As we continue our series on bedtime traditions, it is time to take a look at the practice of singing which some families include as part of their nightly bedtime ritual. Some families find bedtime to be a good time to sing together as a family, while others do not for various reasons. Our survey asked participants if they sing together at bedtime. Here is what we learned:
28% of our survey participants said that they sing together, and that they do so every night.
34% said that they do not sing together at bedtime.
38% sing together some nights, but not every night.
We then asked the participants who sing together as a family what they sing. They responded:
25% We sing our children’s favorite songs.
3% We sing the troparion of the day.
21% We sing the festal hymn of the most recent feast.
2% We sing the hymns to the saint of the day.
34% We do not sing together at bedtime.
(Apparently the other 15% sing other songs which were not listed as survey options.)
Some survey respondents sent us specifics of what they sing. Here is what they said:
- hymns from the liturgy to help them learn (and pray of course)
- St Raphael’s troparion
- We sing different songs from the Great Liturgy. As my daughter learns a new song in the liturgy, we talk about it and practice singing it.
- “O Heavenly King”,“Our Father”, and finish prayers with the “Hymn to the Theotokos”
- Trisagion, various hymns
- Usually we sing some of the prayers during evening prayers such as “O Gladsome Light” or “More Honorable than the Cherubim”.
- Whatever hymns we are learning at the time & the Jesus Prayer
- Whatever comes to mind from church or Camp Nazareth campfires
- We often sing the Vespers or compline prayers of Western Rite Orthodoxy
- Chant hymns from vespers
- “Oh Gladsome Light”
- Hymns from Divine Liturgy
- nursery rhymes
- Christian classic hymns
- Usually soothing, slow hymns. “Jesus Remember Me”, “the Great Doxology”, “the Beatitudes”
- “Hymn to the Theotokos”, “Our Father”
- other favorite hymns
- We always sing “All Praise to Thee, My God This Night” — to the tune of the Tallis Canon.
- Occasionally our child asks for another “church song” and we always sing a Theotokion.
- “Oh Heavenly King”
- The apolytikia of our patron saints
- Gigi Shadid music
- “Christ is Risen”, “Lord I Call”, antiphons
- We sometimes sing a song from Compline or I sing a bedtime song if requested.
As we prepared for this blog post, we discovered that research shows that there are many reasons why we should sing with children. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (perhaps some of us feel less-than-confident with our singing ability) many of us do not sing often or at all with our children. We may wonder if bedtime is really a good time for singing to/with children. If it is, what should we sing? Here are some links to information that we discovered about the importance of singing with children; suggested ways to improve our own singing confidence; reasons why bedtime is a good time to sing; and where to find great kids’ music (both secular and Orthodox) to sing to (and with!) our children at bedtime. So, read up, and let’s get singing!
Why is important to sing with kids?
There are at least ten things babies learn when we sing to them: https://families.naeyc.org/article/10-ways-babies-learn-when-we-sing
Music stimulates endorphins and creates security for children while helping them learn language: http://oureverydaylife.com/benefits-singing-children-16177.html
Singing helps children learn to play with (and love) language so that reading and understanding is easier for them later: http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=927
Live interactive music helps children’s speech develop: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/may/08/singing-children-development-language-skills
What if I think I sing poorly and am ashamed to sing?
Find basic tips for strengthening your singing skills here: http://www.wikihow.com/Sing-With-Confidence
This article lists detailed ways to improve your singing skills: https://spinditty.com/learning/6-Tips-to-Better-Singing
Find a few free singing lessons here: http://feliciaricci.com/i-hate-my-singing-voice-help/
Is it important to sing with children at bedtime?
This article lists some of the benefits of lullabies, as well as encouragement for parents who are hesitant singers: http://www.education.com/reference/article/importance-lullabies/
Read about the importance of singing lullabies at bedtime in this article: http://www.parentguide.ca/2015/09/the-importance-of-lullabies-2/
Find an official paper from the International Journal of Business and Social Science on this topic here: http://ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_7_April_2012/35.pdf
Here are a few secular bedtime song suggestions:
This post offers specific bedtime song suggestions, complete with lyrics and links to performances of the songs, in case you are not familiar with them: http://www.everydayfamily.com/slideshow/15-perfect-songs-sing-little-one-sleep/
This article offers a list of lullabies to sing to your children, and recommends a musician that can help you learn even more: http://modernmomlife.com/bedtime-songs-for-kids/
Where can I find Orthodox Christian music to sing with my kids?
Find information about how to help your children learn about Orthodox Christian music here: http://www.antiochian.org/music/liturgical-music-children
This blog post is old, but offers some Orthodox recording artists and/or titles that may be helpful: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2008/07/orthodox-music-for-kids.html
Khouria Gigi Shadid has been making Orthodox Children’s music for many years. Find her music for sale here: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/GigiBabaShadid