Simple Songs of A Child
by Tom Vander Well
Published on July 21, 2022
Categories: The Grands

Simple Songs of a Child

By Tom Vander Well

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.

Psalm 111:10 (NIV)

It was a fairly warm day in early December this past year when Wendy and I got to spend the day with our grandson Milo for the first time in almost a year. Wendy had some things she had to accomplish in town, so I took Milo to the park to keep him occupied. As we played on the swings, I made up a silly little song. It went like this:

Papa and Yaya love Milo.
Papa and Yaya love Milo.
Papa and Yaya love Milo.
Oh, yes we do.

After singing it a couple of times, I began again. This time I paused each time after the word love and Milo giggled and belted out his own name. Within a day, Milo himself sang it and he chose to alter the words:

Papa and Milo love Yaya.

then,

Yaya and Milo love Papa.

The simple little ditty became a staple during their visit and it was so cute to hear him sing it. He always loved to sing all three verses to ensure the declaration of mutual love among the three of us was complete.

Instructional songs are as old as humanity itself. Music has always been a powerful way to learn and remember things. With a quick memory jog in the quiet this morning, I recalled a number of songs I still remember by heart from shows I watched when I was a child; Shows like Sesame Street, Electric Company, Mister Rogers, Zoom, and Schoolhouse Rock. In seventh grade Social Studies class we had to memorize the preamble of the Constitution and, when tested, we had to write it word-for-word from memory. I guarantee you every one of us was singing the Schoolhouse Rock version in our heads as we wrote.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 111, along with its twin, Psalm 112, is written much like an ancient Hebrew form of Schoolhouse Rock, though this fact is essentially lost in translation to English. They are acrostic songs, with each Hebrew half-line starting with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. When I read today’s psalm this morning it reminded me of some of the other wisdom texts in the Great Story like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The phrase “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” in verse 10 is used twice in Proverbs. And, the songwriter twice references God’s covenant being forever.

Short song.
Alphabet acrostic.
Simple instructional concepts.
Repeated phrasing.

It’s got all the marks of an instructional song intended for children (or adults) to quickly memorize and remember so as to learn simple spiritual truths.

In the quiet this morning as I ponder these things, it has me thinking about Jesus’ rather simple spiritual concept:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

and

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

When Yaya and I would tuck Milo into bed I sang the same song I sang to his mother when she was his age…

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others, and let others do for you,
May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung,
And may you stay
forever young.

What could be more simple and essential than teaching a three-year-old like Milo that he and Papa and Yaya form a circle of love. And what could be more simple and essential for this adult to remember alway

Sentence Divider

Tom Vander Well believes the universe is a work of God’s artistry— embellished by Van Gough’s brush, Miles Davis’ trumpet, and Bob Dylan’s lyrics, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Tolkien’s imagination, and Michael Jordan’s jump shot. He believes in hot coffee, Gregorian chants and quiet conversations with God before dawn. Michael believes that life is a journey with an eternal destination, and in having good companions for the sojourn. He also believes grace is costly and salvation is free.

Michael and his wife Wendy live in Iowa. He is an amateur actor and playwright, and regular teacher among his local Jesus followers. He serves as president and CEO of Intelligentics (formerly C. Wenger Group), a QA firm helping companies measure and improve customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty.

You may find out more about Tom at his website

 

CGM wishesto thank MI PHAM for granting permission for the use of our  feature photo.

3 Comments

  1. Craig Ruhl

    Excellent article. I especially enjoy the prayer-song at the end. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.