As Christians sometimes we can forget why we sing to God. We don’t just sing because it’s what Christians do, although this is part of our identity in Christ. But we sing because God commands us to. It brings our creator great joy to see His children praise Him, and also reminds us of our future in eternity bowing down before the throne and singing praises to our mighty God.
In Psalms we read, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.’ (Psalm 96:1-2). When we sing we are thanking God, rejoicing in our redemption, and are called to share this good news daily. In Colossians Paul tells us, ‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts’ (Colossians. 3:16). When we sing we allow the Spirit an opportunity to transform our hearts. It’s also a way for us to express our gratitude to God as an overflow of our hearts. Lastly, it’s a way to teach and put into our minds the treasures of God’s message.
But why should we sing Christian songs with our children?
1. Singing helps children remember God’s word. Colossians 3:16 tells us that we’re letting the message of Christ dwell in us richly as we sing together. Christians sing about the gospel. Music helps us to remember the words of the gospel. Singing is a great way for children to store up God’s truth in their hearts, which will last a lifetime.
2. Singing helps children express and engage emotions. Singing also helps us to respond to God. For young children with limited language, singing is a wonderful way to praise and thank God. Colossians 3:16 reminds us that when we sing, we should sing with thankfulness to God. We should cultivate the joy of praising God through song in children from a young age.
3. Singing helps children understand their unity with God’s family. When we worship through song, we glorify God by displaying unity in Christ. We also point to heaven when we will gather around His throne and praise Him continually. Singing together shows children that we are coming together to worship our great God.
But what do we do if we are not musical? How can we get started? Here are five tips for singing with children.
1. Make it routine: Find a time when your family can join together in praising God. You could sing in the car during school drop off and pick up, at dinner time, during bath time or before bed. This rhythm makes it easy to regularly sing Christian songs. It can also create a sense of unity as a family, bringing comfort and peace to children as they go to sleep.
2. Simple and fun melody: Not all children’s Christian songs are created equal. A theologically strong song with an irritating melody might be bearable for 2 minutes. But if you can’t express your joy whilst joining your children when singing to God, then sadly this opportunity to model praising God in song is lost. Whereas, singing a simple song with a fun melody is far more fruitful.
3. Create a family playlist: Choose songs that are age-appropriate for your children and options that the whole family can enjoy. For younger children, a simple melody and repeated lyrics are easier to learn. Emu Kids have a wonderful range of songs for younger children. For older children more complex lyrics can help teach biblical stories and concepts. Colin Buchanan and Sovereign Grace Kids have some great albums for older children. Or you can stream the ‘Grace City Kids and Youth’ songs as a starting point to curate your own playlist.
4. Use actions: Linking actions to lyrics develops a child’s understanding of key biblical themes. It also helps to store long-term memory which research shows occurs by engaging all four parts of the brain.
5. Talk about the song: It’s not just what we say that counts but also what we sing. Explaining the meaning of song lyrics is an excellent discipleship opportunity. It also allows us to ask questions relating to the song. For example when talking to your child about the song ‘My God Is So Big’ you could ask, “What do you think mighty means?” or “What do we learn about God from this song?”.