How to Get Started with Hymn Study

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Not sure how to start hymn study in your homeschool? Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Sheet music for the hymn "Abide with Me" on a piano keyboard

Hymns have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. In fact, some of my earliest memories are of singing hymns in the little country church where my dad served as pastor.

Sadly, the old hymns have been replaced by modern “praise music” in most of today’s churches, and many children and teens are missing out on the rich heritage of Christian hymns that earlier generations enjoyed.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn Hymns

Hymn study is a simple way to keep hymns alive in our modern day. It can help the entire family learn the words and understand the meaning of the great hymns of our faith.

Don’t know where to start with hymn study? Here are the most important things that should be included whenever you study hymns with your family.

5 Important Things to Include in Hymn Study

1. Hymn history

Learning the story behind the hymn is very important in understanding the context of the hymn. When we know about the life and faith of the author, as well as the circumstances behind the writing of the hymn, we can appreciate its meaning in a new way.

For example, Horatio Spafford penned the words to “It Is Well with My Soul” after losing his daughters in a shipwreck. The words “when sorrows like sea billows roll” are a specific reference to the tragedy.

Knowing this, how much more powerful are the words of the refrain:

“It is well, it is well, with my soul”!

Every hymn has a story. Use those stories to capture your child’s interest and help them understand the meaning of the hymn better.

See this list of recommended hymn study resources for more hymn stories for kids.

2. Hymn lyrics

One of the main goals of hymn study is to help our kids learn the words of favorite hymns so they can sing them. This is especially helpful for young children who can’t read yet, but even older kids benefit from memorizing the lyrics.

This past Christmas, the young children in our church helped to sing “Who Is He in Yonder Stall” for the Christmas program. Even the ones who were too young to read were able to quickly pick up the words of the refrain:

“Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
’Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! crown Him, Lord of all!”

Learning hymn lyrics doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Try one of these simple ways to help your kids learn hymns.

3. Music

Learning the melody of a hymn is an important part of being able to sing it. Many kids are not able to read music and won’t be able to pick out the tune by following notes. Being familiar with the melody enables them to sing along.

You don’t even have to actually sing the hymns to be able to learn the melody. Try listening to hymn recordings or making a hymn playlist on YouTube.

Related: 7 Classic Hymns Every Child Should Know

4. Vocabulary study

It’s difficult to understand the meaning of a hymn if you don’t know what the words mean. When you study a new hymn, go through and pick out any unfamiliar words and help your child learn what they mean.

For example, in the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” we find words like forfeit, cumbered, forsake, and solace. Younger children may not be familiar with words like these.

Vocabulary study can be as simple as discussing the new word together. Or you might choose to have your child write the definition of the word or use the word to write their own sentences.

5. Related Scripture

While hymn lyrics may not be direct quotes from the Bible, every hymn is based on Scripture. It is important to point out the Scriptural references contained within the hymns we teach our kids.

For example, consider these words from the hymn “Amazing Grace”:

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!”

We can see a direct correlation between John Newton’s words and these words found in Ephesians 2:8:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith . . .”

Take time to point out these related Scriptures. Even children can appreciate the fact that hymn lyrics are based on the Word of God.

Get Started Today with a Free Hymn Study Unit

Because I believe that hymn study is so important, I’d love to send you a free hymn study unit that includes everything you need to get started right away.

Spiral bound book with music pages on cover and title "Blessed Assurance"

This free hymn study unit includes everything you need to study the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”:

  • hymn history
  • lyrics
  • sheet music
  • links to listen to the hymn
  • review questions to gauge comprehension
  • vocabulary words taken from the hymn
  • copywork and notebooking pages
  • related Scripture to memorize

Sign up below to receive your FREE hymn study unit.

More from the Meaningful Hymn Study Series

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5 Comments

  1. I read in a book recently a quote which I’m sure you will be able.to appreciate:
    “A good hymn is a reservoir of truth”
    Thank you for these great resources, I plan on utilizing them this school year!

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      Wonderful quote – so very true! I’m so glad you will be studying hymns this year! 🙂

  2. Connie Tucker says:

    This is ON POINT!! I am starting hymnal study this year with our homeschool. What I find even more AMAZING…. is that I had not seen this article until this evening and these points are EXACTLY what I told my children this afternoon!! Reading this just gave me confirmation of what God would love for us to do during our homeschooling this year!!
    It is so important for families to learn the importance of hymns. I remember growing up with hymnals and our church that we attend uses them.
    Thank you soo much for this article and your time to post it 🙂

    1. Judy Hoch says:

      I’m SO happy to hear this, Connie! I’d love to hear how your hymn study goes this year. 🙂