University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension
4-H Ceremonies

Candle Lighting Ceremony

The candle lighting ceremony is effective indoors or out of doors at the close of some significant 4-H event. In many places it is used on the last night of 4-H camp or at the end of the evening program, since it impresses upon the participants the ideals for which those engaged in 4-H work should stand.

Simplicity is the keynote of this service. Silence–absolute and complete silence–on the part of the audience is imperative! This can be obtained by explaining to the group earlier in the day the procedure to be followed and by setting a good example.

Much of the success of a candle lighting service depends on the choice of persons to take speaking parts. All persons should speak distinctly and loudly enough to be heard. They should try to put the feeling of a "sacred trust" into their voices as they speak their parts, which must be memorized perfectly.


If we were asked to express what 4-H work means to us, each of us would tell a different story, and many of us would find great difficulty putting into words all that would need saying. This is often true of the things that mean a great deal to us. When words seem inadequate, we symbolize as beautifully as we can what we want to express. It is such a symbolic description of the meaning of 4-H work that we are now about to present.

4-H work sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture and the state land grant colleges of agriculture aim to serve you our young people.

I now light the candle symbolizing the 4-H's. 4-H work kindles high desires. Let us hear the meaning of the 4-H's.


I pledge my head to clearer thinking!

Lights candle from leader's candle and returns to place.

I would study and observe with an open mind in order that I may learn from life and books to speak with knowledge, act with good judgment, and grow in wisdom.


The second H, Heart


I pledge my heart to greater loyalty.

Lights candle from that held by Head and returns to place.

I would be loyal to my family, my friends, my country, and my ideals. In my relations with others, I would be sympathetic and kind, thus enriching my own life with understanding, faith, and confidence in mankind.

Leader The third H, Hand!

I pledge my hands to larger service.

Lights candle from that held by Heart and returns to place.

May I so train my hands that difficult tasks will find me deft and skillful, that routine duties will be done well and efficiently, that I may serve others and find joy in my work.


The fourth H, Health.


I pledge my health to better living.

Lights candle from that held by Hand and returns to place.

That I may be a useful citizen, doing my part fully and well, I would guard as a valued possession my clean, strong body, and my good health.


While we sing I'm Looking Over a 4-H Clover (or some other 4-H song), let each of us light anew the flame of his 4-H ideal.


Head, Heart, Hand, and Health go in four directions to light the candles of persons near the front of the group. Each person lights the candle of someone behind him.

Leader and 4-H's

After all candles have been lit

As the great central flame of all reaches out to the four corners of the earth and kindles anew the blazing lights, so today (night) we light again our sacred Friendship Fire for a clear head, a true heart, willing hands, and joyous health. And as our lights shine, we know that we shall grow.


Let us lift high our candles and repeat together the 4-H pledge. I pledge:

My Head to clearer thinking
My Heart to greater loyalty
My Hands to larger service
My Health to better living for my club, my community, and my country, and my world.

With this pledge on our lips and the flame of 4-H work in our hearts let us blow our candles and sing Taps.

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