Season of Creation Worship Series — SKY SUNDAY: Dominion and Exploitation
September 16, 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 »
Cantemos al Señor (Let’s Sing Unto the Lord)
Source: Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 49; Come, Let Us Worship, 67; The United Methodist Hymnal, 149
Recommended Key: D minor
Tempo: 94-100 bpm
Instrumentation: Guitar, percussion, piano, treble wind instruments
Notes: This lively and bold song has a driving spirit that makes it a joyous and celebratory song of praise for God’s creation. I strongly encourage having the congregation sing at least part of the song in Spanish. The verses can be challenging for a non-Spanish-speaking congregation, but the estribillo (refrain) is quite accessible! A soloist can be used to sing the stanzas if needed, and—again—Spanish is encouraged. If a translation is needed, simply direct the congregation to follow along in the hymnal. If you have skilled percussionists, encourage them to play 2 against 3 rhythms when possible.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Cantanemos al Señor (Let's Sing Unto the Lord)" »
Across the Lands
Source: Worship & Song, 3032
Recommended Key: D
Tempo: 60-64 bpm (dotted quarter)
Instrumentation: Piano or full band
Notes: This Getty/Townend contribution has an Irish lilt with the 6/8 meter. The hymn is a song of praise to God for creation and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even if just an acoustic guitar is used to accompany this song, consider adding a cajon, shakers, or other percussion to accentuate the driving rhythm.
Resources: Watch a YouTube video of "Across the Lands" »
God of Wonders
Source: Worship & Song, 3034
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 72-80 bpm
Instrumentation: Full band, guitar, or piano
Notes: This modern song was made known by the band Third Day and is a modern interpretation of the heavens singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” as found in the book of Revelation. Consider joining in singing the first stanza of “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” (UMH 64) or “¡Santo! ¡Santo! ¡Santo!” (UMH 65) as the conclusion of this work. The key would need to change to D, which is a very accessible transition from the key of G.
Resources: Watch a YouTube video of "God of Wonders" »
God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens
Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 150
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 110-116 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or guitar
Notes: This hymn embraces the connection between theology and science by exploring atoms, “inventive powers,” and the “realms of space.” Like many shape-note tunes, there are lots of options for instrumentation because of the pentatonic scale. Consider finding a way to involve children in the leading of this hymn through Orff instruments, small handbells, or even wind chimes, which can “twinkle” like the stars in the sky.
Resources: History of Hymns: "God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens" (Hawn) »
History of Hymns: "God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens" (Barnhart) »
Let All Things Now Living
Source: The Faith We Sing, 2008
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 108-112 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: This hymn places the congregation amidst creation as God set “stars in their courses” and ordered the universe. The tempo on this hymn needs to stay consistent near 110 beats per minute. At that tempo, challenge the choir to sing eight-measure phrases, and the congregation may follow suit. The tune is light, fun, and accessible.
Resources: History of Hymns: "Let All Things Now Living" »
This Is God’s Wondrous World
Source: The Upper Room Worshipbook, 71
Recommended Key: D or E♭
Tempo: 104-108 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: If you have never chosen this alternative to “This Is My Father’s World” (UMH 144), you should! The language is more inclusive, but even more so, the addition of the word “wondrous” adds a curiosity and awe that is not present in the original hymn. Sing with joy, and keep the tempo moving forward. Don’t let every dotted half note become stagnant. Crescendo through the held note in the second measure of each phrase.