Laity Sunday 2017 Music Notes

Overview Order of Worship Preaching Music Notes Planning Additional Resources

Wa Wa Wa Emimimo (TFWS 2124)

This Nigerian song is one of the most accessible songs to sing from any country on the African continent. The Yoruba text is very singable, and the musical setting is bold and confident. There is also a sense of urgency in the text–an imperative for the Spirit to come (“wa”) and come now (“Wao”)! When singing, it is customary to hold your hands above your head and wave them down toward your body on each beat to place more emphasis on bringing the Spirit into the midst of the congregation. It is best when a choir can sing in two parts as printed in The Faith We Sing, with sopranos and tenors on the melody (top notes) and altos and basses on the harmony (bottom notes). Accompany with djembes and other drums as available. The key of F is best for congregational singing. The pronunciation of the Yoruba is as follows:

Wah  wah  wah  eh-mee-mee-moh
Wah  wah  wah  ah-lahg-bah-rah
Wah-oh  wah-oh  wah-oh


Holy Spirit (You Are Welcome Here) (CCLI# 6087919)

This song of invocation is a statement of welcome directed toward the Holy Spirit. A statement of ecstatic praise, the content of the text is directed toward God’s presence and the emotional response. Well known as a song listed in the CCLI Top 100, this will be familiar to many bands and modern worship settings. It is indeed a rare find within the modern worship music catalog because of its sole focus upon the Holy Spirit. Many songs focus upon God the Father (YHWH) or God the Son (Jesus), but the Spirit is often not considered in modern musical works. Shape the Trinitarian nature of your worship by combining this song with others directed toward the other persons of the Trinity. The best accompaniment is a band, although it can easily be accompanied by a solo piano or guitar. If using piano, do not double the melody. Instead, make a simplified accompaniment that pulses with the beat. The ideal key is G.

A Place at the Table (W&S 3149)

This hymn by Shirley Erena Murray is one of the most defining congregational songs of this generation, and its place in the church will be ever present in the years to come. Murray redeems the juxtaposition of opposing sides (woman/man, young/old, just/unjust) by bringing them together as “everyone born.” If you find yourself introducing this to your congregation for the first time, teach the refrain in short phrases and have the congregation echo back the melody. Have a soloist and/or the choir sing the stanzas, and invite the congregation to join in on the refrain. Finally, invite the congregation to sing the fifth stanza with the choir. Though I fully recommend the PLACE AT THE TABLE tune in Worship & Song, another option would be to use the tune created by Brian Mann in the Global Praise collection, For Everyone Born: Global Songs for an Emerging Church. Use the tune that best encourages the singing in your setting. Read History of Hymns: A Place at the Table »

Welcome (W&S 3152)

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, 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, you might want to teach it over time by asking them to sing the refrain (and taking the time to teach it to them before worship) the first time you encounter it during the Eucharist. Continue singing it in following weeks as you gather 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  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.

I Need You to Survive (Africana Hymnal 4130)

Songs of unity are plentiful in many modern collections, but few sing as easily as this song by David Frazier. There is an inherent build in intensity as the congregation encounters each modulation as they make commitments to one another: “I pray for you,” “I love you,” “I won’t harm you.” Encourage the members of the congregation to look into the eyes of one another as they sing this song. Mark Miller has written a wonderful accompaniment that pianists will love, but this song can be accompanied by anything from a solo piano to a band or rhythm section. Make note that the reprinting of words for this work will require written permission. The contact information is below:

            God’s Music
           ℅ Garrett M. Johnson, Esq.
           6 Gramatan Ave., 5th Floor
           Mount Vernon, NY 10550

My suggestion would be for the choir and congregation to learn by rote. It is easy enough to sing and will allow the people to even reach out and offer a hand to a neighbor during the singing.

We Walk His Way (Ewe Thina) [W&S 3073]

This South African song sings especially well with a four-part choir, layering the voices: begin with the bass, then add tenor, alto, and soprano in successive repeats. Be sure the choir does not use a musical score! They need to know the music well enough to keep their hands free, and they also need to move with the music. Sing a cappella, and accompany with djembe or drumming ensemble, inviting the congregation to choose any part that seems singable.

If you do not have a choir, it is possible to sing this song in a spirited manner by having the piano play the alto, tenor, and bass parts as written, with a soloist leading the congregation in singing the melody. Make sure the voice is confident, and do not have the piano double the melody. Add drums as available.

Go to the World (W&S 3158)

If you are searching for a hymn of sending forth that uses a well known tune and organ, this text by Sylvia Dunstan will conjure images of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20. Each stanza ends with a grandiose praise of “Alleluia” and will leave the congregation with a bold, prophetic note to hum as they go into the world. If you do not have an organ for this hymn, a piano will also accompany well. This handbell ensemble arrangement would work incredibly well as a postlude for this service following this hymn.

Send Me, Lord (UMH 497)

In the spirit of the other songs from Nigeria and South Africa, this sung prayer works well with a choir supporting the singing of the congregation.. If you have a four-part choir, instruct them to sing this a cappella. If no choir is available (or your choir is not able to sing a cappella yet), feel free to accompany on piano or organ. Because of the light pulse throughout this song, it is also recommended to sing while departing, with the changes in stanzas cued by the voice of the cantor. Drums are always welcome, though they are not required on this selection. Present this in whatever way seems appropriate with the worship dynamic you create at the end of the service.


Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Civil Observances, Laity Sunday, Laity Sunday

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