August 27, 2020

We Shall Praise Your Name: Call children to prayer

We Shall Praise Your Name


Summer is soon coming to a close, and the next school year is right around the corner. Many of our schools will be starting the year with online instruction due to current levels of COVID-19 infection in our communities. Some families have made the decision to homeschool, and some students will be starting in the classroom. As we continue to navigate this new and strange world, we must continue to find new and creative ways to worship and educate our children.

Singing and prayer are essential components of faith formation in the lives of children. Due to current limitations, schoolwide Masses might not be happening in our Catholic schools. Access to attending Sunday Mass in church may also still be limited in your community. While singing at school and singing at Mass may not yet be safe at this time, we can still sing safely in our homes and should explore other ways we can sing and pray with our children outside of Mass.

As Catholic school teachers and as parents, we can inspire our children in daily prayer and song. By using the music and prayer resource We Shall Praise Your Name, based on the Liturgy of the Hours, we can offer a fresh and accessible way to pray one of the Church’s most ancient and cherished traditions in the home environment.

Written and composed by Paule Freeburg, DC and Christopher Walker, these prayers and songs can be used throughout the school year. Paired with beautiful artwork, the 25 prayer services span the liturgical seasons and specifically address themes such as “Celebration of Life (for birthdays),” “Creation,” “Discipleship,” “Prayers for the Sick,” “Prayers for Those Who Have Died” and more. Psalms and readings have been adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible and feature theme-specific musical responses that can be sung with or without accompaniment.

Each prayer (five to six minutes in length) follows the same simple format:

  • A sung invitation to prayer
  • A spoken Psalm
  • A reading with sung response
  • “Canticle of Zechariah” or “Canticle of Mary”
  • Prayers of intercession with a sung prayer response
  • Closing: “May God bless and keep us”

The songs are short, repetitive, and easy to learn. They can be taught to even young children using a simple call and response format. The prayer services can be sung a cappella or with keyboard/guitar accompaniment. There’s also a CD containing both vocal and instrumental tracks, plus recordings of two complete services (morning and evening), which will help you bring the 30 songs in the prayer book to life. Other available resources include an MP3 album available for download, as well as access to the album on Spotify and Amazon Music.

It is recommended that you select a regular time of day for prayer and choose a song for the week, so that students learn it through consistent daily practice. When using this resource in online learning environments, students can participate as a class and sing from home online with their microphones muted. An online teacher can ask an individual student to lead the singing. For students who are learning in the classroom where singing is not allowed at this time, these prayers and songs could be used daily for music listening, personal prayer and written reflections for older children. When singing at home for family prayer or homeschool prayer, students can use the accompaniment CD, digital downloads, or a parent can play the accompaniment on the piano or guitar.

No matter what the school year looks like for our students right now, there is a need for song and prayer in daily life. An excellent way to fulfill that need for daily prayer with your children is We Shall Praise Your Name.

Dr. Mary DiCamillo, MT-BC
Dr. Mary DiCamillo, MT-BC

Dr. Mary DiCamillo, OCP Parish Ministry Consultant, is a Catholic music educator and has taught at all levels, from preschool to college, for the last 30 years. She is also a board-certified music therapist and has been a member of the American Music Therapy Association since 1990. Mary has worked as a music educator and music therapist in K–12 schools, universities, health care settings and has owned a private practice. She is also an experienced accompanist and cantor, and she currently leads worship at St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Laguna Beach, CA. Mary provides ministry consultations for Catholic schools and parishes in the Southwestern United States.