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Hymn Index {The WHY, HOW, and WHAT for Morning Circle Time}

Hymn Index {for Morning Circle Time}

There is a reason that "Amazing Grace" has been sung at nearly every funeral for the past century and that amidst the turmoil and tragedy of the sinking Titanic, the musicians reportedly played "Nearer My God to Thee."

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The Why

These old hymns of the faith evoke memory and a posture of praise. Truthfully, there is nothing innately holy about any of them just as there is nothing innately UNholy about modern praise and worship music. They both have a place around the table of liturgy.

But, there is something powerful and uniting about a hymn. One simple chord can trigger an unconscious surfacing of memories. It is more than just nostalgia or recollection. It is a bolstering of faith.

I began attending church regularly at the age of twelve. My mother, sisters, and I were members of a very traditional Baptist church with old-fashioned pews and stacks of tattered hymn books. At the time, I took for granted the wonderful truths
the grace
the virtue
the history behind each well-worn page.

But, now as an adult, I know the value of these nearly forgotten old songs. They are like anchors. Because so many of them are rooted in and written from Scripture, they have provided a steady voice in my life.

Hymn Index {for Morning Circle Time}

Currently, my family fellowships with a congregation of Believers who choose a more contemporary route of worship each Sunday. While we occasionally sing hymns, our song selection typically consists of modern praise music.

I am grateful to be able to pass along the soul-moving songs of Jeremy Camp's "You're Worthy of My Praise" or Chris Tomlin's "Give Us Clean Hands" to my children as we sing them in church. But, I also have a desire to give them some of the same firm fixtures that I grew up with. To pass the torch.

Hymns are timeless and have carried generations into the courts of praise.

Hymn Index {for Morning Circle Time}

Three years ago at church while singing an updated version of a classic hymn during congregational worship, I looked down the row of chairs to see my children just standing there...mouths closed. They weren't singing along. They didn't know the song. My heart sank.

With my faced fixed in determination, I resolved to introduce them to some of the hymns of my childhood.

I scoured estate sales, used bookstores, and curriculum fairs to gather a stack of resources. 

Hymn Index {for Morning Circle Time}

My most concentrated effort for hymn introduction began during Morning Circle Time. In 2014, I started teaching my kids a new-to-them hymn each month and I've been doing it ever since. Here's how...

The How

At the start of the first Morning Circle time of the month, I sing the first verse of the new hymn aloud while everyone listens. Sometimes I play an audio version of it or read a short biographical history of the song or songwriter, but not often. I sing it aloud again. Once we've finished up all the other songs and readings in our circle time basket, I sing the hymn one final time for a total of three times that first morning.

The next day, I use the hymn as a call to worship. We gather in the living room for our Morning Circle Time and as everyone begins to settle into a spot, I begin to sing. It's a great way to calm the crowd and to focus our hearts and minds on God. By day 2, the kids usually know a few lines from the chorus and can join in. We do the rest of our basket items and close with the song.

This litany is repeated for about a week. By then, the kids know the first verse well enough and can join in each morning as we sing it for the rest of the month. I sometimes teach the second or last verse of the song as the month progresses; but, not always.

At the end of the month, the hymn gets rotated into our list of familiar songs that we sing and we begin learning a new one.

I do not print written copies of the hymn lyrics for my kids as I feel that statistically, young kids memorize short works...like songs, verses, and poems...much faster when they DO NOT have the words in front of them. (I did some research on this very topic in college and have found it to ring true in both the classroom and the home.) They are more apt to listen intently and concentrate on individual words when they don't have a cheat sheet. But, one could certainly print out the lyrics and/or sheet music of a handful of favorites and compile a morning time hymn book.

The What- A Hymn Index

Here is a list of the hymns and resources that I have used in the last few years. I plan to update this list from year-to-year as an on-going record of what we have learned or are learning. I will provide a link to the lyrics and sheet music as I am able.


Alfred's Basic Piano Library: Hymn Book- These are beginner piano books. There is an entire series for learners of all ages and stages. 

Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Vol. 1- This is the first in a series of hymn study books and includes a music CD, sheet music, and simple biographical info for about 12 hymns. 

Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Vol. 4- Hymns about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ for the Easter season.

The Kids Hymnal: 80 Songs and Hymns- This is a 3 CD set of hymns and praise songs. 

Cedarmont Kids Hymns- I would only recommend this CD for really young kids, perhaps 2nd grade and below. 

Kickin' It Old School- This is a collection of old-fashioned hymns set to a contemporary beat by the kid's praise and worship group, Go Fish. All of my kids love this one!

Hymnary.org- This site is a great place to start when looking for the lyrics and back-stories of traditional hymns. It not only provides the biographical information of each of the hymn writers but also a copy of the sheet music.

Hymnal.net- Use this site to listen to the piano accompaniment for most hymns and/or to download the sheet music to be played on either the piano or the guitar. 




All Creatures of Our God and King
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
On Jordon’s Stormy Banks
We Gather Together
O Holy Night- Christmas hymn
Come, Christians, Join to Sing
The Church’s One Foundation
Yield Not to Temptation
Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior





  1. This is so good. Our church service always begins and ends with a hymn, and sometimes brings in a good one before the sermon. When I first became a Christian, I though hymns were old and fuddy-duddy, but now, now my soul responds to them in a very deep way. "Rock of Ages" is my favourite.

    1. That one always reminds me of my dad who was not a Christian until the very last weeks of his life, but he loved a few hymns. That was one of them.

  2. This comes at a great time since I was just thinking about how to teach some hymns to my kids.

  3. YES! We love hymns. Our church sings the old hymns often and I love how easily the children pick them up. Also, I will play hymns in the background in the mornings sometimes - Spotify and Pandora have hymns, too!

    1. That's a great idea! What a lovely way to start the day.

  4. Last year I was looking for a hymnal with the great old hymns of the faith so that I could play them on our electronic piano. I knew I had a hymnal from my youth, but it was packed in a box in the garage for a move we did not end up making and I could not locate the box. I finally looked on the Christian Book Distributors website and found one which I purchased for a very reasonable price, and it is titled "Great Hymns of the Faith" and I just love it!

    1. Thanks for the title suggestion! I always love hearing about great resources.

  5. Love this post! I just found your blog and have been stumbling around it all day. Lately when I put my kids to bed my daughter has asked me for a "new" song...which means one she hasn't heard before. I've been singing Amazing Grace and thought how much I want to teach them the hymns I grew up with. Yes, I enjoy some of the newer ones but I just really get stirred by the hymns of old. I don't want my kids to miss out on them. Thanks for your post!

    1. You're welcome. It sounds like we have a similar view of teaching our children songs of the faith. The new ones are good, but so are the old ones! Thanks for reading.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful suggestion. I have personally enjoyed reading "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert Morgan. It is filled with hymns and their backgrounds/stories, and I really like knowing why the hymn writer wrote what he/she did. I look forward to introducing some hymns this year in our own story time. -JO

    1. Ooo...that sounds like a good one. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to check it out.

  7. We started our morning time with hymns last year and it has been such a blessing to our home. I have 5 children, the youngest, a two year old, will sing verses throughout the day all on his own. We use "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert Morgan. There are 150 hymns and every hymn comes with a short devotional-style story.

  8. We love hymns in our morning time! Picking a favorite is like picking a favorite book or author. Right now the kids favorite is "Onward a Christian Soldiers" (they might line up and march most mornings during that one). My son also loves "Dare to be a Daniel" (verse 3 mentions giants). My daughter loves "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." Lately I've come to appreciate "Day by Day and with Each Passing Moment." My favorite Easter hymn is "The Old Rugged Cross." I find it much easier to meditate on truths throughout the day when we start with hymns.

    1. I love all of these! I haven't sung Onward, Christian Soldiers in years. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Jamie, I can't find the post where you shared the hymn book you plan to use for this year. Can you share it again? TY :)