Big Stories for Little Ones is the first release from Rain for Roots, a side project for East Nashville musicians Flo Paris, Ellie Holcomb, Katy Bowser, and Sandra McCracken. From the outset, these women had one goal: write enduring, biblically based songs for children that their parents would also enjoy. In doing so, they learned that one need not outgrow a song about God’s love.

A digital release will accompany the physical CD release on August 21.

Rain for Roots began as an idea that Paris, Holcomb, Bowser, McCracken, and friend Alice Smith had been considering independently. In the summer 2011, the topic came up when they gathered for a birthday dinner at Paris’ house, and Paris suggested that perhaps the Lord had called them to do this project together.

As they discussed creating an album, Bowser, who has released two albums of jazz songs for children with local band Coal Train Railroad, suggested using Baby’s Hug-A-Bible by noted children’s author Sally Lloyd-Jones for song lyrics. Baby’s Hug-A-Bible contains 10 well-known Bible stories in poem form.

When the women approached Lloyd-Jones with the idea last fall, she readily agreed, and the album began to take shape, with Smith serving as project manager and McCracken as producer. The songs came together quickly, and the entire recording process took less than five months.

Some Seriously Memorable Melodies

Crafting simple, memorable melodies for children can be challenging, however, especially given the content of the songs. “Knowing that precious little ones are going to be singing these songs that carry such lovely and important truths about who God is makes you want to write some seriously memorable melodies,” Holcomb said.

And children did more than merely inspire the songs. The women made the process a family affair by including their husbands and children in the recording process — a tricky endeavor for children as young as three years old. “I had to adjust my expectations to match their attention spans and to realize that for them to sing in the car seat is very different than singing in front of a microphone with headphones,” McCracken said.

The project brings together the bonds these women share as musicians, mothers, friends, neighbors, and church members. Holcomb, Smith, McCracken, and Bowser attend City Church of East Nashville (PCA), and Paris attends Church of the Redeemer (Anglican).

Paris said both churches use Lloyd-Jones’ writings and Sunday school curriculum, so their church families warmly embraced the idea of using her work again. Holcomb, a soon-to-be mother, said City Church of East Nashville even gave copies of the album to every Sunday school class in hopes of getting children singing.

“The whole purpose of the project is to have folks sing along, so we have tried to make that as easy as possible for everyone, but especially for those who would like to sing these songs with their children at church,”

For that reason, an instrumental album is also available for purchase on the website, and chord and lyric sheets accompany the album’s digital booklet.

Rain for Roots might have begun with an album of children’s songs, but the women plan to continue the project and write songs aimed at older children and their parents. The goal, Holcomb said, has been to help children “carry theology and truth in song from birth to adulthood.”

Still, the profound lessons encased in children’s songs can grip a grownup’s heart, too.

“As a 30-something, I have been personally moved many times by hearing these songs proclaim God’s truth, reminding me things like, ‘You are His treasure and great prize. He knows your name; He made your eyes,’” McCracken said.

Big Stories for Little Ones connects generations with the truth that listeners big and small are God’s little lambs.

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