16 June 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Church...

I'd guess that it's been over a year, maybe even a year and a half, since I started opening Junior Church with the song, "Thank you, Lord, for this fine day" by Diane Davis Andrew. Every week I ask if anyone is especially thankful for anything, and then we sing thanks, first "for this fine day", then by name for everyone in the room, and then for the special things mentioned. This year during Lent we left out the "Hallelujah" chorus and did not use it again until Easter Sunday.

This routine is clearly important. On Palm Sunday I was worried about time and so skipped the "What are you thankful for" part, intending just to sing "this fine day" and our names. One child interrupted the song in mid-flow to remind me, "You didn't ask what we're thankful for!" At our all-ages session on Easter Sunday we went ahead and sang through the names of every person present, just as we would in Junior Church. Although it took a long time, people seemed to find it welcoming and worthwhile. When we had another all-ages session on Ascension Day, this song went even more smoothly, and I felt we were really rejoicing and worshipping as we sang it.

And yet, when I say that we sing, the honest truth is that at Junior Church it's usually only STF and I that sing. The children either listen, rock back and forth on their mats, or bounce around. Sometimes the bouncing around leaves me really uncertain as to whether they're actually listening or even enjoying the song at all. Nor do they sing along with the "Go now in Peace" song (by Natalie Sleeth) that we use to close the session, although gradually some have started following a few of the hand motions that we use (we don't sign the song as some YCW folk do, but we have a simple gesture for each line).

Last Sunday, as we gathered for the feast, I explained that many people consider Pentecost to be the birthday of the Church. We served out little pieces of cake, each with a birthday candle in it, and (once I had delivered a stern warning about the potential dangers of candles), I went around the circle lighting everyone's candle and singing "Happy Birthday". We had time to sing it all the way through twice, and then we blew out our candles together. What a hit!

I think every child sang along.


  1. That video brings the miraculous aspect of it all home. . . . The part about the children wanting to sing, even though in reality only you and STF sing, shows how much trust you have built with your group.

  2. This entire blog was very impressive to me. I have found that the more hand motions I use, the more the children sing. Maybe they're not thinking so much about how they sound? Anyway, the video was wonderful.


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