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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hymn Study: Our method

Studying hymns... this just cracks me up!  If you would have told me when I was a small child that I would someday enjoy studying, let alone singing hymns, I think I would have thought you were crazy. for sure!

photo courtesy of Martin-ko

Well, here I am some 20+ years later doing that very thing...  heheh.  Not only that, but I am making my kids study hymns too!  hahahahahah!  Well.  Fortunately, they ENJOY it even NOW, even though they are still kids.  :)

Knowing hymns provides the believer with SUCH a rich background... presenting theology in a poetical way... bringing joy to the heart when one least expects it when some happy tune gets stuck in the head...  Precious.  But in order to have this treasury to draw from, one has to have some knowledge of the hymns already there.  It gets there by becoming familiar with the hymns.  We don't have the added benefit of having hymns sung in English every Sunday at church (it's all in Spanish!).  So, what my kids learn of hymns is what Micah and I will teach them.

There are so many!  Where does one begin?!  Well, AmblesideOnline does give suggestions, and that is one place to start.  OR you could just make a list of all your favorite ones and concentrate on one a month.  I do both!  ;)  One a month isn't enough for us, we'd get kind of tired of singing the same one over and over again (though we do sing hymns occasionally as part of our family worship).  But, either way, we plan to study 2 per month.  One from the AO Hymn Schedule and one of our own choosing. I feel all the liberty to substitute hymns from the following list.  After all, I don't know all of those, and there are others that I like more, etc.

Here is the AO schedule for this year:
(click over to the AO site for links to the cyberhymnal pages)
September: I Am Resolved 
October: To God Be The Glory 
November: The Love of God 
December: Tell Me The Story Of Jesus 
January: O God, Our Help In Ages Past 
February: I'll Fly Away
March: At Calvary 
April: Am I A Soldier Of The Cross? 
May: I Know That My Redeemer Lives (Wesley/Handel) 
June: 'Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus 
July: Nearer, My God, To Thee 
August: More Love To Thee, O Christ

So, once I've chosen my hymns, I google the title for more information.  I'm only partially interested in the history and the writer information.  Sometimes it is interesting, sometimes not.  Mainly, I need an audio file of the song to sing along with, since none of us can play an instrument (yet) and the lyrics. If you play the piano and have your own hymn book, you could skip this step :)

Then I print off a copy of the music/lyrics for our family hymn book (a 3-ring binder) and several for each of the reading kids to use (4 total).  You could either take a copy from your hymnal, get hymnals for everybody, or print it off from the internet like we do.

photo courtesy of  anissat

Our kids keep their copy of the hymn in their 'everything' notebooks.

At lunch time on Tuesdays I put the music on the computer on repeat, and we sing along once before we eat and pray, then I just let the music run in the background while we eat.  Thursdays I do the same thing with the other hymn that we are studying for that month.  This month for example, we are studying 'I am Resolved' from the AO list, and 'We Rest on Thee', my choice.  Tuesdays we focus on the former, Thursdays the latter.

It's as simple as that!  :)

Helpful Links:
You can find LOTS of hymns sung in different styles on Youtube.  Just search using the title.
Timeless Truths has a lot of resources including the music file and sheet music. also has overhead files, sheet music and the like.
Here's an excellent post from AmbleLore where Lorraine describes hymn study in her family.

If you haven't started, I encourage you to pick some hymns and start a new tradition in your family! 
Stay tuned because tomorrow I'll be posting links for this month's AO hymn suggestion  :)

Does your church sing hymns every Sunday?
Do you sing hymns at home?  
How do you do it at your house?  


Richele said...

Oh boy, I'd love to hear about your conversion! The whole thing is as you said - "Precious."

I didn't grow up with hymn singing but we did learn all the patriotic hymns as...well, that used to be what was done in America. We do sing hymns at home but it is usually spontaneous or when others come over. My husband plays the guitar and Max is learning to play. Truly, my heart swells when I hear the boys singing hymns in their room.

This is the first term that we are doing "formal" hymn study using "Hymns for a Kid's Heart." The stories behind the hymns are so touching. It's our second day so can't offer much except we do enjoy the Lord and hope He delights in us as well : )

amy in peru said...

Awesome. You'll have to post on that book later on in the year, I think I've heard of it... we do sing hymns at home, I should've said regularly instead of occasionally, but we don't know very many by heart still... working on that harder this year. The more often we do it, the better it should be. It IS very VERY fun to hear my kids spontaneously burst out with a line here or there from one of the hymns we're working on. We started studying hymns in the beginning of our AO journey 6 years ago, but were very hit and miss until last year. Now that I've gotten the lunch time thing down we are able to do it much more consistently.

Jeanne said...

We're a Psalm singing denomination, so we study Psalms and not hymns during school. We learn them by heart, adding in a new selection when the old one is learned. We try to sing them often after that during Family Worship, just so we don't forget them. Oh yes, I forgot to say we learn them in French and English at the same time.

Eventually we will try to learn different parts. I would love to know more alto parts, and dh loves to sing the tenor. At the moment we all sing the melody.

I love this part of our day.

amy in peru said...

ooh! how neat Jeanne! thanks for sharing! and we too learn the hymns in both English (obviously) and Spanish when applicable. Of course, I really need some sort of index to know which are which because sometimes the translation varies so.

I also want to learn to sing parts... I was thinking of starting that this year. Let me know how that goes for you!

Martine said...

Hi Amy,
This sounds like something we could do too! I would love to sing more as a family, we hardly ever do that.
But what exactly is the difference between a hymn and a song? When does 'something you sing' qualify as a hymn? There is lots of christian music (e.g. for children), but not everything is a hymn, I suppose? And do you only sing hymns as a family, or also other christian songs?


Phyllis said...

This is a great post. It is sometimes hard to know how to approach things like picture, composer and hymn studies. You make it looks simple and approachable. Thanks so much.

Andrea said...

I LOVE hymns. Sadly, our church rarely sings them. I am determined to learn that home with our kids as I believe hymns really helped form and nurture my young faith. Thanks for sharing how you "do" hymns and for the links. What are your "Everything" notebooks. They sound like something my kids might need?

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

We sing hymns at church for every service. I love love love them!

We sang "It is Well with My Soul" as a congregational at the beginning of Christian's funeral service. I'll never forget weeping and singing the words to that song, a song that was written after such tragic loss. We have sung that hymn often the past two years and I still cry, just not quite as much. I wish you could hear our church sing this song, Amy. You can FEEL the heart in it and hear all the different parts sung with passion.

Anyhow, all that to say yup, we sing em and love em at church and at our house! :)


Ginger said...

So fun to hear I'm not the last person (my age) alive whe enjoys hymns too. It IS fun to hear the kids burst out in song outa no where with, "A mighty fortress is ur God...." :)

Thanks for the lunchtime idea and the focusing on one or two a month.

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

I have hymn study on our schedule this year, but we've yet to actually accomplish it. ;)
I like how you do it, though! Thanks for contributing this to the CM Carnival.

Nancy Kelly said...

This line cracked me up, "I'm only partially interested in the history and the writer information. Sometimes it is interesting, sometimes not. " It's too true - thanks for being blunt!

We sing at least one hymn in church, we memorize 2 per semester in co-op and our family sunday school memorizes 3 per year. It's been a great, rich time of learning and loving music.

Thanks for sharing how you do it! Your kids are blessed.

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing this and your other hymn post on Epi Kardia. I couldn't figure out how to post a comment there to the effect that we've drifted away from hymn study lately, so I'll just comment here. :) Appreciated both her post and yours. I'd like to get back to it.

Our church does sing hymns, a cappella style, and we sing and listen to them at home at times, too, so even if we're not studying them the children learn some, and that's how I learned them as a child. But the biographical info can be a nice touch and focusing on one (or 2 ;)) for a while to learn the meaning and become more familiar with the words can be helpful as well. And I like to hear my children sing. :)

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