“There's a Spirit of Love in This Place”
AUTHOR: Mark A. Miller
COMPOSER: Mark A. Miller
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3148
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 4:3-4; Philippians 4:7
TOPIC: Spirit, soul, care, tenderness, blessing, calmness, serenity, community, God's presence, grace, peace, Alleluia
This hymn began as a choral anthem by the same title, published in 2003 by Abingdon Press as one of its Mark Miller Anthem Series (Abingdon publication no. 978068644629). It also appeared in Abingdon's collection of Mark Miller hymns and songs titled Amazing Abundance (publication no. 0687065186) and in the Global Praise collection, For Everyone Born (ISBN 1-933663-26-X).
Mark Miller served as co-director of music and worship with Marcia McFee at the 2008 United Methodist Church General Conference. "There's a Spirit of Love in This Place" was sung at one of the points of that conference's most heated debate.
There are three stanzas to the hymn. The first two describe conditions in a physical space resulting from God's presence among God's people:
- There's a spirit of love in this place
- There's a presence of peace in this room
The third stanza (missing from early editions of Worship & Song) personalizes and internalizes God's presence:
- There's a space for grace in our hearts; it's in learning to forgive that our spirits truly live.
The refrain, "O alleluia, sing alleluia! We bless your holy name," follows each stanza. The anthem arrangement, easily adapted to the hymn setting, effectively repeats the opening of each stanza at the conclusion of only the final refrain: "There's a space for grace, there's the presence of peace, there's a spirit of love in this place."
While "There's a Spirit of Love in This Place" is a fine congregational hymn, it can also serve as a choral or congregational call to worship, prayer response, hymn during Holy Communion, or sending forth.
The text is reverent and holy, and the musical style supports those qualities well with its own warm, expressive and worshipful style. The melody is pitched comfortably in a low to mid range for congregations. The "O alleluia" refrain will give many musicians plenty of opportunity for expressive crescendos and diminuendos, although it can also be done quite effectively in a somewhat slower, quieter, prayerful tempo and volume to contrast with the stanzas.
The tune name is MEDEMA, chosen by Mark after meeting and working with composer and performer Ken Medema, to whom the choral anthem is inscribed, "For my friend Ken Medema."
Here's a simplified guitar-friendly chord structure for "There's a Spirit of Love in This Place":
Capo 1: ||: D F# | Bm7 D7 | G E |Asus A | Em7 D | E F# Bm | A7sus A7 | D |
| G F#7 | Bm D | E F#| Bm D7| G F#7 | Bm Gm | A7sus A7 | D :||
Mark Miller serves on the faculty at both Drew University and Yale University, where he teaches sacred music and worship. He is also the Minister of Music at Covenant United Methodist Church in Plainfield, New Jersey. Between 2002 and 2007, he was Director of Contemporary Worship at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York; and from 1999 to 2001, he was Music Associate and Assistant Organist of The Riverside Church in New York City. Mark received his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Yale and his Master of Music in Organ Performance from Juilliard.
Mark is well-known throughout the United Methodist Church as a composer, arranger, organist, pianist, adult and youth choir director, worship leader, teacher and performer of sacred music. He is equally at home in the classics, jazz, pop, gospel, hip-hop, and hymns. Since 1997 he has performed concerts and directed conferences at churches internationally and across the United States. In April 2008, Mark was the Director of Music for the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Forth Worth, Texas.