If you are a student or a parent at Mount Hope, you know that we all love to sing hymns. It is an essential part of our school every single school day. It’s more than that, though; singing hymns is an integral part of our lives as Christians. And that’s exactly why we do it at Mount Hope.
I think it is a common thought in the world that if children do sing, they are expected to be singing childish songs: songs like the alphabet song, nursery rhyme songs, or something you might hear if you tuned into Sesame Street. That’s not to say that there isn’t value in a simple song for young children (if the content is good), especially if the child is learning to sing, or if a simple tune is being used as a mnemonic for learning something useful. But there is a danger in taking the concept of a childish song too far, that is, into the realm of teaching our children as fellow Christians. If we taught our students cute Bible songs written exclusively for children, we would be teaching them songs they will eventually grow out of. And because what we sing affects what we believe, they would start to believe that Christianity is something to grow out of, much like how children who believe in Santa Claus eventually grow out of him.
When we teach Christ to our children, it’s no child’s play. Our spiritual enemies don’t discriminate by age; they hate our children and want to utterly destroy them. Because of that, we as parents and teachers equip our children with God’s Word to do battle against sin, death, and the devil. If all we taught them were cute songs that they will be embarrassed to sing when they’re fourteen, we will have sacrificed one of Christendom’s greatest weapons. On the contrary, when a child learns a rich, beautiful Lutheran hymn, he learns something he can grow into, not something he will grow out of. The enemy doesn’t discriminate by age, but neither does Jesus, and neither should we.
Anyone who would walk into our school would quickly see that our students take being Christian seriously. They hold to our hymnody dearly because great hymns speak the language of Scripture and teach Christ. By learning hymns, our students learn to sing of the stark realities of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, death and resurrection, suffering, and so many more Christian doctrines they will continue to learn and digest, even as adults. A great hymn doesn’t fade away in junior high; it is something that a Christian takes to his deathbed. Hymns are for children, and for parents, and for grandparents. That’s because hymns are for Christians.
With high delight
Let us unite
In songs of great jubilation.
Ye pure in heart,
All bear your part,
Sing Jesus Christ, our salvation.
To set us free
Is ris’n and sends
To all earth’s ends
Good news to save ev’ry nation.