Teaching Children about Lent through Music

February 21, 2023 Concordia Publishing House

Teaching students about Lent can seem daunting. As adults, we understand that this season encourages us to sit, reflect, and meditate on Jesus' ministry leading to His death on the cross, but what can this look like for students? Music and liturgy can be helpful ways to invite children to reflect on Christ's sacrifice for them. Use these ideas to help teach children about Lent at school or at home.

Follow a Lent Liturgy


Children's hymnals are packed with fantastic content that can be adapted easily for home, classroom, or chapel services. For example, the Lent liturgy in One and All Rejoice (pp. 124–125) features a procession, responsive reading, and blessing specifically tailored to this season. By teaching students how to use the liturgy both in the classroom and during weekly chapel, they can truly start to uncover the beautiful themes of this season. 

Learn Psalm 51 Together


The Psalms connect music to Scripture and help your students improve their understanding of God's Word. Psalms are easy for even younger children to understand and can be a bridge to show how God's Word connects to the hymns they sing.

Psalm 51 is a perfect choice to practice together during the season of Lent. In it, we see an invitation to confess our sins before God by saying:

4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight

We're also reminded of God's steadfast love for us, that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to wash away our sins through His death and resurrection:

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow

Sing a Lent Canon

Want to work on memorizing important Bible verses through music? The Lent Canon (197) in One and All Rejoice focuses on John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Provide students with a unique way to memorize this verse using an easy canon like the one below. Students can easily learn the melody by starting in unison before transitioning to a round. Listen to the recording below to hear the canon in full.


Dive into a Lenten Hymn

If you're interested in doing something new with your students for Lent, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce a new hymn to them. Practice a hymn together and reflect on what Scripture teaches about Jesus' sacrifice.

Lenten hymns provide teaching moments to showcase how the tone of music changes during the different seasons of the church year. Taking up this new practice during Lent also can help students engage with hymnody, especially if some students are wondering about the songs they sing. 

Here are a few Lenten hymn suggestions to help your students focus on the reflective tone of Lent and the beautiful sacrifice of Christ on the cross. 

The Tree of Life


The hymn text of “The Tree of Life” (OAR  248, LSB 561) by Stephen P. Starke connects the Old Testament to Christ's fulfillment of God's promise for His children. While your students learn this hymn text, see if they can identify which Biblical narratives are being referenced in each line. Can they identify the bridge between Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment? With each Bible narrative they identify, have them take out their Bibles and read a passage together to see the beauty of His Word being proclaimed through music. 

3 What mercy God showed to our race,

A plan of rescue by His grace:

In sending One from woman's seed,

The One to fill our greatest need

For on a tree uplifted high

His only Son for sin would die,

Would drink the cup of scorn and dread

To crush the ancient serpent's head

I Stand Amazed

This three-stanza hymn with a refrain shares the beauty and gift of Christ's love. As a shorter hymn, “I Stand Amazed” (OAR 239) provides an opportunity for younger students to sing together and really soak up the message of how Christ saved us from the depths of our sin. Students will enjoy the rhyme of the refrain and boldly be able to sing:

How marvelous, how wonderful! And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, how wonderful is my Savior's love for me!

Agnus Dei


Another way to remind your students of what Christ has done for them is to practice the Agnus Dei together. With repetitive stanzas and a simple tune, learning the Agnus Dei is an easy way to reiterate how Jesus Christ was the sacrificial lamb and paid the price of our sins. The Agnus Dei featured in One and All Rejoice (368) takes the familiar setting from The Lutheran Hymnal and provides the guitar chords so you can play on whichever instrument you think would work better with your students. 

Spend time this Lent teaching Scripture, Gospel truth, and hymns with One and All Rejoice.

Order One and All Rejoice

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