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Third Sunday in Lent | Confess — Music Notes

March 19, 2017 (Year A) | Living Our Baptismal Calling Series
by Rev. Jackson Henry

Order of Worship Preaching Hymns Music Planning Formation Groups Resources

All Who Are Thirsty

Usually an invitational hymn is placed after the sermon, but this hymn is both an invitation for people to come to the “fountain” and the “stream of life” and an invitation to open up to the presence of the holy with the chorus, “Come, Lord Jesus, come” and “Holy Spirit, come.” Repeat the chorus numerous times to create a prayer atmosphere. This song is easily accompanied by piano and/or guitar, with or without a full band.

Tear Down the Walls

This song by Australia’s Hillsong speaks to the walls to be torn down between people, which relates to the barrier broken down this week between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. In singing this song, the congregation will hopefully be inspired to share their faith by dismantling barriers in their own lives. The original key is too high for most congregations, so I recommend singing this selection in A Major. Either use a full band or keep it simple with a simple accompaniment pattern on piano or guitar. As with other modern options, do not play the melody on the piano. Allow the voice to lead the people. If this is unfamiliar to your congregation, find a way to teach it (i.e., teaching and repeating the pre-chorus, “I don’t have to see it to believe it,” for something to latch onto every time it returns in the music).

Jesus Shall Reign

Jesus Shall Reign is a classic hymn text by the eighteenth-century hymn writer (and one of Charles Wesley’s contemporaries) Isaac Watts. Jesus is praised for the endless presence of his reign: “People and realms of every tongue,” “where’er the sun does its successive journeys run.” We propose the singing of stanzas 1-3 before pairing it with the next hymn, “Fill My Cup, Lord.” DUKE STREET is a bold and confident tune for this text, but another option could be TRURO (at least until stanza 5, with the word “honors,” which doesn’t fit quite as well as it does in DUKE STREET). Read History of Hymns: "Jesus Shall Reign" »

Fill My Cup, Lord

We encourage using stanzas 1 and 2 this week as a way of expressing the personal experience of Jesus’ reign in concert with the global and cosmic nature of his reign in the previous hymn. Because of this pairing, I recommend singing this hymn in the key of G to provide a seamless and sensible transition between selections. Yes, this makes the melody quite low in places, but it is still workable. If you do not have Worship & Song in your church, but you do have access to one book, encourage a soloist to sing the stanzas and invite the congregation to join on the refrain, which can also be found in The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 641. Read our Fill My Cup, Lord Hymn Study »

Come to the Water

If you have a band and praise team, I promise they will love you if you choose this selection that, when looking at the songwriters, seems to be the “We Are the World” of modern worship music. The song is very singable and accessible, but it also has an exciting drive that is not found in many hymns or modern songs. The pre-chorus (“Oh, let justice roll like rivers”) builds to a climax at the opening of the chorus, or refrain, that will inspire even the most timid singers to sing boldly. Because of the way it is divided up in this week’s service, you may feel the need to sing more of it at the conclusion of the reading, and we invite you to do so if you feel led. Within the scriptural parts of the liturgy, you may choose to sing it more reflectively, but be sure to follow it up with an energetic reprise of the pre-chorus and chorus. The original key is C, which is far too high for congregations to sing. I recommend singing in F (as in Worship & Song) or G.

Beautiful Things

“You make beautiful things out of the dust” is a reminder of what God can do in the midst of our frailty and brokenness. Your congregation may already be familiar with this song through a vacation Bible school curriculum, but there is a suggestion to be made if you are only familiar with the recording by Gungor. You will notice in his recording that he eventually takes the chorus up one octave to a range unattainable by almost all congregations. My simple recommendation is to sing in the key of D and continue singing the melody in its octave. To simulate the jump Gungor makes, a male voice could sing lead on the melody until the jump, at which point a female voice takes over. This will achieve the same octave leap, but typically people do not strain when they hear a female voice singing in a lower range. If this leap is not important in the worship dynamic you envision, feel free to sing in a lower range throughout. Accompaniment is best supported with a piano, guitar, or band.

O Church of God, United

Confessing Jesus Christ as our Savior “in union with the church” means that especially our act of singing together is an act of unity as we all become proclaimers in the holy act of hymn singing. This hymn highlights the way we are united in our love of Christ, “though creeds and tongues may differ.” ELLACOMBE serves as an ideal tune for this message, though it is also appropriate to sing the text to AURELIA, which will then evoke the thematic nature of the hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation” and connect the two together. Accompany with organ, piano, and even brass if you have access to those instruments in your community. This joyous tune is effectively accompanied by handbells as well, and several arrangements of the ELLACOMBE tune for handbells can also be found here. Sing this hymn boldly! Read History of Hymns: "O Church of God, United" »

We Are One

The City Harmonic has created this song of unity that seems to resemble the “One for all/all for one” theme of The Three Musketeers. It has a very accessible melody, as long as it is lowered from its original key. The ideal key for congregational singing is F or G, but no higher. If the selection is played and sung by a band and praise team with no intention of congregational singing, the key may be whatever is accessible for the vocalists and instrumentalists in your ensemble. Possible accompaniments range from full band to piano or guitar.

Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather

This haunting Japanese text and melody become a powerful statement of unity when sung in worship. Non-western harmony is often difficult for westerners to grasp, so it might be helpful to reinforce the melody with a solo wind instrument to double the unison voices throughout. Choir members need to lead the congregational singing. However, if the intent is not to sing this with the entire gathered body, a choir, small ensemble, or soloist can also present this well. A double bass and cello would be a beautiful addition to play the bass notes together, and a flute or violin would be best on the melody. If these are not available, an organ or piano is also an effective means of supporting the accompaniment. Also feel free to add a handbell random ring on a pentatonic scale (Bb, C, D, F, G). Read History of Hymns: "Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather" »

Thank You, Lord

This gospel chorus must be sung passionately at a slow pace. If able, allow a choir to sing in four-part harmony to accompany the congregation, and be sure to put space between “thank” and “you,” as written by William Farley Smith in measure 7. If you have a soloist who is confident about improvising over the congregation, encourage her/him to sing a very short introduction every time before the congregation begins singing. Don’t be afraid to use piano, organ, bass, and drums all at the same time to make the singing of this brief chorus authentic and full. This song is very accessible, however, to congregations of all sizes and abilities and should be considered for this act of thanksgiving. View and download the score for Thank You, Lord »

Welcome

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 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 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.

Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow

Charles Wesley addresses our unity with Christ and one another in a hymn that recalls Scripture from 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 and Galatians 3:27-28. Every person within the body of Christ is uniquely gifted in ways that, when partnered with people possessing other gifts, allows the body to find its fullness in ministry to the world. The phrase “all in all” is used twice to emphasize both the Lordship (“Thou, O Christ, art all in all”) and servanthood (“thou who fillest all in all”) of Christ. CANTERBURY is a beautiful tune that is best accompanied on organ or piano, but the harmony is able to be simplified enough that a guitar could also strum along with the other instruments. Read History of Hymns: "Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow" »

Draw the Circle Wide

Gordon Light and Mark Miller have collaborated together on this modern classic, which is increasingly popular with adult and youth choirs from its publication as an anthem from Abingdon Press. It is found in hymn format in Worship & Song, and it is especially poignant when paired close to “Welcome” (as recommended above) because the imagery of the open table is expanded here as the congregation prepares to leave the worship space. If you have a choir in your church, be sure they rehearse this well enough in advance to learn all four parts on the choruses. Invite the congregation to embody the song, too, by forming a circle inside and/or outside the space and joining hands, always leaving one space open for someone to be welcomed into the fold. This song can easily be accompanied by piano, small instrumental ensemble (any combination of piano, guitar, bass, light percussion, or wind/string instruments), or full band and praise team.

Go to the World

Sylvia G. Dunstan is widely known for her hymns, “You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd” and “All Who Hunger,” among numerous others. “Go to the World” embodies the great commission found in Matthew 18:16-20 and serves as an effective call to discipleship and mission. If your congregation has sung “For All the Saints” as many other churches have on All Saints Day, they will be able to sing this hymn with excitement and fervor. By singing “Go to the world,” they will both recall the words of Jesus from The Great Commission, and they will also challenge one another by instructing one another, as the body of Christ, to go “preach the cross where Christ’s renews life’s worth.” The classic SINE NOMINE tune by monumental composer Ralph Vaughan Williams is best accompanied on organ. Pull out all the stops for the fourth stanza!

 

Categories: Year A, Third Sunday in Lent - March 19, 2017