For several years now, it's been a hot topic. I've written about it here and here. I've read articles, from both sides of the argument, about the hymns of our faith. Should they stay or should they go?
Personally, I'm often surprised when I am writing a variety of articles, the lyrics pour out from my memory. Hymns written before I was even born appear to be the songs of my heart. Related to this, I have an article I've written that explores what my daughter's heart songs will be someday. Are we offering our children songs of the faith regularly enough, and with ample repetition, for them to make their way into the hearts of our children? I have submitted that article to several magazines, but it has not been picked up anywhere yet. I'll make sure you get to read it someday.
All of that to say, the songs we sing to our children have been on my mind for some time now. When our daughter was a baby, I loved rocking her to sleep. It could take a lot of songs before she'd nod off (I guess she liked this time together too), so I found myself pulling out every tune I could think of.
Jesus Loves Me
Only Trust Him
Sweet Hour Of Prayer
I'm A Promise
In The Garden
Day after day, night after night, we'd make our way through hymns. They were my go to. But way back in the corner of my mind, a few cobwebs clinging to them, I remembered songs my mom had sung to me.
Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry
My dad's influence was there as well.
Sorrow On The Rocks
Hey, Hey Good Lookin'
Sometimes we'd still be rocking, so I'd pull a few 80s songs out of the jukebox in my mind.
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
I've Got Friends In Low Places
Recently, I asked the question on Facebook, "What songs did you sing to your babies when you rocked them to sleep?"
In my mind, I was trying to make an argument for teaching our children the hymns, when I realized something. I do think those songs are valuable heirlooms from our faith, and we need to include them in our faith instruction. In my faith world, they're right up there with the Apostle's Creed and memorizing Scripture verses. But here's the thing I realized when the songs choices came pouring in. These mamas were offering their babies a part of themselves. In our song choices, we tell part of our story to our wee ones. Often, we pass down songs that may have been in our families for generations. Listen to some of the choices:
You Are My Sunshine
Sunshine On My Shoulders (John Denver)
Hush Little Baby (many admitted to not knowing every verse)
Baby Beluga (Raffi)
The Oscar Meyer bologna jingles (she notes "No joke. It was the first thing that came to my head at 3am.")
One mother said,
Sometimes I would catch myself singing Rock of Ages.
She drove the message home for me. Music lives inside of us. We love our babies so much. That rocking time is tender (one person said the whole post was a real tear jerker) and these songs pour out of our subconscious minds. An image of who we are deep inside.
As God often asks me to do, he prompted me to lay down my gauntlet. He showed me the beauty in our vast array of song selections, for they show our amazing differences. These songs point to where we came from - faith traditions, small towns, the 70s and 80s :), different cultures. Whatever it is you find yourself singing as you rock your babies to sleep, whether it be three in the morning, or three in the afternoon, thank you for loving them. May those songs travel in your family for generations to comes. It's really lovely.