314

Tell Your Children

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song focuses on the home, family, and marriage, a topic with helpful references in the confessions. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 46, testifies to the implications of living as “the family of God.”
 
Our Song of Hope, stanza 13 calls God’s children to be “stewards of marriage with its lifelong commitment to love...”

Tune Information

Name
TELL YOUR CHILDREN
Key
E♭ Major
Meter
8.7.8.7 refrain 6.5.9.7.7

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

September is a month of new beginnings for many churches. After a summer of travel and vacation, the community returns and seeks to be renewed through a new season of education and enrichment programs. "Tell Your Children/' a contemporary hymn that calls us as families and church family to retell "the Story" in the context of our covenant commitment with our God, is therefore very appropriate for September.
 
Liturgically, this hymn may be used in many ways. It is especially appropriate for use following infant baptism, profession of faith by younger children, a children's sermon, or in a service where the sermon focuses on family life.
 
If the children of the congregation are familiar with the Shema (Deut. 6:4: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one"), you may want to make the hymn part of your service of confession, as follows:
  • Call to Confession: Shema recited by the children
  • Reading of the Law: from Deuteronomy 5
  • Summary of the Law: Deuteronomy 6:5—read or sung from Lift Up Your Hearts #716 “Love God with All Your Soul and Strength” or #724 “You Shall Love the Lord”
  • Call to Commitment: Deuteronomy 6:6-9
  • Hymn: "Tell Your Children"
 
This hymn has a very appealing melody and is very easily learned. In introducing it to your congregation, consider having either a strong instrument play the melody or soloing out the melody on a separate manual on the organ. It works well when sung antiphonally: the verse functions as a narration of God's work, the refrain as a response of praise to that work. An adult or children's choir could sing the stanzas with the congregation responding with the refrain. Another option would have the congregation (as parents and extended church family) retelling "the Story" in the stanzas with the children of the congregation singing the refrain—in effect accepting their part in the covenant by saying, "Yes, tell us! We want to know and we want to praise."
 
This hymn is suitable for both unison and part singing. Accompaniments could include the use of a brass ensemble and the free harmonization provided here for the final stanza.
 
Once your congregation has learned this hymn well enough that they "own it" as an expression of their faith, I would encourage its use only occasionally so that the freshness of its melody may be preserved.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 24)
— Norma de Waal Malefyt

Hymn Story/Background

J. Grace Hawthorne wrote this text based on the main theme of the Hebrew acrostic hymn, Psalm 145: all peoples should praise God for his mighty acts, which testify to his compassion and his great power. This hymn thus becomes our cheerleading song as we “Glorify the living Lord above [and] magnify his holy name.”
 
Thomas E. Fettke, a senior editor for Word Inc., composed TELL YOUR CHILDREN for this text. The hymn was published in Lord, We Believe (1980).
 
The tune TELL YOUR CHILDREN is framed by a repeated opening line and a repeated closing phrase. The refrain builds to a solid climax with its highest tone on the word "Lord," to whom this song directs our praise. TELL YOUR CHILDREN is suitable for either unison or part singing, but the refrain needs a convincing sense of power and majesty from singers and accompanists. This is a great piece for a brass ensemble.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Grace Hawthorne (b. Salem, NJ, 1946) received a BA in Journalism from Louisiana State University and in 1973 provided the lyrics for the very popular children's musical Cool in the Furnace. Shortly thereafter she began a very successful collaboration with Hope's Executive Editor, John F. Wilson. In all they produced nine best selling children's musicals. Grace resides in Atlanta, Georgia where she is still active as a poet and scriptwriter. (Hope Publishing website)

Composer Information

Educated at Oakland City College and California State University, in Hayward, CA, Thomas E. Fettke (b. Bronx, New York City, 1941) has taught in several public and Christian high schools and served as minister of music ill various churches, all in California. He has published over eight hundred composi­tions and arrangements (some under the pseudonyms Robert F. Douglas and David J. Allen) and produced a number of recordings. Fettke was the senior editor of The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration (1986).
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.