As Christians, singing is one of the main ways we praise God and build community, but sometimes it can be difficult for children to figure out how to read a hymn from a hymnal, or to connect a hymn text to their own experiences and emotions. The Kids Celebrate bulletins that accompany All Creation Sings seek to help kids understand more about hymnals, as well as aiding children in finding creative ways to connect to hymns.
The Kids Celebrate: Hymns and Songs bulletin is largely dedicated to helping kids connect with and engage in congregational song. On page 6, there’s an activity called “Anatomy of a Stanza,” which shows a sample hymn text formatted the way text is formatted in a hymnal: first the opening line of stanza one; then the opening line of stanza two; then the opening line of stanza three; then the opening line of stanza four; then, after a space, the second line of stanza one, and so on. The “hymn text” in this activity is about how to read a hymn text, so it gives kids clues about the order they should be reading as they puzzle through it.
On pages 8 and 9 of Kids Celebrate: Hymns and Songs, there’s an activity called “So Much Information in Such a Small Space,” which examines the information at the bottom of a hymn, such as the composer’s name and the copyright information. Kids are then asked to look at a variety of hymns to see if they can decipher this information now that they know what they’re looking for. Pages 10 and 11 continue asking kids to flip through All Creation Sings, this time to complete a crossword puzzle whose clues are all background information about hymns and songs that can be found in ACS.
In addition to the activities in Kids Celebrate: Hymns and Songs that help kids learn to decipher a hymnal, all four Kids Celebrate bulletins ask kids to make a song sketch, a creative response to a hymn. The prompt asks, “What kinds of pictures, images, and colors come to mind? Draw your version of this hymn in the space below.” This activity helps kids realize that hymns are for everyone, including them.
Hymns are a key way that we express and pass on our faith, so it makes sense to ensure that the children among us are able to understand and appreciate both the hymns themselves and how we write them down. We hope that these resources will help the kids in your worshiping community to engage more fully with your congregation’s music.