The Christmas season brings lots of joy and cheer as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. One of my favorite parts of Advent is the hymns. Advent hymns are some of the most recognizable and well-known hymns, but they can be hard to remember because they are sung only during this time of year. Plus, hymns can be confusing if one is not aware of the Scripture and concepts behind it. That’s why it can be a good idea to create lessons based on the hymns that will be sung this season. Here are ways to teach and discuss four Advent hymns to help your youth understand what they will be singing about.
Christmas Ornament Craft
“Savior of the Nations, Come” (LSB 332)
This hymn tells the story of Christmas. One way to connect the hymn to the story is by having children make an ornament. You can have your youth create a manger using popsicle sticks. Have a trusted volunteer cut out pieces of paper that will fit inside each child’s manger. Have each child draw a picture of baby Jesus and write the words of the hymn. Then glue this piece of paper to the popsicle-stick manger. By looping a piece of yarn or fishing wire around the top of the creation, the children will have created an ornament.
This hymn speaks about the divine nature of Jesus. So while the children are making the craft, have them describe Jesus. By having them make the manger with their hands while they talk about Jesus, they can come to better understand who “shines in glory through the night” (v. 7).
Herald’s Trumpet Craft
“Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding” (LSB 345)
The first word in the title of this hymn is “hark,” which means “listen.” But what are we listening for? This hymn makes it clear that “Christ is near.” But before the birth of Jesus, how did people know this?
Using this hymn as a launching point, you can teach your youth about John the Baptist, how he prepared the way for Jesus and he spoke about what Jesus would do before He did it. One way to teach this is by having children make a herald’s trumpet out of construction paper. They can decorate the trumpets however they want, but at the end of the lesson, each child must raise the trumpet to his or her lips and say, “Jesus is coming!” You can then reinforce the lesson further by explaining that Jesus came for them and will return for them!
Christmas Drawing Activity
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (LSB 357)
This is my favorite Advent hymn. It is such a beautiful song with such beautiful words. This hymn describes who Jesus is and what He has done for the world. It gives you an opportunity to talk about Jesus while having your youth draw and color a picture of the Christmas story.
Christmas is the culmination of the prophets crying that Immanuel will come. So through the words of this hymn, we can discuss many key understandings about who Jesus is and why He came into the world. Inform your children while they draw that Jesus is “our King of Peace” (v. 7), the “Lord of might” (v. 3), and that He “give[s] them vict’ry o’er the grave” (v. 4). By using words from the hymn, you can magnify the story of Jesus. Be sure to play the hymn in the background during the lesson!
Blindfolded Obstacle Course Game
“We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight” (LSB 720)
In the case of this Advent hymn, a game can be a fun way to have children grasp onto the idea of trusting the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promise of a Savior. A simple game to teach this lesson is a blindfolded obstacle course. Have your youth pick one student to be the leader of their team. Then blindfold the other members of the team and set up the course. This can be an extremely easy course or a difficult one—for example, you can just use your classroom chairs, some rope, and a few pool noodles. Once the course has been made, instruct all students to line up and join hands while the leader stands across the room. The students will have to have faith that their leader will provide instructions to bring them through the course and deliver them to the other side.
After the game is over, it’s important to debrief the concept with the children. Ask them if it was difficult to wait for the leader’s instructions before they moved, and ask them about the problems they encountered along the way. It’s important that you connect the game to the Scripture and the hymn. By following up with questions that connect to their faith in Jesus, you’ll help the children gain a more concrete understanding of the hymn.
During the season of Advent, as we await the celebration of the birth of our Savior, hymns are a beautiful reminder of what is to come. It is important to pass them on and have children understand them. Through these lessons, children can get ready to sing the hymns throughout the season.
Keep your children returning to the story of Jesus’ birth with these fun Christmas crafts, songs, and activities in Sacred Songs of Christmas.