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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Horror and Humor of Children's Church Music

This morning, I read this post – Singing with Gusto about Death and Destruction. Amy Young reflects on childhood memories of the song “I Wish We'd All Been Ready” and the feeling that it may not have been age appropriate worship music. Ahh, the 70's.

I remember this song. We had some interesting music at that time. It was the decade of such pop favorites as "Seasons in the Sun," "Billy Don't be a Hero," and "The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia." Seems we were quite the lovers of emotionally gripping music that decade. 

That post and the comments following it brought all sorts of songs to mind from my Sunday mornings in children's church.  Do you remember the song, “I'm in The Lord's Army?” I have to say I've taught it to my grandsons - not necessarily for the message of being in the Lord's "Army," but because they love all the physical movement. What exactly is the message of that song?

Speaking of physical movement, how about that odd song "Father Abraham"... "Father Abraham. had seven sons and... seven sons had father Abraham. and they never laughed and they never cried... all they did was go like this..." followed by lots of flailing arms and legs. I always wondered what was wrong with father Abraham's emotionless kids. 

And one that was my favorite, but I can't remember it all... just bits and pieces which seem unrelated. “The deacon went down, to the cellar to pray, he fell asleep and he stayed all day (repeats all that)... all my sins are washed away I've been redeemed" – in the same song had verses like – “Oh you can't get to heaven in a mini skirt... cause God don't like those girls that flirt”, AND “You can't get to heaven, on a set of skis, you'll ski right through St. Peter's knees.” Other ways to not get to heaven were on a stick of butter, in Batman's car, and on roller skates. 

Isn't it amazing what can get past us when put to catchy music? Really? “God don't like those girls that flirt?” He doesn't LIKE them?  He had no problem with boys, apparently because they had no verse of their own.

Personally, as a little girl, and even a teenager, I thought the songs about lots and lots of blood were a little disgusting. A fountain filled with blood where I'd be “plunged” sounded like a bad prom night for a girl named Carrie! Deep and Wide – same said fountain – I couldn't swim until I was 14! This wasn't really as reassuring as my Sunday School teacher was intending.

The Jewish people did not bathe in the blood of sacrificial animals.  It was a symbolic washing of their sins. Christians sang about it quite literally, even if we didn't plunge our earthly bodies into it. 

We sang songs about little red and black boxes where we'd respectively keep our Savior and the devil... occasionally taking Jesus out for a smooch and the devil out for a stomping! 

Safety could be found, however, in those songs about building your house on the rock - though the rains came down and floods came up and washed away the rest of the neighborhood. Also Noah's “arky” built from hickory “barky” was a good place to be in the rainy season. (A reference to an actual song, not just random “baby talk.”) 

So, what are your favorite childhood songs? And what ones are you seeing in a new light as an adult? 


  1. I didn't grow up in the church, so I have no Sunday School memories before age 12. As a teen and adult I've led children's singing many times. One of the worst is "I'm inright outright upright downright happy all the time." Might as well say, "...lying most of the time."

  2. Yes, might as well! LOL. No wonder so many of us think we must be "doing this wrong."