I have been either in school myself, teaching school, or raising children who were on the traditional American school calendar all of my life. So summers have always been a special time to lay back, travel, enrich, regroup, have fun. This summer I bought a boat, and what fun that has been. There is something so freeing about being on the water. That is what I think summer represents to our culture. But, toward the end of it, kids start getting bored and mothers wear out, don’t they?
If you read this blog regularly, you won’t believe I am saying this: “Put aside your catechism questions and memory verses until after Labor Day. Instead, use these lazy summer days to sing with your children.” Here is one way to do that:
DEVELOP A FAMILY HYMNBOOK
I call ours “Our Very Own Hymn Book.” That title came from Charles Spurgeon’s church in London who had their very own hymnbook of words which they sang without musical instruments. I copy songs from various sources, and of course, include the music as well. My goal is to touch our hearts to love God more and to enjoy praising Him for His attributes and for what He does for us. I divided the book into sections:
1. Songs To Help Us Think About What God Is Like
2. Songs To Help Us Remember Core Bible Knowledge and Biblical Principles
3. Songs For Special Occasions
John Wesley used to teach his followers to “Learn the tune.” Over the years, I’ve learned that a simple melody is of supreme importance in stirring the emotions. It is not the beat, the arrangement, the added instruments as much as the melody that touches the heart. The tune which does these two things will return to the children as they grow up and to us as we grow old–to help us to love God more and enjoy Him forever. So make sure the children learn the melody.
Words are of supreme importance. How can we praise God if the doctrine is wrong? So choose the songs carefully and make sure the children memorize the words. You will see how quickly they will do this once the tune is learned. We want them to recall these biblical truths when they are 80.
When I was in the sixth grade, we moved. It was a big change–a bigger house in a nice neighborhood and a large church with two musicians on staff. They were very educated in Christian church music history and provided me with a broad background of Christian melody. I also started piano lessons and had our church hymnbook on the piano at home. So I played what we were singing in church. And, without knowing it, we had our very own family hymnbook. What I was given was a method of strengthening my devotional life. Those songs are still very much a part of my everyday life. That is what I would encourage you to give your children during these last days of summer.
This summer I have chosen “Great God Of Wonders” by Samuel Davies and John Newton. Both were “warm-hearted Calvinists” who shared in the revival in England and Wales in the 1700’s. (You might want to read more about John Newton by clicking “Warm-Hearted Calvinists” at the top of my site.) One church historian has said that England was on the verge of paganism when the Holy Spirit warmed hearts and stirred minds to love and sing the great doctrines of the faith through songs like this one. The morals of the British Isles were transformed and the American colonies were affected as well.
Great God of wonders!
All Thy ways are matchless, God-like, and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More God-like and unrivaled shine,
More God-like and unrivaled shine.
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Add Ephesians 2:8-9 so they understand what grace is all about:
“For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, less anyone should boast.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Holy Spirit would revive us all again to sing His praises in our homes and yards?