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Using Simple Songs to Bring the Bible Stories to Life!

October 15, 2012

I am a great believer you can learn ANYTHING to music! When I was 6 I could sing the books of the bible – all 66 of them – in the correct order, and singing the song soon became a ‘party piece’ of mine whenever we had guests round. As an adult, I still use the song when looking up a text – so it works! I would like to encourage you to try to make up little songs, using well-known, simple tunes, and putting your own words to the music. Let me share with you the method I use, which may be helpful for you.   (And, all the way at the end, you will find the song I wrote to teach the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.)


Firstly, the tune.  Some tunes are universal (Frere Jacques, Twinkle Twinkle, etc) so make good use of these. Find out if the children sing songs at school or at home, and if the tune is simple and appropriate use these. Finally, international folk tunes have passed the test of time, so think back to your own childhood, or browse some of these on youtube and see what takes your fancy.


Last week I set about writing a simple song to help the children remember the story of Moses and the Burning Bush. The tune that came into my head immediately was ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush’, for obvious reasons. A quick sing of the song reminded me that it has all the classic elements of an easy song:

  1. a small ‘range’ of notes (in this case its range is 8 notes, which is not too large for small children.)
  2. There is a lot of repetition.
  3. The phrases are mostly short.
  4. It has a bouncy rhythm.

Look for these features when you are choosing your tune.

Sing the tune over and over again to ‘la la la’, to get the rhythm into your head. In the case of this tune, the important little rhythms are found on the words ‘Here we go round’, ‘mulberry tree’ and ‘on a cold and fro-o-sty morning’, so the words you choose need to fit these rhythms really well.

Now start on the words. Look at the story and pull out the REALLY important phrases from the text, the ones it’s ok for the children to sing in the supermarket! For Moses, I chose:

  • the bush was on fire, but not burning up
  • you are standing on holy ground
  • Moses was afraid so he hid his face    etc

Again, say these phrases over and over again to try and ‘get the rhythm’ of them. You will soon hear that they have a rhythm of their own. For example we say ‘the bush was on fire’ (with that emphasis), not ‘the bush was on fire’.

Next go back to those important little rhythms and see which of these word phrases fit them.

‘the bush was on fire’ fits ‘here we go round’, just as long as you do a quick ‘the’ so that the word ‘bush’ falls on the original word ‘here’.

‘but not burning up‘ fits ‘the mulberry tree’. I changed it to ‘not burnt up‘ because it’s a bit easier to say and sing.

Finally, for little children, it’s great if the last line of the song always has the same words, so that they can join in on each verse. In this case, I chose a phrase which seems to sum up the whole story: ‘a strange thing happened to Moses’, which is also good because it contains the name Moses, so if they remember only one thing, they’ll remember that name! You might have chosen ‘the burning bush was amazing’, or ‘the ground he stood on was holy’.

Here’s the whole song – please feel free to use it. Have fun making up your own songs, and send them in to us so we can share them around. Look to later posts for songs about John the Baptist and the temptation in the wilderness!

(to the tune of Here we go round the mulberry bush)

Moses went to the desert one day,
Desert one day
Desert one day
Moses went to the desert one day
A strange thing happened to Moses.

A bush was on fire but not burnt up
Not burnt up
Not burnt up
A bush was on fire but not burnt up
A strange thing happened to Moses.

Then God’s voice said, take off your shoes, off your shoes, etc

Because you are standing on Holy Ground, etc

Moses was scared so he hid his face, etc  (the one-syllable ‘scared’ fits the rhythm better than ‘afraid’)

The Israelites are suffering, etc (Alternative last line could be ‘and you must sa -a-ve them, Moses.’

How can I save them on my own? etc (Alternative last line ‘And bring them ou-out of Egypt.’

I will be with you, trust in God, etc

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