Introducing Children to Hymns

Sep 7, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Cathy Skogen-Soldner

As you roll into a new school year and select songs for your children to sing, remember to include a hymn or two.

Hymns that include lyrics about creation are a perfect choice for children:

  1. “Lord, Your Hands Have Formed” references water tumbling over rocks, sunlight, seeds, buds, and plants. 
  2. “How Great Thou Art” references stars, rolling thunder, forests, mountains, and birds singing sweetly in the trees.

There are many ways to teach and explore a hymn:

  1. Listen to recordings of the hymn in a variety of styles, from a traditional version with a choir accompanied by an organ to a contemporary version with a soloist accompanied by a band, and then invite the children to sing along.
  2. Teach sign language for key words in the hymn to aid in learning and memorization.
  3. As an alternative to singing the hymn, invite children to listen as the lyrics are read to them and then invite them to read the lyrics together as a class.
  4. Invite children to select one phrase from the hymn. Then encourage them to draw the lyrics by combining their original artwork with the printed words in their hymn phrase. Song lyric drawing examples are available online.
  5. Distribute percussion instruments and work as a group to compose a simple rhythm that compliments the natural rhythm of the words in the hymn. 
  6. Create a combination of hand rhythms and motions that will enable the class to act out the words in the hymn.
  7. Break the hymn into phrases. Instruct children to select a phrase and create an illustration of their phrase using colored pencils, crayons, and markers. When the illustrations are complete, connect all of them together to make a hymn banner that can be displayed in the classroom or the church sanctuary.

Hymns are songs of prayer and praise to God and are designed to be sung in community with others. If you know a hymn is going to be sung during worship on a specific day, teach it to the children in the classroom that day. Teaching children hymns equips them to share their voice, a voice that is welcome in the community of faith. There’s something very rewarding about watching a child’s eyes light up as the congregation begins to sing a hymn that they know and can be a part of.

Topics: Children Ministry, Hymnody, children

Cathy Skogen-Soldner

Written by Cathy Skogen-Soldner

Cathy Skogen-Soldner is composer and owner of Cathy’s Music and works as Coordinator of Children’s Worship Participation at St. Timothy Lutheran. Some of her best insights and creative ideas have come from nuggets she has received from the children in her life.

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