You know it’s happened to you.
You’re driving down the road, pushing buttons on the radio, and you come across a song you haven’t heard since high school. But you remember it well. You sing along–maybe even rolling your eyes at how ridiculous the lyrics sound now. But you remember. Every single word. You may not remember the Pythagorean theorem, or the facts of the history final you crammed for all night. But you definitely remember those lyrics.
Isn’t it amazing how that works?
According to scientists, “Humans developed a structure in the brain that responds to music before we developed one that responds to language. This is why humans are able to respond so strongly to music. Its potent effect on the pleasure center holds a very significant place in our brains. When listening to music, dopamine is excreted and this has a large effect on the rewards section of our brain. Music is a pleasure to hear and the response we receive from it is strong enough to force our memory to give it significance and retain its lyrics and melody. This is the reason that children have an easier time remembering things taught to them in song format then just spoken to them.” (Daniel Levitin, neuroscience psychologist, McGill University in Montreal)
How to Use Music to Help Kids Memorize Scripture:
The first option (if you have the resources) is to produce your own Scripture songs. The advantages of this are obvious—you’ll get exactly the verses you want and the exact style you think is best.
Here at KidzLife, we wanted to capitalize on the way God wired our brains to help kids hide God’s word deep down in their core. That’s why we took the time and energy to create original songs for the memory verses that go with our KidzLife curriculum.
The criteria we felt was instrumental for us to incorporate in our KidzLife songs:
- Fun for young kids, yet cool enough for a 5th grade boy (and parents too!) Repetition is key, so we wanted songs that the whole family wants to hear on repeat.
- A variety of music styles that would rival what is popular on the radio–pop, rock, country, even a little rap.
- Word-for-word Scripture, with no additional words, except maybe an occasional yeah or oooh. After all, memorizing God’s word (not human words) is the goal!
- Verses in a version that kids understand. Jesus said, “The seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it.” (Matthew 13:23)
- References incorporated into the song, so kids remember where to find the verses in the future.
- Professional quality production kept at a very affordable price for parents.
How did we make it happen?
We happened to know some pretty amazing musicians who love the Lord, so we put a call out to them to see who would be interesting in helping with this project. The response was overwhelming. Every one of these young creatives was excited to help kids memorize God’s word. We presented them with the list of verses from our KidzLife lessons. Each one chose the verses that struck a chord with them (pun intended). Then they got busy. It was quite a bit of work, but it was a labor of love, and it has eternal rewards.
In our first year of KidzLife, we did not have this amazing tool. But as soon as we added it, we saw a marked improvement in the number of verses the kids memorized. These songs from various genres are fun, catchy, and will stick with kids for a lifetime. Just imagine your kids learning 24 new verses this year, without even trying! That’s more verses than most adults memorize in their lifetime. Oh, but watch out: if you’re not careful, you might learn them too!
If you're interested in hearing what one of our Scripture songs sounds like: Click here to download one of our songs for free!
But What if I’m Just a Children’s Pastor, Not a Record Producer?
Of course, not everyone has the resources to produce a CD. But everyone can implement this strategy to some degree with a little creativity.
If you have a particular set of verses you want to key in on with your kids, see if your music minister (or another musical volunteer) would be willing to spend a little time setting them to music. It does not have to be elaborate–just a few chords on the guitar and a catchy melody. Teach the songs to your kids and review them each week during worship time. Smartphones being what they are, you can even record and email songs to your parents.
Another super fun and easy way to incorporate song is to have your kids come up with the tunes! You can task each small group with a different verse, or your entire group can collaborate. Again, use a smart phone to record the results so you’ll have them to review from week to week. This will probably work best with shorter verses. Kids will love being in on the creativity as they live out a biblical mandate: Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. (Psalm 96:1)
A List of Readymade Resources We've Found:
If you are looking for ready-to-use resources, we did some research to help you out. They are listed here with key points for each. If your favorites are missing, please let us know and we’ll add them to our list.
1. KidzLife: Keys to the Kingdom, Adventures in Acts, Kids Like the King
Obviously we're a little biased towards these resources!
As we mentioned before, our goal was to create songs that are catchy and relevant for Kindergarten-5th grade, are verbatim verses with references, and have multiple genres of music represented. $7.00 per CD with 24 verses.
Click to download a free Kidzlife Scripture song.
2. Family Worship Seeds
- Great quality music production
- Adult vocalists appeal to older kids and adults
- Verses are word-for-word
- References not included
- $12.97 per CD (11 or 12 songs). You'll get one to keep and one to give away!
Upbeat pop/dance style with a techno flair that will appeal to all aged kids
- Verses are sung word-for-word (additional lines added to some songs)
- References are incorporated into the songs
- Lyric videos and motion videos offered
- 6 songs for $9.99 (videos for additional cost)
- Style is mostly acoustic but upbeat
- Groups of kids singing along with adults, may appeal more to younger kids
- Lyrics not necessarily verbatim; lyrics are pieced together from multiple Bible translations and sometimes paraphrases are used
- References are included, spoken or sung
- Free on Noisetrade
5. Steve Green: Hide ‘em in Your Heart, Vols. 1 & 2
A timeless classic featuring the golden voice of Steve Green.
- Verses are word-for-word
- References are included, but spoken (not sung)
- Young children sing them, so they appeal more to the preschool set
- Steve’s commentary is geared toward younger kids
- $14.00 for 20 songs
6. Hidden In My Heart: A Lullaby Journey Through Scripture by BreakAway Music
- Beautiful orchestration, great for soothing or going to sleep (would be great for stressed adults as well as kids)
- References not included
- Scripture combined with lullabies (additional wording in each song)
- Older kids may not take to these as much as young ones
- $14.00 for 12 songs
Bonus: The Psalms Project*
This beautiful collection is more geared to adults*, with such an abundance of Scripture in each song, but it is too good not to include for your listening pleasure! The overall project goal is to set all 150 Psalms to music in “a marriage of King David’s vision with modern worship music.”
- Gifted vocalists accompanied by beautiful orchestration
- Professional quality production
- Large quantity of Scripture
- References not included
- Very soothing; would be nice for kids of all ages at bedtime
- $10.00 for 10 songs
Comment below and let us know what we're missing and let us know if you like the song we're giving away.