How to organise music for a baptism

Baptism (sometimes called Christening) is the church-service which happens when a person joins a church.   It may be done when a person is a baby, if their parents have decided to bring them up in the church, or later in life.

It usually involves a ritual of pouring water, anointing with oil, and naming the person.

In many churches, the baptism liturgy (ie set of official prayers, readings and things that are done in the service) does not have any specific places where music or hymns/songs are included.

But there are several times in which music can be included, such as as when people gather together at the start of the ceremony, and at the end.   And if the baptism / christening is carried out within another church service (eg as part of a Mass) then there are plenty of opportunities to include music within the regular format of the service.

Who chooses hymns and songs for a baptism

If the baptism is being done during a regular church service, then:
  • The season and readings for the day generally guide the music choices, and
  • The person or team who usually choose the music for the service will be responsible for making the decisions. But they may well include some hymns that are specifically about baptism, and ask the person being baptised or their family for suggestions.

If the baptism is being done as a private family service, then the priest or minister who is doing the baptism is responsible for choosing any music wanted - but they will almost always talk to the family about what what music will be played or sung.

How to choose hymns and songs for a baptism

Start by making a list of the times music will be used in the baptism ceremony.

Then make a list of songs and hymns you might use:   Music used at a baptismal service can be selected several ways:
  • Based on the liturgical season (eg Advent songs in Advent, ones about resurrection at Easter).
  • From hymns / songs that reinforce the teaching about baptism (eg joining the Christian community, becoming part of Christ's family, being assigned a name, freedom from original sin - the specific emphasis depends on the particular church's teachings.)
  • From any hymns / songs which are particularly meaningful for the person being baptised, or their family.

Then, from the list, choose the particular hymns and songs which you want to use.

Which songs and hymns to choose will depend on whether you want people to sing (choose ones they know), or if you will have a specific person or small group who will lead or even provide all the music (you have a lot more options - but you may have to pay the musicians).

Make sure you talk about these suggestions with the priest or minister who is doing the baptism.

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