Here it is, the end of the Christian year! By now, we’ve all spent time looking back at our lives pre-pandemic, while keeping our eyes to the future when we can gather again in person and sing in worship. So now, here we are; and there is now.
These last three Sundays of the Christian year start to lean into the season of Advent, which is a messy mixture of the past, the present, and the future. It’s the salvation story wrapped in swaddling clothes. It’s a cry in the wilderness, and it’s the cooing sounds of a mother. Advent is waiting (how long, O Lord?); it’s hoping and lighting a candle that reminds us that we are here, and God is here. But we aren’t there yet; but there is now.
Your worship may be different this November, so as we look at some songs, be mindful of how your congregation can experience them in a new way that is nourishing, enriching, and relevant.
One theme for November centers on being ready, again starting to lean into Advent. Two great songs are “I Want to be Ready,” 722 in the United Methodist Hymnal, and “Keep Your Lamps,” which can be found as a two-part anthem at https://www.jwpepper.com/Keep-Your-Lamps-Trimmed-and-Burning/3301917.item#/ and https://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=keep+your+lamps%2C+thomas. Both have resources for teaching and performing these anthems.
Hymns that work well with this series and that can provide some musical structure to these three weeks include: “Come, Now is the Time to Worship,” 3176 in Worship & Song; “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me,” 2153; The Faith We Sing; and “All Who Hunger,” 2126, The Faith We Sing.
For the Reign of Christ Sunday (November 22), “Crown Him with Many Crowns” is well-known and beloved. It is found in The United Methodist Hymnal at 327 and in Spanish in Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 157. Finally, a great song for this last Sunday is “What Does the Lord Require of You” found in The Faith We Sing, 2174. There is another version that can be sung by the choir and/or taught to the congregation found in the songbook Roll Down Justice by Mark Miller. Click here for more information.
As we wrap up Year A of the Christian year, let’s be mindful of the blessings of this year as well as its challenges, giving thanks and praise to our Creator God who holds together all time and space.