Scripture Based Children's Anthems

by Sarah Hawbecker

The texts we choose for children to sing are as important as the musical qualities of an anthem. What better texts are there to teach our children than words of scripture? The following anthems are just a few of the ones I have found to be worth teaching and repeating.

Use Your Gifts by Lynn Shaw Bailey and Becki Slagle Mayo (Choristers Guild)

Luke 16:1-13

Based on the parable of the dishonest manager, which appears in Lectionary 25, Year C, this would be an excellent anthem anytime during stewardship season. It is unison with an optional 2nd part.

This is the Day by Robert Lau (Choristers Guild)

Psalm 118:24

This is a good choice for the Easter season, but appropriate for almost any Sunday, except during Lent because of the alleluias. While there are several good songs with this text, I find this anthem particularly useful as the first anthem of the choir year, as it is repetitive and can be quickly learned. There is an optional flute part.

God is Our Hope by John Bertalot (Choristers Guild)

I have used this many times on Reformation Sunday. The two part writing is excellent and accomplishable (with some work) with elementary singers. The dynamic contrasts are particularly effective.

The Lord Is My Shepherd by David G. Allen (St. James Music Press)

Psalm 23 with some additional text

This is a beautiful unison anthem with a flowing piano accompaniment. There are some optional alto notes. It is perfect for “Good Shepherd Sunday,” (Fourth Sunday of Easter) and other occasions.

Sing Joyfully to God by Michael Joseph (St. James Music Press)

Psalm 95

These first verses, known as the Venite, often begin the psalmody portion of Morning Prayer. This psalm of praise is appropriate for numerous occasions. The anthem is unison with an optional descant at the end, which could be vocal or instrumental. The accompaniment can be piano or organ.

Jubilate! by Michael Bedford (St. James Music Press)

Psalm 100:1, 3

Another psalm of praise, this text is sung in both Latin and English. The optional 2nd part at the end is mostly in canon. This festive anthem works very well for a Thanksgiving service or Christ the King Sunday.

Show Me Thy Ways by Mark Patterson (from Children Sing: Seven Anthems for Elementary Age Singers, Augsburg Fortress)

Based on Psalm 25:4-5

Psalm 25 appears in the lectionary several times, so plan this beautiful anthem for one of those occasions or anytime during Lent. The optional second part is a descant, and the accompaniment is for piano.

Psalm 51 by Mark Patterson (from Children Sing Psalms, Marilyn Comer, editor, Augsburg Fortress)

Psalm 51:1-2, 10

This is the appointed psalm for Ash Wednesday, and other times during the lectionary cycle. The music is easy and lyrical, so take this excellent opportunity to teach the more difficult text, with words like “transgressions”, “compassion”, and “iniquity.” Sing this one as an anthem, or have the congregation join on the refrain.

Yo Soy la Luz del Mundo (from Part-Singing Global Style by Michael Burkhardt, Morningstar Music Publishers)

John 8:12

This song from Mexico is appropriate during the season of Epiphany. It is arranged in the form of a partner song, and can be sung in two parts or in three parts. There is a piano accompaniment, as well as parts for maracas and shakers, which can be played by the children.

A Blessing of Grace from Worship Leaders Volume 2 by Mark Patterson (Choristers Guild)

Based on Psalm 67:1

I like having children make connections by singing words that they regularly hear in worship. This benediction has an optional second vocal part on the Amen. The keyboard part can be enhanced by two optional handchimes. Singing a benediction in worship involves children as worship leaders. I also find a benediction each choir year to sing at the end of every rehearsal. Again, this helps to make the connection between Sunday morning worship and Wednesday night choir rehearsal.

These are only a few anthems, but check out the collections mentioned as well. Of course, one way to really delve into scripture with children’s choirs is – you guessed it – a musical! That’s a topic for another blog.

Posted on May 21, 2012 8:23:58 AM
Filed Under: Choral Techniques and Repertoire, Filed Under: review-prelude,

Sarah Hawbecker

Written by Sarah Hawbecker

Sarah J. Hawbecker is a graduate of St. Olaf College and the Eastman School of Music. Since 1996, she has served as Organist and Director of Children's Music at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, GA, overseeing a program of two children's choirs, three handbell choirs, a summer music camp, and a concert series. She has performed for and presented workshops at regional and national gatherings of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and of the American Guild of Organists, and has served as adjudicator for several organ competitions.