My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Don’t Kill The Little Birds

A song from the

A song from yesteryear in Mormon culture.

Tonight I was on the phone with a friend and we somehow ended up talking about how weird Mormon culture can be. My friend brought up the Primary Song “Popcorn Popping” and said matter of factly, “You have to be pretty messed up to write something like that.”

Who am I to question such logic?

But then a boyhood favorite song of President Spencer W. Kimball’s youth came to my mind and my friend and I got to laugh at it too. Said President Kimball of this song:

“I had a sling and I had a flipper. I made them myself, and they worked very well. It was my duty to walk the cows to the pasture a mile away from home. There were large cottonwood trees lining the road, and I remember that it was quite a temptation to shoot the little birds “that sing on bush and tree,” because I was a pretty good shot and I could hit a post at fifty yards’ distance or I could hit the trunk of a tree. But I think perhaps because I sang nearly every Sunday, “Don’t Kill the Little Birds,” I was restrained.”

(See Strengthening the Family – The Basic Unit of the Church; President Spencer W. Kimball Ensign, May 1978, 45.)

What were the words that restrained a boy who would one day be prophet?

Don’t kill the little birds,

That sing on bush and tree,

All thro’ the summer days,

Their sweetest melody.

Don’t shoot the little birds!

The earth is God’s estate,

And he provideth food

For small as well as great. 

Don’t kill the little birds,

Their plumage wings the air,

Their trill at early morn,

Makes mus ev’ry-where.

What tho’ the cherries fall,

Half eaten from the stem? 

And berries disappear,

In garden, field, and glen?

(Deseret Songs, 1909, no. 163.)

We Mormons may be weird, and our culture may be unlike that of the world’s, but I am happy to call myself a Latter-day Saint. Even though we may teach some awfully strange songs to our youth, there is a lesson and a principle there to always be learned.

Expect for in “Popcorn Popping”…

That song is just messed up.


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3 thoughts on “Don’t Kill The Little Birds

  1. I also just want to point out that the song is supposed to be sung “Sincerely”. Because how else would we sing about shooting little birds?

  2. Come again?

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