The Tabernacle Choir Blog

The Origin of the Primary Song “He Sent His Son”

The timeless Primary song “He Sent His Son” was written by the prolific poet and songwriter Mabel Jones Gabbott (1910–2004) and Michael Moody. Gabbott (lyrics) and Moody (music) also cowrote many other Primary songs that are included in the current Children’s Songbook, such as “Sleep, Little Jesus,”  “Who Is This Child?” “There Was Starlight on the Hillside,” and “Have a Very Merry Christmas.” The two also worked on the General Music Committee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Gabbott and Moody each wrote many hymns as well—some of which are in the current hymnbook of the Church. Gabbott has several hymns in the book, including “In Humility, Our Savior,” to which she wrote the lyrics. Moody also composed the hymn “Testimony,” which is included in the hymnbook.

In the book titled We Shall Make Music: Stories of the Primary Songs and How They Came to Be, by Patricia Kelsey Graham, Gabbott said the poem for “He Sent His Son” was written “when I was wondering about our Father in Heaven sending His spirit children to earth to be tested. How could He teach them the way to return to Him? The answer: He sent His Son.”

Recently, the King’s Singers performed a Primary medley during the Choir’s 2016 Pioneer Day concert, with “He Sent His Son” as the centerpiece. It has been a huge hit with live and online audiences—not only because of the amazing medley, arrangement, and performance but also because the King’s Singers are not members of the LDS Church. Read the touching story of the origin of this Primary medley that was arranged by the Choir’s associate director, Ryan Murphy.