To a Child’s Ears

        Today my FaceBook Song of the Day was “Bringing in the Sheaves.” When I was a kid I thought we were singing “Bringing in the Sheep,” and kept a check on the back door to see when they were gonna bring in the sheep. This led to a lively discussion from readers. It turned out readers had similar thoughts in childhood. Dennis Jones, the great bluegrass and gospel DJ at WNCW radio had a cousin who heard it as “Bringing in the Sleeves,” I suppose for the kids who needed some patch work on their shirts.

Jim Moore, who has just started a book called “Adventures of Growing Up in Church” always thought the Christmas carol was “Hark the Harold angel Sings.” I guess he never did find poor Harold. Also from Jim: “washed in the blood of the lamb”. I thought I was going to have to take a bath in lamb’s blood. Growing up in the country, at early age, I had witnessed slaughter time.”

From Pam Warren: “When I was a kid I thought the pledge of allegiance said “One nation under guard,” which is actually pretty close to the truth.

Naomi Carroll McClellan heard the song about the same as I did, except she thought it was “bining in the sheep.”

From Jewell Burke: “Even as a child, I used to try to visualize what the words in the songs and sermons meant! Oh boy did I ever come up with some humdingers! One ‘activity’ I enjoyed was reading the hymnals titles on both pages together! “Just as I Am, Down By The Riverside”. etc.

After reading these and some family discussion we came up with some more. My daughter remembered a kid from school days who heard the line “2 plus 2 equals” and was on the lookout for two eagles for weeks. Another heard a phrase as “For all “intensive” purposes.

        Heck I remember one fellow in the pre-med program who wondered why Clarence didn’t ever come to class after a discussion of the physiology concept “creatinine clearance.” (Don’t worry; he didn’t make it)

        I think Jim ought to make “How Kids Hear Hymns” the subject matter for one chapter in his book, don’t y’all?

Dr. B

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14 Comments on “To a Child’s Ears”

  1. drtombibey Says:

    From Donna Smith on Facebook: “I remember one little girl singing to the top of her lungs “bringing in the sheets”. Back in the day, no one had a clothes dryer and clothes were hung on the line to dry.”

  2. My childhood friend (both our daddies were preachers) always thought that Jesus was the “Prince of Peas”…and pictured somewhat of a Jolly Green Giant. Sweet memories.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Carmen, Very good! I can see a book in the works for Jim here.

      Dr. B

      • jim408 Says:

        Tom, I actually do have a full chapter regarding hymns and how they are interpreted by kids. Also…what kids really hear in sermons, funny things that happened in church. One you’ll enjoy is the “Members of the Secret Society: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the Tooth Fairy. We knew they all existed but Santa was the only one that would appear in public. The book will be in the publisher’s catalog this Fall for availablity in the Spring. Best Regards my new friend….Jim

  3. drtombibey Says:


    Cool. Keep in touch. When your book comes out let me know and I’ll plug it my blog, ’cause we speak the same language.

    We’re gonna have to jam one day too. All my music work is a sideman and my job on the mandolin and as a harmony singer is to add a little color, fit in, and enhance the show any way I can. If you do a gig in N.C. give me a shout. We have great BBQ.

    Dr. B

  4. jel Says:

    Doc, if ya plug his book , How is any one going to b able to read it?
    :O) 🙂

  5. Ron Tyrie Says:

    Hi Doc,
    My favorite memory was singing about “Shirley, the cross-eyed bear”. I thought it was about a bear rescued from an evil circus.


  6. Carolyn Brooks Says:

    And we can’t forget “Round John Virgin” or “While shepherds washed their socks by night …. out of the mouths of babes! ;0)

  7. Martin Waddell Says:

    It’s not just hymns – problems with the Lord’s Prayer also. Children sometimes can’t work out whether God is called Martin or Harold –

    “Our Father, who’s Martin Evans,
    Harold be thy name.”

    When I was a child, I had problems with the word “trespasses” (as in “forgive us our trespasses”). I’d no idea what that meant – thought it might be something to eat, because the word sounded a bit like “crisps” (the British name for what you guys in America call chips). The serious issue, I suppose, is what kind of image of God and Christianity we are giving to children and younger people by using old-fashioned language in hymns, prayers and the like.

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