28 March 2009

Songbook and CD, violently recommended: Sing the Faith

I harbor a bit of hostility about all the junk songs from my youth taking up space in my long term memory. What I wouldn't give for that mental real estate to house something more substantive than tune by Fisher Price, lyrics by Keebler songs about how God made wrinkly rhinos and is a peach of a Savior. So I'm very particular about the music we listen to at home, and the children's music our church uses.

I was impressed when our kids started bringing home CDs from CPH's Growing in Christ Sunday School curriculum which included hymns, liturgy, and Scripture and catechism memory songs. I could do without the fluff Jesus-ditty section the CDs also include, and some hymns are more equal than others, but they're good overall. (RM, I have some more for you since we're now getting them in triplicate.)

Even better, you can get a CD of all the Small Catechism songs from those CDs--the entire Small Catechism set to music (Gauntlets, please tell your middle miss to watch her mailbox). Best of all, here's the music for you to play yourself. I'm planning on using selections from this along with some hymns for our VBS this year. I'd like to personally thank Cantor Magness for this whole project, which is great, and especially for making some of it easy enough that even a repentant piano dropout like myself, now consigned to the humiliating ranks of musical dilettantism, can plunk through a few songs without too much difficulty and may become somewhat serviceable with practice. I am definitely going to be purchasing more copies of both for family, friends, godchildren, and church. You should too!


Sandra Ostapowich said...

I got this when it came out and our children's choir sang the Lord's Prayer song, which is one of the more catchy tunes.

When I recommended it to the confirmand parents, each one got the CD and I'm told that at least one confirmand has put it on his iPod and listens to it regularly. Not bad for a 12 yr old boy who is into football and wrestling!

Some of the ditties are less catchy than others, and I'm not sure if the various petitions flow into one another to aid in memory work. But I do like that the words were not changed to fit the tune, but the tunes written to fit the words.

Pam said...

I'll reserve my comments on this, as I have mixed feelings about it, but I will agree that YES, I was glad when the kids started bringing these home instead of the other, uh, 'stuff' they had before.

I will however add that I have appreciated the CDs by Steve Green called Hide 'Em in Your Heart. Yes, I KNOW they are not hymns, and I KNOW they are not 'Lutheran,' but they are Bible verses set to music, and not only is the music not annoying, it is surprisingly enjoyable.

This is coming from a fellow hater of so-called children's ditties and commercial jingles that are forever stuck in my brain to be triggered unexpectedly and stuck in my head for a week.

There are two volumes of Steve Green, then there is a lullaby CD. Very pretty, sung by a woman, my favorites on that one are 'Children are a gift from the Lord' and 'You have knit me together in my mother's womb.'

Oh, and here's where you can see an example of absolutely AMAZING musical giftedness.


Ethan, Zach, and Emma's Mom said...

I love those CDs. I myself learn better when things are set to music--I think this is BRILLIANT.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the post, Rebekah. Cantor Magness doesn't spend a great deal of time in the blogosphere, but I'll make sure he sees this one. :-)

Mrs. Cantor

Liz said...

The first commandment and its meaning is an earworm; love it though.

Rebekah said...

I'll conjecture that mixed feelings may be related to a fear that resources of this kind get Dad off the hook. We're all looking for excuses to get away from our responsibilities, but I think the harm here is pretty small. A dad who takes his responsibilities seriously isn't going to pop in a CD and get to his stack of National Reviews during what used to be family devotions just because the CD exists. Parroting the words of the catechism is not the same as understanding them--there is work to be done beyond memorization.

The scores of Bible verses I learned by rote when I was a kid are gone, but I have instant recall of the GT and the Halo Express Scripture memory songs we used to listen to. I'd love for my kids to be singing the Small Catechism 25 years from now instead of Psalty the Singing Songbook, or worse.

Reb. Mary said...

I'll heartily concur my gratitude for the Growing in Christ cds/catechism project. (Rebekah, hold the mail if you haven't already sent them--SS here has gone CPH, so we're getting our own :) ).

The singing on those cds is well done, with quite admirable precision, though I occasionally find myself wishing for a bit more...enthusiasm? gusto? :D

So are you unrecommending the Halo Express stuff based mainly on annoyingness of "melody"? Does anyone have Scripture memory songs to recommend besides the verses available on the Growing in Christ ones?

Pam, someone gave us an old tape they had of Steve Green's Bible verse songs, which I have no problem with either. We were also bequeathed a set of "Wee Sing" Bible song tapes. Our basement is in the dark ages of technology, equipped only with a tape player, so those get occasional air time, which sometimes makes me want to beat my head against the wall, and sometimes is fun--the first song that BoyOne ever ventured to sing, despite our many efforts in other directions, was "Ho-Ho-Ho- Hosanna." He and his brother have worked up a rousing rendition of it, which involves hopping on one foot whilst singing with great gusto. So I have a rather soft spot there... :P

Rebekah said...

Cheryl, I got distracted by the other thing and missed you up there--thanks for alerting the man of the hour! You Magnesses are alright. :)

RM, if you can believe I actually like something totally unconnected to Lutheranism, I do like GT. The only ones I've heard are the VIP one, God's Plan of Salvation, and God's Protection. I'd put the series in the realm of vague Evangelicalism and my recollection of the stories is not great, so I can't guarantee the theological content there. But the songs are straight-up Scripture with staying power. My husband likes to make fun of my "GT theology." :D

Dakotapam said...

I really enjoy the catechism memory songs...especially when I heard the three year old sing me the first commandment and meaning one night before bed. total ear worm, yes, but a good one at that.

And no, Father dearest is far from off the hook, we get Table Talks from him at night on a daily basis...I'm still learning too!

Pam said...


Speaking for myself only (as always), MY mixed feelings have nothing to do with Dad's devotions/catechesis with the family. It's rather something about the songs themselves, and I can't quite put my finger on it yet, so I'm not going to try to name it.

However, for clarification puproses, I don't have any opposition to them, I am sure it was a lot of work and I believe it can be a worthwhile resource for those who like/use it.

Rebekah said...

De gustibus, then. :) I promise not to hum them around you.

Marie said...

Ok, I have the CPH sunday school CDs, too, but have a question for ya'll. Am I weird that I don't like to put on Christian/Worship music in the background? It almost seems like vain worship to me (like when you rattle through the Lord's Prayer, but when it's over, you realize you weren't really praying...). If I want background music, I listen to classical. I like the CPH CDs, but I don't really just "pop" them in if we're not ready to learn or focus. Any perspective on this?

Rebekah said...

Marie, I get what you're saying. We don't use them as background noise. The kids listen to Growing in Christ CD at naptime or at night after we put them to bed, and that's it. The Catechism one I would also use on car trips, since we are used to audiobooks and active listening in the car.