"Put Your Arms Around the World"
By Elliott Wright
New York, NY, April 24, 2009--In the age of Shrek and Bart Simpson, how does the church teach children about Christian mission and the Christian message?
Song, combining story and music, is one way to gain the attention of youngsters, expand their experience, and, perhaps, to begin to sharpen ideas of what "mission" means.
Put Your Arms Around the World uses song in the cause of mission, and goes further. It combines song with pictures and suggested activities, becoming a resource chest for Christian educators and parents. The subtitle is Global Songs and Activities for Children, and the publisher is the mission agency of The United Methodist Church.
Peace, Harmony and Grace
The overall theme of the songs, pictures, and activities is learning "about living in peace and harmony with all people," the Rev. Dr. S T Kimbrough, Jr., the editor, writes in an introduction. Many of the 18 songs relate to biblical passages, such as "Forty Days and Forty Nights," dealing with the story of Noah and the flood in Genesis and "Animal Choir," which uses images from Isaiah of the wolf and the lamb feeding together. The songs are from around the world.
A major objective of Put Your Arms Around the World, Dr. Kimbrough states, is to "teach the Biblical understanding of God's mission that we have been saved by God's grace in Jesus Christ and gathered into one people, a message we want to share with everyone."
Use in Multiple Settings
"The book and the companion CD can be used in church music programs, Sunday schools, Vacation Bible schools, camps, Sunday children's' moments or sermons," says Debra Tyree, the staff member who worked on the resources for the Global Praise program of the General Board of Global Ministries. "And," she stresses, "all of the melody line/text singer's scores can be reproduced without running into copyright problems." There is also a full accompaniment score for each song when needed.
"Animal Choir" offers a good example of contents. The song is from Trinidad and Tobago (words and music by George Mulrain). The section begins with a verse from the song, paired with a photo of a child with a goat. The teacher would tell a story, in this case linking the song to the verse from Isaiah. The activity would have the children identify with animals, with the point being God’s love for all despite differences in sounds and appearances.
"Put your arms around the world and you'll feel the beating heart of God," is the first line of the title song (words and music by Joan Reppert, USA).
The song-and-activity book contains a pronunciation guide for songs in languages as diverse as Cherokee, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Mongolian, Spanish, Swahili, and Swedish.
Jodi L. Cataldo of the Global Ministries staff wrote the stories and developed the activities that go with each song. She works in the agency’s Mission Education section, which also includes Global Praise. She also compiled a list of additional mission resources for children found in Put Your Arms Around the World.
Dr. Kimbrough, the editor, was assisted by Carlton R. Young as music editor and Jorge Lockward, assistant music editor. Kimbrough founded Global Praise when he was an executive at Global Ministries prior to his retirement. Lockward now leads that program, which issues songbooks and CDs covering the global ministry of the United Methodist denomination.
Tips for teaching each song are by Ms. Tyree of Global Praise. For "Animal Choir," she suggests, as a first step, the collection of pictures of the animals mentioned, since the song includes the making of creature noises: "meeow, cluck, baa, roar, etc." Identification of the picture with the sounds would follow and lead to the actual learning and singing of the song.
Permission to Reproduce
Each melody line/text singer's score contains the line: "Permission to reproduce for use with children, one copy per participant, is granted to purchasers only of Put Your Arms Around the World songbook." This makes it easier to congregations to use the material without needing to get permission to reproduce it for group use.
Some of the song texts, such as "All Things Bright and Beautiful," are familiar to most English-speaking adult church-goers; others, such as those from Mongolia and Sweden, will broaden the worship experiences of both children and adults.
In a section on the use of the book and CD, Ms. Cataldo discusses the many settings in which the songs and activities can be used and offers a format for teachers:
Elliott Wright is the information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Apr 24, 2009