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Hey God! Children’s Choir and Prayer

Why is prayer at rehearsals necessary? It takes up valuable rehearsal time, and can really get out of hand. Sometimes the children use the opportunity to spread gossip, or worse, to reveal family secrets, or to bring up issues that are too sensitive for younger children to hear. Sometimes their prayers are almost meaninglessness. They pray for the same things time after time, or they pray that they win a game or they pray for a paper cut. And still prayer is central, indispensable to the choir and to each rehearsal.


Why pray?

For a start, we are doing God’s work, so it is fitting that we put ourselves under God’s headship each time we gather. We are meeting in God’s house, and so respect is due to God in the form of greeting and acknowledgement. The very first step in catechesis is prayer: becoming aware that we are in God’s presence, deliberately choosing to turn our minds to God, building our relationship with God. Without prayer, catechesis is discussion. Prayer invites God to teach and inspire and show care for us. 


By inviting God to be among us, we set the tone for Christian behaviour, the standard of love between each of us. We acknowledge another presence with us who will guide and safeguard our actions. We are stating aloud what our music and singing will carry out, praise, thanks, asking for what we need. We are reminding ourselves of our mission.


Planned and spontaneous

How do we pray? For our Choir, the practice we have developed over many years is to make the sign of the Cross and then recite the Choir Prayer. The very predictability settles the group and brings us together in the unity that the Choir is all about. The sign of the Cross marks us as Christian and reminds each of us of our baptism. It invokes the Trinity, even if the rest of our prayer is general. The Choir prayer is short and everyone knows it by heart. 


And then the intercessions. We have a number of set categories:

  • for the sick or injured, 
  • for the dead, 
  • for people having babies or getting married
  • special intentions. 


Thus we cover all aspects of life from birth to death, the things most important in our lives, those things closest to our hearts, things that are worrying us the most. Special intentions are personal prayers. Of course they are rarely short, and  management is important, but so is listening and giving each one the chance to call on God with their heart-felt concerns. This is not a time when the children come up with repetitive, ‘approved’ prayers, but when they formulate prayers about what is important to them – their dog with cancer, their parent flying home from overseas, sports, exams, birthdays. 


Praying with and for each other

We are forming the habit of bringing our concerns before God – occasionally we remember to do some thanking – and addressing God in person. Most importantly, the whole Choir responds to each intention with ‘Lord, hear our prayer’. We are all praying together for each other, the Body of Christ pleading as one, showing respect and care for each other, forming a community of love and trust. This is the basis for our Choir’s mission, to lead and participate in prayer and worship. 


We also have short period of silence at the end of the intercessions, for those prayers which we may not want to speak aloud, and to give God a chance to speak to us in the silence. Then all these prayers, silent and spoken, are gathered together and the whole prayer concluded. 


You may like to incorporate the Our Father, a highly suitable way of covering all aspects of every life, universal and particular, and again a good opportunity for catechesis. You may like to include the Hail Mary, or the Glory Be, a litany of relevant saints, or another seasonal prayer, whatever is right for this choir, in these circumstances.


Written by Pat Smith

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