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Music has played an integral part in religious worship and instruction since Bible times. Important victories and events were commemorated in song, such as the Song of Moses in Exod 15 and the Song of Deborah and Barak in Jdgs 5. Music has served to give praise to God and to instruct future generations in God’s ways. The Psalms were sung by the people of Israel as an integral part of their Temple worship and to guide them in a life of faith. The Psalms still occupy a prominent place in our hymn books today. Those who understand the message of the “new creation” sing the “new song” of Isa 42 and Rev 5. Without music to express the feelings and ideas that words alone cannot express, worship and religious instruction are not complete.

Music is a powerful teaching tool in Sunday school. It can be used:

to put your students in a relaxed and receptive mood.
drive home the point of a lesson.
add enjoyment to the lesson.
encourage memorization of facts and Bible verses.
highlight important moral values without being “preachy”.
repeat information for a long time after its introduction.

Singing a song such as “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”1 can turn your students’ attention away from other distractions and remind them why they are in Sunday school. If you are teaching a lesson about the conquest of Jericho, a rendition of “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” is a fun way to reinforce the story.2 When you are asking students to memorize the Lord’s Prayer3 or the 23rd Psalm,4 singing the words to a melody may help them learn it more quickly and remember it longer. Or if you are studying the Creation of Gen 1, ending the class by singing “All things bright and beautiful” will help drive home the point of the lesson.5

The simple fact is that melody, rhythm, and rhyming words combine to make a Bible message more memorable. Think about your own experience. If you sang songs when you were in Sunday school, you can probably still hum many of the melodies and remember many of the words. Hearing the songs again often calls some very happy memories to mind. Music is a valuable teaching tool in Sunday school.

Sunday school songs to sing

Sing to the Lord,6

contains 133 hymns selected for use in Christadelphian Sunday schools and youth groups. Just over 50 of these are favorites from the Christadelphian Hymn Book. The rest include many beloved Sunday school songs: “All things bright and beautiful” (3); “Morning has broken” (9); “Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children” (23); “Thank you for every new good morning” (25); a rendering of “Amazing Grace” (47); “Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear” (32); “The wise man built his house upon the rock” (55); “Zacchaeus was a very little man” (60); “The Bible tells of God’s great plan” (84); “We love the good old Bible” (87); “We love the wonderful stories” (88); “Jesus bids us shine” (100); “Make what is true more true to me” (104); “Saviour, teach me day by day” (109); “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” (111); “The wise may bring their learning” (112), and “Whisper a prayer in the morning” (118). Chances are you can hum many of the melodies as you read this list. Songs like these provide the children with a rich spiritual heritage that lasts a lifetime. Sing to the Lord is published in a music edition and a words-only edition.

Praise the Lord,7 contains 300 spiritual songs for Sunday school use and more. Praise the Lord includes many of the songs that were published in four Sing Hosanna song books during the 1970s and 1980s. It contains a wealth of new songs as well. The Sing Hosanna books are out of print, but Praise the Lord retains such favorites as: “What a friend we have in Jesus” (121); “Amazing Grace” (134); “Give me oil in my lamp” (“Sing Hosanna”) (166); “I lift my eyes to the quiet hills” (185); “I love you, Lord” (187); “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho” (206); “Just a closer walk with Thee” (207); “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (251); “The Lord is my shepherd” (266); “Send the light, the blessed gospel light” (270); “This is the day that the Lord has made” (274); “To God be the glory, great things He has done!” (278); “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” (290); “Go down, Moses” (292), and “Count your blessings, name them one by one” (293). Praise the Lord is published in a music edition and a words-only edition. It is also supported by 13 CDs that can be ordered separately.

Sing a Bible Story, Songs for Infants

,8 has 73 Bible songs that have been selected or specially written to complement more than half of the Infant lessons for children ages three to six.9 Songs are indexed to lesson numbers. For example, “Who built the ark, Noah, Noah” is indexed to lessons 2 and 3 (“Noah builds a boat” and “Noah is saved from the flood”); “The Lord loves me” is indexed to lesson 34 (“Jesus’ Friends in Prison”); “Go tell it on the mountain” is indexed to lesson 35 (“He is coming again”), etc. Many of the melodies are traditional and easy to sing. Sing a Bible Story is published in a small music edition booklet. It is also supported by two companion CDs that can be ordered separately. You can also order the Sing a Bible Story song book and CDs from Christadelphian CDs at www.christadelphiancds.co.uk.

Bible Songs for Young Children,10

provides 143 songs to go with a full range of Bible lessons. Some of the songs have traditional melodies and words, but most are new. Bible Songs for Young Children is published in three words-only booklets that are supported by accompanying CDs. The Christadelphian Sunday School Association website is presently being updated, but you can order Bible Songs for Young Children from Christadelphian CDs at www. christadelphiancds.co.uk.

The Christadelphian Hymn Book

, (see footnote 1), contains many hymns that are easy enough for children to learn and love. “All creatures of our God and King” (76); “Thy goodness, Lord, our souls confess” (131); “O come, all ye faithful” (195); “All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King” (197), and “Christ the King is coming” (274) are just a few of these. Using the hymn book in Sunday school has been made easier than ever by the Christadelphian Music website, www.christadelphianmusic.org. High definition MP3 piano recordings of all the hymns can be downloaded from the website and used to accompany Sunday school or ecclesial singing. Whether you teach Sunday school or not, you may want to visit — and listen to — the Christadelphian Music website.

With the many Christadelphian music resources available to us, singing in Sunday school has never been easier to enjoy. And the children’s learning will be greatly enriched by the experience.

Carol Linsenmeier (Cleveland, H) 

Notes:

1. Christadelphian Hymn Book, The Christadelphian, Birmingham, 2002, #356; Praise The Lord, Hoddesdon Christadelphian Services, 2010, #251.

2. Praise The Lord, #206.

3. Christadelphian Hymn Book, #161

4. Christadelphian Hymn Book, #10, #11, #12; Praise The Lord, #110, #266; Sing to the Lord, The Christadelphian, Birmingham, 1979, #27, #28.

5. Praise The Lord, #4; Sing to the Lord, #3.

6. The Christadelphian, Birmingham, 1979, see website: www.thechristadelphian.com

7. See Hoddesdon Conference website, http://hoddesdon.org/services

8. Christadelphian Sunday School Union, Birmingham. See http://www.cssu.org.uk/.

9. Infant lessons can be downloaded from the CSSU (UK) website.

10. Christadelphian Sunday School Association, Modbury North, South Australia

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