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Sing With Me: Introducing a Children's Songbook

How many of us remember the specific lessons we learned in Sunday school? Probably not very many. But how about the songs we sang in those same Sunday school classes? Do you remember the words to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “Away in a Manger,” or “O Be Careful, Little Eyes”?

Choosing songs for children to sing is a priestly task. It is priestly because the chooser of the song is putting words in the mouths of children—words that are used in speaking to or of God. These sung words become the foundation of their faith. The pairing of text and music in songs has always been a powerful medium—so powerful that St. Augustine wavered between encouraging singing and wanting to stop the practice all together. But because singing is not only one important way to praise God, but also such a good learning tool and an enjoyable activity, it makes sense that we use it for the glory of God.

Sing With Me is connected to a curriculum for children that follows a long line of church school curriculums incorporating music to help students learn. In the 1980s Faith Alive Christian Resources developed a curriculum called LiFE—Living in Faith Everyday—which was followed by the related but independent children’s songbook Songs for LiFE. Similarly, when the publisher made plans for a new Sunday school curriculum called Walk With Me (released in 2004 and 2005), they decided to follow it up with a new children’s songbook. Sing With Me is another great asset not only for Sunday school, but also for congregational worship, Christian day schools, homes, and even piano students.

Approximately half of the songbook is made up of a wide range of songs included in the curriculum for the various age levels, including “God’s Not Dead,” “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,” “Praise to the Infant King,” “Amigos de Cristo,” “Every Move I Make,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “One, Two, Three, Jesus Loves Me,” and more. (For more information on Walk With Me call 1-800-333-8300 or visit www.FaithAliveResources.org.) The committee that gathered to expand those selections sought to find a balance between songs that were joyful and songs that were confessions or that dealt seriously with struggles kids face in this increasingly complex world. We looked for songs that were energetic and playful as well as reflective, songs kids could sing for fun and others that could be included in worship, and songs that represent the culture we live in as well as songs in languages and styles from other cultures. But overriding our desire for breadth was a desire for depth, songs that were biblically and theologically accurate but also served the priestly function of faith formation.

Sing With Me! will be published in two editions. The children’s edition, to be released first, includes simplified accompaniments as well as a few optional instrumental parts. The leader’s edition will include full accompaniments, song notes, and sign language suggestions, as well as optional instrumental parts. To give you a taste of the music in Sing With Me! I have chosen to highlight a spiritual, a psalm, and a hymn.

A Spiritual

Click to listen to “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” [ full version ]

“I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” is an African-American spiritual that was arranged and made popular by Wendell Whalum. While its text and melody are very accessible to children, it is equally appropriate for adults to sing. The song makes a good song of sending as we dedicate our lives to God’s service.

A Psalm

Click to listen to “Sing with Hearts” [ full version ]

“Sing with Hearts” is based on Psalm 100. The text, written by Jonathan Malicsi from Manila, Philippines, is set to a traditional melody by the Kalinga group from northern Luzon, Philippines. Younger children might learn the refrain and older ones the stanzas. Or have the children learn the stanzas and ask the congregation join in on the refrain. The song is best sung a cappella, with guitar, or an underlying ostinato pattern (played by stamping tubes or bass xylophone), rather than with keyboard.

A Hymn

Click to listen to “Holy, Holy, Holy” [ full version ]

This songbook also includes a number of hymns from various eras, from “He Leadeth Me” to the modern hymn “In Christ Alone” (see RW 71). For most of the older hymns we have included a new keyboard accompaniment. One such example is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826) for Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, when the assigned lectionary passage was Revelation 4. Just as it is important for children to learn the songs of the church of all places it is equally important that they learn the songs of the church of all ages, and especially some of the key hymns that are sung in churches throughout the world.

 

Excerpt
A Sampling of Song Titles from Sing With Me!

All Creatures of Our God and King
Amazing Grace, Fill It Up
Ask, Seek, Knock
Be Thou My Vision
Come and Pray in Us
Come on, Ring Those Bells
For the Beauty of the Earth
Friends, Love One Another
God Is the Rock
Goodness Is Stronger Than Evil
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Guide My Feet
Here I Am to Worship
I Have the Joy
I Will Celebrate
Imela
Jesus Christ Is with Us
Lift High the Cross
Lord, Make Me an Alleluia
My God Is So Great
Only a Boy Named David
Praise to the Infant King
Salt and Light
Song of Simeon
Stand on the Rock
Thank You, Lord, for Making Me
That’s Good
The Butterfly Song
This Is My Father’s World
We Are One in Christ Jesus
What Can I Give Him?
Who Built the Ark?
Yes, Lord, Yes
You Are My All in All
Zacchaeus