Song is a powerful method for encouraging memorization, which is precisely why Bible Quest uses music to help teach Scripture memorization. When using song to teach Scripture, make the most of your time by adhering to these practices:
Plan to use a mastery approach. Ensure that frequency, duration, and intensity are a part of your mix. Read the blog post Using Songs to Teach Scripture for more information on those key memory elements.
Teach Incrementally. Present only a part of a new song that kids don't know. Repeat it, then present the next portion of the song. Repeat all of the song to that point. Continue this pattern of presentation and repetition until you've presented the entire song.
Repeat songs over and over when you teach them until students can sing them without too much help, leveraging the element of frequency. Review new songs that you’ve already learned weekly. You cannot repeat a song too much for retention’s sake, though going more than about three times on a song that kids already know well may begin to isolate your young audience.
Review older songs from time to time. Once songs have been mastered (or you have too many in your repertoire), be sure to revisit them occasionally to bring duration to bear. A song repeated even once or twice a month for a year increases long term retention.
Use enjoyable memorization strategies. Have fun with teaching the songs and play with music’s natural emotional nature to maximize the intensity of the experience. Note that not every verse song needs to be presented in an intense way, but the more you enjoy the process with your students, the more the song has a chance to keep a strong hold in their memory.
Bible Quest has 80 weeks of material, each of which features a distinct song that teaches God’s Word verbatim. However, the Bible has tens of thousands of verses and Bible Quest will never encapsulate all of them. Obviously, parents and teachers might want to work on a verse outside of the Bible Quest collection. Never fear! Making your own Scripture songs is easy and rewarding. Try these "best-practice" tips to make the most of putting Scripture to music:
Use existing music! If you don’t want to make up your own melodies for the verses you set to music, consider using common, well-known melodies. Using common songs has at least one additional benefit: if students are already familiar with a tune, they can spend more time and energy learning the lyrics, which is the real point! If you record your songs, we'd love to hear them - share them with us!
Maximize Scripture song memorability. When setting the Scripture to music, It's especially useful if you can find natural "breaks" in the verse. You get serious bonus points if these breaks mean that each line of the song ends in syllables that sound very similar or even rhyme. This makes it even easier for learners to commit it to memory, and extra kudos if you can make it themed in some way so that it is distinctive in children's minds.
Always include verse references in Scripture songs. Think through if you want verse references at the beginning or the end of the song. I personally put them at the end, because I like the idea that students are immediately answering the prompts that we ask them with the inspired word of God. The Biblical verse numbering system is incredibly useful for recall and later Bible study, however, so I can certainly appreciate why someone might put it at the beginning of the song.
Producing Scripture set to music is a fun and rewarding experience, but it takes time and intentionality. Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available for teachers and parents to make teaching Scripture through song a snap! Some of these resources are free while others must be purchased.
Answers in Genesis has some Scripture memory songs available here.
Scripture Memory Kids produces great Scripture set to music. Probably for a little younger audience - think grammar stage. Find their home page here.
Maranatha! Music has some old ones that are great from when I was a kid (1 John 4:7-8 being one of the most memorable to me), but none recently that I could find.
King Things puts together free Scripture set to music from the King James version, but they do it with whole pericopes of Scripture, such as the entire chapter of Geneses 1! Check them out on Youtube.
Doorpost Songs - These songmakers take a more artistic approach (not verbatim) and they are clearly aimed at corporate or congregational audience, but their YouTube channel is here.
The Indelible Project - Someone shared this with me last weekend, so I wanted to add it to this list. They produce verbatim Scripture set to memory. The one I was introduced to was the whole book of James (over multiple songs), and it sounds great! I plan to explore more... Find their Youtube channel here.
Beyond this list, I'm sure there are many more. I found this fun list of about 80 (event though they say 100) Scripture songs from the 70's, found here. If you have any favorite Scripture set to song resources, please reply and share with the rest of us!