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Teach children hymns

We believe that the great Christian tradition of hymnody should be perpetuated. We treasure the invaluable contributions of the saints to our corporate and private worship in the great texts and tunes. Artistically, we admire the great hymns’ beauty and profundity. Intellectually, we appreciate their imaginative but careful communication of great Christian theology. Experientially, these poetic expressions of the faith once for all delivered to the saints have ministered to our souls. And we love the simple but affective way that the tunes and music that we use for these expressions of the faith evoke praise and adoration and even contrition to God.

But it is not enough for us to have this disposition for ourselves. Yes, if we appreciate this tradition as much as we say we do, we should be struggling to find ways to hand that tradition down to our children. Just as we struggle to teach our children Biblical doctrines, so Christian hymns are part of the faith that I believe we should teach our children. I believe we have a responsibility to do so.

Of course, the trend is the opposite practice. Many churches rarely expose their children to these “ancient and modern” treasures. They believe that children cannot love or appreciate these things.

We would urge that the widely canonized practice of censoring hymns from our children be put to an end. We would encourage all of us, both as churches and as individual families, to regularly perpetuate the great Christian hymns in the lives of our children. This does not mean that children learn the tunes that more difficult for them to sing, or that they are taught complicated texts of more difficult English, but that suitable and glorious hymns be regularly brought before them, both in the public worship and in the times of instruction especially designed for children.

This, we believe, is the natural outflow of respect for Christians in ages past, and our commitment to upholding the articulations and expressions of worship that are most suitable to the almighty and eternal  Triune God.

Ryan Martin

About Ryan Martin

Ryan Martin is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Granite Falls, Minnesota. Prior to that, he served as the associate pastor of Bethany Bible Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He is on the board of directors of Religious Affections Ministries. Ryan received his undergraduate degree at Northland Baptist Bible College, and has received further training from Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, Minn. (M.Div., 2004; Ph.D., 2013). He was ordained in 2009 at Bible Baptist Church of Elk River, Minn. (now Otsego, Minn.). He has a wife and children too. Ryan is the associate editor of Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). He contributed to the Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans, 2017) and is the author of Understanding Affections in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards: "The High Exercises of Divine Love" (T&T Clark, 2018).

2 Responses to Teach children hymns

  1. Any suggestions for where to begin? a first 10 to teach? My wife and I teach SS at a small church and this involves our leading the song time. The song time includes ages from 3 to 12. We are deliberate to teach songs (hymns, etc.) which are sung by the adults. Anyways, thanks for the post. I'd benefit from particular suggestions.

  2. Ross,

    Thanks for the question and comment.

    Chuck Bumgardner, another contributor here, and I planning on turning this into a series of posts, something I had not anticipated when I wrote this yesterday morning. So stay tuned. We are planning on addressing those questions in the coming weeks.

    Stay tuned!

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