The Tabernacle Choir Blog

Behind The Scenes With Janice Kapp Perry: “Mother, Tell Me The Story”

“Mother, Tell Me the Story” is a counterpoint melody song written by Janice Kapp Perry. Counterpoint consists of two independent melodies that fit together harmonically. In other words, one person sings one melody that sounds like a song on its own, a second person sings another melody, and together they blend to make one harmonious sound.

Perry recalls being inspired by composer Janeen Brady, who used counterpoint in a song. Perry said, “I thought ‘Wow, that’s an interesting technique.’ It was harder than I thought to make two separate melodies stand alone and then fit together and fit with the harmony on the piano.” When the Church Music Committee was choosing the final songs for the Primary songbook they thought using counterpoint was a great way to teach the children harmony without having to sing the same lyrics with different notes. In fact, the committee asked Perry to write more songs in this style, which resulted in “I Pray in Faith” and “The Word of Wisdom.”

“Mother, Tell Me the Story” was written as a lullaby as Perry was preparing her first children’s album. The counterpoint melodies are a dialogue between mother and child. Before the song was published in the Children’s Songbookfor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she was asked to write another verse in which the child would ask the mother to teach him or her about Jesus. That verse exists in the current Children’s Songbook as an option.

Below is a video of the Choir singing "Mother, Tell Me the Story."