Marc and I have made plenty of mistakes as we've tried to figure out this whole parenting thing, but one of the best things we did when the kids were little was establish a consistent bedtime routine of reading, singing, and praying. We read lots and lots of wonderful stories -- some were lovely illustrated picture books, some were cleverly written rhyming books. We didn't just read the books -- we read with great expression, some books we made up songs for, and certain books would always get acted out. The dog would even read along with us for Sandra Boyton's Doggies: "Nine dogs on a moonlit night, aaaa-oooooooo!"
Then came the singing. Deciding to sing hymns with the kids was another Bible Study Fellowship influence. About once or twice a year, the children would come into the sanctuary to sing to the adults one of the songs they learned. One year they sang the chorus to Trust and Obey and I knew then we had to do this with our kids. I didn't even know the hymns that well yet when Anna was born, but I remember typing out the lyrics to a dozen or so hymns and Marc and I would sing them at bedtime every night. After a while we had them memorized, but we didn't really add too many more into our rotation. We just stuck with this small list of favorites and that's how our kids started learning hymns. We didn't sing many kid-type songs during bedtime, unless they were associated with one of the books we read. Those types of songs were sung at other times of the day.
Sometimes a hymn would lend itself to being more active: for Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus the kids would crouch into a ball, jump up into standing position for "Stand up!" and then march around the room. In For the Beauty of the Earth there is a verse about "for the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child," in which we would always point to the appropriate person of our family. We sang this in church yesterday and I was so tempted to pat each kids on the head as we sang it. ; ) But there were also lots of moments were we just snuggled and sang quietly. We'd close in prayer, and then sing the Doxology.
So many times we look back on fond memories and wish we had treasured that time more, but I have no regrets about that concerning our bedtime routine. I could not have treasured that any more than I did. But, oh, how I miss those days!
This week's hymns all bring back special parenting memories, so you will have to forgive me if I get all weepy. By the end of the week I'll be wanting to adopt a baby.
Trust and Obey is one of the best hymns to sing with little ones. They can sing the chorus almost as soon as they start to speak, and if you've never seen a toddler sing "to be happy in Jesus" you are totally missing out. Oh, and Holy, Holy, Holy is another toddler favorite. Nothing beats their little "ho-wee, ho-wee, ho-wee's"!
I love the simple truth of this hymn -- a life of trust and obedience brings joy. I should sing this hymn before I get out out of bed each morning! And this video? I just might have to buy some of her music for my drive to Denver this weekend. Lovely.
Trust and Obey
John Sammis, 1887
When we walk with the Lord
In the light of his Word,
What a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But his smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
Not a grief nor a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
But we never can prove
The delights of his love
Until all on the alter we lay;
For the favor he shows,
And the joy he bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at his feet,
Or we'll walk by his side in the way;
What he says we will do,
Where he sends we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.