They Left Singing!

What a delightful evening last night with my 6th graders! I had an ambitious plan and I am happy to report that it came off without a hitch. When it was all over, some of them even left singing How Great Thou Art! More about that in a second. Here’s the summary:

  • Since I was relying on a number of video segments, I needed to get there early to set up my laptop and projector. That’s not easy to do since there is a class before mine and only 15 mins in between. So, I popped in at 5:00 pm and set up my equipment, making sure all engines were firing, and then pushed it off to the side so it would not interfere with the catechist who precedes me. I went back home (5 min drive) to have dinner and relax and then came back at 6:45 to get back into the room and finish setting up for my 7:00 pm session.
  • My aide and one of the students were early and were a huge help in getting the room set up and materials distributed.
  • Our opening ritual (procession to set up the prayer center) continues to go very nicely as does our opening prayer (signing our forehead, lips, and chest, sharing of intentions, etc.) We are on the 2nd segment of the Nicene Creed that we use for our ritual greeting and the kids are starting to remember the words (I still use a cue card but we always try it once without).
  • The video segments went extremely well.
    • the magician making doves “appear” caught their imaginations and we talked about how only God can create something out of nothing. That was our lead-in to Genesis.
    • After a student read from Scripture (Gn 1:1-5), we viewed the segment on the First Story of Creation. The viewing was very prayerful. (I did have to patrol to make sure that a couple of kids kept attentive…one kept trying to put his head down). 
    • After each segment, I had my aide review the video discussion questions with them as I got the next segment ready. He did a nice job and I interjected a couple of times to expound and then I prompted them to summarize what truth the Bible teaches us about each segment/topic.
    • They really liked this segment on the sin of Adam and Eve (I showed about 6 mins from the middle of this 20 min segment) and we had a good discussion about sin and consequences. Of course, they had their typical questions about what would it have been like if only Adam and Eve hadn’t screwed it up for the rest of us! I tried to explain how Adam and Eve are symbolic characters who represent all of us. That may be a bit over their heads though. We also had a good discussion about the serpent and had a good laugh when I asked what it would mean if I said that our aide, Alex, was a “snake.” They knew that would mean that he was sneaky, sly, even evil. I used that to explain that the serpent is a symbol of temptation.
    • The segment on Cain and Abel also went well and the kids had lots of questions, the best being, “why didn’t God find Cain’s offering pleasing?” I talked about how we simply don’t know – the story does not explain that. However, it serves as a reminder that bad things happen to good people and ultimately it comes down to how we respond.Light explosion
    • Surprisingly, we remained on time and had plenty of time to move into our sacred space. I distributed copies of the lyrics for the hymn How Great Thou Art and explained that this hymn is in response to the beauty of God’s creation. We then watched/listened to Carrie Underwood’s prayerful but rousing version of How Great Thou Art. They really enjoyed that and a few of them (especially one of the boys that I never would have suspected) continued to hum or sing aloud the refrain as we wrapped things up! I told them to think of this hymn the next time they are struck by the beauty of God’s creation (a sunset, a bright moon, a storm, the leaves changing colors, etc.)
  • I gave them their homework and we said a short closing prayer before they left, blessing themselves with holy water on their way out. As they left, I heard an occasional “Then sings my soul…!” blurted out as they drifted away down the hall!

Then sings my soul, indeed! Thou ART great!

[photo byTheophilos Papadopoulos via Compfight]

About Joe Paprocki 2736 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

11 Comments on They Left Singing!

  1. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for continuing to share the details of your lessons.
    And I also love “How Great Thou Art”. It is one of the hymns that always move me to tears.

  2. Do you have internet in your building? I’m wondering how you got the youtube videos to work. I thought there was a way to download youtube videos, but when it wasn’t working when I tried for my youth ministry session on Monday.

    • Jenn, I have an air card so that I can connect anywhere, however, in this case, I downloaded the videos so as to avoid “buffering” delays.

  3. When you download them, do you need internet access still? I can get it to download to realplayer, but it won’t play without internet.
    Thanks, I love your blog!

  4. Are you downloading it into realplayer? If I figure this out you will be a life saver!
    I love using youtube clips for youth ministry, but I don’t have internet access.

  5. What a lovely evening–so inspirational for the rest of us! And I really appreciate the conversation about how you play the videos. It’s something I haven’ been able to figure out yet without the internet being available, but I will try what you wrote.

  6. If you really wanted to “rock it up” for the teens, I like to use the “How Great Thou Art” version from Rick Muchow’s West Coast Worship 2003. This is the song that I heard flipping through channels in that year and it turned me to Christian Rock music. That is now the only type of music allowed in our home. HE is awesome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.