Mystery Worship Series — DISORIENTED
October 6, 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.
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
Source: CCLI #6016351
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 68–74 bpm
Instrumentation: Band, piano, or guitar
Notes: This modern worship song is recommended as a theme song for the “Mystery” series. It contains themes of strength, hope, and blessing in the midst of tribulation; and among many other modern selections, it is widely known. It can be sung as a stand-alone song, as a part of a longer worship set, or the refrain only can be used as a Psalm response.
Blessed Be the Name
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 63
Recommended Key: G–A
Tempo: 100-106 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, guitar, a cappella, full band, or bluegrass band
Notes: This camp meeting chorus has lots of possibilities for use in worship, including serving as a stand-alone hymn or as a medley with another song choice (including “Blessed Be Your Name” at the end of this list). Because of its short, cyclic structure, it could easily be used as a congregational response in another part of the liturgy, including a psalm or other reading. A number of keys would work, but the range I have suggested above would make an easy transition to many other songs.
How Firm a Foundation
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 529
Recommended Key: A♭
Tempo: 60-70 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: Though the genesis of this text is largely from Isaiah, it still points toward similar tribulations from the Job passage this week. The assurance and strength of the closing statement, “I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake,” will give the congregation a “firm foundation” and will likely linger on their lips and in their ears when they suffer or are connected with others who are suffering. The tempo of the song will likely be dictated by a combination of the skill of the accompanist and choir and the acoustics of the space itself.
Resources: History of Hymns: "How Firm a Foundation" »
How Firm a Foundation - Choral setting (Henry)
I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
Source: Songs of Zion, 95; Come, Let Us Worship, 104; The United Methodist Hymnal, 521; The Upper Room Worshipbook, 110
Recommended Key: Bm–Dm
Tempo: Varies, depending on setting
Instrumentation: a cappella, organ, piano, rhythm section, or full band
Notes: The nature and character of this song has been approached a variety of different ways, but it is important to acknowledge that spirituals were originally led by the voice only, with accompanying movement and possible percussion, either with instruments or body-generated (hand claps, stomps, etc.). The tempo could largely be defined in this case as to the character of the “walk” with Jesus. How will it be described and embodied in the service where you are? How can you embrace the original ethos of the spiritual even if using a band? For starters, make sure the song leaders are not being flippant; the song must be sung earnestly, with a yearning quality.
I Will Trust in the Lord
Source: Songs of Zion, 14; Come, Let Us Worship, 292; The United Methodist Hymnal, 464
Recommended Key: F–G
Tempo: Varies, depending on setting
Instrumentation: A cappella, piano, organ, or rhythm section
Notes: Again, a cappella singing is the original method of singing spirituals, but other options and settings are available. Singing this spiritual at a tempo of 90–96 bpm is a middle ground of sorts, with possibilities for slower and faster performance practice. The indication in Songs of Zion is to sing slowly, but the tempo indicated above allows for a slight swing. Either approach is acceptable, depending on the desired nature of the song and the flow of worship surrounding it.
Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
Source: Songs of Zion, 170 (and 171); The United Methodist Hymnal, 520
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 48–56 bpm
Instrumentation: a cappella
Notes: Three distinct settings of this spiritual exist in Songs of Zion and The United Methodist Hymnal. Textual and musical differences are present in these settings, and it may take some careful selection to choose the right one for worship in your setting. The music is more accessible in the settings in Songs of Zion, but if your choir reads and sings well a cappella, you may choose the setting in The United Methodist Hymnal. The text differences may also influence your decision. Note that any of these would also make effective and dramatic solos for an unaccompanied or lightly accompanied vocalist.
We’ll Understand It Better By and By
Source: Songs of Zion, 55; Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 317; The United Methodist Hymnal, 525
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 80–86 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or rhythm section
Notes: It is possible to sing this hymn in a variety of tempos (depending on the nature and context of the worship service), but it is best to make sure the tempo is not too fast to support the words. Also, it is often appropriate to sing an alternate rhythm than the one listed in our hymnal collections.
Resources: Read History of Hymns: "We'll Understand It Better By and By" »
Blessed Be Your Name
Source: Worship & Song, 3002; CCLI #3798438
Recommended Key: A–B
Tempo: 112–120 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, piano, or guitar with percussion
Notes: This modern worship song is one of the most widely sung works in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) repertoire, but it is one many people also avoid because of the bridge: “You give and take away.” This statement may not be a part of your theological vocabulary, and you wouldn’t be alone. However, this week it may be appropriate to unpack it a bit when sung with this Scripture passage from Job. In a sermon or small-group resource, you might find a better opportunity to discuss this phrase and its use in Job 1:21. The song can therefore support the discussion effectively.
Resources: Read History of Hymns: "Blessed Be Your Name" »