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In Isolation: April 3, Four hymns for when children are leaving worship

An introduction to this “In Isolation” blog series appears at the top of the March 22 post.

Today’s hymn offering is actually a set of four — four short songs with words by Fred Kaan. Written when he served at Central Ecumenical Church in Swindon, England, they were intended to be used at the time in worship services when younger people were about to ‘leave’ to go to their own groups or classes. This is a fairly common practice in many protestant churches (at least those which still have children attending).

Fred truly disliked asking the children “to leave”. In his own words at a series of workshops we did together: “I have no use for that time in the service when, after sharing a story with the children and young people, I had to tell them to go away. I understand the need and desire for different levels of theological engagement according to the people’s age and maturity. That’s what study groups are for. Sunday morning worship should be for all!”

As I read over these four song poems, I started pondering what this time of isolation is like for children and how we can appropriately communicate things to them which we can’t understand ourselves. In numerous present-day church communities, we don’t see near as many parents with young children as we do grandparents and great-grandparents of young children. Those of us who are older may well be among those who are best suited to provide comfort and assurance to the young in this uneasy time. As I observe members of our own choir and congregation providing selfless and challenging care for children whose parents need to work, I am reminded of the important role of the elders to share their wisdom and compassion with the young.

I have used all four of these songs over the years. The ones I especially enjoyed were those which children and remaining members of the congregation sang to each other as the youth departed for their classes.

A House Has Different Rooms

A house has different rooms,
we go through many doors;
the church is like a house
and all its space is ours.

The church is like a home,
a roof to shelter all:
together or apart,
from toddlers to the tall.

We’re here in Jesus’ name,
who said that he would be
among us in the crowd
or met as two or three.

Although We Go Our Separate Ways

Although we go our separate ways
to listen, learn and teach,
keep us together, God, and share
your love with all and each;
your love with all and each;

and let us hear the news of Christ
so that, when worship’s done,
we may be full of Easter life,
then go and pass it on;
then go and pass it on!

We’ll go and pass it on!
We’ll go and pass it on!

Before We Came to Church

Before we came to church,
God longed for us to come.
God’s love invites us in,
wants us to feel at home.

Unite us, God, as now
we go our ‘separate’ ways
and let your Spirit guide
each one who goes or stays.

Wherever we may be,
our God has been before
and Jesus is the key
to open every door.

Unite us, God, as now
we go our ‘separate’ ways
and let your Spirit guide
each one who goes or stays.

Upstairs? Downstairs?

Upstairs? Downstairs? God is there!
God is here and everywhere.
In the church and in the street,
God is there for all to meet.

Met in circles, large and small,
we keep listening to God’s call,
keen in love and faith to grow,
more of Christ-for-life to know.

As you leave us, so we pray:
‘Peace be with you on your way.’

‘Peace be with you who stay behind,
God be in your heart and mind.’