Scripture Memorization Program
Arma Dei Academy’s Dwell program exists to facilitate and maximize the memorization and retention of Scripture by students. Every month, students from Kindergarten to 8th grade collectively memorize large passages of Scripture—very often entire chapters!—by singing songs that have been created by faculty members to accompany the inspired words of Scripture in the English Standard Version. These songs are sung in Chapel, in Bible and Music classes, in Logic School Assemblies, and as part of end-of-day dismissal routines in both the Logic and Grammar schools. Thus, students memorize Scripture more easily, and retain it longer, than they would using any other memorization technique. In addition to its primary function, the Dwell program lends structure and content to schoolwide gatherings, creates opportunities for interaction and instruction across grade levels, and imparts a unique culture and sense of identity to the Academy and its students. Arma Dei Academy is the school that sings Scripture!
In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul encourages believers to “let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly,” and he identifies the “singing” of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” as one means of achieving that end. The power of song to help students memorize and retain facts more generally is, of course, a fundamental principle of classical Christian pedagogy. Arma Dei students of every grade level are accustomed to singing various facts—for example, the state capitals, the elements of the periodic table, or the forms for demonstrative pronouns in Latin—in order to help them remember them. The Dwell program, so named on the basis of Paul’s injunction in Colossians 3:16, seeks to harness the power of song to help our students commit to memory the most important words and truths they will ever encounter in life: the words and truths of divinely inspired Sacred Scripture! Our hope, prayer, and expectation is that, by means of this program, Scripture will ultimately take up residence not just in each student’s mind, but in his or her entire being! The goal, in other words, is for Scripture to dwell richly in our students, to live in their hearts in addition to their minds, to transform them, and so to impact their entire lives during their time at Arma Dei and beyond. God’s Word has, in and of itself, unique power to shape us into the image of Christ (Isa. 55:11; 2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 12:2). Songs have, in and of themselves, unique power to move our affections and our wills. God’s Word put to song, therefore, has compounded potential to effect the transformation of our students’ lives, and so to help Arma Dei Academy achieve its ultimate goal of equipping students to live purposefully and intelligently in Christ-like service to God and others!
During the 2019-2020 school year, students of Arma Dei memorized (by singing) passages of Scripture corresponding to the seven virtues (faith, hope, love, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance). During the 2020-2021 school year, students will memorize the entire book of Ephesians. In 2021-2022, students will memorize Psalms that exemplify the various categories of Psalms comprising the Psalter as well as the range of emotions that comprise genuine Christian experience. As of now, the expectation is to repeat this program on a three-year cycle so that students completing their entire K-8th grade education at Arma Dei will encounter each set of songs (Virtues, Ephesians, Psalms) three times in the course of their academic career at our school. Songs belonging to every set will be reviewed throughout every year in order to help the program achieve its primary goal—to help students memorize and retain Scripture!
In June of 2020, Aaron Denlinger, Catherine Kochie, and Michael Kochie introduced Arma Dei Academy’s Dwell program to the Association of Classical Christian Schools at ACCS’s Repairing the Ruins Conference. Their conference presentation can be viewed here.