Hymns & Songs

Hymns for children?

Oct 2014    

I Sing the Almighty Power of God

I sing the almighty power of God,
that made the mountains rise, that
spread the flowing seas abroad,
and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at God’s command,
and all the stars obey.

 

I sing the goodness of the Lord,
who filled the earth with food,
who formed the creatures thru the Word,
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed,
Where’er I turn my eye,
if I survey the ground I tread,
or gaze upon the sky.

 

There’s not a plant or flower below
but makes thy glories known,
and clouds arise, and tempests blow,
by order from thy throne;
while all that borrows life from
thee is ever in thy care;
and everywhere that we can be,
Thou, God, art present there.

 

Text: Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
– Public Domain

Children’s Day is celebrated in October, and many churches will have a Sunday set aside to highlight their Children’s Ministry. There are many great resources for children’s songs – but how about hymns written for them?

In the year 1715, a collection of children’s hymns was published under Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children. This was the first children’s hymnal published. It was Isaac Watts’ concern for the spiritual formation of children that motivated him to work on such a project.

At that time, parents took excerpts from the collection for their children to memorise as part of their moral upbringing. In the preface of that hymnal, Watts ended with a prayer: “May they (the children) be a glory among the nation, a pattern to the Christian world, and a blessing to the earth.”

Among the hymns in Divine and Moral Songs for the Use of Children is ‘Praise for Creation and Providence’. This is now listed as ‘I Sing the Almighty Power of God’ in the United Methodist Hymnal – UMH 152.

While this hymn was intended for children, it is also a great hymn for adults, thus its inclusion in the UMH and other hymnals. The text speaks about God with His power and wisdom that reigns above all. It also talks about His presence in our daily lives. In this hymn, Watts uses images from the following scripture passages: Genesis 1; Psalm 19:1-3; Psalm 95:3-6, Psalm 104, and Jeremiah 10:12-13.

The tune used is FOREST GREEN. An alternative tune may be KINGSFOLD (UMH 179, 258, 606).

Do children sing this hymn today? Maybe, but not that often. Yet, it is rich in biblical imagery. Perhaps the text can be set to a new melody to make it more accessible to children.

It is a good hymn to use as the Affirmation of Faith during Children’s worship or during an intergenerational worship service. As for placement, it is appropriate that this hymn be positioned at the start of a general Sunday worship or services that focus on Creation and providence.

Judith Mosomos is Acting Director of Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

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