Ask me to list the Presidents of the United States and I can do so without hesitating and without missing a single one. Every single time. Sound like bragging? It’s not really, in fact, I can’t take credit. You see, when my oldest son was in the 2nd grade, his school recorded a little song set to the tune of nursery rhyme to help with memorizing the presidents. We let it play all the time, and guess what, I memorized them too, without even trying. And now that little tune runs in the background of my mind while I rattle off the Presidents with ease.
Most Christians believe memorizing Scripture is important. We’ve heard Psalm 119:11 and know it’s true when it says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The desire is there, but many struggle with the follow through. That’s the reason Seeds Family Worship created Scripture memory songs. They make the act of memorizing Scripture easy, almost effortless. Just play a song regularly and before you know it, you’ve memorized the verse. With the almost 200 verses Seeds has set to song, you can easily memorize quite a bit of Scripture! How amazing would it be to quote 200 Bible verses? For those who simply listen to these songs, it will be no challenge.
Why is this? Why is music so powerful and effective when it comes to memorizing?
Our brains hang on to songs because they often become attached to emotion-filled memories. In contrast to a mundane list of facts, music and poetic lyrics are intended to stir the emotions and create memories. Just the other day I was in a meeting where the leader said, “We’re half way there.” Though he merely meant to communicate that the meeting was half over, all I could think was “whoa-oh, livin on a prayer!” In an instant I was transported back to a lazy summer day in college, laying lakeside on a gravely beach with friends. I’ve never set out to memorize the lyrics to that song, but in a moment every word came rushing in. I made eye-contact with a few others, and the subtle nods communicated the shared experience and acknowledged that we were equally cool children of the 80s.
STORIES ARE STICKY
Memorizing is also easier when you connect ideas to a story. Think of how many songs you’ve heard that tell a mini-story. Tommy worked on the docks and Gina worked in a diner and they were poor, but they were in love, and just trying to get by and make an honest living, you know? But then they had challenges and… so the story goes on. Or maybe you also were caught up in the quest for Larry’s hairbrush, even though Junior rudely observed he has no hair. Then there’s the song that reminds me, even though I have always lived in a city, that a Country Road takes me home, especially if sung loudly during half-time at a football game.
INVOLVE ALL THE SENSES
Memorization experts emphasize the importance of involving as many of the senses as possible: Sight, sound, touch, smell, motion, the more the better. Write it down, say it out loud, do a little dance, create a silly little saying, add hand motions, connect it to a memory, sing a song, create a poem. I survived college by turning things I needed to memorize into little mnemonic devices or making some parts rhyme with something familiar. All of these approaches make memorizing easier. That’s why Seeds makes hand-motion videos.
DEEP SEEDED MEMORIES
There’s something else about music that makes memories stick in ways scientists don’t fully understand. Music and the memories connected with it seem deeper rooted than other memories and tend to last after others have faded. Alzheimer’s patients have had moments of restoration and clarity during and after listening to music, singing the lyrics of old songs when they struggle to say anything. I’ve heard stories of famous musicians struggling with Alzheimer’s, barely able to walk on stage or talk about anything, but as soon as the music starts, they fall right in, playing and singing like it was thirty years ago.
KEEP IT EASY
When I’m teaching to a large group and I quote a long Bible verse without hesitating, I feel like I’m cheating. Part of me wants to stop, come clean and say, “Hey I’m not really that smart. I just listened to a song a bunch of times. And now that verse is stuck in my head.” 1 John 4:7-8 is a great example. I listened to that over and over again for a church program in middle school, and now that verse is in my brain forever. In fact, I’ll never forget that verse, nor the image of our youth director wearing a giant hymn book outfit and tights. And yet I’m still grateful.
If you want to memorize more Scripture, start by making it easy and simply listening to Seeds songs more often. I built a play list on my phone of seven songs to focus on this year. Two of them are verses our kids are learning at their Christian school. Another is a character trait I want to emphasize in my life and theirs. I sometimes start the play list in the morning as we’re getting ready for school and work. It’s amazing to watch the family walk out of the house humming a tune and even repeating the chorus without realizing it.
Build your own playlist or use one on a streaming platform (Apple Music, Spotify) or pick an album with a theme you want to work on. A great starting point is The Character of God. And let that play whenever you can. Life is hectic and hard enough. Let’s make it simple by letting music do the hard work for you when it comes to memorizing Scripture.