Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

President Spencer W. Kimball Contributed One Word to the Lyrics of this Favorite Children’s Hymn

Naomi W. Randall spent much of her life serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, specifically the children of the Primary. Besides doing other things, she chaired a committee that recommended the beloved CTR ring in 1970. However, her most famous contribution came when she wrote the lyrics to “I Am a Child of God.”

In 1957, the general board of the Primary was planning a special meeting for Primary leaders across the globe. As part of that meeting, the Board asked Randall to to write a new song to be performed during the event. Below, Randall describes in her own words the spiritual experience that followed:

“That evening, I got down on my knees and prayed aloud, pleading that our Heavenly Father would let me know the right words. Around 2:00 a.m. I awakened and began to think again about the song. Words came to my mind . . . I immediately got up and began to write the words down as they had come to me. Three verses and a chorus were soon formed. I gratefully surveyed the work—drank of the message of the words—and returned to my bedroom, where I knelt before my Father in Heaven to say, ‘Thank you!’”

The following morning, the board approved the text with the leader of the committee exclaiming, “Send them off to the composer. These words give me goose bumps!”

The song was very well received, even by President Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was Elder Kimball, as he was known at the time, who famously requested that Randall change the phrase “Teach me all that I must know” to “Teach me all that I must do.” Randall was happy to make the edit, and later, when he was President of the Church, President Kimball was fond of saying, “Naomi Randall wrote most of the words, but I wrote one!”

Above, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs “I Am a Child of God.” The song is included in the Choir’s album Teach Me to Walk in the Light & Other Children’s FavoritesListen to the full history of “I Am a Child of God” in episode 25 of theHistory of the Hymns series from the Mormon Channel.