second verse, computer vocals sing the countermelody. It could also be done by an adult solo singer, a group of children, a flute, a violin or an oboe.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Singing the hymns and Primary songs with heartfelt enthusiasm makes us clearly identifiable as grown-up Sunbeams. “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam… I’ll be a sunbeam for Him!”