What Does This (Hymn) Mean?—Unit 7

Grade 8—Unit 7

KidBlog, Blogger, Discussion Board in your LMS

Reference Material:
Lutheran Service Book


  • Recognize that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, laid down His life for the sheep.

Duration of Project:
This project will take one to two weeks.

Invite your church musician to the class to play “Shepherd of Tender Youth” (LSB 864). If your church musician isn’t available, find someone (maybe yourself) who can play the melody line on the piano while the students sing.

After the students have been introduced to the song and have sung it together, have them write a blog post for each stanza that answers the question, “What does this mean?” Then have them give feedback to other students.

You may need to do mini-lessons on the less common definitions of certain words. In the first stanza, for example, the word devious typically has a negative connotation, but it also means “not straight” or “indirect.”

Digital Citizenship Connection:
As students are writing their blog posts, encourage them to read and comment on other classmates’ posts. Here are some examples you may want to use in your expectations for online communication:

  • Students write in full sentences.
  • Students need to respond to at least two different classmates’ posts.
  • Students should keep comments positive and uplifting.
  • When students find something they disagree with, they should pose that disagreement as a question rather than as a direct statement.

This will be a challenging lesson for students, as it may be different from anything they have done before. Taking text from a hymn and describing what each stanza means will help develop an appreciation of our hymnody.

Check out how many different learning styles are being used in this activity. Those with musical ability will be able to lead the singing and may be able to comment on how the music adds depth to the text. Those with poetry skills will be able to share how certain devices develop meaning for the text. Interpersonal skills will help students who learn through class discussion, both in class and online. Those with gifts of introspection will be able to add great insight in the online community. Vocabulary, critical thinking—these elements are present also. Know your students, and play to their strengths as you implement this activity.

Make sure to have your students go through all of the stanzas and write down any words they don’t know or words that are confusing in the context of the song. Have them put all of those words on the board, and separate the words out among the class for people to research.

After students have completed their research, they should deliver their findings to the class about each word. When students do this, facilitate a discussion around each of the words.

Be on the lookout for students who struggle with comprehension. You may try to only give them one stanza to focus on at a time, instead of delivering all five to them at once. That way, they won’t be as distracted as with the full text.