O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
How beautiful and instructive are the words of this old hymn! If you could make this a regular part of your homeschool day, would you?
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
What a beautiful reminder for our children to have in their hearts and minds!
Hymns make a great addition to any homeschool curriculum through the use of lyrics for reading and copying, hymnbooks for singing, memorization, theology, and even history!
While some churches have moved to praise and worship songs on a big screen, a few church denominations still sing out of hymnals. If your church does not sing hymns regularly, you can still give your children the gift of hymns at home. There are so many great ways to do this, which I will share below.
Why teach the hymns?
Good hymns have a way of cementing sound theology in our hearts and minds. While much modern worship tends to be a bit shallow and even full of theological error, a worthy selection of hymns provides an easy way to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Scripture commands us to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
We remember what we sing. So why not take the time to help your children remember God’s goodness to us, sound theology, and words of praise?
If, for whatever reason, you’re not used to singing psalms and hymns, I would like to recommend the excellent book Theology That Sticks: The Lifechanging Power of Beautiful Hymns by Chris Anderson. Though the title says “hymns,” it includes worship songs in the discussion. The author encourages the deliberate use of decidedly biblical music in the church: songs that are biblical, doctrinal, Christian, Trinitarian, congregational, unifying, inspired, diverse, emotive, experiential, beautiful, and doxological. He addresses each of these themes with scriptures and song lists. The book includes study questions for pastors, parents, and church worship leaders, plus appendices that encourage deeper study of hymns. This is not your average “inspirational hymn stories” book. This is about getting to the heart of worship. I highly recommend it for every Christian.
How do you teach hymns?
Repetition and usage. It’s as simple as that.
Listen to the hymns on your music player.
Read the words together many times.
Let your children copy the words.
But there’s more! Train Up a Child Publishing has a helpful article with some good suggestions.
Hymn resources for parents
Grab some hymnals! Sadly, it’s easy to find hymnals for sale (or free) at thrift stores and yard sales. I’ve been collecting them for years! Pick up a hymnal when you see one available. Get enough for each member of your family. Teach your children to look up hymns, and how to sing the verses and choruses. If you have children in music lessons, encourage their teacher to include some hymns.
Or, get the beautiful Timeless Hymns for Family Worship by Joni Erickson Tada.
If you’re not even sure where to start with singing hymns, you will appreciate YouTube videos with lyrics! Here are a couple to start with:
Simply Charlotte Mason recommends that parents “Select one hymn to sing together until all of the family members have learned every stanza. If you learn one hymn every six weeks or so, you will be able to cover six in a school year.”
Foundations in Worship is a full curriculum. I have not purchased this yet, but it’s on my short list. It’s in the same series as Foundations in Faith by Israel Wayne (which I have purchased and which is excellent!).
Happy Hymnody is a website for families to explore a new hymn every month. It includes many free printables, such as lyrics, coloring pages, journaling pages, and copywork. There are additional guides to purchase on Etsy.
|Be Still, My Soul: The Inspiring Stories Behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns
Discover the inspiring stories behind 175 hymns! In this devotional, you’ll learn how many of these beloved songs were written after incredible life experiences—from the heart of a repentant slave trader to a survivor of attempted suicide. You’ll also enjoy the musical score, lyrics, and in-depth biographies of 12 writers, singers, and composers. 300 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
Daily Skill Building has a How to Do a Hymn Study (Includes Free Famous Hymns Copywork). You can use this resource multiple ways. Their sheets would be a fun addition to any history curriculum by studying the hymn writer’s life on your chronological timeline.
I love copywork for multiple reasons, and the lyrics of the great hymns of the church are excellent subject matter. Whether you give your small children one line a day, or assign a full hymn to your high schooler, they are a perfect way to strengthen their language arts skills while memorizing hymns.
Hymns in Church
Abandoning hymns for something more modern is a sad commentary on the church in the West today. If your church does not sing hymns, consider speaking to your pastor about their importance. Give him a copy of Theology That Sticks, or ask to host a group study on this book. Hymns are simply old-fashioned for some, but for others, they are a threat to a false gospel. You owe it to yourself and your family to determine which is true in your church.
I used to think those that said “if your church doesn’t sing hymns, their theology is probably wrong” were exaggerating. I no longer feel that way. But that is another blog post for another day.
In the meantime, teach these beautiful songs of the church to your children. Education is discipleship, and hymns are just one of the tools in your box!