Prayer is an important part of any church choir rehearsal, but maybe especially for children’s choirs.
Spiritual growth goes hand-in-hand with music education in this setting, and taking time to pray together is an important part of cultivating faith, learning how to trust, and developing a personal understanding of who God is.
Praying a short, simple prayer on the spot is always an option, but if you’re looking for something different, here are a few other ideas for prayers you can use in your children’s choir rehearsals:
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1. Prayers for singing or speaking
Searching for a prayer that’s meaningful for your group? Try using a hymn verse or the text from one of your anthems. A few ideas:
O Little Town of Bethlehem (verse 4):
O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell,
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel."
Source: Phillip Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” United Methodist Hymnal #230
Amazing Day (Rebecca Thompson)
Prayer for Humility (Mark Patterson)
Make My Life a Song (Mark Burrows)
Guide Us, Lord (Mark Patterson)
For the Fruit of All Creation (text by Fred Pratt Green, United Methodist Hymnal #97)
For the Beauty of the Earth (verse 1):
For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
Source: Folliott S. Pierpoint, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” United Methodist Hymnal #92
I love these words from "Be Thou My Vision" - just think how meaningful this could be for your young singers if you take a little time to explain it to them:
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Source: Mary E. Byrne, "Be Thou My Vision," United Methodist Hymnal #451
2. Prayers from the hymnal
Your hymnal is a valuable resource! Take some time to see what's included in your church's hymnal. You might find something like Alan Paton's "For Courage to Do Justice" (United Methodist Hymnal #456).
I love the mission for serving others that’s included in this text. Here’s an excerpt:
"Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and use me to bring them to those places."
3. Prayers for every season
I found this beautiful prayer while searching for something specific to Advent and Christmas one year. I shortened it for the purposes of sharing it together in rehearsal each week. It's so poetic, yet simple and accessible—perfect for centering young hearts on the reason for the season.
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting. AMEN.
Source: Robert Louis Stevenson, "A Christmas Prayer," excerpt
4. Poetry as prayer
This lovely Christina Rossetti text is, believe it or not, in the United Methodist Hymnal! I love the imagery and sweetness of these words (see "For Illumination," UMH #477).
"Open wide the windows of our spirits, O Lord, and fill us full of light."
An excerpt from the Prayer of St. Francis is another good choice:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Source: St. Francis of Assisi, public domain
A lovely verse particularly appropriate for Thanksgiving time, but a sweet prayer to offer any time of year:
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
Source: Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson
5. My all-time favorite
My all-time favorite opening prayer also comes from the United Methodist Hymnal ("For True Singing," #69, for those of you that have one handy). A choir director that I interned with during college used an excerpt of this prayer with her elementary choirs and I fell in love with it. It speaks so well to what we do and why it's important:
"Grant that what we sing with our lips
we may believe in our hearts,
and what we believe in our hearts,
we may practice in our lives."
Read the full prayer here.
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