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Speak, O Lord (CCLI # 4615235)
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend have crafted a beautiful song that may be used in many places in worship. Today, we recommend using it as the entrance to worship. The staggered entrances recommended in the rubrics will help the congregation sing this if it is unfamiliar. The ideal key is C, and it may be accompanied in a number of ways, whether guitar, piano, organ, band, or other ensemble. The melody is very lyrical and could also be highlighted by a string instrument such as a violin or cello. An ideal tempo would be quarter note = 64-68, as this will allow the melody to soar, but keep the pace where the congregation can easily navigate breathing through the phrases.
O Lord, Hear My Prayer (TFWS 2200)
As with many songs from the Taizé Community in France, this work is short and cyclic and is written to be sung repetitively. Because the written vocal parts are so simple, it is very tempting for a pianist, organist, or guitarist to play an accompaniment that is too florid and complex. Less is more with these simple songs! Do not make the accompaniment overpower the choral harmony. If possible in your context, sing in four parts, supported by a choir. The melody alone can also suffice, however, and is very accessible for congregations to sing softly and meditatively.
You Inhabit the Praises of Your People (Africana Hymnal 4024)
This short song of praise is a perfect way to open a medley of thanksgiving to God. The rhythms are slightly syncopated, but the melody is very motivic and easily learned and can be led by a soloist, choir, praise team, or other vocal ensemble. The suggested tempo is quarter note = 50, and the accompaniment can vary from piano to rhythm section or full band. An organ will also work, but it will require some slight improvisation from what is found within the accompaniment score. Before transitioning to “Thank You, Lord,” a modulation to the key of G will also be needed. Here is a simple example that can be played as the word “you” is sung in the final measure (singing the final note as a half note instead of a dotted half note):
Thank You, Lord (UMH 84)
This gospel chorus must be sung passionately at a slow pace. If able, allow a choir to sing in four-part harmony to accompany the congregation, and be sure to put space between “thank” and “you,” as written by William Farley Smith, in measure 7. If you have a soloist who is confident with improvisation alongside the congregational singing, encourage her/him to sing a very short introduction every time before the congregation begins singing. On the last repetition of the song, repeat the penultimate measure multiple times and allow a soloist to improvise over the singing before transitioning to the last measure and the next song. Don’t be afraid to use piano, organ, bass, and drums all at the same time to make the singing of this brief chorus authentic and full. This song is very accessible, however, to congregations of all sizes and abilities and will make a great middle piece of this thanksgiving medley. View and download the Lead Sheet »
I Thank You, Jesus (W&S 3037)
This rousing hymn from Worship & Song has quickly become a favorite in many congregations and serves as an effective expression of thanksgiving. The repeated text, “You brought me from a mighty long way,” is a sung Ebenezer of sorts and echoes to numerous Scriptures of God’s deliverance, including 1 Samuel 7:12 and 2 Samuel 7:18. Be sure not to sing this hymn too fast. Allow the music to swing, which can easily be done in this 12/8 meter. Any number of instruments may accompany this selection, including organ, piano, drums, bass, and electric guitar. Read the "I Thank You, Jesus" Hymn Study »
Here I Am, Lord (UMH 593)
This classic from Dan Schutte is a hymn many United Methodists know by heart. It is a favorite of many from The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989, and it is often sung in gatherings and worship services in churches of all sizes across the United Methodist connection. The hymn serves as a call to discipleship and mission, and singing it requires a willingness to answer the call of God by saying, “Here I am, Lord.” The hymn can easily be accompanied by organ, piano, or band and is best supported when sung as suggested, with the stanzas in unison and the refrain in four-part harmony. Read History of Hymns: "Here I Am, Lord" »