Thursday, April 28, 2011

Children Sing Psalms

1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter, Psalm 148:

11 Kings of the earth, all nations,
princes, earth's judges all:
12 Both young men, yea, and maidens too,
old men, and children small.
13 Let them God's name praise; for his name
alone is excellent:
His glory reacheth far above
the earth and firmament.

One of the special blessings of Biblical psalmody is that it is intended for all -- the whole family, as well as the whole congregation. Children too may and ought to sing the songs of Zion, that is, Word of God.

Joel R. Beeke, "Psalm Singing in Calvin and the Puritans," in Joel R. Beeke and Anthony T. Selvaggio, eds., Sing A New Song: Rediscovering Psalm Singing for the Twenty-First Century, pp. 22-23:

Calvin felt so strongly about psalm singing that early on he introduced it into his Geneva school. Students were required at the Academy of Geneva to "exercise themselves in singing psalms" every day after the noon meal.30 Calvin's goal was to enable children to sing psalms at school, church, and home so that they could help their parents learn to sing them also.31 Calvin wrote, "If some children, whom someone has practiced beforehand in some modest church song, sing in a loud and distinct voice, the people listening with complete attention and following in their hearts what is sung by mouth, little by little each one will become accustomed to sing with the others."32

30. Theodore Gerold, Les plus anciennes melodies de l'Eglise protestante de Strasbourg et leurs auteurs (Paris: Librairie Felix Alcan, 1928), 15.
31. [Michael] Lefebvre, Singing the Songs of Jesus, 13 [actually the reference is to p. 22]
32. CO 10:12

Jacobus Koelman, The Duties of Parents, p. 59:

63. Children must also sing psalms. In this connection, it is useful for them to know enough about music to sing the psalm tunes without assistance....Convey to them in all sincerity, from heart to heart, what the psalmist is telling us in the psalms that they are memorizing and what he teaches us, so they may also understand what they have committed to memory and what they sing. Bring up the words of those psalms on various occasions, and show your children how they can make use of them. They ought to know the following psalms: 1, 2, 6, 8, 15, 16, 19, 23, 25, 32, 45, 51, 72, 84, 90, 91, 100, 103, 111, 116, 130, 139, 145, 146, 148, 149, 150.

Joel Beeke, Family Worship:

Sing simple psalms, if you have young children. In choosing Psalms to sing, look for songs that children can easily master, and songs of particular importance for them to know. Choose songs that express the spiritual needs of your children for repentance, faith, and renewal of heart and life; songs that reveal God’s love for His people, and the love of Christ for the lambs of His flock; or that remind them of their covenant privileges and duty. The words should be simple and plain, and the tune easy to sing. For example, in The Psalter see No. 53, “The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want.” The text is simple enough for any child who has learned to talk; there are only three words of more than two syllables (righteousness, overflows, forevermore). Words such as righteousness, goodness, and mercy should be pointed out and explained before hand. Don’t forget to begin by telling the children that a shepherd is someone who takes care of the sheep he owns and loves! It is unwise to assume that such things are plain enough in themselves.

W.W. Lawrence, "The Psalms and the Young," in John McNaugher, ed., The Psalms in Worship, pp. 363, 367-368:

Give the Psalter songs a chance, and God's way will be vindicated....The young appreciate the songs of God....As the Saviour took the little ones in His arms, saying, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of heaven," so the Psalter hymns gather young men and maidens, and children small, into the song of praise, sweeping their voices and hearts into the anthem, saying, Suffer the young to voice His inspired word, for of such is the kingdom of praise.

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing so beautiful as the sweet voices of children singing praises to God!
    All of mine have loved Ps 18:28 etc
    "The Lord will light my candle so that it shall shine full bright.
    The Lord my God will also make my darkness to be light!"