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As a beginning songwriter a few decades ago I would often daydream about who might perform my compositions someday. More to the point, I wondered if anyone would perform them. Things started simply as I wrote a few songs for my Provo ward and stake, had a little success in songwriting contests, and a few of my songs became known. Then a stake Primary chorister. Leandra Lowe, called one morning asking if I would write a song for her 200-voice children’s choir which would be singing for their stake conference in BYU’s Marriott Center. The theme of the conference was missionary work, and she asked that I write a stirring, upbeat song that would express the children’s responsibility to share the gospel. I loved this assignment!
Most of the children in the choir were from strong LDS families and had been taught gospel principles at an early age. In many ways they truly were “as the Army of Helaman”—they had heard and believed the testimony of “goodly parents,” prophets, and teachers and knew they had a responsibility to share that message. I called my new song “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” and was thrilled to hear their enthusiastic performance a few weeks later. Word spread and the song was chosen for publication in the Children’s Songbook and translated into many other languages, with the subtitle “Army of Helaman,” as members often referred to it that way.
Our first recording of this song was by 10-year-old Tom Myers, son of our family physician, Dr. Thomas Myers. His untrained voice was true and clear and he sounded like “every boy” on this recording. From this simple beginning the song spread in a way we could never have imagined.
We’ll Bring the World His Truth (Army of Helaman)
Soloist: Tom Myers & Boys Chorus
Album: “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus”
We have been born as Nephi of old
To goodly parents who love the Lord
We have been taught and we understand
That we must do as the Lord commands
We are as the army of Helaman
We have been taught in our youth
And we will be the Lord’s missionaries
To bring the world His truth
We have been saved for these latter days
To build the kingdom in righteous ways
We hear the words our prophets declare
“Let each who’s worthy go forth and share”
We know His plan and we will prepare
Increase our knowledge through study and prayer
Daily we’ll learn until we are called
To take the gospel to all the world
As we have travelled through the church during the last few decades, I have always enjoyed hearing the enthusiasm with which children sing the chorus! One weekend in Birmingham, Alabama I was seated on the stand when a large Primary chorus seated directly behind me shouted this song out with such amazing force it startled me, which greatly amused the audience.
Much later, as I visited a Primary in Japan, their children definitely rivaled the Alabama choir in volume and enthusiasm! Hearing it in the Japanese language was an unique experience!
The first adult recording of the song was by a men’s chorus on the album “We’ll Bring the World His Truth,” a collection of missionary songs. Roger Hoffman wrote the arrangement which we have heard performed in many different settings:
Some time ago we were visiting the LDS Colonies in Mexico, an area that is unusually strong in the faith, having provided well over one hundred mission presidents and other leaders for the church. Their youth choir sang in sacrament meeting— thirty clean, strong youth dressed in white and beige who literally shone with the gospel light. After our fireside later that night, all the members of the local high school football team—undefeated that season—came forward to tell us that “Army of Helaman” was their team song which they sang on the bus before every game. They stood tall right there on the stage and sang a rousing version of the song for us! Tears flowed as we were touched by these faithful youth.
Shortly after this trip a few members of the BYU Rugby team in Provo, Utah came to our home to tell us the team had adopted “Army of Helaman” as their fight song. I didn’t know much about Rugby but my interest definitely increased after those handsome and muscular Polynesian players paid us a visit that night. I was amazed at every turn at how this little Primary song had spread to fill great purposes.
One of my favorite renditions of this song is a beautiful instrumental version by pianist Marvin Goldstein, accompanied by full orchestra. A building in Salt Lake City that was formerly an LDS chapel had been converted into a huge recording studio which would accommodate the orchestra and grand piano, and the sound was magnificent! Suddenly my little Primary song had become something grand and glorious even without the words, because people now knew the words without hearing them, and because artist Marvin Goldstein and the orchestra played so beautifully. My part in writing the song in the first place seemed to shrink as other highly trained musicians made it soar!
Album: “Janice Kapp Perry Favorites Featuring Pianist Marvin Goldstein Vol. 1”
Song: “We’ll Bring the World His Truth”
Arranger: Greg Hansen
On a smaller scale, but touching in a whole different way, was this experience: One morning as I was walking up to the Provo Temple I saw two little boys across the street in great distress. One boy’s head was stuck through the wrought iron fence of the temple grounds and the other was desperately trying to pull his brother through. I could see they were panicked as I ran to help them. After calming the entrapped boy somewhat I was finally able to back the boy out the way he had come in. They both sat on the ground shaking and crying as they explained that their ball had gone over the fence and onto the temple grounds and they had run through the gate to get it. They weren’t sure they should be on the temple grounds so they had tried to exit quickly through the fence.
I tried to calm them by asking where they were from and they said (still sobbing), “We’re from Africa, but we go to Pleasant View 9th ward.” They explained that their father was studying at the BYU Law School. I suggested we start walking toward school and I asked if they knew the Primary songs. “Yes,” they said, “we know them all!” I said, “Then let’s sing ‘We’ll Bring the World His Truth’!” I couldn’t help chuckling, and tearing up a bit, as Bokang and Mmusi Butandu skipped happily down Temple Hill holding hands and singing at full volume: “We are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth . . . ” It definitely made my day!
A young composer, Michael R. Hicks, called one day and asked permission to combine two of my songs, “As Sisters in Zion” and “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” into a medley for youth. Little did I know what an amazing arrangement he would compose. A year later EFY leader Brad Wilcox invited me to come to one of the Especially for Youth programs at BYU to hear the medley being performed by 1,500 youth. As I sat on the stand hearing this amazing chorus perform Michael’s arrangement I was dumbfounded! His creation was truly a classic which the young people loved and sang with great fervor! It has been dubbed The EFY Medley and is still going strong after many years as thousands of youth learn it at BYU each summer and then spread it to their home stakes.
I loved Michael’s idea so much and wanted to have audiences sing it at the conclusion of our own firesides, so I arranged a shorter, but still powerful, version which we could sing together without rehearsal as a finale to our programs. Recently the Church asked to use this version for youth in other countries and it has begun to spread through the world in this new form.
One night when Doug and I were speaking at the nearby Missionary Training Center, it was a thrill to see the 2,200 elders and sisters and sisters stand and sing “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” at the conclusion of our fireside! Later, when we ourselves were senior missionaries at the MTC and preparing for a mission to Chile, they invited me to come up front and conduct all the missionaries in singing this song. Oh my! Chills and goose bumps! I was sure it would never get any better than this! We later released a 40-song CD for missionaries titled “Army of Helaman.”
“We’ll Bring the World His Truth” has been recorded in many other languages. I’ll include a few here for those who might be interested:
Japanese: The Utagawa family have four very talented children who have recorded two albums of our songs. As young children their three daughters and one son recorded “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” in their native language.
Russian: A group of young adults from Russia recorded the song years ago.
French: A group from Tahiti recorded the song.
Spanish: We recorded a choir singing it: “Llevaremos al mundo Su verdad.”
Celtic: In 2003 we recorded an instrumental Celtic version of the song.
Our long-time neighbor Kevin J. Worthen (our former bishop, stake president and Area Authority Seventy, and then-Vice President of BYU over athletics) called one day to say he had told football coach Bronco Mendenhall what a devoted fan I was of BYU football, and said that the coach wanted to invite me to attend one of their team meetings. I was star-struck and could not wait to attend their October 1 meeting. None of them knew that was my 70th birthday but I considered it to be the best birthday present ever! About a hundred players filled the theatre and it was fun to hear them sing and speak in a short devotional. I learned in that short time that BYU football had a strong spiritual side and found it very touching.
I was asked to give a short motivational speech to the players and then told them it was my 70th birthday and they were making it a very happy one. The players cheered, Bronco had me sign the team flag and gave it to me, he took his dog tags off which were inscribed “Band of Brothers, B. Mendenhall, Head Coach, Alpine Utah, The Quest” along with a beautiful BYU medallion, and put them around my neck. He also signed a white football which said, “Janice, We love you, Bronco Mendenhall.” Then, best of all he told me that “We’ll Bring the World His Truth” was the team song which they performed at their pre-game firesides. He had all the players stand, with one at the piano, to sing the song just for me. I have never missed watching a BYU football game for decades—I take two newspapers just so I can read two sports sections every day. It was surreal hearing those players singing this song for me in person. I wish I had a recording.
My simple Primary song has provided us with so many memorable experiences—this article doesn’t begin to cover them. But, as we learned and relearned on our mission, by small and simple means, great things can come to pass. If we do our part, the Lord can magnify our offerings in a way that can help build the kingdom.
Janice Kapp Perry: Composer, author, lecturer