The Importance of Children’s Choirs

Music teacher singing songs together with children while playing piano in music class

Recently, we had a girls trio – 11-12 years of age – sing with our adult choir in worship. In the selection, the girls had solo and ensemble sections, then the adult choir was added. It was a beautiful moment of worship! The multigenerational anthem was “Jesus Strong and Kind,” arranged by James Koerts and published by Celebrating Grace. The lyrics of this song are strong and poignant for children as well as adults. The melody, harmonies and lyrics combine to create a truly exceptional choral experience easily achievable for most choirs regardless of size.

The girls who made up the trio have been a part of our children’s choir ministry since they were preschoolers. They have also attended our Alabama Baptist state music camps at Shocco Springs – Mix Worship Arts Camp – for many years and been a part of the auditioned state Children’s Honor Choir.

I cannot help but think all these musical and spiritual touches have played a part in their journey, a journey which we are reaping the benefits of now as they lead in worship. We pray in the future they will continue to use their gifts in the worship of our Lord and Savior, whether in our own church or somewhere else.

These types of moments do not happen without preparation. The preparation for this anthem began many years ago when trained preschool and children’s choir directors and leaders faithfully and skillfully poured into these young women. The benefits of the preschool and children’s choir experiences are just now being more fully realized and will grow as they continue to mature.

I shared at a recent music and missions spring program how important preschool and children’s choirs are in the development of young musicians.

I recounted two children who grew up in a family of non-singers – neither parent could match pitch. The two girls when in 3- and 4-year-old choirs could not match pitch. However, their parents faithfully brought them to choir every week. As they experienced musical activities with steady beat – playing instruments, movement and listening – as well as singing, their ability to match pitch improved each year. By the time they were in upper elementary, they could sing on pitch and had solos in their respective choirs.

I firmly believe had they not been a part of a children’s choir ministry from an early age, they as adults would have been non-singers like their parents. What a tragedy that would have been! Now, they have the lifelong gift of being able to sing with accuracy and beauty in worship of their Heavenly Father. To God be the glory!

I am saddened that many churches have abandoned children’s choir ministry. Some of these churches had thriving children’s choir programs just a few short years ago. I am afraid we are just now beginning to see the results of this abandonment.

Those of you who presently are still a part of a children’s choir ministry in your church – stay the course. Don’t give up. Even if your numbers are smaller, your impact is great.

I pray there will come a day when more and more churches will see the benefits of this ministry or realize what a loss it was to have abandoned it!
Colossians 3:16 (NIV): “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Keith Pate serves as minister of music at Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Montgomery.