Singing the Liturgical Year {Music Education In the Home}

Friday, January 8, 2016

A few weeks ago Tara emailed me asking this:

My daughter is really starting to enjoy music (she's almost 2) and singing along. I'm looking for suggestions for Catholic hymns/songs that your kids have liked. Kateri seems to like single voices so she can imitate the words (Immaculate Mary and Hail Mary/Gentle Woman are two of her favorites.) What else would you recommend? I appreciate any thoughts! Thanks!

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Hi Tara! My kids love those two songs as well :) Really any *good* hymn is pretty accessible to them - are there some that you guys sing at church frequently? I'd look through your hymnal and jot down a few that you like after Mass one day, since once you sing them at home and she hears them at church she'll probably get REALLY excited like my kids do! I like to try to incorporate different hymns throughout the liturgical year - right now we're singing a lot of "People Look East" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel" as well as "The Angel Gabriel" and "O Come Divine Messiah."  When Christmas comes we'll sing a lot of our favorite Christmas songs, especially from this book (out of print, but affordable used!)

For Lent, we sing "Forty Days and Forty Nights" about a trillion times... "O Sacred Head Surrounded" is good, "All Glory Laud and Honor" especially for Palm Sunday, and "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" (all of these seem so... Non-toddler friendly. But they are! They're such, such good melodies and you can't beat that text!).

You probably have your own favorite Easter songs :) We sing a lot of "Jesus Christ is Ris'n Today" and "Christ the Lord is Ris'n Today" (I used to have to look in the hymnal to remember which was which because they have the same number of syllables... But they're different!) and the Regina Caeli.

As for Ordinary Time, everybody loves "Immaculate Mary," "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" and "O Sanctissima" as well as "Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above" - we add "For All the Saints" when we get close to All Saints' Day and that's all I can think of right now... But that should be a good start!

If you're looking for hymnals for home use, I would definitely recommend it! Check out the one at your parish and see if you like that first - then you're more likely to learn hymns that will be sung at Mass, and there's nothing like hearing your 2-year-old pipe up with, "Immaculate Mawwy? I YUV dat song!!!" right before the hymn starts up. If your parish doesn't use hymnals, or it's something not so great... Check out The Saint Michael Hymnal (The spiral bound copy is on my wish list - I think it would be perfect for home use!), The Adoremus Hymnal (which conveniently has mp3 versions of most of it online, so if you're not a big music reader, you can use that as an awesome resource!), or The Pius X Hymnal. The St. Gregory Hymnal has a lot of older pieces and especially lots in Latin, but I'd probably recommend that more for the choral singer than a family with young children.  

Singing good hymns at home is a great way to create a culture of singing in your family - they're often written to be able to stand alone without accompaniment (unlike a lot of contemporary church music, which is impossible to sing a cappella), the range is generally limited enough to accommodate beginning singers, and the melodies are easy to follow. I'd love to hear some of your favorites!

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