Beacon Lesson Plan Library

A Hymn for the Classroom

Tisa Craig
Polk County Schools


This lesson introduces students to hymn singing and allows them to participate as singers in the choir and as accompanists in the bell choir.


The student independently performs melodies and patterns with various rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic classroom instruments (e.g., recorders, keyboards, barred instruments, and autoharps), with appropriate instrumental techniques.

The student understands the roles of musicians and their importance in various musical settings and cultures (e.g., a singing story teller and a concert master).


-[Music Connection] Grade 3 student books, or similar music texts that contain the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth”
-[Music Connection] Grade 3 CD 7, or similar CD that contains the hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth”
-CD player
-At least one score of notation of “For the Beauty of the Earth”
-Organ or keyboard with organ setting (optional)
-12 Bell plates, glockenspiels, or soprano/alto xylophones
-Recording of Bach's “Ave Maria”
-If music selections are not available, click on the Websites provided below (See Weblinks)
-An online computer to access needed Websites
-Cable or TV presentation (optional)


1. Place CDs in the disk player or connect to the Internet.
2. Count out 12 bells, glockenspiels, and/or soprano/alto xylophones.
3. If a recording of “For the Beauty of the Earth” is not available, use a keyboard or organ to accompany students or use the Website provided below. (See Weblinks)
4. If a recording of Bach's “Ave Maria” is not available, use the Website provided below. (See Weblinks)


1. Meet students at the door and direct them to pick up their books before taking their seats.

2. Play the recording of “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

3. Ask students what instrument they heard accompanying the singers. (organ)

4. Ask if any of the students have heard this song in another place and time. (Someone usually says church, at a wedding, or a funeral.) If no one gives the desired response, remind them that they heard an organ playing. Ask where they go in their lives that they would most likely hear organ music. If the desired response is not given by students, give the answer: church.

5. Ask students if they know what the group of singers who sing in church and usually sit in a loft is called. (A choir) If the desired response is not given, give it.

6. Ask if they can give another name for church songs and the books from which those songs are sung. You may wish to give a clue by saying, “Please stand and turn in your _________ to _______ number 385.” If the desired responses (hymnals/hymn) are not given say, “Please stand and turn in your hymnals to hymn number 385.”

7. Finally, tell students the song they heard at the beginning of class is a hymn and then direct students to turn in their books to page 199.

8. Ask students to sing along as the song is again played. You will have to point out that this hymn has two verses and that the three dots at the end of the second verse mean to go back and sing the last two lines of the hymn. (If an organ or an electronic keyboard with an organ stop is available, you may want to play the hymn as students sing.) Remind the students that good choirs try to blend their voices equally, with no one voice standing out from singing too loudly but every person singing to contribute to the performance. Tell them you want them to all sing their best as a blending, harmonious group.

9. After complimenting students (if deserved) for singing as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, ask what other instruments students have seen and heard played at church. (Responses will vary: piano, guitar, drums, tambourine, bells.)

10. Emphasize hand bells and tell students that while we do not have hand bells at school, we do have instruments that sound like hand bells. Demonstrate playing the bell plates. (If bell plates are not in your inventory, use glockenspiels, xylophones, or tone bells.)

11. Tell students that each of them will not only sing in the choir, but also play bells as part of the accompaniment.

12. Assign each child a bell (or bell-sounding instrument) to accompany the last measure of every phrase. You may want to ask how many phrases there are in this piece (6) and reward the answering student with a sticker. Since there are two verses, 12 children will play bells while the remaining children stand in the “choir loft” and sing from their “hymnals.”

13. Practice with the bell ringers by having the class sing the beginning of the phrase; then rest as the students play their bells. (Example: The first child has the D flat bell and plays on the words: “of the.” The second child has the C bell and plays “earth,” etc.)

14. After performing the hymn with the choir and bell accompaniment, have the children who played bells go to the choir loft, hand their instrument to a choir member, and then take their place in the choir as the former choir member steps down to play the instrument. The Website offers more than two verses. So, whether using books or the computer, adapt the plan so that every child performs in the choir and plays an instrument.

15. Ask students to return to their original places. Tell them a little about Johann Sebastian Bach and his writings for organ. As students replace their books on the shelf and line up to leave, play a recording of Bach's “Ave Maria.” (See Weblinks)


1. Through observation, formatively assess that the students can follow the score and sing both verses of the song in unison. Observe that the students are workng together to blend their voices, with everyone contributing and no student singing too loudly over the group. Encourage the ones who are singing too softly and correct those who are singing too loudly. Praise them often for cooperating with one another to produce music.

2. As students play their assigned parts, each student will have mastered this skill if he/she:
-comes in on the correct beat;
-plays rhythmically the notes assigned;
-attempts to stay with the group in harmony and rhythm.

Note: More practice is necessary if a student is unable to sing the song or play the assigned part.


Students may work in groups to select a song in their music books that they can accompany on bells, figure out the bells needed, practice together, then perform their selected song before the class.

Web Links

Web supplement for A Hymn for the Classroom

Web supplement for A Hymn for the Classroom

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