Janice Kapp Perry is to Mormon music what John Williams is to movies. Inseparable…Magical…Genius…Priceless. I could go on. She’s provided an epic and sweeping ‘soundtrack’ for the Latter-day Saint movement over the past five decades [i.e. my entire lifetime]. Indeed, she’s been referred to as the “Matriarch of Mormon music”, and the “Grand Dame of LDS Song”. Janice Kapp Perry’s memorable melodies and popular songs are an integral part of the cultural and spiritual fabric of our lives.
“Janice’s songs embed principles of the restored gospel into music for children, and that is an incredible talent. Other than the General Authorities of the Church, by using simple songs that bear testimony, she has touched more lives in our faith than any living person I can think of.”
– Craig Jessop, former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Her contribution truly cannot be over-emphasized or overlooked. With over 1000 songs [yes, One Thousand!], 60 albums and 9 cantatas to her credit, she’s a musical legend. Born in 1938, Sister Perry did not begin devoting her life to composing until age 38 when she got her “two lucky breaks” (a broken ankle, and a broken television).
Today, her songs are found in the LDS Church hymnal, Children’s Songbook, and 70 Favorite Children’s Songs, among others. Even now, long past the age of retirement, Perry shows no signs of slowing down as she continues to compose and publish new beloved masterpieces.
When LDS Living posted its “100 Greatest LDS Songs” in late 2012, Perry’s personal favorite, “A Child’s Prayer,” topped the list. “Army of Helaman” (or “We’ll Bring the World His Truth”) also placed in the top 10, and six other Perry songs made the list (all in the top 30).
Janice Kapp Perry songs have been written in many different styles for many different types of performing settings. However, at the heart of her gift she’s always reserved a special place for children.
“When I first started writing, I wrote down this simple goal; I hope that someday the primary children will sing one of my songs.” – Janice Kapp Perry
I was one of those primary children! The future “Mormon Soprano”.
I sang her songs regularly during my years as a Young Woman (ages 12-18). I lost track of how many times I performed “Jesus Was No Ordinary Man” (I always cried on the last verse). Her music made a profound impact on me. While Janice was helping to build my musical talents, she was also fortifying my personal testimony.
Trying to imagine a world without the music of Janice Kapp Perry is…well, unimaginable.
Elder [Neil A.] Maxwell said not too long before he passed away, “Back in my day, we used to sing ‘Little Purple Pansies,’ but these are the last days, and now we’re singing ‘I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.’ We’ve got to get serious.” – Janice Kapp Perry
Trying To Be Like Janice
Sister Perry and her husband Donald have raised 5 children and multiple foster children. She has mothered dozens of grandchildren, hundreds of missionaries & young single adults, and has influenced the lives and hearts of countless – [millions!] – children around the world. In addition to her prolific composing talent, she also sang as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for five years. She and Donald have served multiple full-time missionaries, and given countless years in other service capacities for the Church. If anyone is the penultimate example of living “Like Jesus”, it would have to be Janice.
Selflessly serving, leading by example, giving unconditional loving, constantly caring, testifying of truth, making life a more beautiful, gentle place for others.
“Before our mission to Santiago, Chile I wrote a song that is my “mission statement” for this life. I sing it often to internalize its message in my heart and soul. [The title is] ‘Like Jesus’. I want to be like Jesus.” – Janice Kapp Perry
For all of us trying to be like Jesus, I suggest we simply try to be more like Janice! :)
Putting her music into our lives certainly leads us in the right direction.
A New Video
Today I’m sharing just one of the hundreds of beloved children’s songs which Janice wrote. The new music video added below features an arrangement by Mack Wilberg, performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and illustrated with beautiful footage from the Life of Christ Bible Video Series.
I’m Trying To Be Like JesusWords & Music By Janice Kapp PerryI’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in His ways.I’m trying to love as He did, in all that I do and say.At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen as the still, small voice whispers,“Love one another as Jesus loves you.Try to show kindness in all that you do.Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,For these are the things Jesus taught.”I’m trying to love my neighbor; I’m learning to serve my friends.I watch for the day of gladness when Jesus will come again.I try to remember the lessons He taught.Then the Holy Spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:“Love one another as Jesus loves you.Try to show kindness in all that you do.Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,For these are the things Jesus taught.”© 1980 by Janice Kapp Perry.
- Janice Kapp Perry – Official Website
- Two Lucky Breaks Led “A Child’s Prayer” Author, Janice Kapp Perry into Songwriting History – mormontabernaclechoir.org
- Inspiring Lives: Janice Kapp Perry – BYUtv.org
- A Testimony Through Song – magazine.byu.edu
- Friday LDS Artist Interview – Janice Kapp Perry – YourLDSBlog.com
- The words of one man CAN make a difference – mormonmommywriters
- Janice Kapp Perry Interview – MormonArtist.net