I attended Sunday School faithfully, but nothing from those years really stands out except gathering weekly to sing. I vividly recall every Sunday morning the various grades shuffling and shoving, as we were corralled into the Fellowship Hall. Frank Mower (name changed) lead us in singing, one of his great loves. Bless him for Sunday after Sunday showing up to lead us in song, whether we sounded good or not! We sang with gusto and, at times, hand gestures and actions.

A few months ago I found myself humming a tune I’d sung in that Fellowship Hall week after week.

It was a catchy tune I hadn’t thought of in years. I started to sing it under my breath and it was as if I was hearing it for the first time.

Life was filled with guns and war,

And everyone got trampled on the floor,

Did I seriously sing in church about guns, wars, and trampling? With other children? Not as a joke or part of a skit, but in worship? Even trying to harmonize, as much as elementary kids can harmonize, under the direction of Mr. Mower?

I wish we’d all been ready

Why?

Children died, the days grew cold.

A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold.

Were there no adults that thought this might not be the most appropriate song for children to sing? About them dying? Starving? Did I mention it was an upbeat tune?

I wish we’d all been ready.

There’s no time to change your mind,

The Son has come and you’ve been left behind.

I have a scene in my mind of a scene from a movie we were shown: an abandoned mixer still running. The message, you too could be raptured while baking. Are you sure you won’t be left behind? I think it was a clip from A Thief in the Night. It turns out the song we sang on Sunday Mornings was written by Larry Norman and was the movie’s opening song. As a kid, I knew none of this; I just knew it was a catchy tune.

Man and wife asleep in bed,

She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone.

I wish we’d all been ready.

The song at least is thorough. Baking or sleeping. Alone or with someone, when it’s time, there will be no warning. Mom, Dad, gone in an instant. Are you sure about your parents’ salvation? Are you sure about your own?

Two men walking up a hill,

One disappears and one’s left standing still.

I wish we’d all been ready.

The lyrics are based on passages from Matthew and Luke that refer to two women grinding, two people in bed, and two people on a hill and one taken, the other left (ah, now I get the mixer, aka modern day grinder). Based on scripture, yes, but age appropriate? Not so much. Of all the songs we sang, this song is the one that I’m humming and wondering what was up with the 70s.

Now, it’s true that I sang about trampling and starving and turned out fine. I don’t think my theology is overly whacked and I’m not afraid of hiking, baking, or sleeping. But here is why it matters: music is powerful because of the way our brains are wired to recall information. Young minds are like sponges when it comes to memorizing, making that a key age for pouring in spiritual nourishment.

To the Frank Mowers of the world: you have a hard, hard task. Thank you for showing up week in and week out ready to engage, pour into, and love on our young people. As a gentle reminder, what you are doing now, will live on. On Sunday morning you have a sea of squirming bodies, but someday far, far in the future, a song you sing this Sunday will pop into their heads and they will hum.

When that happens, they might turn to a co-worker and say, “Hey listen to this” and actually hear what you poured into them so many years before. May the words out of their mouths be something more edifying than “seriously”?

(This post first appeared several years ago on a blog that no longer exists. I didn’t want it to totally disappear.)

Categories: Faith, Learning lessons

Amy

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  1. Penelope February 24, 2017 at 7:20 am - Reply

    Amy I really appreciate your blog post! This not only applies to working in the children’s nursery and singing songs but as a writer to being faithful to what God has called us to do! As we see the times are changing all around us how important it is to be about our fathers work.

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      Amy February 24, 2017 at 8:56 am - Reply

      So true Penny! Lyrics really do help form us — so we need to pay attention to what we are putting into our heads and hearts :)

  2. Denise Stair Armstrong February 24, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Amy,
    Funny you should post on this right in a season when, as I begin to embrace my dinosaur status, I have also begun to look at my blogging and writing as a ‘time capsule of vital supplies’ for my children’s generation. I am praying and actively seeking better ways to package Biblical truth like Jesus did — pithy, figurative, memorable, parable-like. My hope is that when they wake up in the middle of life’s ocean and realize they do need those compasses, sextants and plumblines after all (that they rejected in their pursuit of authenticity) they will be there, tucked away sweetly accessible in their memories.
    Denise

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      Amy February 24, 2017 at 8:57 am - Reply

      You are so not a dinosaur Denise :)! But it is good to think about how to preserve and pass on messages :)

  3. Jessa March 1, 2017 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    The songs from my childhood that have that “wait, what? Was that good for kids to sing? ” quality are Christmas carols my dad sang to us at bedtime. He always sang all the verses, and some of the later verses are somewhat scary. Coventry Carol: “Herod the king, in his raging, charged he hath this day his men of might in his own sight all children young to slay. Then wrote is me, poor child, for thee, and ever mourn and say for thy parting nor say nor sing by-by lully, lullay.”

    I think it’s equally important to consider images. We had two sets of children’s bible storybooks, and one of them had this really striking, but frightening, image of Elijah calling down fire to consume the water-soaked offering on the altar to defeat the prophets of Baal. It had similar images of Moses with the burning bush and Abraham postulating to sacrifice Isaac and people stoning someone. All biblically accurate, all indelibly printed into my brain.

    • Jessa March 1, 2017 at 10:15 pm - Reply

      Auto correct fail. Should say “then woe isme, poor child, for thee…”

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