While today’s mothers are as apt to be handed a rose or a pot of primrose, carnations are the flowers originally associated with Mother’s Day. Everyone was supposed to wear a carnation at Sunday School in honor of his mother, regardless of whether she was present or not. To that end, baskets of boutonnieres were provided at the doors. You pinned a red carnation on your dress or jacket if your mother was living; you chose a white one to indicate that she had passed away.
In 1920, a special service honored mothers with this program featuring a marching drill (remember that Primary marching we keep being mystified by?), singing, and poetry:
Carnation Exercises for Mother’s Day.
by Pearl Evans.
Twelve girls (or as many as desired), ages from 8 to 14, dressed in white, carrying carnations in right hands. Sweet music for drill and tableau.
Six girls march in from one side of stage and six from the other side. Meet at center back, march to center front in couples. Turn: six go to right, six to left. March to corners (i.e., march to front side of stage turn and march to back corner of stage, turn and march toward center) , meet at center back, march to center front in couples. Girls on right march around to form a wheel at right side of stage; girls on left same at left of stage. Forming two wheels, march around twice, holding carnations aloft. march to center back, then march to center front in single file, girls on left falling in line at back of partner.
March around stage twice forming one large wheel, carnations held aloft second time around. March around to form a large half circle facing front of stage. Remain at attention twelve counts. Salute twelve counts (this is done with carnations in right hands: move arms over four counts, to forehead four counts, down to position four counts). At attention twelve counts.
One girl recites:
Mother, oh, how sweet the name.
No other, to me is just the same.
All sing “Mother” (song purchased at any music store). In chorus, have girls step gracefully into places, forming letters as they sing them.
Chorus of song as follows:
M is for the million things she gave me
O is only that she’s growing old.
T is for her tender, sweet caresses.
H is for a heart as pure as gold.
E is for her eyes with love light shining,
R is for right, and right she’ll always be.
Put them all together, they spell Mother,
A word that means the world to me.
One girl recites:
We should be kind to mother
And do more to brighten her way,
To lift some heavy burden,
From her careworn mind each day.
All sing, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” substituting the word “Mother” where “Lord” and “Savior” appear.
Have one girl recite:
’Tis to mother we tell our tale of woe;
To her with our aches and pains we go.
All day she’ll plan, work, and sow,
To make us all happy; that we know.
All girls sing first and second verses of ‘Unanswered yet.’ Have girls stop singing at the words: “You Shall Have Your Desire, Sometime, Somewhere.” Have two good sopranos and two good altos at back of curtain sing the last two lines. Have girls on stage sing second verse as before, and have four singers back of curtain answer as before.
Unanswered yet? The prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail, is hope departing,
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire, sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Though when you first presented
This one petition at the Father’s throne,
It seemed you could not wait the time of asking,
So urgent was your heart to make it known.
Though years have passed since then, do not despair;
The Lord will answer you, sometime, somewhere.
One girl steps to center front of stage, holds carnation aloft and recites:
Carnation, oh how beautiful you are; how well you represent the pure noble life of our mothers. May each of us, little girls and young ladies here assembled tonight, so shape our lives, so build our characters that we may become mothers grand and true. That our lives can be as pure and holy as those of the mothers we are honoring tonight.
She steps back to position in half circle. (Soft, sweet music.) All at attention twelve counts.
Move right foot out. Hold carnations aloft. Gaze at them twelve counts.
All at attention twelve counts.
Every other girl kneels. Those standing step close to kneeling girls, hold carnations aloft and gaze at them twenty-four counts.
Girls march down from stage and pass carnations to the mothers. Music while this is being done.