I have been enjoying the morning time suggestions that Cindy has been posting at Ordo Amoris. As a result, I spent two evenings reading old hymnals. I went in search of "The Creation" that she referenced by Cecil Alexander Francis. I discovered he has written a whole hymnal for kids (you haven't heard of most of his other works). Then I remembered that another curriculum encourages the use of Isaac Watts' Divine and Moral Songs. So, I decided to see if there are any other old hymnals and prayer books on google books for kids. Well, there are! Many of them are a little heavy handed. However, the one I am most taken with is 829 pages long. It's title is no lie "A Collection of Hymns of Children of God in All Ages" (1754). It begins with hymns from the Bible and then the early church and organizes songs from the German and English church up until his "present" time. It is quite an undertaking. Except for the ones taken from the Bible I only recognized two of the hymns (really more like poems because there is not a musical setting).
In high school we would complain about singing old hymns and my youth pastor instructed us to read them before the service as a prayer. It changed my view on them and helped me realize there is a lot of good theology in there. In the book referenced above there is a whole section that goes through different parts of the catechism in verse. I confess I am only about 1/3 of the way through it but it is fascinating to see what different ages have emphasized.
Here is one of my favorites:
Content thyself with Patience
With Christ to bear the cross of pain,
Who can and will thee recompence
A thousandfold with joys again:
Let nothing cause thy heart to quail,
Launch out thy boat, hale up thy sail,
And be thou sure thou shalt attain
Unto the Port that shall remain.
And one more
Faith and Repentance may be taught,
And yet no Gospel tidings brought;
If as mere Duties these we press,
And not as Parts of promis'd bliss.
If only Precepts we present,
Tho' urg'd with strongest argument,
We leave the waken'd Sinner's hope
In blackness of Despair to grope.
The man whom legal precepts chase,
As yet estrang'd to Sov'reign Grace;
Mistaking evangelic charms,
As if they stood on legal terms;
Looks to himself, tho' dead in sin,
For grounds of faith and hope within;
Hence Fears and fetters grow and swell,
Since nought's within but sin and Hell
But faith, that looks to promis'd grace,
Clean out of Self the foul will chase
To Christ for Righteousness and Strength,
And finds the joyful rest at length.
No precept clogs the Gospel-call,
But werein grace is all in all;
No law is here but That of Grace,
Which brings relief in ev'ry case
The Gospel is the Promise fair
Of grace, all Ruins to repair;
And leaves no sinner room to say,
"Alas, this Debt I cannot pay!
This grievious Yoke I cannot bear!
This high Demand I cannot clear!"
Grace stops the mouth of such complaints
And store of full Supply presents
Tis here the Spirit pow'rful rides,
The fountains of the deep divides;
The King of glory's Splendor shews,
And wins the Heart with welcome News. (p. 324)