My brother-in-law sent me a book last year entitled “Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns.” It has quite a few interesting thoughts, many of which I think are spot on. These thoughts as well as things we had desired to do lead my wife and I to really teach our children the joys of the liturgy and the proclamation of faith in Christ in hymnody.
Further thoughts and observations. At our congregation we have been offering catechesis at a younger age than the previous 7th and 8th grade model, gradually lowering the available age by one year at a time. There has been expressed by some outside of the church that children this young cannot understand the truths of the faith leading to the faithful reception of the Lord’s Supper.
Why not though, what leads to this mentality? If the truths of the Christian faith, especially as expressed in the Small Catechism, are taught at a young age; if children are taught the joys of the liturgy and hymns; if children are taught to confess the faith and what these things mean, then what would prevent them?
It brings this father great joy to hear his 2 year old sing “On My Heart Imprint Your Image,” at random while we are out as a family. This child prays the Lord’s Prayer and is making attempts at the Creed and regularly asks to sing “Father Welcomes” and then read the account from John 3, as he refers to it as “the Nicodemus one.”
Is some of this by repetition that he has learned them? Of course. And yet, he knows when in the liturgy comes “Lamb of God” and when asked who the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world is, he will say “Jesus” and point to the crucifix on his wall.
Faith comes to us by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10). So while we teach our children their shapes and colors and teach them to sing “Old McDonald” while teaching them animals and their noises, why not at this age hand over the Christian faith in Word and in song?And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. (Mark 10)