The Catholic Church has an immense treasure trove of sacred music. Music has a pivotal role in the liturgy at Mass and the Divine Office. One could spend a lifetime learning all the hymns, chants, motets, psalm tones, choral works, organ works, and more.
When our family decided to include the study of sacred music in our homeschool, I was inspired by how Charlotte Mason included Hymn Study in her weekly school schedule. I wanted to do the same, but with Catholic hymns, of course.
I wanted to fill the minds and hearts of my children with excellent liturgical music.
I quickly found that many Catholic music curriculum don’t go beyond the elementary grades. But where were the high school level studies of Gregorian chant and Ambrosian hymnody texts that are bursting with theology? (If you have a resource to share, please do!)
So, what does Catholic Hymn Study look like in our homeschool? Well, first of all, I realized quickly that Catholics have much more than hymns to study, so now I call it “Catholic Sacred Music Studies.” And this is what we do:
- Learn how to sing the song. I point to the notes/words and my kids follow along.
- Study and discuss the text, after I’ve found Bible, and/or catechism references.
- If needed/wanted, we do additional activities like learn about the composer/lyricist, find the history behind the hymn, and do copywork/dictation, or narration.
- We collect the scores (free of copyright restrictions we hope) into a private collection we call the “McFarland Family Hymnal”, and we sing a hymn from there at the beginning of our school day.
In a nutshell, Catholic Sacred Music Study is learning Church music that is holy, beautiful, and universal. Its aim is to lead to deeper devotion, increased sanctity, and unity with the universal Church.
My goal is to provide a 6-12 year rotation of hymns and chants to study with your family. Please join us, and grow in your appreciation for traditional Catholic music!
We are currently using Year 6.