Faith that Makes Us Strong | IN THE NAME OF JESUS WORSHIP SERIES
Christ Has Risen
Continuing the tradition of the Easter proclamation, “Christ is risen!”, John Bell of the Iona Community and Wild Goose Resource Group has created a hymn that embraces this Easter greeting. Each stanza begins with the words, “Christ has risen.” Ever the wordsmith, Bell gives the congregation the opportunity to sing words that don’t appear in hymns often — “messed or mangled,” “all who find religion strange”— each word with its own prophetic power as it is sung. The juxtaposition of the text and tune creates an interesting commentary in combining such an edgy, modern text, with an old, shape-note tune. However, HOLY MANNA creates a lively setting for the text, and particularly frames the end of the first stanza well with the melodic line in the last phrase: “Christ is risen, God is here!” The exclamation isn’t lost within the tune here, and the pairing of text and tune is well chosen. Accompany with organ, piano, guitar, or even a full band. The wonderful element of shape-note, pentatonic (5-note) hymn writing is the adaptability of the tune to fit any context.
Healer of Our Every Ill
Marty Haugen has created a text and tune that both provide comfort and yearning in equal measure. Words such as “fears and sadness” and “pain” echo the cry of those who suffer, but the refrain and tune are filled with hope. I would recommend taking a slight lift at the end of the fourth measure of each stanza (after the words “gladness,” “unfolding,” “brother,” and “healing”) to allow time to aurally shift from the F natural to the F# in the next measure. If the text is to offer a word of hope, the singing must embody that as well. Use a legato, lyrical approach when singing and inviting the congregation to sing. It is also possible for a soloist to sing the stanzas with the congregation on the refrain. Accompany with piano, organ, or guitar.
More than Conquerors
The Rend Collective has created a song that incorporates the message of Romans 8:37: “...In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (NRSV). Like many of their compositions, the tune has a driving, defiant rhythm to support the Christus Victor approach of the text. Music and worship leaders are presented with the opportunity to add a healthy dose of percussion to accompany singing, and polyrhythm is a distinct possibility (in this case, 2 against 3). If you have access to the vocal or lead sheets through CCLI’s SongSelect, you will notice a recommended tempo of dotted quarter = 105. If you compare this to the recording by Rend Collective, you will also notice that their performance tempo is much slower, around 70 bpm. The accompaniment possibilities here are endless, but guitar and percussion would be a great place to start. Piano and tin whistle would also be great!
Cristo Vive (Christ Is Risen)
An interesting work within The United Methodist Hymnal, this bold song proclaims the risen Christ while also offering a paraphrase of the familiar scripture from Luke 24:5, “Do not look among the dead for one who lives forevermore.” Keep a driving rhythm on the first and second beats of each measure, with the eighth notes slightly separated. The effect will be dramatic against the usual connectedness of much congregational singing. The melody is actually in E dorian mode, which will not make a great difference until the two C# notes near the end of each stanza. Prepare your choir for these so they can lead confidently. Accompany with guitar, piano, organ, and percussion.
The chorus of this song is the best part for the congregation to sing together. Since the song is almost completely Christocentric (not much fleshing out of doctrine related to God the Father and the Holy Spirit), I would recommend singing the chorus as a response to each section of the Apostles’ Creed, with a soft instrumental under the recitation of the creed itself. It could be a powerful way to combine singing with the internalization of this historic statement of faith. If the entire song is used, I would recommend a soloist on the verses. The original key of G is a good setting to keep the congregation in a singing range that is celebratory and well supported. Accompany with piano, guitar, or full band.
Author of Life Divine
Singing this short Charles Wesley hymn may very well make you wish it had more than two stanzas. In this case, however, the brevity adds to the poignancy of the text. The image of the “Author of Life” is used in the scripture this week from the book of Acts, and the hymn recalls the mystery of the meal and the image of the veil Moses used when communing with God. The tune has somewhat of a mysterious character, especially in the first half of each stanza. Accompany with a piano, guitar, or organ and a solo string instrument (violin, cello, etc.) if one is available. The Singer’s Edition of Worship & Song also includes a duet part that can effectively add to the nuance of the singing of this hymn. When singing during the receiving of Holy Communion, added improvisation on the tune or the incorporation of another hymn will most likely be necessary because of the brevity of the hymn. Read History of Hymns: "Author of Life Divine" »
The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
A powerful gospel hymn from Andraé Crouch, this modern classic will also “never lose its power.” It can be found in the UM collection, Zion Still Sings: For Every Generation. Singing this hymn this week effectively connects the power of communion with the healing power of faith in Jesus Christ. If it is unfamiliar to your congregation, this work also makes a powerful solo to be combined with the ritual action of the Eucharist. Do not sing too fast–take enough time to let the melody be lyrical and introspective. Improvisation on the melody is encouraged if a soloist or song leader is capable. Accompany with piano or a full gospel band with rhythm section.
Easter People, Raise Your Voices
The beauty of this hymn is that it helps us understand Easter as a vital part of who we are. Claiming the title “Christian” also comes with the understanding that we are “Easter people” who see Resurrection as a daily reality. This celebratory hymn can be sung boldly with the REGENT SQUARE tune, and there are many settings and accompaniments written on this tune for organ, piano, and other instrumental ensembles. The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement contains an alternate harmonization, descant, and Bb trumpet part for this hymn. Sing boldly at a tempo with good forward momentum (~96 bpm). Read History of Hymns: "Easter People, Raise Your Voices" »
Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
One of the reasons this song sits at or near the top of the CCLI Top 100 is because of its melody, which has found its way into the hearts of people around the globe. The text sings like a modern-day Psalm, with elements of time and eternity throughout the song, and the tune carries with it a large amount of aural recognition (the tune is very memorable) and is quite singable. The melodic lines have a variety of contours, with the chorus serving as the climax. The range reflects this change of dynamics throughout the song, and the congregation will be quick to sing along. The ideal accompaniment is a full band, but a solo piano or rhythm section will also suffice. The ideal key for congregational singing is E♭ or F.