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(WT) Last Supper ~ Lord's Supper -- Music Workshop Writing Team

Last Supper ~ Lord's Supper

Joyful Music Workshop 

Summary of Activities

Students will create new lyrics to "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee" to turn it into a Hymn about the Last Supper, Lord's Supper, and how Christ's spirit feeds/empowers us. This new version will (should) be used in worship.

A helpful handout is included to guide lyric creation.

Note about the music in this workshop

Music and singing are some of the most powerful learning activities and memory formation tools available to our faith. It is why psalms and singing have always been part of scripture and our faith traditions. Indeed, according to scripture, Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn at the Last Supper. 

"Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee" is one of the most popular and memorized hymns in the Christian Church. The Church has a long tradition of coming up with new lyrics to familiar tunes. The words and hymn structure of "Joyful, Joyful" were the creation of Rev. Henry Van Dyke in 1907. The original tune, from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, were written 75 years earlier, and the original lyrics 25 years before that. (Learn more

It will be a great help to your students to have some helpers who can play the song. If you can bring in several keyboards and invite those who can play them, all the better. If you know you have students who can learn the tune, give them the sheet music the week before to practice. Crafting lyrics usually requires repeated singing —which is also another way this lesson will stick in their memories for a long time to come.

It will be a great thrill for your students to hear their hymn sung by the congregation. If you have several classes –each producing their own two verses of the hymn, you can COMBINE a "best of" to make a four or five verse version which the congregation will be pleased to sing.

Scripture for the Lesson

Matthew 26:17-30

Lesson Objectives

See the Bible Background at for this set's complete list of objectives. 

Preparation and Materials

  • Read the Bible Background and scripture.
  • Print copies of the Music Handout attached to this lesson.
  • Recruit one or more piano players, and one or more keyboards (or guitarist). Recruit helpers for this lesson who can sing Joyful Joyful without accompaniment.
  • Have copies of your hymnal on hand.
  • Have a way to record and playback your students singing their new hymn.
  • Pencils and notepads for each student.
  • A Rhyming Dictionary to help with lyrics (you can also find them online at sites like

Lesson Plan


Welcome your students and explain how today's lesson will unfold. Introduce your helpers, especially those who have come to play the piano or music with you. 

Play the first verse of "Joyful, Joyful" and see how many of your students can "name that tune" and remember some of the words. With a hymnal in hand, sing the words to them, stopping at certain points to see if they can "complete the lyric." 

Share a bit of the hymn's history and fact that it is considered one of the top hymns of all time. Briefly mention that the words to many hymns have been changed over time. Sometimes new words or completely new verses are added to familiar tunes. This is what happened to Joyful, Joyful. Tell them this as a way of explaining that today, they will be doing the same thing!  —only most of their lyrics will be about the Last Supper, Lord's Supper.

Give each student a pencil and notepad. Tell them that from now on during the lesson, when they hear a key word or idea, they should make a note of it on their "Lyric Notepad" —because in a few minutes they will be consulting their notes to create new lyrics using the handout.

Ask your students what they know about the Last Supper and Lord's Supper (Communion).

Now read Matthew 26:17-30, the story of the Last Supper. Pause at various points to suggest a word or phrase that might be important for them to write down on their Lyric Notepad.

 The Priming Activity on the Music Handout will help you dig into the meaning of the Last Supper~Lord's Supper.

Create New Lyrics

Use the Priming Activity and Lyric Complete Handout attached to this lesson to guide your discussion and lyric completion task.  

You may choose to work as one group, or in several. Two students working with one helper might be best.  Older students may be able to sing without accompaniment to work out their lyric creations. 

The handout suggests that each group creates two verses, ...the first being more about Jesus at his Last Supper, and the second being more about the Lord's Supper we celebrate. Depending on your class time, age and size, you may assign only one verse to a group.

Coming up with lyrics to a tune requires several things:  

1. The ability to keep playing the tune so you can try out different words and phrasing. Having a keyboardist who can play a line from the verse you're working on is really helpful. 

2. A collection of words and phrases to play around with. This is where the Lyric notepads and the following "priming activity" come in.  If working in a small group, the teacher can lead this activity at the board, taking suggestions by having the student SING their suggestions.  

3. Team Effort!  Be sure to make everyone feel included. Those who have trouble with lyrics may be really good at coming up with a word that rhymes in the suggested lyric. Those who are good at singing the new line to try it out, may not be the same students who are good at coming up with the words.  That said, you may have a student who likes their own version, and not the group's version. It's okay to let them work on their own. 

Creativity takes time, trial and error, examples and inspiration. Some lines will be easy to come up with, others difficult. It will be a great help if you have come up with many of your own lyric suggestions to prime your student's suggestions. 


Hold an impromptu concert for your various composing groups to sing their version of the hymn. See adaptations for younger children below.

Record the concert on video or your phone and play it back.

Make arrangements to have the congregation sing the new lyrics at your church's next Communion celebration.


For Younger Students:

Plan on only creating one verse if your group is small. If you have a large group of non-readers, split them into two groups.

As you hear and brainstorm words and phrases from the story and your "priming" questions, list them to help you remember what your students said. Then plug them into to a set of lyrics YOU have prepared in advance and sing them to your students for their approval, saying something like, "Good suggestion, how about if we sing it this way...."

Non-readers can quickly pick up a song if they have a song-leader who does HAND MOTIONS to the words you have created. 

Younger children will particularly like being recorded and watching their playback. It's also yet another great way to sink the lesson in their memories!

Each time you sing their new version of Joyful, Joyful, enhance the hand motions, and consider adding tapping of hands or feet to keep time. (Motions with music are extremely helpful in memory formation.)

Written by the Writing Team
Inspired by a lesson from Team member Lisa Martin
Copyright 2017, Inc.


Last edited by Luanne Payne
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