I’ve written much over the years about our memory work binders. I have loved them, even when the creation of 5 identical hundred-page binders gave me headaches. The headache in the summer was worth it because of the headaches they prevented every school morning (that we did Morning Time).
But, their time has passed, with weeping and mourning.
I still highly recommend the process and think it’s super helpful.
But it no longer fits our goals or our format for Morning Time, so away they go.
The demise of the memory work binder is due entirely to our church replacing its Psalter Hymnal.
One primary goal of our Morning Time content choices is to prepare ourselves (particularly the non-readers) to participate in corporate worship every Sunday. This has led us to choose the particular Psalms and hymns we learn to sing and the catechism that we memorize.
Over the last 11 years of the reign of Morning Time binders, we amassed a collection of over 50 Psalms and hymns we more or less knew – a rotation of over 50 that we regularly sang as they came up as the next page in the binder.
Enter, the new Psalter Hymnal. Our denomination (United Reformed Churches of North America) and a sister denomination (Orthodox Presbyterian Churches) jointly produced a new Psalter Hymnal for their congregations. It took them over 10 years to select and publish, and finally hit our pews this last fall.
The words in several of the hymns in our binders were altered. Some of our hymns are no longer in the Psalter Hymnal, many new ones are there. The numbers are different.
And, in the end, we decided that a unified church body was a good to pursue, and to that end, we would go with the new versions and learn the new Psalter.
So, out with the self-made binders and in with using our church’s new Psalter, which also contains the catechism (wording slightly altered) and creeds. We purchased a copy for everyone, and now instead of binders, everyone comes to their place with a Bible and a Psalter.
Another benefit to this new arrangement is that instead of flipping to the next page in the Scripture memory tab of their binders, each child needs to find their passage in their actual Bible. Between the binders, Bible apps, and the audio Bible, although my children are comfortable with Scripture itself, the younger ones are not comfortable navigating the actual printed page – so although it takes longer, it’s worth it to cultivate that familiarity.
Here is our procedure list for Morning Time 2019-2020:
- I turn on Andrew Peterson’s “Little Boy Heart Alive” to announce that it is time for Morning Time – people make it to their place in the living room with their Bible & Psalter by the time the song has ended.
- I say “Lift up your hearts!” They all reply: “We lift them up to the Lord!”
- We sing a hymn from the short list (that is, the ones we’ll repeat more often so the youngest learns them as well as the oldest have)
- I read a section from Psalm 119, then we each pray, going around in a clockwise circle.
- Jaeger reads aloud the Proverb chapter that matches the date.
- We sing again, from the list of Psalms we know this time.
- We recite the catechism selections from my master loop of catechism we know – 10ish from The Catechism for Young Children (the shortest Westminster – I read from a paper and they answer from memory) and 1 Lord’s Day from the Heidelberg (reading from the Psalter)
- Geneva, Ilse, and Knox each have a passage from our memory work list that they read aloud from their Bible.
- Each of us – myself included – reads aloud or recites our chosen poem of the term (we each have all the poems on a paper folded into the Psalters).
- We sing another hymn from the long loop of hymns we know
- I say “And all God’s people said” and we all say “Amen!”
- Jaeger is dismissed, we all can go get a drink and come back to our places
- I read aloud half a chapter from Little Pilgrim’s Progress and 1 chapter from a Bob Shultz book (Created for Work, then Practical Happiness). The kids narrate after each reading.
- We close by singing either the Gloria Patri or the Doxology
The Morning Time as a whole group should take about 30-40 minutes, then another 15-20 minutes of reading aloud to the younger set after that. If it takes longer in reality, I will adjust to hit that time goal.