Blessing All Creatures: Bring It!

September 2018 Post-Pentecost Worship Planning Series

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018, Year B

As we wrap up this series, offering a call to action is appropriate. To be effective, however, we need knowledge about what the Bible says about care for creation and how we live it out in practical ways. It means starting, or as the theme for the week suggests, “Christians must bring it!”  We must also remember to bathe our teaching and practice with grace, so that others feel they can begin this journey with us.

Season of Creation Worship Series — BLESSING ALL CREATURES: Bring It!
September 30, 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.


Source: Songs of Zion, 191
Recommended Key: D
Tempo: 60-76 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or gospel rhythm section/band
Notes: This work by Margaret Pleasant Douroux (well known for “Give Me a Clean Heart,” among other works) would be a great possibility as a theme song throughout the Season of Creation. You will notice the range in tempo is quite wide to accommodate the balance of authentic and contextual performance practice. The link in the resources below is to a video of Minister Keith Pringle and the Pentecostal Community Choir, which is a slow, driving setting of this song. Should you choose to use this in your setting on this day or throughout the season, we advocate singing “the God who made the trees” and “the life God wants me to live.”
Resources: Watch a Songs of Zion YouTube video »

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Source: Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 30; Come, Let Us Worship, 81; The United Methodist Hymnal, 140
Recommended Key: D
Tempo: 92-96 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or band
Notes: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is one of the longest-running hymns on CCLI’s Top 100 songs as reported from use in churches. This is primarily because of the assurance that God has been, is, and will always be faithful to God’s people. We, in turn, must also be faithful. This hymn can be sung in any setting, primarily because it is so well-known.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" »

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

Source: The Faith We Sing, 2053
Recommended Key: E
Tempo: 62-64 bpm
Instrumentation: Gospel rhythm section, piano, or organ
Notes: Another work by Margaret P. Douroux (songwriter of “Trees” and “Give Me a Clean Heart”), this song embraces the text of Psalm 124 in a swing, gospel style. The melodic nature of the refrain will keep this song humming in the ears of congregants long after worship ends. Keep the tempo steady and with a triplet feel on each beat to allow for the swing character to shine.
Resources: History of Hymns: "If It Had Not Been for the Lord" »

Saranam, Saranam

Source: Come, Let Us Worship, 105; The United Methodist Hymnal, 523
Recommended Key: E
Tempo: 88-92 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: This Pakistani hymn might surprise you with its traditional-hymn styled format and sound. Singing the word “Saranam” in this modern era puts Pakistani words on the lips of the global church, which is very important considering the amount of conflict in that region in the past decades. The Tamil word “Saranam” means “Refuge,” and it points directly to the text of Psalm 124 and the loving protection of God.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Saranam, Saranam" »

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Source: Songs of Zion, 32; The United Methodist Hymnal, 519
Recommended Key: A (SOZ) or G (UMH)
Tempo: 132 (eighth note)
Instrumentation: Piano, organ, or rhythm section
Notes: A monumental hymn in African-American churches across the country, this hymn by the creator of God’s Trombones, James Weldon Johnson, is a rousing call for people to praise the God of hope and freedom. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” recalls the “dark past” (stanza 1) and the power of God to liberate and bring people to victory. In addition to its place in African American history, the hymn is full of narrative imagery, and the music is incredibly dramatic. Singing this hymn takes some time because of the long text and slow tempo required to sing it appropriately.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Lift Every Voice and Sing" »

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Source: CCLI #2335500
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 100 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, piano, or guitar
Notes: This modern reworking of a classic Isaac Watts hymn and tune by William Croft leaves most of the widely known hymn intact but adds a chorus that offers different images of God, ending appropriately with the Ancient of Days. The key has been lowered substantially from other settings in hymn collections because of the range of the refrain. This puts the range of the stanzas in a much lower range for congregations than many will be accustomed to. Accompaniment can work with a band, but to accommodate the sound and texture of the band, the chords have been simplified in CCLI’s setting of this. A piano and light instrumental ensemble will also work well.
Resources: History of Hymns: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (Hawn) »
History of Hymns: "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" (Goocey) »

Stand By Me

Source: Songs of Zion, 41; The United Methodist Hymnal, 512
Recommended Key: E
Tempo: 56-60 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or gospel rhythm section
Notes: There are a couple of ways to sing this classic hymn from gospel hymn writer and prominent Methodist pastor, Charles Albert Tindley. One approach would be to sing the eighth notes straight, and as indicated in Songs of Zion, reverently. A choir could sing a cappella or with organ accompaniment. However, it is also possible to sing this with a slight swing, as indicated in The United Methodist Hymnal. Either way, our need for God’s presence and the message of God’s deliverance are apparent.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Standy By Me" »

One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)

Source: CCLI #5508444
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 72-78 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, piano, or guitar
Notes: In this modern song, the assurance of God’s unending love gives strength in times of adversity. If needed, spend less time in the interlude between verses, and simply eliminate whatever measures might be helpful in encouraging congregational singing in your context.(Unless it is intentional, don’t leave the congregation standing with nothing to do!)
Resources: Discipleship Ministries’ CCLI Top 100 Project Notes »

In This Series...

September 2, 2018 — Planning Notes September 9, 2018 — Planning Notes Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2018 — Planning Notes