This morning, on the Feast of the Holy Family, we read the Epistle from St. Paul as a blueprint for a holy, happy family life. As a mother who’s always looking for guidance, I tried to pay close attention to what St. Paul says. What are the essential virtues and practices of family life?
First, here are St. Paul’s words:
Now I’m going to put those wise words into a list. I’m a visual learner, and lists help me.
…in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God.
Pray the Liturgy of the Hours in the family. This is perhaps the single most important item. Where possible the father, as head of the family, should lead the prayer and it should be sung. Wherever possible the psalms should be sung and the prayer should be oriented towards a sacred image or images.
– from the article “How do We Develop the Cultural Sensibilities of Children?” (well worth the read!)
If you feel way out of your league singing the Divine Office, I encourage you to take it upon yourself to work your way up to it. Learn it for yourself, and then, if you have children (or a spouse), teach them! The Mundelein Psalter is my recommended version to start with. The way the text is pointed to the psalm tones makes sense, and is easy to get used to. PLUS, they have a great website that has audio for the psalm tones and most of the hymns!! It’s SO much easier to learn a song when you can hear it!
Another way to bring hymns to your family life is by adding them to your family prayers, like morning, evening, or rosary. Tying in the hymns to the month’s dedication is what I like to do. (So in January, dedicated the the Holy Name, I make sure we sing “O Holy Name” a few times during the month. Or during May, we sing a variety of Marian hymns.) Then there are hymns in honor of certain saints, and those are great to sing on their feast days! Simple things, here.
But I find things go easier if I have the hymns memorized, that way I can just sing them anytime for my kiddos to hear. So we’re back to self-education. Learning hymns, chants, and how to read chant becomes a skill that really does help your spiritual life. After all, St. Augustine said, famously:
“He who sings, prays twice.”
I’m here to help you get started on your way to blending sacred music into your family life. Please, if you have any questions, connect with me on Google+, or comment below.
For some hymns to learn, please visit Catholic Songs to Learn & Sing.
If you are homeschooling, check out my plans for a 12-year Catholic Hymn Study.
For additional motivation, please sign up to receive my newsletter. You’ll learn one hymn or chant each month!