Church Growth and Children's Music

There's a post making its rounds in the blogosphere discussing the Church Growth Movement and its impact (

There are lots of good things here, but I was particulaly impressed by the material quoted from the Preface to the Lutheran Hymnary, Junior, 1916 below. Though these words were written almost a century ago, they resonate powerfully today, in our difficult age.

Parents and teachers are expected to be concerned with our children's diets (food, drink) but less so with thier "musical" (or "media") diets.

As musicians, we should ask ourselves (at least) these two questions:

How do we feel about our children's "musical diets?"
What can we do to effect change?

III. The Principles Underlying this Book

  1. Childhood Songs

The songs of childhood should be essentially of the same character as the songs of maturity. The child should therefore learn the easiest and best of the songs he is to sing as a communicant member of the Christian Congregation. Old age delights in the songs learned in childhood. The religious songs learned in children should therefore be worth while. We want childlike songs, but not childish songs. The early songs should be the choicest congregation songs adaptable to his age and capacities. In the same manner as he is taught the rudiments of Christian theology through Luther's "Smaller Catechism" and the chief Bible stories through the "Bible History," should he also be taught the words and tunes of our most priceless church songs and chorals. It can be done just as easily as teaching him a number of equally difficult and perhaps new songs and tunes which will never be sung in his congregation. It should be done, for a child should be trained up the way he should go (Prov. 22:6).

  1. Lutheran Songs

The songs of Lutheran children and youth should be essentially from Lutheran sources. The Lutheran Church is especially rich in songs and hymns of sound doctrine, high poetical value and fitting musical setting. They express the teachings and spirit of the Lutheran Church and help one to feel at home in this Church. Of course, there are songs of high merit and sound Biblical doctrine written by Christians in other denominations also, and some of these could and should find a place in a Lutheran song treasury. But the bulk of the songs in a Lutheran song book should be drawn from Lutheran sources. We should teach our children to remain in the Lutheran Church instead of to sing themselves into some Reformed sect.