Coming Home | HOME IS WHERE WE MEET
Gather Us In (TFWS 2236)
Marty Haugen shows his deft musicianship and wordsmithing in the creation of this hymn. The text is both poignant and boldly imperative, and its selection and use must be done with a holy confidence. Its inclusion this week is reflective of the theme: “Home Is Where We Meet,” and the gathering there. We cannot sing this hymn idly because the text and tune simply won’t allow it! The tune resembles that of either a sea chanty or a tune sung somewhat lustily at an Oktoberfest, but either way, it is a tune that requires life and energy in its singing. Allow the 6/8 meter to have a rocking motion by placing emphasis on beats 1 and 4. The accompaniment should also be played rigorously on the organ or piano. Guitar can also accompany alongside either keyboard instrument. Read History of Hymns: "Gather Us In" »
You Are Good (W&S 3014)
This song of praise by Israel Houghton has become a favorite, from modern worship services to vacation Bible school programs, and everything in between. The accompaniment can be tricky, so I recommend its use for advanced instrumentalists--whether piano, guitar, or full band. The tempo must stay quick and energetic, but even at a tempo of about 126 bpm, the vocal parts are actually very accessible, easily learned, and very motivic (this strong tune will leave worship with you, and you might be singing it days afterward!). If you have a vocal group who can sustain the energy through the bridge, I recommend using the first half with a leader to improvise on the melody. A choir--whether adults, youth, or children--can accompany the repetitive portion of the bridge. If these ensembles are not available in your context, I simply recommend singing the verse and chorus only with a transition to the coda. If played and sung in E, it will also provide a great segue into the next hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Read History of Hymns: "You Are Good" »
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (UMH 400)
A long-time favorite of many churches, this setting of Robert Robinson’s hymn text has its origins in the folk hymn tunes of the nineteenth century. One of its best characteristics is its ability to relate to congregations of all ages, nations, and races. Whether accompanied by organ, piano, or worship band, the melody is very accessible, and its motivic quality and interesting contours make it both fun to sing and memorable. Make sure the tempo never lags behind. The phrases of this tune call for intensity to reflect the praise in the text. In our hymnal, the setting is in E-flat, but it could also work in E, especially transitioning out of the previous hymn, “You Are Good.” Read History of Hymns: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" »
Spirit, Speak the Word
This week’s Prayer for Illumination is in the form of song. The tune is from Patrick Matzikenyiri’s “Jesu, Tawa Pano” from Zimbabwe. The words are new, by Taylor Burton-Edwards. Whatever your opening song has been, ask your musicians to create a musical segue to this tune that slows the tempo further so this song can be sung in a meditative way 2-3 times before you pray the Psalm (today’s Scripture reading) from the hymnal. Consider using the song again as the response instead of the one printed in the hymnal, and keeping the chord progression of the song going quietly in the background as the Psalm is prayed. Then sing it one last time at the conclusion of the Psalm as lead in to the sermon.
We Offer Prayer, E’en As We Meet
This hymn was created for the theme of “Home Is Where We Meet” to address issues of loss and grief during the holiday season. Home can be a place of comfort and rest, but it can also be a reminder of sadness and struggle. In order for us to speak of home, we must always remember that these kinds of images are not always nurturing to everyone. I have set the text to the tune MORNING SONG, which frames the text in a solemn manner. Accompaniment can vary, with organ, piano, or guitar, and other treble or bass clef instruments providing countermelodies and descants. View and download We Offer Prayer, E’en As We Meet »
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (UMH 211)
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 pedal point 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 (TFWS 2201)
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, something light, 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. The song is not meant to stand alone as a song; it will require some intercessions to be created from the context of your community. 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.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (UMH 140)
The Scripture contains the following text this week: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky” (Psalm 85:10-11, NRSV). This favorite song could be featured in a variety of ways, from congregational singing to a plethora of settings and arrangements for choirs, handbell ensembles, or other groups. Whether you are in a traditional or modern setting, or something else entirely, this hymn continues to be sung in a variety of contexts as a reflection of awe in response to God’s faithfulness. Read History of Hymns: "Great is Thy Faithfulness" »
God Almighty, We Are Waiting (W&S 3047)
Ann Bell Worley has created a Trinitarian hymn that ends every hope-filled stanza with the word, “child.” It is clear that Worley constantly points toward the hope found in the Incarnation and the presence of Emmanuel. The very essence of Advent is contained in the second stanza of this hymn as we are “looking back and looking forward.” HYFRYDOL is a wonderful tune for this hymn by creating moments of forward motion and rest in just the right places. The downward motion of the melody in the last phrase always seems to embody the “coming down” of God to earth in the birth of Jesus. The ideal accompaniment is organ or piano. Read History of Hymns: "God Almighty, We Are Waiting" »
Peace, Salaam, Shalom (W&S 3181)
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 »