Expressing Faith through the Arts
Very often it is not easy to express the things that are most important to us in words alone. This is true in particular for matters of faith. This unit of work outlines an approach to exploring how people of faith, in particular those of the Christian Faith, express their beliefs through music, art, drama and poetry. The intended learning outcomes are:
- an understanding that aspects of faith are difficult to verbalise, and need to be expressed in different ways;
- an understanding that religious beliefs can be expressed through the creative arts;
- a recognition that expressing faith involves feelings and emotions.
- Which colours would you use to talk about the things that are important to you? Discuss this as a class, focusing on family friends, school and your special place.
- What colour would you use to talk about God, peace, heaven, faith, joy, wonder?
- In groups ask the children to design a banner for one of these festivals.
- Explore which sounds make the children feel peaceful, safe, tingly, excited, and joyful.
- What sounds do they associate with matters of faith? (e.g. chants, church bells) Play some different sounds - various styles of music used in worship, a bell, examples of chanting. Which do they prefer and why?
- Explain that in the Bible there is a special book that contains a selection of songs which Christians still use today as a source for personal meditation and corporate worship. It is the book of Psalms.
- Read Psalm 23 together and then listen to various versions of it set to music. Discuss David the shepherd boy and what the psalm suggests about his faith and feelings as he wrote and sang this song.
- In groups ask the children to write a psalm (song) to reflect their own experience of life and what is important to them. Then put it to music.
- Show the children a selection of famous pieces of Christian art. There is a useful collection in ‘Assemblies from the Gallery’ by Margaret Cooling or else a collection of ‘old masters’ on greetings cards could be used.
- Choose a particular story from the Christian tradition such as Jesus calming the storm on the lake (read this in Mark 4:35-41). What do they think is so special about this story for Christians? What feelings are being expressed? Discuss how a picture might say more than words. Ask the children to put their ideas about this story into a picture of the incident.
4. Movement - drama and dance
- Explore facial expressions, body language and tone of voice as a group e.g. shouting and whispering; anger and sadness; peacefulness and hope.
- Develop in groups a drama activity that leads to an expression of fear or pleasure or joy or dislike.
- Some of the Psalms express deep emotions that can best be expressed through dance movement. Read Psalm 42 for example. What movements might accompany each of the verses here? In a similar way take a well-known hymn of praise and work out appropriate movements for this too.
- Which of the arts explored above would you use to express something about a strong belief you hold? And why?