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“Sing of the Lord's Goodness”

TITLE: "Sing of the Lord's Goodness"
AUTHOR: Ernest Sands (b.1949)
TUNE: THE LORD'S GOODNESS
COMPOSER: Ernest Sands
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3010
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 92:1-4; 100; 103:1-5; 147:1-3; 150; Colossians 3:16-17
TOPIC: bless/blessing, brokenness, comfort, courage, glory/glorious, God's goodness, invitation, mercy, new life, pardon, power and might, praise, strength, wisdom, worship

Background

For good or bad, people will make the comparison between "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" and Take Five, a popular and enduring jazz composition by Paul Desmond recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1959. Both are in a minor key and in quintuple (5/4) time.

Despite the minor key, the text is an exuberant hymn of praise and thanksgiving; and despite the unusual quintuple time, the hymn has a quickly learned melodic and rhythmic pattern to the melody that congregations will enjoy singing. If you labor under the notion that congregations will find this hymn difficult because of the meter, free yourself from that misconception. They will take to it easily, quickly, and enthusiastically. A good song leader, prepared choir or praise team, instrumentalists, or keyboard accompanist will take the place of any need for rehearsing with the congregation.

Words

Immediately apparent is the structure of the text: short phrases of simple words and meaning describing various attributes of God and our experience of the various persons of the Trinity, all in unrhymed poetic form.

  • Stanza one: God is good, source of all wisdom, mercy and unending love and faithfulness. Our response is to sing and bless God's name.
  • Stanza two: We honor Jesus as risen Christ who wielded power over even death, celebrating and imparting new life as spoken by his word and reenacted through Holy Communion.
  • Stanza three: The Spirit imparts courage, comfort, solace, pardon and God's splendor. The theology of this stanza may be somewhat off, imparting the forgiveness of sin to the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Stanza four and the refrain are a wonderful paean of praise to God using phrases from the 150th Psalm.

Music

The music for each stanza adopts the pattern of the 5/4 meter so familiar to people from the Take Five underlying rhythmic pattern in the piano and drums. The first three beats of the melody's syncopated rhythmic pattern come directly from Take Five's piano accompaniment. Beats four and five of each measure likewise duplicate the straight quarter note pattern of Take Five. Each phrase of text is set to a complete 5/4 pattern. The refrain continues with repetitions of each 5/4 rhythmic pattern with melody notes that are repetitive rather than the melodically leaping motive of the stanzas. And where the harmonic pattern of the stanzas is largely repetitive of two chords that move to a cadence at the phrase divisions, the harmony of the stanzas moves through the circle of fifths with a final cadence on the minor tonic.

It is the unrelenting repetition of the rhythmic pattern of each measure that makes this 5/4 hymn so easy to pick up and sing. Also helpful is the use of short phrases of text that perfectly match the short musical phrases, and the use of mostly monosyllabic words.

See more Hymn Studies.

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