“If I Were a Church Hymn”

42-16790230This is an activity that I like to do with older participants (especially adults) who have a little more knowledge of the Church’s repertoire of hymns. I call it “If I Were a Church Hymn” and it basically invites participants to think of which Church hymn they would choose as either:

  • their theme song
  • the hymn that best captures the state of their spiritual life at this moment
  • their all time favorite hymn

The activity works best when you have hymnals available to allow participants to peruse titles and lyrics to stimulate their thinking. When all are ready, you simply go around the group and ask people to share what hymn they picked and why. Don’t force folks to sing however you’ll find that some feel compelled to do so and that is most welcome.

You’ll be surprised to find out how serious and even emotional the sharing can be. It’s a great way to get people to share about themselves and their faith in a non-threatening manner because they think they are talking about a hymn but they are really talking about their own personal faith!

This is a particularly effective exercise with catechists who usually have a pretty good knowledge of Church hymns.

If YOU were a Church hymn, which would you be?

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Great question, Joe! I’d have to go with “Here I Am, Lord.” As a lector, it seems to me to capture the beautiful imagery of Isaiah perfectly and can’t help being drawn into all my favorite passages when I hear it. In addition, as I’m in the middle of assessing some additional calls to ministry, it reminds me of the attitude I’d like to have with respect to these callings.

  2. Based in large part on its singability:

    “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross,” by Isaac Watts. Watts made it his business to produce hymns with lyrics and tunes that an average congregation could both sound good singing and also understand.

    He also wrote Joy to the World and O God Our Help in Ages past.

  3. I would have to say ‘The Servant Song.’ This is because I am always trying to pray for more energy to serve my family and community. I greatly desire to have the ability to meet others needs. I know energy is not all it takes, but this is the part that is often hard to maintain with five children!

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