Teaching Hymns to Children - Part I

Is there value in teaching hymns to children? Are they effective teaching tools? How do you incorporate them into rehearsals? Here are a few thoughts:

Why teach hymns to children?

Church heritage

  • Connect the children to the church's history and invite them to be a part of the legacy
  • Help develop their identity as a choir. How is a church children's choir different than an elementary school or community choir?

Spiritual formation

  • Connect the hymn texts to Scripture verses
  • Discuss the meaning of the text and communicate its relevance for today

Music education

  • Use hymns to teach children about singing: unison, 2-part, canon, vowels, consonants, shaping
  • Identify elements of tonality and rhythm once the hymn is learned: recognition of patterns, phrase structure, meter, melodic lines
  • Introduce the children to the various genres of music represented in the hymnal: spirituals, folk melodies, etc.


Hymns in rehearsals

  • Choose a hymn to use as a gathering or welcome song
  • Select a hymn of the month (I tend to use only the first verse)
  • Connect hymns to anthems and other special music with a common theme or musical element

Hymns in worship

  • Use hymn arrangements as anthems
  • Have the children lead the opening hymn for the congregation (from the front or while processing in)
  • Give children an opportunity to be active participants in the service

Role in worship

  • Children in leadership
  • Emphasis on purpose over performance

Check back on Wednesday for Part II of this discussion - hymn selection and suggestions for worship!