Lent 2018 Worship Planning Series

Third Sunday in Lent 2018, Year B

At some point, we have to take that step of faith and just do it, whether we think we can or not, whether we are afraid or not, whether we think it might kill us or not. The good news is that we don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t have to work the program alone. God promises to be with us in our journey.


Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive (UMH 390)

A few approaches of this haunting text and melody are possible, depending on which one might be most fitting for your setting. One option is to have an organ or bass-clef string instrument hold an open D/A drone while the melody is sung in unison (this can also be sung as a round, with each part beginning after two measures). Another choice would be to alter the time signature and rhythm to 3/2, but keep the melody the same (to understand the feel, make the A in the first phrase a dotted half note, and the subsequent F a quarter note in a 3/2 meter). The final option would be to simply sing it as written. The text and melody are both solid and idiomatic enough to ensure a somber and meditative atmosphere to begin worship. Read History of Hymns: "Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive" »

Perdon, Señor (Forgive Us, Lord) [TFWS 2134]

A wonderfully simple accompaniment is provided in the Accompaniment Edition of The Faith We Sing for this sung intercessory prayer. If you have a choir in your church, instruct them to sing the congregational words, “Forgive us, Lord/Perdón, Señor,” in four-part harmony. It is possible to allow the congregational parts to serve as a cyclic song that would easily turn into a short statement akin to a breath prayer. A song leader or soloist should sing the intercessions. Treat this song as a true intercessory prayer, and create intercessions that are poignant to your church and community. Accompany with guitar, organ, or piano.

Thy Word Is a Lamp (UMH 601)

Many people in both modern and traditional worship circles know the names Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. This classic song of theirs appears in The United Methodist Hymnal within the section, “The Book of the Church: Holy Scripture.” The song can serve the church well as a prayer of illumination, as it is in this service today. It is tempting to play the notes as written in the hymnal, but if an alternate accompaniment is a possibility, pursue it by having a strummed guitar and/or piano, but without the melody. The voice is always the best way to lead, and a simple, pulsing accompaniment from a keyboard will help support the congregation. Also add light percussion if available. Read History of Hymns: "Thy Word is a Lamp" »

Come, Holy Ghost, Our Hearts Inspire (UMH 603)

This sung prayer of illumination by Charles Wesley is a request for the Holy Ghost to come and be present in the reading of Scripture, its understanding, and the living of its eternal truths. If you have a choir who is interested in a cappella singing, this tune is a great place to start. It is a simple chorale, but the bass part can be tricky without a strong bass section. Accompaniment on organ or piano is also recommended, and a flute would also be a great addition on the melody, or an improvised line based upon the melody.

Word of God, Speak (W&S 3184 or CCLI #3912788)

This modern prayer of illumination can be found on the CCLI website and in Worship & Song. The song itself is a request and a question that simply asks for God to be present through the reading and hearing of Scripture. Appropriate for both worship and private devotion, this song allows space for prayer. The ideal key for most worship settings is printed in Worship & Song––the key of A––but Bb would also work well.

Trust and Obey (UMH 467)

What does it mean “to be happy in Jesus?” This would be an interesting question to ask the congregation before singing this hymn. Regarding the Rehab theme of this Lenten worship series, many people struggling in the midst of brokenness seek to be “happy,” but being “happy in Jesus” might allude to a deeper, abiding sense of joy that is not a superficial feeling. Trusting and obeying Jesus is a lifelong endeavor of discipleship based upon a relationship and discipline of following. As explained here, singing this hymn might take a little explanation and discernment before singing it to avoid a numbness of familiarity that focuses more on being happy than trusting and obeying. Accompaniment can vary from organ to piano or guitar. Read History of Hymns: "Trust and Obey" »

Trust and Obey (CCLI #5192764)

This song from Hillsong Music Publishing presents a statement that is different from the previous “Trust and Obey,” but it still includes the commitment to follow Jesus. The rhythm and melody combination in the verses is a bit tricky, but the chorus and bridge are easily singable in an appropriate range. The original key of G is too high, so lowering to the key of D will both assist the vocal range and still offer a great key accessible to most bands. Accompaniment can be full band to solo piano or guitar, but percussion would also be an excellent addition.

Love the Lord (W&S 3116)

Lincoln Brewster has created what has proven to be one of the best songs to teach Scripture to a congregation from young to old. The rhythm is difficult when played by instruments, but the voice smooths this out and makes it easier to sing when not doubled by a piano. In a typical vacation Bible school style, I usually add hand motions to “heart,” “soul,” “mind,” and “strength” to assist the learning and interaction while singing. I have often truncated the bridge by cutting the rhythms in half (This begins with the words, “I will love you”). Sing two measures and invite the congregation to echo each phrase. Accompaniment can vary from solo guitar or piano to full band.

O Jesus, I Have Promised (UMH 396)

What better way to commit to “a program” than by making a pledge or a promise. Serving Jesus is the basis for this commitment. As it is hopefully becoming evident in this worship series, rehabilitation takes an investment from us as God has also invested in us. Songs of commitment play an important role in this series as a part of this rehabilitation and transformation. The score in The United Methodist Hymnal is a very traditional setting, so explore how you might make it creative! It is such a personal text that it might be effective to print out the text on a bookmark or other keepsake to give to the congregation as they depart as a call to remember their commitment. Read History of Hymns: "O Jesus, I Have Promised" »

Now Thank We All Our God (UMH 102)

If this chorale is chosen as an act of thanksgiving following Communion, I recommend singing only stanza 3 as a way to transition into Communion. This particular stanza is a doxological expression of thankfulness. Recommended accompaniment would be organ or piano, although a unison melody with a band and fewer, less frequent chord changes is also possible. Read History of Hymns: "Now Thank We All Our God" »

View and download the score with melody and chords only »

Thank You (CCLI #5637487)

This fairly simple modern worship song offers thanks for the works of God and is relatively easy to sing. The only hiccup is that the phrases in the verses are separated by complete measures of rest. Without confident and clear leadership, this can make musical entrances shaky and uneasy, which can easily thwart congregational singing (not many in your congregation want to sing a solo because of a rest). The original key of C works well with congregational singing, but the instruments need to crescendo into the chorus to help support singing in a higher range. Accompaniment can range from piano or solo guitar to full band.

What Does the Lord Require of You (TFWS 2174)

Singing this song during Communion helps embody the incarnational spirit of the ritual, with the body of Christ gathering to dine in the presence of the Holy Spirit. There are requirements when we come to the Table and follow Christ, but they are requirements that are not restrictive. They give life, and give it abundantly: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NRSV). Doing these things creates space at Christ’s Table, so this song becomes quite poignant within this rite. Jim Strathdee has written the song to be a round (like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”), and The Faith We Sing gives instructions with which choral parts to enter and in what order. If you do not have a choir, but you have three leaders who are confident, it is also possible to teach this to a congregation and sing completely through in canon (as you might in “Dona Nobis Pacem,” UMH 376), although it might also take a few weeks of learning to become comfortable with it. A simple accompaniment is provided in the Accompaniment Edition of The Faith We Sing. Read History of Hymns: "What Does the Lord Require of You" »

If you are interested in a different choral setting of this text for your choir, be sure to consider this new composition from Tom Council.

Find Us Faithful (CCLI #18259)

One of the most important means of support in the process of rehabilitation is encouragement from friends and family. In this song, we find this to be most true of the kinship we share within the family of God. Keep the accompaniment simple, but move toward a musical climax at the key change. The original keys of D and E are recommended for congregational singing. A piano, guitar, band, or small ensemble are all possibilities for accompaniment.

We Will Follow (Somlandela) [W&S 3160]

This short, cyclic song in the Zulu language has an almost marching quality that serves as the perfect setting as a sending forth in this service. This is among the easier of some songs from other cultures to teach to your congregation if you should choose to sing the Zulu text. Pronunciation is as follows:

Sohm-lahn-deh-la Sohm-lahn-dehl oo-Jeh-soo
Sohm-lahn-deh-la Yahn-keh een-dah-woh
Sohm-lahn-deh-la Sohn-lahn-dehl oo-Jeh-soo
Lah-poh eh-yah-koh-nah sohm-lahn-deh-la

If your choir is interested in singing songs that help work their way into singing more selections a cappella, this is a wonderful option to use. The parts are easy, accessible, and repetitive. Another way to sing this would be for the choir to sing the Zulu text, and then have the congregation sing in English when they are invited to sing. The preferred performance practice for this hymn would be to sing it a cappella, along with a variety of drums and percussion for rhythmic vitality and intensity. However, if that is not an option, it can also be accompanied by organ or piano. Encourage clapping on all beats, and have the song leader sing the cantor part at the end of each stanza to signal a repeat.

Whatever You Do (W&S 3128)

Singing this hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette calls the congregation to care for those in their midst who are poor, hungry, thirsty, in prison, or struggling in other ways. For in serving them, we are serving Christ. Even if this text is unfamiliar to your congregation, the tune might not be. Many people know CRADLE SONG as the “alternate” tune to “Away in a Manger.” It might be especially powerful if taught and led by children. They may be more familiar with this tune than the adults! Accompany with organ, piano, or arpeggiated guitar. Use of a lyrical treble instrument (flute/violin/oboe), along with a sonorous bass clef instrument (cello) will also add to the sensitivity of the tune.

I Would Be True

Another hymn of commitment, this title is not found in United Methodist collections, but it is in the public domain, and you may find it at Sing this hymn as an option similar to “Whatever You Do.” It gives the congregation the option to accept the task of serving others as they move from worship in the church into the world. Ideal accompaniment would be an organ or a piano.