Songs for Children---HELP!
  • Dear all:

    I agreed to help with catechism and ended up being asked to lead a meeting with parents and children for the start of the school year. The restrictions are not unreasonable, given the logistics, but they are daunting: they don't want to pay performance rights, don't want to bring books in from some other place in the building, and would really prefer that I just lead something simple and have the children repeat it. I will run off leaflets myself if it comes down to that.

    The kids are aged 6-13, and, as one artist I talked to suggested, it might be good to do one song that is a little older so that the older children can feel, well, older. I have always loved the Protestant chorus, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus," and it can easily be used in Catholic setting (perhaps even more than in undecorated Protestant settings), and there is always Jesus loves the little Children, Jesus Loves Me, and He's Got the Whole World. But I would kind of like not to do that.

    But they also want an Alleluia, and a responsorial psalm.

    That artist was a contemporary Catholic recording artist at the Shrine, a lovely and helpful woman, and she gave me some links that will be helpfully for the next meeting, but not for the one in 6 days.

    So...I would love to get any suggestions you all might have.

  • Well, I think I will keep Turn Your Eyes, and add the Dona Nobis round attr. to Mozart. Anything else is most welcome!

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,689
    Feel free to use this canon. Canons are a great way to get children singing in parts.
    1794 x 973 - 105K
    Thanked by 1amindthatsuits
  • I second Francis' idea of rounds/canons in general.

    Teach the chant for Holy Thursday: Pange Lingua
    Thanked by 1amindthatsuits
  • Thank you, Francis. I think the Dona Nobis may be my "stretch" to keep the older children happy, and we can do it as a round once they know it. This looks very accessible and fitting, as it is for Catechism.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,689
    you are welcome. is it the latin that is a 'stretch'?
  • I have always loved the Protestant chorus, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus," and it can easily be used in Catholic setting

    I'd shy away from this - in a Catholic situation. 336 Jesus, Son of Mary would be much, more appropriate and useful. And they'd be very proud to sing 354 O Blessed Trinity, from The Catholic Choirboy Anthology.

    Turn your eyes melodic leaps are typical of maudlin songs such as Mother Dear. O Pray for Me. Do them for the old folks, but not with children...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,162
    Just teach them the Kyrie from Orbis factor. BaddaBing baddaboom.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • Kathy (and MJO) and I rarely agreed. But this one, for sure! And the Redemption is very, very good!
  • Jesu Dulcis Memoria. It's a simple enough melody and easy text. It works at Christmas, during the receiving of Holy Communion, Benediction... what's not to like?
  • Francis, the melody of the Dona Nobis may be a bit much to absorb.

    Sorry, Noel, any song that has good theology, written by anyone , is licit, and I disagree with that sentiment as often expressed on this list.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, tomjaw, will definitely look at it.

    The congregation has a very popular and beautiful Novus Ordo in Latin, so I am free to do some Latin, but not all Latin. The leader of my TLM choir (at another parish; I'm two-timing) suggested learn what they know, and then later teach them what they should, and I am going to follow that advice.

    Hmm, on the Orbis Factor. I was just practicing it for the TLM and made mistakes. That's all for later.

    Thanks to one and all. Any more would be appreciated.


  • My humble opinion is that converts, on hearing this song, will immediately question why they are raising their children Catholic, being confronted with the emotional words and music of what they have left behind.
    I have always loved the Protestant chorus, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus," and it can easily be used in Catholic setting (perhaps even more than in undecorated Protestant settings), and there is always Jesus loves the little Children, Jesus Loves Me, and He's Got the Whole World.

    None of the songs that you list are part of the Catholic tradition. Though you feel that the texts are licit, they are not Catholic. They may have been sung, along with Kumbaya, in a Catholic church...but it sure does not make them Catholic.

  • Fine. Noted.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,169
    Kenneth probably knows this, but I'll say it anyway, for consideration:

    6-13 is a broad age range, and choosing material for them requires appealing to their various faculties and sensibilities: to emotion, to intellect, to memory, through music and through text.

    Simple, sentimental devotional songs can be a part of that, but that should be balanced with other material that engages interest -- sometimes musical interest, sometimes literary interest -- or the kids will get bored quickly, and lose respect for Catholic sacred music.

    A concrete suggestion: Holy, Holy, Holy (tune: NICAEA).
  • Kenneth,

    This resource might be helpful:
    Thanked by 1Choirparts
  • Yes, I find the age range daunting. Almost ANYTHING will bore a 12 year old. There are a host of difficulties, not least that I don't know the kids, and the stipulations are a little hard to with--not least that the very sweet DRE kind of likes the simpler stuff. In short, I have only the vaguest idea what to do.

    I found aCD online called the Dogma Digs which actually has a ditty called "The 21 Ecumenical Councils." Givenmy druthers, I'd load them up with stuff like that, and Latin. Probably wouldn't be leading for long.

    Holy, Holy Holy is intriguing. I loved that at my Episcopal prep school, going back to 12. That's an idea. Protestant, of course. Thanks, and thanks, Fr, for helpful suggestions.

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,169
    First place I ever heard it was an Episcopal prep school too. Yes, it's Protestant, but it contains references to good sound doctrine which attracted my interest.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    If a canon is in order, I suggest 3 part "Non nobis, Domine." or Natalie Sleeth's "Canon of Praise" (only text is "alleluia.") And for that matter, Boyce's canonic "Alleluia."
    Hal Hopson's medium difficulty "God of mercy" (arr. from Monteverdi) if they're confident.


    Rather strange that there is no information about the music. At all.

    "Hymns are organized according to church year and then follow the themes suggested by the National Catechetical Committee."

    " The Leader's Manual includes sections on selecting music, "Ten Ways to Get Your Children to Sing," and more. "

  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,628
    I would really recommend talking to whoever is in charge and suggesting breaking the children into two groups - ages 6-7 and 8-13. Teach the 6-7 group some simple stuff and work on them with vocal technique... Then work with the 8-13 graders on slightly more difficult stuff while again working with vocal technique.

    In a group with that wide of an age range, you're going to end up with either the young kids lost or the old kids bored and rolling their eyes.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • In a group with that wide of an age range, you're going to end up with either the young kids lost or the old kids bored and rolling their eyes.

    An alternative view:

    Some people have very large families where this sort of separation is not feasible, and eye-rolling is not tolerated. Every child needs appropriate challenges, of course, but older children may be taught to accept the challenge of educating and caring for the younger (minimally, by way of setting a good example). Younger children may be taught to play an appropriate role when it is time for the older children to do their thing. Age 6 is not too young to learn this lesson. There's no need to separate them (though nothing wrong with doing so).

    As I said, just an alternative view, not an objection.
    Thanked by 2canadash Wendi
  • If the children are home-schooled there will be no eye-rolling and they will astound you will their knowledge, attention-span and maturity. That's been my experience without exception. Michael's right. It is demanding and humbling to work with youth.

    [Choirparts, thanks! Nice to be able to see and evaluate it. Thumbs down. "contains timeless music that children will remember and treasure for a lifetime." It's Back to the Future, if the future is the 1970's. Might as well use the quarterly missal from OCP for music instead of this]
    Thanked by 2canadash Wendi
  • Thanks for the suggestions. They are all helpful. Alas, for Saturday, I am walking in blind, and the restrictions are as I said. No changing. I forgot to mention that the majority of kids that I see at our church are Spanish-speakers. So, in short, I have a difficult situation. (My Spanish is fine enough for this. It's just parental expectations I am running into.)

    The canons are helpful down the road. I think for those, I think it might be Francis's for this week and we just sing Dona Nobis straight and do it as a canon when they know it. I am intrigued by memories of Holy, Holy, Holy. Nice big swells, and kids love those. And she wants a reponsorial song, so I think I will look at Corpus Christi Watershed, where there no clearance problems. Or does anyone know a similar website with kids?"

    The DRE finds clearances daunting so I may take over that task once I get the lay of the land.

    Many thanks.

  • Unfortunately, the Dona Nobis from Kenneth Brannagh's Henry IV, which I have heard sung on the streets of Assisi by a large youth group, keeps running through my head.
  • And I see an English version of Conditor alme siderum, and that strikes me as eminently doable.

    I see no one has direct experience of Dogma Dogs, so I might buy that out of interest. I suspect it will be classifiable as "well-intentioned."
  • The Dogma Dogs recording was made by my predecessor at the church [] in Knoxville and many of my choir members sang on the recording. Amy, the "6th Dog" of the current band was the music director at the church and continues on as music director of the band,
  • Is it any good?

  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Unfortunately, the Dona Nobis from Kenneth Brannagh's Henry IV, which I have heard sung on the streets of Assisi by a large youth group, keeps running through my head.

    I think you mean the "Non nobis, Domine" from Henry V?
  • May be.
  • Apparently so, and it was Henry V. I'm not young. I forget things. Well, the melody, with different words, keeps going through my head, and, virtues or not, it is most emphatically under copyright and so not on the table.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Not being critical at all; I'm there too.
  • And to top it all off, among complicating factors I haven't mentioned, is that I have huge basso profondo, fortunately with a lyric quality. But, as a young composition major and I agreed some years ago, if you are a working musician and haven't had a hit, the answer to everything is "yes" or "got it." So, by God's grace, this will work.

    Thanks for all the suggestions.
  • Thanks. Fun, watching the kids, but probably not for Sunday morning. (I said Saturday.)
  • Francis, I have sung your round many times now and it holds up very well--never gets tiring.

    And I sang it so many times I memorized the top note wrong. I discovered this right after an opera grad student told me he and his adviser had just picked his music and he was going home to get the melodies right, "Because I have learned that after I learned it, it's not going to change."

    So I took 45 minutes fixing one note while all the opera singers were trying to nail their parts for The Impressario in a few weeks. Lesson learned--yet again.
  • And, after all the possibilities, it ended up being three songs, not a song period. So I chose Francis's round for a gather song, the simplified Alleluia from Exsultate, Jubilate (just the first line), and Conditor Alme Siderum in English. Thanks to one and all.

  • Lots of rounds on the Taize website. I find them helpful for my kids group.
  • Run, rather than walk, away from Taize.

    Thanked by 1francis
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,308
    Run, rather than walk, away from Taize.
    Lest ye might get Taizered?
  • Rounds are great ways to get people singing against each other. Taize Rounds are exempt in this case from the usual criticism.

    +1 for bonniebede.
    -1 for Chris.
    Null for CHGiffen.

    The game proceeds.
  • Clearly, the judge should recuse himself from this duty.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,689
    i call it 'tased' chant
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Well, it turned out to be all little children, with a few older ones, so hasty editing on my part. Francis's song was a hit, but we didn't have time to do it as a round. I was lining the song without an overhead or booklets, and most of the children probably couldn't read that well, so just explaining the words and teaching the melody took forever. We are just off Gucci Gulch, the Avenue of Lawyers, and one fellow in glasses and bow tie came in with his son, who looked identical. When I explained that the"simple" who need God's Word to understand included all of us, he smiled broadly, probably thinking of some colleagues. So it all connected. My performance was a C. I decided to bring in a keyboard just to get pitch, and it actually detracted--I was too busy thinking about it. More practice. My thanks for all your suggestions. The Mozart Alleluia works really well with kids, it turns out--that was from a DM friend. Thanks to one and all.