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What Does it All Mean? Children’s Choir and Catechesis

Catechesis must be a fundamental part of every rehearsal. The whole reason for existing for the Choir is to give glory to God. To do this effectively, we need to understand our mission as fully as we can, and to do that we need to meet Christ more fully at every turn. We need to absorb the Word of God through Scripture. We have the enormous privilege of doing this each time we celebrate the Eucharist, and as a liturgical choir, this is each time we sing. We need to consider and think over the message of the Scripture for us at this time, and for our ongoing lives, listening afresh as we get older and our circumstances change.


Unfolding the Word 

So how do we carry this out? Our focus is on singing and music, so catechesis can’t take up an undue proportion of rehearsal time. In a way it is only a preparation for the real unfolding when the Gospel is read during the Mass, and  the priest expounds the message of the Gospel in his homily. We open the Word: re-tell the story in our words and in their words. Ideally this task belongs in the hands of a master story-teller, who not only loves the Gospel but understands both the background and the essential meaning, but sadly a master story-teller isn’t always available. 


We can begin by trying to understand the Gospel better ourselves: 

  • read the Gospel for the Sunday coming;
  • read other sources to improve your understanding; 
  • read the sections before and after, to place it into context; 
  • read the other Gospels to see how the other evangelists present the same part. 
  • meditate on the Gospel; 
  • practise lectio divina, discuss it with other faith-filled people, and the parish priest if available. practise what you might say and how you would say it. Keep it simple and direct, as Jesus himself always did.


Stages of spiritual development

At this stage of their spiritual development, the children are exploring the transcendent, making connections to their social life and their moral life, and making associations between God and the authority figures in their lives. Sometimes the Gospel doesn’t seem to connect on any of these planes, but persevere. Try to make opportunities for the children to explore connections. Ask questions – check exactly what they have understood from what you were trying to convey. This is extremely useful feedback, and helps to form and teach the catechist. And most importantly, make opportunities for the children to ask questions. This is the heart and soul of catechesis, asking questions and thinking about the answers.


Bringing the Gospel alive 

And then connect the Gospel to the program you have chosen for that Sunday, explaining why you chose each song. This also helps them understand the Gospel better, and they’ll be able to sing with more  meaning and conviction, so the music and songs themselves are your allies in breaking open the Word. 


Be patient with yourself – you will have another chance in three years’ time, after all. Don’t ever be afraid to show that you don’t know the answer to a question. You may have to think about it, and even then you may not have an answer. Yet if we give the Holy Spirit time and space, the seed will be sown for future understanding. 



Written by Pat Smith

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