Sunday, May 16, 2010

Music for Worship: Hymns

Hymns are so vital to a Christian family's walk that they get their own post. Many hymns tell a story, a story through salvation ("What Wondrous Love is This?" & "Amazing Grace") or from despair to joy ("Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart" and "From Whence This Fear and Unbelief?"). Many also have their roots in personal experience. While it is tremendously important for your children to see YOU interacting with the hymns, it is also enriching for them to know how those songs came to be in the first place. We tend to remember that for which we have multiple levels of experience. Here are several books you may find helpful. As always, please let me know of others you know and love!

-- All Things Bright & Beautiful, illustrated by Anna Vojtech- I have loved reading this picture book of this familiar hymn to my Hannah. The pictures are just wonderful. Though it doesn't tell a story so much as describe a setting, it is a setting so familiar to children that they easily connect it to their own experience.
--Morning Has Broken, illustrated by Eleanor Farjeon, is similar.
--the Hymns for a Kid's Heart series, by Bobbie Wolgemuth & Joni Earakson Tada- each of the 4 volumes in this series tells stories behind a dozen hymns in a way that children can understand and relate to, and each comes with a CD of the hymns introduced. I like the CDs, but I do admit that I think the adult voices aren't the best. =D
-- a little more advanced, and without the cool CD, is the 101 Hymn Stories series, by Kenneth W. Osbeck.
--Stories Behind the Hymns that Inspire America, by Ace Collins, details hymns dear to our nation's heart.

I also highly recommend looking around a bit for the stories behind your favorite modern worship songs. CD liner notes can be gold mines. Also look online-- google the song's name, then the words "story behind." Including the song's performing artist can help, too. For example, you could do "steven curtis chapman cinderella story behind." Often artists explain backgrounds to their songs in interviews, so look for reviews of your favorite CDs or interviews of your favorite artists.

1 comment:

Darrell said...

Well, I've printed all of your music posts to read as I begin taking a stab at lesson plans for this year. I'll likely have some questions as I go and hope that I'm not imposing.

I want to start the year discussing Psalms (may do more on hymns later). In part, this is because we will also be studying ancient history (as an aside if you have any resources or recommendations about how to discuss the music of Greece, Rome and Egypt, I would be obliged).
So I aim to spend 3-4 weeks introducing the Psalms.

My goals would be:
1) Discuss what Psalms are and the different types of Psalms we encounter (laments, prayers of thanksgiving, etc.).
2) Spending some time studying Hebrew poetry, on a very basic level obviously. This would include looking at how a few Psalms are used by NT writers and very basic principles of interpretation.
3) Learning 3-5 Psalms put to music.
4) Read the biblical narratives from the historical texts that correspond to the particular Psalms.

Are there compilations of Psalms that you would recommend? Also, any other resources that might come in handy?