I think it’s easy for us to assume that hymns are too deep, too difficult, or perhaps even too boring for children. I’m totally convinced that’s not true.
Let me share a quick story with you.
Every night my 3-year-old daughter has a ready excuse for why she can’t get to sleep. She’s thirsty. She’s not tired (ha!). Her tummy hurts. She’s “scary”—meaning she is scared.
Every night I lie down beside her and hold her hand.
And (almost) every night she says, “Sing to me!” (This usually sounds more like a demand than a request, but at bedtime, pretty much anything goes just to get the cranky toddler to sleep.)
Now, I’ve been a mom for 22+ years, and I know a lot of cute little bedtime songs like “Hush, Little Baby” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
But do you know what Kiera usually requests? “Amazing Grace” or “Jesus Loves Me.”
Does my toddler understand the full meaning of the hymns I sing to her at bedtime? I’m sure she doesn’t.
But here’s the important thing: She is absorbing truths now that will help her establish a strong spiritual foundation as she grows older.
If you’re new to hymn study, here are a few of the reasons why I believe it’s so important. Remember, it’s NEVER too early or too late to start!
4 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn Hymns
1. Hymns give children a solid foundation in Christian doctrine.
As Christian parents, we make sure our little ones hear the well-loved Bible stories from an early age. We tell them the stories of Noah and the Flood, Daniel and the lions, David and Goliath, and dozens more.
We also help our children memorize scripture. (Right now my little girls, ages four and six, are memorizing Psalm 1. It warms my heart to hear their little voices repeating the psalm with me!)
However, it can be little more challenging to teach children the deeper theological truths and Christian doctrines contained in the Bible. Learning hymns is extremely helpful in exposing them to these foundational truths in a way that they can understand and remember.
2. Learning hymns helps children participate in worship.
Have you ever been in a church service where an unfamiliar song was sung? Doesn’t that leave you feeling lost, as if you aren’t an active participant in the singing?
Similarly, imagine how younger children feel if they are sitting in a worship service, completely unable to participate in the congregational singing.
Teaching our children hymns enables them to participate in the singing, even if they are too young to read. The rich lyrics help our children to praise and worship God from their hearts, when perhaps they wouldn’t have had the words to do so otherwise.
“Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and . . . in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed.” — Charlotte Mason
3. Hymn study helps children understand the Bible better.
Many hymns are paraphrases of scripture passages. For example, Isaac Watts penned these words in the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”:
“A thousand ages in Thy sight
are like an ev’ning gone,
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.”
Compare his words to the words of Psalm 90:4:
“For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”
By intentionally studying hymns with our children, we can help them expand their vocabulary and be better able to understand the language of the Bible.
4. Learning hymns develops children’s taste for God-honoring music.
So many churches today are deserting the old hymns in favor of singing praise music. And while it is good to sing praises to God, most (if not all) of the modern praise music is lacking in depth and spirit.
The great hymns of our faith were written by deeply spiritual men and women who had a heart knowledge of the words they wrote. Today’s praise music pales in comparison to the rich truths and heartfelt worship contained in the hymns that have stood the test of time.
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