Is it permitted to have a boy under barmitzvah age sing the Shir Hakavod (or Anim Zemiros)? Why is it not like any other part of davenning where we use someone over barmitzvah?
According to the Rambam (Hilchot Tefilla chap. 9), only the following sections of davening (prayer services) require a Chazzan [over Bar Mitzvah]:
- Birchot Kriat Shema
- Shemona Esrei, Chazart haShatz, and Kedusha
- Tachanun, Ashrei and Uva L'Tzion
In addition, if a part of davening doesn't require a minyan, it would make sense that a minor could lead it. Pseukei D'zimra and Anim Zemirot don't require a minyan, so it follows that a child could be chazzan.
בבתי כנסת הנוהגים שהחזן קורא שורה והקהל קוראים שורה, נהוג לתת את החזנות לילד קטן (מתחת לגיל בר מצווה). יש הטוענים כי הסיבה לכך היא שרק ילד קטן ותמים יכול לדבר אל הקב"ה בצורה כה ישירה.
In shuls where it is the custom to read the song responsively, it is customary to allow a child to be Chazzan. There are those who explain that this is because only an innocent child is able to speak to God in such a direct and forthright manner.
This is actually a machlokes among the contemporary poskim. See Dose of Halacha:
R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:81) holds that it is inappropriate for a child to lead anim zemiros.
Nonetheless, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (12:96) held that a child may do so (See Ishei Yisrael 36:n196). Many shuls follow this, especially as they want to encourage child participation at the end of davening.