Hymn Study – Charlotte Mason Mondays
Charlotte Mason on Hymn Study:
Perhaps we do not attach enough importance to the habit of praise in our children’s devotion. Praise and thanksgiving come freely from the young heart; gladness is natural and holy, and music is a delight. The singing of hymns at home and of the hymns and canticles in church should be a special delight; and the habit of soft and reverent singing, of offering our very best in praise, should be carefully formed.
But the duty of praise is not for occasional or rare seasons; it waits at our doors every day.
A regular part of the Charlotte Mason student’s repertoire was the memorization of three hymns per 12 week term. Singing hymns in corporate worship is not only a wonderful way to begin your school day, but it’s also a useful way to teach solid theology to your children. Even if you prefer contemporary worship, the lessons to be learned by studying the hymns of our faith are invaluable. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Hymns can also be used for recitation, copywork and dictation. Additionally, your auditory learners will take quickly to memorizing hymns as it is obviously most easily accomplished by singing them aloud!
Having your own hymnal is helpful for hymn study, but you can also find a multitude of hymns online at websites such as NetHymnal. One thing that’s handy about NetHymnal is that it often provides interesting background about the hymn as well as its writers.
Hymn Study Made Easy
In our family, we chose to learn one hymn about every month, depending upon the length and “language” of the hymn. (Some of the words and concepts are lengthier and/or more difficult than others.) Our basic routine follows:
1. First, choose a hymn, type up the words and copy them for each child. It is often helpful to copy each stanza together in paragraph form to enable children to really focus on the words. If you have young children, you might want to copy the hymns using the Startwrite Program, especially if you plan to use the hymn for copy work.
2. Before presenting the hymn to your children, read about its history as well as that of the authors (usually one person created the words and another, the melody). Again, the NetHymn site is helpful for this and often you discover some captivating tidbit about the hymn’s history or authors.
3. Point out the theology inherent in the hymn, particularly if you have older children, and identify new words as necessary.
4. Sing the hymn with all of its verses (or not, as you choose) each day.
5. If you or one of your children play piano or guitar, make sure you have accompaniment.
You would be surprised how easily memorization comes if you faithfully sing the hymn every day for a month!
An Example from Our Study
1. Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine, written by Fanny Crosby (words) 1820-1915 and Phoebe Palmer Knapp (music) 1839-1908. Here is a copy of the words with the music.
2. Discussion about the hymn
- How did the author know that Jesus “was hers”? How do you know that Jesus is yours? (This is a perfect opportunity to discuss the gospel with your children, especially if they have not yet accepted Jesus as their Savior.)
- What does ‘heir of salvation,’ and ‘Purchase of God’ mean? Who are heirs of salvation? How have we become “purchased of God”? Who purchased us? How? (Again, the Cross!) Look up and discuss some or all of the following verses:
Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Romans 4:13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.
Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Titus 3:7 So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
- Depending upon the ages and understanding of your children, other phrases that can be discussed (with scripture) from this hymn are:
“Born of His Spirit”
“Washed in His blood”
“Perfect submission” (what that means and the “perfect delight” and peace –“all is at rest”-that results from obedience)
3. Discussion about the author
- Fanny Crosby, an American woman who lived from 1820 to 1915, wrote the words to this hymn. She wrote literally thousands of hymns, yet she was blinded as an infant after being treated by an incompetent doctor. How do you think you might feel about God if that had happened to you?
- This is how she felt about her blindness:
It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.
- Explain how she felt in your own words. How do you think she could feel that way after what had happened to her?
- Phoebe Palmer Knapp was a long time friend who went to the same church as Fanny. It is said that Mrs. Knapp played Fanny the melody on the piano that became Blessed Assurance and Fanny came up with the song title on the spot!
4. Sing, with accompaniment if possible, Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine, every day for a month.
Extend the Study
- Assign one stanza along each week as copy work.
- Assign one stanza each week as memorization to be recited.
- Ask your older student to research Fanny Crosby and/or Phoebe Palmer Knapp and write 3-5 paragraphs about each of their lives and work
- Request that your older student find Scripture pertaining to other phrases in this work mentioned above (Born of His Spirit, Washed in His blood, etc.)
- Have your student write out this hymn in his own words.
- After studying this hymn, have your student create her own hymn.
- Assign your student to find a passage of Scripture and compose a melody to accompany it.
I know what you are thinking…. You would just love to do hymn study but you are having enough trouble trying to get in math and writing.
You can keep this as simple as you like or start as slowly as you want. But you and your children’s lives and family worship will be enriched by hymn study, I promise! If you start this when your children are on the younger side, think of how many hymns they could learn by the time they are in high school!
If you already do hymn study in your home, how do YOU do it?