Beginning with the 1914-15 school year (the MIA year started in September then, rather than in January), the Mutual Improvement Association for the Church’s teens and young adults adopted a yearly theme (called a “slogan” until 1936). The young people stood and recited the theme during routine MIA meetings, there were articles in the Improvement Era centering on the theme, and sometimes special programs were organized to advance the year’s theme. I remember that at least one of those used during my years in MIA was set to music, and I can hardly recite that verse today without falling into the rhythm of that music.
Below are the themes from 1914 through 1975, with some gaps that I still need to fill (it’s time consuming to pull these out of the manuals and magazines).
Some of the early themes are so different in character that I can’t imagine them being used today, not that there’s anything wrong with them, but just that we tend to emphasize broader, more spiritual principles today than the narrow, practical nature of some of the slogans — or so it seems to me; I’m not in touch with what the YM/YW have been doing for the last 20 years. Others have an old-fashioned flavor obviously tied to the politics or LDS concerns of the day.
Thoughts? Patterns? Insights? Snickers?
1914-15: We stand for a sacred Sabbath and a weekly half holiday.
1915-16: We stand for a weekly home evening.
1916-17: We stand for state and nation-wide Prohibition.
1917-18: We stand for thrift and economy.
1918-19: We stand for service to God and Country.
1919-20: We stand for spiritual growth through attendance at Sacrament meetings.
1920-21: We stand for the non-use and non-sale of tobacco.
1921-22: We stand for loyal citizenship.
1922-23: We stand for a pure life through clean thought and action.
1923-24: We stand for divine guidance through individual and family prayer.
1924-25: We stand for the Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother.
1925-26: We stand for an individual testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
1926-27: We stand for a testimony of the divine mission of Joseph Smith.
1927-28: We stand for a fuller knowledge of the Book of Mormon and a testimony of its divine origin.
1928-29: We stand for law: For the people who live it; and the officers who enforce it.
1929-30: We stand for the preservation of our heritage through obedience to law.
1930-31: We stand for loyal adherence to Latter-day Saint ideals.
1931-32: We stand for physical, mental and spiritual health through observance of the Word of Wisdom.
1932-33: We stand for enrichment of life through constructive use of leisure and personal service to fellow man.
1933-34: Inspired by the refining influences of Mormonism, we will develop the gifts within us.
1934-35: By my actions, I will prove my allegiance to the Church.
1935-36: We stand for spirituality and happiness in the home.
1936-37: Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. (D&C 121:45)
1937-38: Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the god of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5)
1938-39: by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:13-14)
1939-40: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
1940-41: My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee: and when thou awakest; it shall talk with thee. (Proverbs 6:20-22)
1941-42: I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise. (D&C 82:10)
1942-43: Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:9)
1943-44: Let us all do the will of our Father in heaven today, and we will then be prepared for the duty of tomorrow and for the eternities to come. (Heber J. Grant)
1944-45: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
1945-46: Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. (Psalms 34:13-15)
1946-47: Let everyone get a knowledge for himself that this work is true … then let every person say: “I will live my religion … I will walk humbly before my God and deal honestly with my fellow beings.” (Brigham Young)
1947-48: If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life. (D&C 14:7)
1948-49: Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
1949-50: How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean; this youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter. (The First Presidency, April 6, 1942)
1950-51: Learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. (alma 37:35)
1951-52: Choose you this day whom ye will serve … as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
1952-53: Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (I Timothy 4:12)
1953-54: Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free: entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes. (D&C 88:86)
1954-55: Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich. (D&C 6:7)
1955-56: I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth. (Romans 1:16)
1956-57: Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from His hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. (Jacob 4:10)
1957-58: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
1958-59: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
1959-60: If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)
1960-61: Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. (D&C 112:10)
1961-62: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)
1962-63: Thou shalt love the Lord thy god with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him. (D&C 59:5)
1963-64: And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)
1964-65: For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. (Alma 34:32)
1965-66: He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:321)
1966-67: There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated; and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. (D&C 130:20-21)
1967-68: Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. (D&C 130:18)
1971-72: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly. (D&C 90:24)
1972-73: And if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (D&C 14:7)
1973-74: For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
1974-75: And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)