October 18, 2011 8:31 AM
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God - All Saints Day
All Saints Day is November 1. You probably know that that is where Halloween came from - All Hallow's Eve.
While I was brought up like every American kid in the 50s going trick or treating on Halloween, our family has been out of the loop for years. We usually make popcorn, turn off all the lights, and watch a movie together.
Whatever your family does on Halloween - no judgment here - you might want to add a spiritual component to the coming weeks by focusing on the saints. If you are a Christian who has shied away from the saints - thinking incorrectly that Catholics worship them - I would encourage you to reconsider in light of this post and the next.
Teaching your children about the lives of the saints has great benefits. Just as you teach them about national heroes, you can teach them about spiritual heroes without detracting from Jesus.
Your kids will love this hymn - and you will love the story behind it:
It starts with a mom who wrote songs for her children when they would ask "Write us a song about a foggy day," or "Make us a hymn about a picnic."
One year, as the Feast of All Saints approached, she decided to write a song that would inspire her children and teach them something about the commitments of Christian faith.
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor,
And one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green:
They were all of them saints of God--and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right, for Jesus' sake,
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier,
And one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
And there's not any reason--no, not the least,
Why I shouldn't be one too.
They lived not only in ages past,
There are hundreds of thousands still,
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, or
In lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.
Though this hymn became part of the Anglican hymnal in 1940, I could not find it at Cyberhymnal or Oremus. Hymnsite has it, but I can't use their plugins with Firefox - maybe you can use it with your browser. This left me with a grand organ version on YouTube - which lacks the childlike quality I was looking for :) but you can learn for the tune.
From Singing the Song:
'I sing a song of the saints of God' was intended for use on saints' days to reinforce the fact that saints not only lived in the distant past but may also live and work in everyday lives. Mrs Scott's hymns were first published in England in Everyday Hymns for Little Children, 1929, and in the United States in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940.
Lesbia Lesley Locket was born in Willesden in 1898, and educated at Raven's Croft School in Sussex. She married John Mortimer Scott, a naval officer, who later became an Anglican priest and served a parish near Dartmoor. Active in amateur theatre and religious drama, Mrs Scott did considerable writing, especially of religious drama. She died in 1986 at Pershore
Besides the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 (Hymn #293), it is also found in the 1974 Book of Worship for United States Forces (Hymn #444) and the United Methodist 1989 Hymnal (Hymn #712).
I also came across a lovely picture book illustrating the lines:
I Sing a Song of the Saints of God by Lesbia Scott (Author), Judith Gwyn Brown (Illustrator)
Now, this much beloved hymn is whimsically illustrated by a renowned children's book artist. In charming rhyme, the lives of various saints, like Joan of Arc, are acted out by a mischievous children's choir. Young readers will be delighted by the full-color drawings and by the message that all God's children are His "saints." Brief biographies of the saints appear at the end.
I do so believe - and this story reinforces my belief - that motherhood does not squelch our creativity but releases it, helps us reach deep down and find our true selves.
And I hope this inspires you to teach your children this lovely hymn. Throughout our homeschooling days, though I am not a great singer, I sang hymns with my children because they contain the essentials of our faith in a way that praise music did not. While praise music can be very moving, it is centered more on feelings than doctrine and - let's face it - just isn't as intellectually challenging. Each has its place. But if you have not grown up in a faith tradition that has instilled a love of hymns you might want to stretch in this area to bring hymns into your home - for the sake of your children.
The more senses involved in learning, the more a part of your child the lessons become. Music helps build a strong foundation, but as Paul talked of feeding disciples milk and meat, you might want to consider giving your children more substance through hymns.
"I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" is a good place to start.