Global Migration Sunday — Music Notes

Advent 1 | December 3, 2017

Many of these songs represent the wideness of the global spectrum, and you are encouraged to prepare and sing the songs that speak to your context. If it is time for your community to hear a new voice and sing a new song, we challenge you to sing in a language other than your own! However, be sure to express welcome by taking time to teach these songs.

More songs from a variety of ecumenical traditions can be found within the collection, Singing Welcome: Hymns and Songs of Hospitality to Refugees and Immigrants. This resource can be found at

Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending

Charles Wesley’s classic Advent text evokes Revelation 1:7 in proclaiming the global and universal nature of God’s salvation begun and culminated in the first and the final Advent of Jesus Christ. From “Every eye shall now behold him,” (st. 2) to “Let all adore thee” (st. 4), Wesley makes sure we see and sing the comprehensiveness of Christ’s sway. Often, “settled” peoples may view migrants as “invading hordes” or worse. Here we are reminded that Jesus, in whom we place our hope, the ultimate “invader,” bears the scars of his first “invasion,” and has borne them to the very throne of God. We treated him as we often treat other aliens and strangers. Those who placed them there and then, and those who continue to treat other aliens in the same way, will find themselves “deeply wailing” when they see him in his glory. But with what rapture will the wounded and redeemed view them! We who call for the Everlasting to come down among us are called to love all our neighbors as ourselves.


Laurie Zelman and Mark Miller’s hymn, “Welcome,” gives us what Laurence Hull Stookey has referred to as the “intersection of time and eternity” (Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church, p. 17) by connecting the past, present, and future with the eternal time of the reign of God. This hymn is rich with imagery of the table being prepared, shared, and extended into the world. If your congregation is unfamiliar with this hymn, my suggestion would be to adopt it as an opening hymn for a month and teach it over time by asking them to sing the refrain (and taking the time on the first Sunday to teach it to them before worship). Continue singing it in following weeks as you gather for worship--particularly around the table--and have soloists sing the stanzas. Over time, the congregation will associate the hymn with the Eucharist and will be able to sing it as they build their liturgical memory. When accompanying on piano, which in this case is not easy, I would recommend not playing the melody because it can easily complicate the singing. Improvise on the chords of the song and allow the voices to carry the melody.

For Everyone Born

This text by Shirley Erena Murray is a song of commitment by the congregation before God. It confesses the commitment of the people of God to love every neighbor as ourselves, recognizing each and every one has a unique place at God’s table, and God’s delight when we follow through on this commitment in response to God’s command. The popularity of this text is attested by the multiple settings that have been created for it, including the one in Worship & Song. If your congregation knows a different setting than this one, use it!

Come, All You People (Uyai Mose)

This song from Zimbabwe is a celebratory way to open worship together. Preferably sung a cappella, there are a number of ways to sing this song, depending on the resources in your local church. If you are only able to sing in unison, sing the melody with either the English or the Shona text, which is phonetically written below:

Oo-yah-ee  moh-seh  tee-nah-mah-teh  mwah-ree
Oo-yah-ee  moh-seh  zvee-noh

If you can put together two parts, sing with a higher part on the melody and a lower part on the bass (“Ahom__”). If you are able to sing in four parts, sing as written in The Faith We Sing. Add a soloist on the Leader part to instill energy and cue the next words. Accompany with light drums, djembes, or shakers. When you teach this song to the choir and congregation, it is important to teach it by rote (without the music). The rhythms and syncopations are often made more difficult by looking at the music. Lastly, you will discover when you sing this song that moving is not optional! Be sure to loosen up the choir and congregation, and invite them to move together as they sing, even if it is a movement they choose themselves.

Jikelele (Everywhere)

Not many songs in the sacred repertoire have only one word, and if they do, it is usually “Alleluia.” However, this Zulu song from South Africa is a perfect song for congregations to learn and sing together because it only contains one word: “Jikelele”, which is pronounced jee-keh-leh-leh, meaning “everywhere.” If you are only able to sing one part together, it is recommended to accompany the top note of the choral parts with whole notes on the chords listed in the score. Allow a djembe or other drum to add the rhythm. If your choir and congregation can sing in four parts, begin by having the basses sing their line, then layer the tenor, alto, and soprano in succession. Finally, have a soloist sing the solo parts. The language on the solos is more difficult, so singing the solos in English is a practical option. This short song works well as a song of unity and prayer.

The Jesus in Me (El Jesus en Mi)

This brief chorus is another way to express welcome, unity, and solidarity with one another in worship. One of the ways to lose sight of our neighbors is the inability to see the love of Christ in each other, and this song kindles the holy presence of God within each person and brings an awareness of everyone’s sacred worth. This song can be sung in English or Spanish, and the Spanish text is phonetically written below:

Ehl  Heh-soos  ehn mee  ahl-mah_ehl  Heh-soos ehn tee
Tahn fah-ceel  ah-mohr

This song can either be sung a cappella (with a confident music leader), or it can be accompanied by piano, drums, guitar, or any other rhythmic instruments. This song is simple enough that it can also be taught by rote. However, it is imperative then to take the time before worship to teach it!

Christ, from Heaven’s Glory Come

This Christmas text from Timothy Dudley-Smith is powerful in its unsentimental evocation of the threat, terror, and danger Jesus was born into, a danger which even we in the church, particularly though not solely in wealthier nations and more privileged groups within those nations, continue to cast upon “the other,” the stranger, the alien, and the immigrant. Dudley-Smith suggests singing it to Arfon (the original minor key version in Since this tune does not appear in our collections, we suggest singing it to RATISBON (UMH 173), familiar from Charles Wesley’s Transfiguration-themed “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies.”

Come Now, O Prince of Peace (O-So-So)

During the 2016 General Conference, a moving presentation of the status of the Korean peninsula shed light on the poignancy of this selection. Expressing the longing of North and South Korea to be reconciled and reunited as one people, this song beckons Christ to come and make reconciliation possible. This logically, then, becomes an expression of Advent longing and is perfect for this Global Migration Sunday service on the First Sunday in Advent. A simple and haunting melody makes this easy to teach and sing. Introduce the melody with an unaccompanied flute or violin, and keep the accompaniment simple to allow this short text to shape the character of worship. The Korean text can be quite challenging, and it might be best introduced by a soloist. The phonetic pronunciation of the first stanza is as follows:

Oh-soh-saw*  Oh-soh-saw  pyahng-wah  ooeh**  im-goom
Oo-ree-gah  hahn-mohm  ee-roo-geh  hah-soh-saw

* The last syllable of this word should not be overemphasized.
**I use “ooee” with no dash because the change between vowel sounds is quick.

A Wilderness Wandering People

This selection by Jim Strathdee is a timely addition to the resources for Global Migration Sunday because we all must acknowledge that we are all people wandering in the wilderness in need of salvation and the love of God. Beautiful imagery of journeys, love, healing, justice, and reconciliation are found in this short, two-stanza hymn that ends with the text, “we belong.” This is a folk-based hymn that is best accompanied by strummed or plucked guitar, piano, and other light, lyrical instruments such as flute, clarinet, or cello, to complement the melody. In addition, be sure to take a solid Andante tempo, just over 60 bpm, to keep an embodied “walking” feel to the music.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

One of the most well-known ancient hymns of the church, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is based upon the “O Antiphons” contained on the second page of the hymn in The United Methodist Hymnal. These antiphons were chanted refrains used in worship, one per day, during the last eight days of Advent leading up to Christmas Eve. Like the original antiphons, this hymn sings of the longing and somber nature of the Advent season. We have recommended its use within the liturgy for the lighting of the Advent candles. All are welcome to sing the opening phrase in the liturgy, but it is also possible to have a soloist sing it in a very legato (smooth and connected) manner with a brief pause on the last note of each phrase; all should sing the concluding phrase: “Rejoice! Rejoice!...” Remove the plodding nature of the accompaniment and allow the melody to stand on its own as the stanzas originally did — as a haunting, unaccompanied chant. Or for a different approach, play a low E pedalpoint on an instrument such as organ, piano, cello, or bass, and bring in harmonies (with voices or instrumental accompaniment) on the refrain. Read History of Hymns: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" »

Prayers of the People

Bonnie Johansen-Werner’s simple setting of this intercessory prayer can be very powerful in its direct prayer to usher in the reign of God and the connection of that prayer to the needs of the local community and the world. Even though there is a caesura (complete cutoff) written in the accompaniment score, it would also be possible to hold a soft Eb pedal point underneath the spoken intercessions and prayer requests. The recommended form in The Faith We Sing is as follows: Refrain, Petition 1, Response; Refrain, Petition 2, Response; and so on. Ideally, the leader of the prayer should also serve as the cantor. The accompaniment can range from organ to piano, to an arpeggiated guitar or other plucked instrument.

Prayers of the People (The Brilliance)

A wonderful addition to the modern worship music catalogue, this service music represents what is possible when combining modern music and liturgy. Short, cyclic choruses become responses as a part of congregational prayer. The A and B sections (“You hear us calling” and “Lord, have mercy”) are both equally usable as prayer responses. If you listen to the YouTube link in the worship order, you will notice a rolling accompaniment with many different instrumentalists. This kind of accompaniment gives a pulse to the prayers and is encouraged. However, keep in mind that whatever kind of accompaniment is possible with the musicians in your church is OK! Again, simpler accompaniments are oftentimes the best. For a keyboard, play simple chords on each beat. For a strummed instrument, play something light or slightly syncopated, but steady is the best option.

This song is a great example of modern music created to serve a liturgical purpose, and it is very accessible to churches with any instrumental accompaniment. It is not meant to stand alone as a song; it will require some intercessions to be created from the context of your community. Include among these today a specific petition for migrants, immigrants, and refugees across the globe. Respond to each intercession with either the A theme (“You hear us calling”) or the B theme (“Lord, have mercy”). This poignant piece works with organ, piano, guitar, or any other simple accompaniment.

He Came Down

Recommended this week as the first hymn of two during the offering, this Cameroonian work looks ahead and makes the connection that Christ “came down” to offer love, peace, and joy. Even though the cantor line is only written in the last measure of the song, it is also possible to begin with the cantor singing that question and, thus, setting the key for singing. Because both of the songs recommended for the offering this week are in the same key, it is advisable to get the opening pitch or tonic chord of G from the organ or piano. Sing this song a cappella with choir if possible, accompanied by djembes, shakers, and other percussion instruments. Here is an example of a basic rhythm to be played and improvised upon by the drums:

Rhythm notation for He Came Down

If a cappella singing is not an option in your context, it is also acceptable to accompany with organ, piano, or even a strummed guitar. However the accompaniment is played, make sure it is played with excitement!

Pelas dores deste mundo (For the Troubles and the Suffering)

Rodolfo Gaede Neto has written a beautiful, yet haunting song of longing as we witness the labor pains of the whole creation (Romans 8:22) and continued calls for God to have mercy, for peace, for power, and for justice. This song is simple, but the Portuguese text can be quite difficult. If you have someone in your congregation who is fluent, put them to work by singing! If not, however, there is some worth in trying a new language, but the English translation works well, too. Accompany with a simple piano part or guitar. I would not use percussion on this because it might become too rigid. Allow the lyrical ebb-and-flow to determine the tempo.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Discipleship Ministries’ Former Director of Music Resources, Dean McIntyre, created this effective, simple song with a haunting melody. Salaam is the phonetic rendering of the Arabic word for “peace,” and Shalom is the Hebrew equivalent. Every phrase uses all three words, as cohesive and inseparable as the persons of the Trinity, and each successive melodic sequence rises in the same way as prayers for peace until the final statement. Find ways to use this as a liturgical piece, even outside of worship, by creating prayers or readings with “Peace, Salaam, Shalom” as a sung response. If you do not have Worship & Song in your church, you can also find the hymn setting here »

Cherokee Morning Song

When singing this ancient Cherokee song in worship, it is imperative to frame it liturgically or with brief instruction related to its use out of respect, not cultural appropriation. The song would be well suited for congregational singing, choir, or soloist with flute and small drumming ensemble. The text is simple, and the melody is both contemplative and memorable. The text sings of the worth of each person as a child of God. If your church has a children’s choir, this particular song would be one effectively led by children--not as a performance, but as soloists, but leaders of congregational song. The song is very engaging and has such variety from phrase to phrase that it would be easily teachable for children, and they would embrace the variety and spirit of the song oftentimes much better than adults! Accompaniment can be simple (as written in the collection) or a cappella.

I Need You to Survive

This contemporary gospel hymn affirms our need of God and one another as we journey along the road of salvation and discipleship. Mark Miller has written a wonderful accompaniment found in both The Africana Hymnal and Zion Still Sings. Take your time with the accompaniment because there are a good number of sixteenth notes and tricky rhythms if taken too fast. A metronome marking of 48 is also recommended here. The ideal accompaniment is organ, piano, and/or rhythm section (piano, bass, drums, guitar).

Hope of the Nations

A song begun in September 2001 to enable churches around the world to sing about  hope, the events of September 11 that year gave Brian Doerksen the inspiration for the chorus that brought the whole song together. Though in his tradition (Mennonite and Vineyard) communion is rarely practiced, the text also works well as a communion anthem or hymn. Jesus, the hope of all nations, also makes us one in ministry to all the world, and the world at our doorsteps, as we receive his body and blood and serve as Christ’s body redeemed by his blood. The song’s register as it appears in SongSelect is quite workable for most congregations from beginning to end. You might also have a soloist or ensemble sing the verse and prechorus while the whole congregation joins in the chorus.

Wounded World That Cries for Healing

A second song by Shirley Erena Murray, “Wounded World” is a prayer for wholeness, healing, justice, and peace for all peoples everywhere. While it does not name migrants, immigrants, or refugees, it acknowledges both the systems that make life harder for all of us, and especially persons on the move, and Christ’s power to enable us to overcome every barrier to provide love and healing. In its own way it adds to our Eucharistic prayer that through Christ’s presence in us, we may be one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world. Consider having a choir, soloist, or ensemble sing verse 2 in G-minor, making use of the F# in place of the usual F in the G-minor key signature, except in measures 7 and 15.

Stay with Me (Noho Pu)

Songs from the Taizé Community are written to be repetitive and simple. Do not try to overcomplicate the song so it loses its transcendent and prayerful qualities. If you ever have the chance to visit Taizé in the Burgundy region of France, you will note that the accompaniment can vary from solo guitar to guitar with many wind and string instruments. However, no matter how many instruments are utilized, the accompaniment is still quite simple. Cantor lines are used to further embody the prayers, but not overwhelm them. Accompaniment is best with simple, arpeggiated guitar, or piano/organ, with additional instruments as available. The choruses from Taizé also offer a great opportunity to teach part singing to your adult or youth choir, and singing in four parts will make the experience much richer in worship. May the songs of Taizé be a means of prayer in your congregation.

Live in Charity (Ubi caritas)

Another Taizé chorus, this text comes from a plainchant traditionally used on Maundy Thursday, with another simple melody, as is the trademark of Taizé songs. Since we recall Christ’s last supper as a part of the communion rite, this song is always appropriate to sing in connection with the Eucharist. Many composers have been drawn to this Latin text over the centuries, and Jacques Berthier and the Taizé Community have provided a simplicity to the text that will linger long after the service ends. The intent with many of these short, cyclical choruses from Taizé is for the song to become the prayer. Therefore, sing it numerous times and allow the words to become a part of the worshiping subconscious. Whereas many would advocate for the singing of the song in Latin, the brothers of Taizé recommend singing their songs in the language of the community. However, should you choose to sing in Latin, follow these phonetic pronunciations:

Oo-bee  cah-ree-tahs  eht  ah-mohr
Oo-bee  cah-ree-tahs  Deh-oos  ee-bee  ehst.

All the “s” sounds are pronounced unvoiced (an “s,” not a “z”), and the vowels should be pronounced with no diphthongs. For a thorough analysis of “Ubi Caritas” in a translation from Latin into hymn form (“Where Charity and Love Prevail, The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 549), click Read History of Hymns: "Ubi Caritas" »

Ya hamalallah (Holy Lamb of God)

“Ya hamalallah” is an Arabic form of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) in the Latin Mass. The Agnus Dei maintains a very central connection with the Eucharist, with repeated appeals: “Have mercy on us,” and “grant us your peace.” This melody is very haunting and can be introduced best to the congregation by a confident singer who sings the opening line and invites the congregation to repeat it. Accompanying with a drone (D unison or D + A) helps set the prayerful tone and creates an almost ethereal atmosphere for this prayer. Having a violin play the melody in between stanzas would also create a sense of longing in the prayer. If the congregation cannot learn it in one sitting, consider using it on other occasions, or simply invite them to hum the drone as well.

Glory in the Highest (Gloria en las alturas)

Even though the text of this song is based upon the Christmas narrative, it would be quite appropriate to sing on Global Migration Sunday, particularly because of the second stanza. Thinking of Jesus not seeking a home other than in our hearts reminds us that Jesus was homeless at several points in his life--at his birth, during his family’s escape to Egypt, and during his ministry. The Savior and Lord of all creation was without a home, so the only home sought by Christ is within our hearts. Even if Spanish is not the primary language of your worshiping congregation, try to sing the English and the Spanish. The act of singing in another language is an act of hospitality, and it also connects us with the church around the world and creates an awareness that the church is larger than our local community. You will be the best judge of whether your congregation will sing in another language, so make the decision wisely and sensitively. Another option would be for a choir, small group, or children to sing in Spanish, with the congregation echoing the stanzas in English. Accompany with piano, guitar, shakers, and other percussion instruments. Keep the pulse lively, with the half note = 68 bpm.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your Light Shines (Jésus le Christ)

Another chorus from Taizé, this simple song begins with a recognition of Christ’s light within us. If we acknowledge the light within us, we must also acknowledge the light of Christ within our neighbors (see the note earlier for “The Jesus in Me”). Using the same logic, if our hearts welcome the love of Christ, we must also welcome one another in the same way. Sing the song simply, with guitar, organ, or piano accompaniment and other instruments as available.

Sent Out in Jesus’ Name (Enviado Soy de Dios)

This song of sending is very idiomatic of songs in Latin American traditions. The rhythms may vary from country to country, but the chord changes are often similar. This Cuban song conjures images and emotions related to hurt, pain, love, justice, and peace, and it sings with notes of both mourning and hope. Change the character after the opening chorus by instructing the vocalists to sing legato with four-measure phrases, following the almost march-like quality and possible two-measure phrases of the repeated chorus. In addition, harmony parts are possible in the second section by either following the parts written in the Accompaniment Edition of The Faith We Sing, or instructing the altos to simply sing a 6th below each note of the melody (The same would also be possible by instructing the sopranos to sing a 3rd above each note). A rhythmic alternative would be to have a bass (electric or acoustic) play the following repetitive rhythm within the written chord changes:

Enviado Soy de Dios rhythm

Add in a piano or guitar, along with winds and strings (if available) and light percussion.

Song of Hope (Canto de Esperanza)

This lively song from Argentina can add some energy to the sending forth by combining a very quick melody with the sung blessing. If Spanish is not the primary language of your congregation, they can learn the Spanish more effectively by 1) only singing the refrain and 2) focusing most of their attention on the words “oremos,” “cantemos,” “luchemos” and “fieles.” Because the rhythm of these words is longer and repetitive, it creates an accessible way to learn the other phrases. The phonetic pronunciation of the refrain is below:

Oh-reh-mohs*  por  lah  pas
Cahn-teh-mohs  deh  too_ah-mohr
Loo-cheh-mohs  por  lah  pas
Fee-eh-lehs  ah  tee  seh-nyor

*Always sing the “oh” sounds with a dropped chin and jaw! It is not the same as the English word “Oh.”

Also note that a more literal translation of the refrain is:

We pray for peace,
We sing of your love.
We work for peace,
Faithful to you, O Lord.

However, it does not sing very well! Sing what is written, but it may be important to acknowledge that it is paraphrased so the English may be sung poetically.

Kanisa Litajengua (O, Who Will Build the Church Now?)

According to Debi Tyree’s notes in For Everyone Born, this song arose out of Kenya and their call to offer relief to refugees, both from countries all around them, and also within their own borders. The question-and-answer format offers an opportunity for congregations to learn the song and try a new language without being overwhelmed. The song leader can sing, “Kanisa litajengua,” while the congregation responds with “na nini, nanani,” and so on. Everyone joins in together on the syncopated “Iyo-yo-yo” text. If you have a youth choir and are looking for repertoire from around the globe, this is guaranteed to be a favorite among your young people. The English is also very poignant, so don’t shy away from the song if you are discouraged from the language. Sing with confidence and join your voices with our sisters and brothers in Kenya! It is best to sing a cappella with a drumming ensemble, but an improvised keyboard or guitar accompaniment also works well.

We Walk His Way (Ewe, thina)

As with many other songs from South Africa, it is often a good practice to introduce this song with a choir and/or congregation one part at a time, beginning with bass, and then layering tenor, alto, and soprano. The melody is repetitive enough that the congregation can simply sing with the sopranos if necessary. One way to accomplish singing this successfully in worship is for the leader and congregation to sing the stanzas in English while the “Ewe thina” (pronounced Eh-weh  tee-nah) continues underneath. Be sure to incorporate whatever drums are available--djembes, congas, bongos, shakers, etc. As with other folk music from many sub-Saharan African countries, invite the congregation to move! If we are truly to “walk his way,” embodying the walking can add to the depth of the spiritual and community-building experience!

There’s No One in This World Like Jesus (Hakuna Wakaita sa Jesu)

This Zimbabwean song in the Shona language is a bold proclamation of the identity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. By stating “there’s no one like Jesus,” we are in essence saying, “Jesus’s reign is supreme.” The reign of God is rooted in love, peace, and justice, and following Jesus means we will commit to these values as well. Known throughout eastern Africa, there are a number of videos online featuring this song in different forms. I would encourage viewing many of them, but this video shows a great series of movements that can be used when singing the song. Please note that other videos are more culturally authentic, but this link is included primarily for pedagogical purposes. Sing with any combination of instruments or a cappella, but either way, make the percussion quick and vibrant with djembes, drum kits, and shakers.

Rule of Life

This saying has long been attributed to John Wesley even though he may not have been the original source of the quote in its distinct form. There is evidence that it may have been developed from some of Wesley’s sermons, but regardless of its origins, there is no arguing that it sings well in this musical setting. The song can serve as a congregational reminder to attend to the second rule within “The General Rules of the Methodist Church” (Book of Discipline, ¶104): Do good. To teach this to your congregation, make it the sending song for a number of weeks, and you will hear the congregation sing more confidently every week because the melody is so motivic and memorable. Sing this song slowly, allowing the shape of the phrases to dictate the tempo, and don’t be afraid to add a bit of rubato (tempo sung more freely) when singing together. The accompaniment is best with piano, organ, or rhythm section.