Testimony to the Resurrection

Easter Season 2018 Worship Planning Series

Second Sunday of Easter 2018, Year B

Today we begin the first of two mini-series that will take us through the great fifty days of Easter. In the first series, “In the Name of Jesus,” we will be focusing on what it means to claim the power of the name of Jesus as his followers. We will journey with the first disciples through the early chapters in the book of Acts, following them as they plant the very first Christian church and identifying how claiming the name of Jesus was the source of their strength, healing power and salvation.



Camina, Pueblo de Dios (Walk On, O People of God)

Many people now know of the work of Cesareo Gabaraín because of his hymn, “Tú Has Venido a la Orilla” (Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore). “Camina, Pueblo de Dios” is just as interesting and engaging, although in a different character. Gabaraín lived in Spain, so the image of walking, as in the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) was surely at the forefront of his own spiritual journey. Walking has a rhythm, and the rhythm in this hymn text and tune is somewhat defiant. Engage the congregation by walking in place or, if they are willing, walking around the worship space in an orderly fashion while singing the tune. The recommended tempo would be somewhere around dotted quarter note = 68. Accompany with a piano, guitar, or rhythm section with plenty of percussion (shakers, congas, etc.). If the Spanish is too difficult, consider teaching only the refrain in Spanish. It is also possible to have a soloist sing the stanzas while the congregation sings the refrain only, whether in Spanish or English. Read History of Hymns: "Camina, Pueblo de Dios" »

We Are Called

This hymn by David Haas begins with an invitation, “Come! Live in the light,” that is offered not just to the congregation, but to all who would hear the good news of Christ’s resurrection. It is a good reminder that when we engage congregations in singing, the invitation to sing must be done with a spirit of sharing and encouraging. If the key seems to be a little bit too high, it would be possible to easily transpose to Ab without having to work too hard. However, if playing with guitar, it might be best to leave in the key of A. The inclusion of triplets in the accompaniment highlight the need to swing the rhythms throughout, and the recommended tempo is around quarter note = 92. It is also difficult to figure out what to do with the last note of this song because it lasts so long on the page. I would recommend not holding longer than two measures. This will also give the worship leader time to gesture in a welcoming fashion at the beginning of the next stanza, rather than simply ending the refrain with a desperately needed breath before continuing. The recommended accompaniment is piano and/or guitar, or a small band. However, it is also possible to sing with organ! Read History of Hymns: "We Are Called" »

Mighty to Save

Because of the power of atmospherics in worship, falling into a pit of despair and not coming out is always a risk. Knowing this, it is important to remind the congregation that God knows our despair and works in the midst of it. We all are guilty of “fears and failures,” and the knowledge that Jesus is Lord can redeem even the most hopeless situations. This song is most powerful when accompanied by a full band, but a solo piano or smaller ensemble also works well.

Our CCLI Top 100 vetting team offered a critique of this song for use in conversations among worship planning teams, with the primary concerns being that the actions of the Resurrection are a little confused here. Upon consulting Paul’s letters, we find that God the Father raised Christ the Son from the dead, and this song paints Jesus as the one who “conquered the grave.” This may be a small point, but it was offered as a concern because of the way in which songs affect the theological vocabulary of the church. Receiving a high score, it was still recommended for use in worship, and the yellow rating was given to encourage conversation about it in the local church.

Christ Is Risen

Brian Wren has written a celebration of Christ’s resurrection to the tune commonly associated with the Christmas carol, “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.” If your congregation sings both hymns, it becomes a way of providing a focus upon both the incarnation and resurrection. When singing, maintain the lilting character of the tune by placing stronger emphasis on the first beat of each measure. However, it is possible to still celebrate and keep a light, sensitive touch. More movement and direction is created when beginning the phrase “In the desert all-surrounding” softly and building through the ending. Congregations will become more engaged, and the texts are more memorable when you create ways for the people to be involved in music-making, not just singing pitches without nuance! Accompaniment is ideal with organ or piano, although many handbell settings also exist for this tune that might provide some inspiration in how to involve handbells in the accompaniment. One final tip: the meter is listed as 447.447 D, which will only include one tune for use in the metrical index of The United Methodist Hymnal. Also look to 87.87 D tunes for many distinct possibilities if you need another option. Read History of Hymns: "Christ is Risen" »

We Believe

At first glance, it may appear that the range of this song makes it unsingable by your congregation. However, there is a way to do it! My recommendation is to sing in the key of F, with the chorus down one octave from what is written in the vocal sheet found on the CCLI website. This puts the song within a comfortable range. A soloist from the band can offer the verses and invite the congregation to join in singing on the choruses and bridge. Accompany with piano, guitar, or band.

Make Us One

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and its director, Carol Cymbala, have long been a well-known fixture in contemporary gospel music. This short work in The Faith We Sing is a very singable chorus that needs to be sung quite slowly to allow the harmonies to develop completely and the vocal line to soar with sensitive phrasing. I recommend a metronome marking of quarter note = 48. Accompany on piano, organ, or rhythm section.

Singing this in conjunction with “Bind Us Together” will help focus on the scripture passage of the believers being “of one heart and soul.” Singing this while gathering at the table is a beautiful way of living as community.

Bind Us Together

This song offers a prayer for God to bind the church together with “cords that cannot be broken.” Singing this imperative statement creates an atmosphere of welcome, love, and unity if the church embodies the prayer. One note on the text: even though the theme is unity, the address in the song is a little ambiguous with allusions to one God, “King,” and body. It may come across in a Trinitarian spirit, but it is not actually Trinitarian. The CCLI Top 100 vetting team has uncovered a trend of using “King” language as a default in relation to Jesus, so it can be assumed that the “King” reference is to Jesus. There is no language in relation to the Holy Spirit. This is only highlighted to encourage conversation among your planning teams, and it is not enough reason to not sing the song. These kinds of considerations need to be discussed in your planning, and we encourage you to pursue these kinds of issues deeply, thoughtfully, and sensitively. The tune can transcend one genre or another, so accompaniment can vary between piano, organ, and rhythm section. Alternative, chromatic harmonies may also be substituted for a gospel feel.

He Lives

A favorite among many congregations, this Easter hymn calls us to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, even in the midst of weariness and tragedy. Oftentimes, congregations will balk when asked to sing above a D on the staff, but I have found “He Lives” to be an exception as the congregation will heartily sing a high F (with the added fermata, too) at the end of the refrain. Accompany with organ or brass ensemble if one is present for your worship services. The tempo will vary from context to context, depending on the style of music in the service. Whether fast or slow, make sure it has a joyful quality. Read History of Hymns: "He Lives" »

O Praise the Name (Anástasis)

The tune of this text is hauntingly similar to Twila Paris’s “Lamb of God” (TFWS 2113), and it makes a great song to sing during the Easter season. CCLI Top 100 Vetting Team member Nelson Cowan also made the very helpful discovery that the verses of this song are in long meter (88.88), and it is altogether possible to sing them with another tune and not include the chorus. If using the tune written for the text, however, note that it does have a fairly wide range. I would recommend lowering the key to Bb to accommodate for the higher tessitura of the chorus. Accompany with piano, guitar, or band.

In This Series...

Second Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Fifth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Sixth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Seventh Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes


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In This Series...

Second Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Third Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Fifth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Sixth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Seventh Sunday of Easter 2018 — Planning Notes Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes