ASL My Heavenly Father Loves Me
Sister Jensen, the Senior Primary Music Leader, thought this month’s song would be a good candidate for an ASL overlay, so I put something together and thought I’d share it.
I started with the straight-up ASL version the church provides and made some modifications to make it more sign-able by English speakers but I believe I succeeded in keeping it true ASL. I flipped the order of some adjective-noun pairs to match the English but that is commonly done by native signers, so I don’t feel too bad about it. And it has the huge advantage of making it much easier for the signer to simultaneously sing the English. I also decided on a different translation of “of which I’m a part” at the end of the second verse than what the church provides. I think this version is more poetic and I’m more comfortable with some of the doctrinal ramifications. One other translation choice I made differently is that of “magical.” I chose AMAZING instead of BEAUTIFUL because of the visual rhyme it creates with SOUND.
There were two parts where I didn’t sync the English with the ASL. The first is “and the wind as it rushes by,” translated as AND WIND(modified). Notice as you watch the video that you start the AND sign at the beginning of the phrase but don’t finish it until you finish singing “wind.” The WIND(modified) ends up lining up with “as it rushes by” but it does a better job than English describing that concept so I think it works well.
The second part that doesn’t sync is for “or walk by our lilac tree.” I loved the church’s change in the ASL to SMELL FLOWER TREE. Smelling a tree is definitely more poetic in sign than walking by it. So, when you think the sign for “walk by” looks a lot like you’re smelling something, you now know what’s going on.
Like I said, I tried to simplify the ASL as much as possible without losing the legitimacy of the language, and I believe I succeeded; however, if you feel like there are still too many signs for your primary kids, you can drop the signs that I’ve asterisked in the gloss below. A Deaf audience member would probably still get the general meaning.
Two final points for the uninitiated to ASL: the all-caps words above (and below) are a formal representation of sign called Gloss. It’s the academician in me coming out. Basically, when I write WIND, I don’t mean “wind!!!”, I am using English text to symbolically represent a specific sign that is translated into English (usually) as “wind.” Second point: when you see my eyebrows moving around in the video, that’s not just me being strange; that’s actually part of the grammer and if you can copy it, so much the better. If not, don’t stress it. Just let this beautiful language bring out the spirit of this lovely song.
I’m sorry if I’ve made this sound more complicated than it is. You can just ignore everything I’ve said here and copy the video. You’ll be just fine.
Whenever I hear the song of a bird
HAPPEN* HEAR SONG BIRD
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
LOOK BLUE* SKY
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
HAPPEN* FEEL RAIN FACE
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
HAPPEN* TOUCH SOFT ROSE
Or walk by our lilac tree,
SMELL FLOWER* TREE
I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
HAPPY LIVE BEAUTIFUL WORLD
Heav’nly Father created for me.
HEAVENLY-FATHER MAKE FOR* ME(honorary)
He gave me my eyes that I might see
HE-GAVE-ME EYES FOR* SEE
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
HE-GAVE-ME EARS FOR* HEAR
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
HE-GAVE-ME LIFE MIND HEART
I thank him rev’rently
For all his creations, of which I’m a part.
FOR* ALL* HIS CREATIONS MYSELF INCLUDE
Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.
YES* KNOW HEAVENLY-FATHER LOVE ME(honorary)
(You can swap the honorary palm-open version of ME for the simple finger-pointed version if you want.)