music for children - Catechesis of the Good Shepherd musical resource
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    I am working on a project for my program at the University of Notre Dame. My plan is put together a music resource for use in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atria (classrooms).

    Why am I working on this? When I received my Level I Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training, the quality of the program was outstanding -- with the exception of the music recommendations. The music was difficult for children to sing, not beautiful, not connected to the parish music program, and, in some cases, theologically questionable. So, ever since completing my training, I have been thinking that someone should come up with a better resource so that the music component is as strong as the rest of the program. Well, eventually I realized that perhaps that "someone" might be me. I mentioned this in a project proposal to my advisors at Notre Dame, and they agreed that I should pursue this project.

    My goal is to provide recommended music for children (ages 3-12, with a focus on children ages 3-6) to sing in the atrium (classroom) that is high-quality, easily singable, and theologically sound. Also, the music should be music that is (or could be) utilized in the Mass or the devotional life of the parish.

    I have some general ideas about what I would like to include (e.g., liturgical music such as Mode VI Alleluia; I'm considering various hymns but haven't full committed to any). At this point, I am looking for more ideas and input from others.

    Would you have any recommendations for this resource?

    A few notes:
    - Children will be as young as age 3.
    - The catechists do not necessarily have any musical training.
    - The music is generally sung acapella.
    - There are no "rehearsals," although the songs may be repeated.

    Also, I am open to any other suggestions or thoughts you have regarding the proposal. I am still in the early stages and can "course correct" easily at this point.

  • Carol
    Posts: 793
    Do you know a two part round that starts " The Lord is My Shepherd, I'll walk with Him always"? I learned it from a woman who taught preschool using Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, so I don't know if it is included as part of the curriculum. I used it with first graders in class and at school Masses when it was appropriate.
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks for sharing, Carol!

    I don't think I know that one, but I'll try looking online to see if I can find it.

  • rvisser
    Posts: 13
    I was a Level 1 catechist for seven years and encountered the same musical problem! The music teacher at my children's former school was embarking on a project to compile a book of solid atrium music before we moved earlier this year. I will check with her and see if she has completed the project.
    A few ideas that I used (or was hoping to use) in the atrium:
    Refrain of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" - "O come let us adore him" during the Christmas season / during the Christmas celebration in the atrium; even the three-year-olds can do this one

    Ave Maria round - I originally learned this tune with the text "Jesus, I adore you, lay my life before you, how I love you..." I used the Ave Maria text with a children's choir (grade 2 and up) but I rarely used Latin in the Level 1 atrium so I didn't get a chance to test this out.

    I attached two pieces (The Good Shepherd Song and The Kingdom of God) that were written by a catechist I used to work with. Obviously not useful liturgically, but there is not a lot to choose from for the Kingdom of God presentations, so she was trying to fill that gap and make connections between the various presentations.

    Jubilate Deo (Praetorius) - I would recommend this for Kindergarten and up

    Holy Spirit, Come to Us (Taize) - I used this for the Pentecost celebration; too hard for 3 year olds (they will just listen, which is fine), but 4s could kind of do it, and the Kindergartners did catch on because we sang it so many times (I think during the procession and maybe during the lighting of the was a while ago)

    Here are some [untested] hymn ideas:
    Be Joyful, Mary- just the last line ("rejoice, rejoice, O Mary") with the Annunciation presentation
    O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - refrain only, during the Advent celebration
    Alleluia refrain from "All Creatures of Our God and King" if you are singing an Alleluia as a song of praise and not as a prelude to reading the Gospel in the atrium (I would use Mode VI Alleluia in that circumstance)
    Rejoice, the Lord is King - "Lift up your heart, lift up your voice! Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!" - as a general song of praise at the prayer table
    To Jesus Christ, the Sovereign King - "Christ Jesus, Victor! Christ Jesus, Ruler! Christ Jesus, Lord and Redeemer!" - would probably work best during the Easter season (not sure about Level 2, but Christ the King is not a thing in the Level 1 atrium...)

    When you are done with your project, I would like a copy! I'm interested to hear what others have used in the atrium.
    Thanked by 2Bri LauraKaz
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 626
    Thanked by 1Bri
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks, rvisser! Yes, I'll be happy to share the resource once it is ready. (Our projects are due by the summer of 2024.)
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thank you for this suggestion, Don9of11!
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,149
    As someone who has worked in Catholic girls and boys choirs for about 25 years, I might make a few suggestions.

    1) There is no such thing as children's music for the Church. There is music suitable for children in terms of their ability or their age, but there is no such thing as music for children. Making that assumption work is the issue. Philosophically that is really important as the music should intergrate them into the community quickly.
    I start children at 4 years in my school. THeir first year, they learn such things as the Kyire from Mass 17, the Lord's Prayer in English and other things along wiht the beginnings of solfege. By the end of their 4 year old year they can sing the solfege scale.

    2) Do not look to the Church for help as at this stage of the game the publishers are driving the train. Their level of quality is shit so do not look to the market for help.

    3) Knowledge of the depth of tradition is crucial so that one might make judicious choices about the inclusion of sacred music. Just so you know, by the time my students are in 2nd grade, they can easily sing all of the Marian antiphons, the Our Father in Latin and English, Mass 8, Mass 17 and the Stabat Mater in Latin, any number of hymns that we use and most of the dialogues in English and Latin. This forms the basis for their rapid inclusion into our experience of the liturgy. I laughed last week at the school Mass at my place as it was the 1st and 2nd graders loudly singing the Our Father and the Alma Redemptoris Mater.

    3) Repetition is the mother of learning, a recognition that children must sing what everyone sings will go further and careful but quality choices will assist them. For what it is worth I do not believe in Children's liturgy of the Word and we practice what we preach: i.e. children stay at the liturgy all the time. We have this mentality that children need something different. Its BS.

    Good luck,
    Kevin Faulkner
    West PAlm Beach,FL
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks so much, Kevin!

    Great to hear about your wonderful successes. Can you share more about how often you meet with the children?

  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,149
    Its a school. Classes meet once a week for one hour. My choirs meet three hours a week.
    Thanked by 1Bri
  • francis
    Posts: 10,153
    I have compiled a hymnal/songbook which I will be using for our pre-k - 8 school. Much of the content I have used for parish work over the course of 50 years, and I have found this is a compilation of what works best in a parish/school setting.

    The whole notion that children should adhere to what I call a ‘childish’ method is divisive and damaging to their sense of worth and self respect. Treat them as budding adults and they will rise to the challenge and often exceed our very limited expectations.

    On that note I should make a plug that I have compiled a Catholic hymnal and songbook titled "Fleur–de–lys". It is a comprehensive Kyriale, Hymnal and Songbook with wholesome music throughout including a section of 31 canons, rounds and catches, a section of devotional music and original compositions, one of which is published in the St. Michael Hymnal.

    Here is the TOC... it is presently at the publishing house for its first printing.
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 283
    francis, i want to buy this !!
    Thanked by 1francis
  • francis
    Posts: 10,153

    PM my forum contact
    Thanked by 1PaxTecum
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,149
    This list almost copies my school list. Get it or get Francis' book. Either way you have the essential list for teaching children. Kudos to Francis....
    Thanked by 3francis PaxTecum Bri
  • LauraKaz
    Posts: 35
    Kevin, do you mostly teach all of this music by rote, or are you working on sight-singing skills at all? Do you use anything like the Ward Method, for instance?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,149
    Sight singing, ear training, rote. By 2nd grade they can read neumes, by 4th they can read modern notation. My method, which borrows from Kodaly, Ward and basic musicianship.
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz Bri
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Here are some of my current thoughts.

    Any feedback on the current selections, the organizational structure, or any other elements?

    Table of Contents and Indices

    I am considering organizing the book based on the liturgical year. However, I may want to include other indices to help catechists find music that connects to CGS themes or to find particular titles they are looking for.
    • Liturgy and liturgical year
    • CGS themes
    • Alphabetical by hymn tune
    • Alphabetical by common first line

    Notes for Preface
    • Music commonly sung during liturgies and devotions
    • Music from chant, hymn, and religious folk song traditions
    • Music from the public domain
    • Consideration of pedagogical principles regarding which musical selections are developmentally appropriate for children (e.g., principles drawn from Ward Method, Kodaly, Orff)
    • Familiar and easy enough for catechists, many of whom may not have formal musical training, to sing with the children

    • Connected to CGS Level I themes (maybe add other levels?)
    • English or Latin texts
    • Singing to or in praise of God (not just about God or about the faith) when available


    Mass Ordinary
    • Kyrie – Orbis Factor
    • Gloria - ?
    • Sanctus – (Mass XVIII)
    • Amen (two-note chant)
    • Our Father (Snow) – public domain?
    • Pater Noster (chant)
    • Agnus Dei (Mass XVIII)

    Mass Propers
    • Gloria Patri (from the Introit)
    • Alleluia (Mode VI)
    • Alleluia (O Filii et Filiae)

    Ordinary Time
    • Adoro Te Devote
    • Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN)
    • Be Thou My Vision (SLANE)
    • Hidden Here Before Me (ADORO TE)
    • Holy God We Praise Thy Name (GROSSER GOTT)
    • Holy, Holy, Holy (NICAEA)
    • Jesu, Dulcis Memoria
    • Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (OLD HUNDREDTH)
    • Add - related to CGS Themes: Good Shepherd? Mustard Seed? Leaven? Pearl of Great Price? Found Sheep? Baptism here or Easter?

    • The Angel Gabriel (GABRIEL’S MESSAGE) (?)
    • Creator the Stars of Night (CREATOR ALME SIDERUM)
    • O Come, O Come Emmanuel (VENI EMMANUEL)
    • Add related to CGS Themes: Annunciation? Visitation?

    • Puer Natus in Bethlehem
    • O Come All Ye Faithful (ADESTE FIDELIS)
    • Joy to the World (ANTIOCH)
    • Silent Night (STILLE NACHT)
    • Add related to CGS Themes: Infancy Narratives? Adoration by the Shepherds Adoration by the Magi / Epiphany? Presentation of the Lord?

    Lent and Holy Week
    • All Glory Laud and Honor (ST. THEODULPH)
    • Attende Domine
    • At the Cross Her Station Keeping (STABAT MATER)
    • Tantum Ergo
    • What Wondrous Love Is This (WONDROUS LOVE)
    • Add related to CGS Themes: The Cenacle – last supper?

    • Ye Sons and Daughters (O FILII ET FILIAE)
    • Add related to CGS Themes: Empty Tomb? Baptism (here or OT section)?

    • Veni Creator Spiritus (one verse? all verses?)
    • Add related to CGS Themes: Gifts of the Holy Spirit; The Cenacle – Holy Spirit descending

    Marian Antiphons
    • Be Joyful, Mary (REGINA CAELI)
    • Regina Caeli (Marian Antiphon for Easter)
    • Salve Regina (Marian Antiphon for Ordinary Time)
    • Add Marian antiphons for other seasons?

  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,149
    My first graders might ask you to include all the other Marian antiphons. Alma, Ave Regina and Regina caeli.
    Thanked by 1Bri
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks, kevinf!
  • davido
    Posts: 702
    Please not Amazing Grace
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks for your feedback, davido.

    Can you share more? Due to the text? The music? Both?
  • davido
    Posts: 702
    It stands out on your list to me as the only thing distinctly protestant. Hairsplitters go round and round on the web about how it can be understood in a Catholic manner, but in my experience as a Protestant convert, it is really perceived as an anthem for Protestant theology.
    I think the young Catholics can be taught things more strongly reflective of Catholic tradition.

    Rest of your list looks great!
    Thanked by 2francis LauraKaz
  • Bri
    Posts: 70
    Thanks so much for your explanation, davido!