We all know singing is great tool for memorization. You may not have heard a childhood song for 10 years, but as soon as the tune hits your ears, the words come flooding back.
According to Dr. Roediger, who was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on a piece titled Why Does Music Aid in Memorization, this has to do with how our brains handle information. Dr. Roediger explains that the “areas in the brain associated with memory…process millions of pieces of information every day. Getting the information into those areas is relatively easy. What is difficult is pulling data out efficiently. Music provides a rhythm, a rhyme and often, alliteration. All that structure is the key to unlocking information stored in the brain—with music acting as a cue.” So we can think of data as constantly being locked behind “doors” in our brains, and music is a key that quickly unlocks those doors. It’s simple. Put words you want to memorize to music, and you’ll more easily remember them.
This is why when writing worship songs for kids, we must be careful about the lyrics. Some kids’ brains will unlock them quickly. Others will need to hear a song a dozen times before they can easily access the words. But because music is a cue for retrieving phrases, we want our lyrics about God to be as accurate as possible!
Start With Scripture
This is why when writing, we start with Scripture. Scripture that we have studied, wrestled with, lived out, and believe. If you study the lyrics of the songs on Only Jesus, you’ll see they are rooted in the Word of God.
- “I Found a Treasure” comes from Matthew 13:44-46.
- “King of Everything” uses themes from Psalms, Matthew (the Lord’s Prayer), and Revelation.
- “Rescue for my Soul” was based on the story of Jonah.
- “Jesus Forever” references several Scripture passages in the first verse alone:
- Before there was time, You were up in the highest place (Colossians 1:17)
- Leaving Your home, You came down to make a way (Philippians 2:7-8)
- There was nobody else, no other Name can save (Acts 4:12)
- You’ve stolen our hearts and given us everything (2 Peter 1:3)
- We want to lift You higher (Psalm 145:1)
Scripture must be primary. It must be foundational. We must behold it for what it is: God’s very words, breathed out for us, given to show us who God is and to transform us to be more like Jesus. When we see Scripture for what it is, we have no choice but to start with it when writing. Then, as our listeners sing the melodies we composed that unlock the lyrics we wrote, we can rejoice that they are learning true things about God, not just lines that happened to rhyme, or lyrics we thought were clever.
Let’s keep in mind that these kids need spiritual nutrition, and catchy, theologically-sound songs that are rooted in Scripture is one way to provide them with that.
Think about it. Peter tells believers to crave spiritual milk, so they might grow up in their salvation (1 Peter 2:2). The children who believe in Jesus in our ministry are still so young in their faith. Let’s not be irresponsible and give them the sugary soda equivalent of worship songs: songs that might be fun and entertaining but have no theological substance. Let’s keep in mind that these kids need spiritual nutrition, and catchy, theologically-sound songs that are rooted in Scripture is one way to provide them with that. Finally, let’s pray that the Lord will use this music not only to help kids memorize truths about God, but also to stir in them a deep affection for the Truth, our Rescuer, Jesus Christ.
Check out more resources for Kids Worship here.