Dwellings Worship Series, week 4 — LOVE
November 25, 2018
The following selections are congregational songs (most of which are chosen from this week’s Hymn Suggestions) with notes on key, tempo, and instrumentation, along with some practical and creative considerations in singing.
Alpha and Omega
Source: The Africana Hymnal, 4029
Recommended Key: D♭ or D
Tempo: 72–80 bpm
Instrumentation: a cappella, organ, piano, or full band
Notes: It is important to note that the focus of this song is for praise to God, the Alpha and Omega, and therefore should be approached in a tempo slow enough to embody reverence, even in the climax (“We give you all the glory”). If your choir sings in four-part harmony, make the most of this, but don’t allow the long notes to become static. They always need to move and grow as they are sustained. This song would be ideal as the closing song of an opening worship set, or even as a song of dedication as a response following the proclamation.
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, Nos. 154, 155; Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 60
Recommended Key: F (CORONATION); A (DIADEM)
Tempo: 96–106 bpm (either tune)
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: Both tunes for this hymn are widely known throughout the church, and one recommendation is to consult The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement and sing all six stanzas, with a modulation (printed in the supplement) between the printed keys of the tunes. This allows the congregation to sing both tunes (e.g., stanzas 1-3 with CORONATION and stanzas 4-6 with DIADEM), which are both energetic and rousing choruses.
Resources: History of Hymns: "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" »
Cristo Vive, Fuera el Llanto
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 313
Recommended Key: E minor
Tempo: 82–90 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or guitar
Notes: Pablo Sosa has created an energetic tune to be paired with this text, which speaks of Christ’s resurrection and power to overcome “death and darkness.” The singing of this hymn should be bold, with eighth notes slightly separated and quarter notes accented. Incorporating percussion instruments (hand drums, tambourines, etc.) can also add energy to the melody.
Days of Elijah
Source: Worship & Song, 3186
Recommended Key: G or A♭
Tempo: 88–94 bpm
Instrumentation: Band, guitar, or piano
Notes: The part of this song recommended for use in worship is the refrain only, which contains imagery of Jesus “coming with the clouds” from Revelation 1:7. This refrain could be used as a brief response within the liturgy–even a sung response to the reading of Scripture for the day. However, I do not recommend singing the entire song because of the strongly negative binary created in the stanzas between “darkness” and “white.”
Resources: Day of Elijah Hymn Study »
Freedom Is Coming
Source: The Faith We Sing, 2192
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 96–100 bpm
Instrumentation: a cappella with percussion
Notes: Any time “Freedom Is Coming” is included as a congregational song, it is vital to share the context from which this song arose–a freedom song of the apartheid era of South Africa in the twentieth century. Singing this song must be done sensitively, as should all songs that have arisen as a voice in the midst of oppression. If we sing this song without acknowledging the role it has played in global history, we are participating in cultural appropriation–taking a cultural expression that is a part of the identity of a people and making it our own. Incorporate the song as a voice to stand in solidarity with those who are persecuted. If your choir can sing in four parts, engage them to do so with djembes and shakers accompanying. If your choir would like to sing in four parts but hasn’t previously, this is a great song to begin that journey. If possible, teach by rote.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Freedom is Coming" »
King of Kings
Source: The Faith We Sing, 2075
Recommended Key: E minor
Tempo: 120 bpm (first time); 136 bpm (second time) 152 bpm (third time)
Instrumentation: Guitar, piano, percussion, flute, violin, or clarinet
Notes: Written in somewhat of a klezmer style, this short, simple canon is easily singable by most any congregation. It is possible to sing this short song as is without singing the canon. If your church is up to the challenge, however, divide the congregation in two parts–left and right, women and men, bass and treble voices, etc.–and do the same with the choir if that is a resource you have in worship. Each time you repeat the song, increase the tempo. The children will especially love the increased excitement each time!
Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 718
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 62–68 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: Charles Wesley’s classic text contains vivid imagery associated with the coming of Jesus in Revelation 1. HELMSLEY is a regal tune to pair with this text and is most appropriate for Christ the King Sunday. A vocal descant of the tune can be found in The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement. If this tune is unfamiliar with your congregation, the text can also be paired with 87.87.87 tunes such as CWM RHONDDA, PICARDY, or REGENT SQUARE. If using these tunes, the last two lines (beginning with “Hallelujah”) need to be manipulated to fit the tune. This can be done by eliminating the text in the first two measures at the top of the second page of the hymn (for instance, only using the following text: “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God appears on earth to reign.”). With the CWM RHONDDA tune, it would also be necessary to repeat the last phrase of text within each stanza.
Resources: History of Hymns (Hawn);
History of Hymns (Dougherty)
Better Is One Day
Source: CCLI #1097451
Recommended Key: E
Tempo: 72-76 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, piano, or guitar
Notes: One of the most popular CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) songs to have come from the 1990s, Matt Redman’s classic has been adapted across cultural lines and in different styles. We recommend this song of adoration as a possible theme song throughout the “Dwellings” series. Keep the rhythm of the accompaniment simple while the congregation sings the chorus, which resembles a rhythmic chant.
Soon and Very Soon
Source: Songs of Zion, 198; The United Methodist Hymnal, 706; Come, Let Us Worship, 385
Recommended Key: F–G
Tempo: 64–76 bpm (half-note)
Instrumentation: Full band, rhythm section, piano, or organ
Notes: This well-known gospel song of the late twentieth century is another suggestion for a theme song for this series, especially considering the hope found throughout these scriptural narratives, beginning with All Saints and ending with the Reign of Christ. The wide tempo suggested is based upon the variety of contexts in which it can be used.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Soon and Very Soon" »
Dwell in Your House
Source: CCLI #3001637
Recommended Key: A
Tempo: 92–100 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, guitar, or piano
Notes: Another suggested theme song, this work from Hillsong turns the image of “dwelling” into where we may dwell with God. Inviting the congregation to sing the entire song or just the chorus are both appropriate approaches to this modern worship song.
Lord Reign in Me
Source: CCLI #2490706
Recommended Key: B♭–C
Tempo: 92–96 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band or guitar with percussion
Notes: The final suggested theme song for this month, this text brings together the images of God’s dwelling place and the Reign of Christ into one song. The rhythmic, memorable chorus will “dwell” in your ear long after the sending forth is concluded. Using a percussion instrument with whatever is used for pitched accompaniment will help make the rhythmic syncopation throughout the song more accessible for the congregation.