Rotation.org Writing Team
Paul and the Bright Light
"How Sweet the Sound" Music Workshop
Summary of Activities
Students will create and sing new lyrics to the tune of Amazing Grace** turning it into "Paul's Hymn About Christ's Amazing Grace" that day on the Road to Damascus. They will also personalize the lyrics to express their own sense of God's amazing grace in their lives.
You do not need to be a music teacher to teach this simple music workshop. You just need to be able to carry a tune, love kids, and reflect on meaning! The attached Piano Keys Handout is a simple guide to plunking out the tune.
Scripture for the Lesson
Acts 9:1-22, Paul and Jesus on the Road to Damascus.
Additional Scripture for teacher preparation: Acts 7:54-8:3 and Acts 9:23-25
See the Bible Background at rotation.org, for this set's complete list of objectives.
**This music workshop aims to create a strong musical memory connection between the story of Paul's conversion, the hymn Amazing Grace, and the subject of Paul's conversion. From a multiple-intelligence (Rotation Model) point of view, we are "hitching" our content to a beloved hymn that they will hear for the rest of their lives.
In addition to using the worksheet and singing your versions, we especially encourage you to have students "plunk out" the tune on the keyboard using the attached keyboard and song guide. Music is "brain glue," especially when you engage in making it!
Preparation and Materials
- Read the Bible Background and scripture.
- Print the Paul-Amazing-Grace Worksheet and Keyboard Guide (attached).
- Assemble one or more keyboards in the classroom. The more the better.
- Invite someone with a piano or guitar to accompany the student's playing.
Following the Bible study, there is a two-part musical activity in this lesson. The first part involves working on new lyrics to the first verse of Amazing Grace using the Paul-Amazing-Grace-Worksheet (attached). The second part has them performing their new lyrics to music they create using the Piano-Keys handout (attached) and pianos (or electronic keyboards).
Watch your study time so that you have plenty of time to use the brain glue (music!) to help your lesson content "set." Other workshops in this Rotation lesson set will spend more time in the details of the passage itself.
Welcome your students and tell them what they'll be doing today. Play a quick game of "Name That Tune" with the notes of Amazing Grace. Younger children may recognize it, but it's not important that they do because by the end of class they will!
In Name That Tune, you play a few notes, then ask them to guess, then play a few more. If that doesn't help, play the entire tune and hum most of the words, but sing a few as 'clues' until they figure it out. At the end, mention that Amazing Grace is considered the most popular and beloved hymn of all time.
Now tell them a little bit about WHO wrote it (there are notes on the worksheet).
Say: By his own words, John Newton, the writer of Amazing Grace was an awful person.
Ask: What do we do with awful bad people when we catch them? Why doesn't God just get rid of them himself?
Say and Ask: Jesus taught us that God wants to save even the worst kind of sinners. Why does he want to?
Say: In today's story, we're going to read about another awful person named Saul. Saul lived during the time of Jesus, and after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, Saul went around persecuting Jesus' followers — which is to say, having them arrested and in some cases, put to death.
Say: But let's read part of Saul's story in the Book of Acts, and see what God wants to do with this terribly awful person.
Read Acts 9:1-22
Depending on your age group, numbers and allotted time, you may read it aloud from the Bible or a storybook, or have your students read it aloud.
After the reading, immediately ask: "What was he trying to teach Saul by blinding him?" For older children, comment that "blindness" is a spiritual metaphor too. Saul was "blind" to Jesus' identity but made to "see" that Jesus was the Messiah.
Say: It's a simple story. Jesus saves awful Saul, and Saul becomes the Apostle Paul preaching the good news to others. So now lets JUMP to its meaning for YOU and ME.
Ask: What is this story trying to tell YOU about your condition, about what YOU need to have happen in your life?
Say: There are two kinds of people in this room today. Those who are blind to Jesus and need to see his amazing grace and let their life be changed. And those who have seen and believed in Jesus and need to tell others the good news of God's amazing grace.
Say: John Newton, the slaver who wrote Amazing Grace, and Saul who became known as the Apostle Paul of the New Testament, were both saved by God's Amazing Grace. In today's music activity, you're going to rewrite the lyrics to the first verse of Amazing Grace as if John Newton had written the words about SAUL instead of himself.
Give everyone a copy of the Paul-Amazing-Grace-Worksheet (attached). Depending on the age of your students and class size, they may work alone or in pairs, or as a group on completing the worksheets.
After completing their worksheets...
You will now teach some or all of your students how to play the notes to Amazing Grace on the keyboard(s) using the Piano Keys Handout.
Having an extra electronic keyboard or two, and maybe someone with a guitar will come in really handy!
TAPE the Piano Key Letters to your piano keys and have a music stand set up for each keyboard. Depending on your number of students and keyboards, you can assign one or two notes per student to "press" when the music calls for it. Some students may be able to do it all by themselves.
Be flexible. The more they play, and the more versions everyone hears, the stronger the memory.
You can have groups of student practicing their version of Amazing Grace with teaching assistant before playing it for the group.
When they've practiced enough, gather everyone for their Amazing Grace concert, playing the song several times, each time with a different set of lyrics created by the students on their worksheets.
After each song-version is played, make a few comments about some of their lyric choices. See the handout for some sample suggestions.
Where's the reflection in this lesson?
It will take place every time they hear the song, "Amazing Grace."
Tip: Schedule the hymn in worship!
Adaptations and Additions
Non-readers will need help with the worksheet and you should view the worksheet as a set of questions you help them to answer and fill-in for them, perhaps in small groups or as a class.
Younger children can plunk out the notes by sight while you sing aloud their version of the verse you helped them create.
Additional Comments to Interject
What's so amazing about God's Grace? (it's unconditional and for all, no matter how "awful")
What is God's "grace"? (unconditional forgiveness, salvation, restoring, reviving, inspiring)
Like John Newton and Paul, what are we supposed to DO with God's Amazing Grace?
Written by the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright 2016, Rotation.org Inc.