First Sunday After Christmas Day 2018, Year C — Music Notes

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December 30, 2018 — First Sunday After Christmas Day

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.

Niño Lindo (Child So Lovely)

Source: Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 114; The United Methodist Hymnal, 222
Recommended Key: E minor
Tempo: 54–58 bpm
Instrumentation: Guitar or piano
Notes: The Spanish language sung in this hymn is so beautiful and is preferred over and above the English translation. If singing as a solo in Spanish in a primarily English-speaking context, invite the congregation to follow along with the English translation in the hymnal. Otherwise, teach at least the refrain in Spanish and invite the congregation to sing that each time, with soloists or choir on the stanzas.

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 229; Mil Voces Para Celebrar, 116; Come, Let Us Worship, 152
Recommended Key: G
Tempo: 88–96 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or guitar
Notes: Be sure to keep a gentle lilt with the triple meter when singing this work. Since it is only two stanzas, it will seem quite brief by the conclusion of the carol. The last two measures are listed as an interlude/ending, but it is also possible to repeat the closing phrase (“Christ the babe is Lord of all”/ “Christ the babe was born for you”).
ResourcesHistory of Hymns

Love Came Down at Christmas

Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 242
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 70–74 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: Poet Christina Rossetti has a couple of hymn texts in  The United Methodist Hymnal: “Love Came Down at Christmas” and “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Her hymn texts are very image- and metaphor-driven and serve as prominent representations of nineteenth-century British poetry. Sing with a simple tempo and tone, and allow the focus to reside on “Love” (a very Wesleyan practice of personifying Love) as the coming of Jesus.
Resources: History of Hymns

Once in Royal David’s City

Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 250; Come, Let Us Worship, 159
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 80–86 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ, piano, or acoustic ensemble
Notes:  One of my personal Christmas favorites, this hymn focuses on the humanity of Jesus and his ability to understand our human condition in the midst of his divinity. Following the lead of musicians like Sufjan Stevens, one of the best ways to accompany this hymn is with a folk, “grassroots” ensemble of guitar, mandolin, banjo, and brushed snare drum with a unison or harmonized melody.
Resources: History of Hymns
                    Lead sheet for acoustic ensemble

That Boy-Child of Mary

Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 241
Recommended Key: F
Tempo: 54–58 bpm (dotted quarter)
Instrumentation: a cappella with light percussion; organ or piano
Notes: The refrain for this song is easily learnable, and the stanzas are also quite accessible. The stanzas are short enough that the bulk of the aural memory will be centered upon the refrain after the singing of this song.
Resources: History of Hymns

We Would See Jesus

Source: The United Methodist Hymnal, 256; Come, Let Us Worship, 168
Recommended Key: B
Tempo: 56–60 bpm
Instrumentation: Organ or piano
Notes: This text focuses upon the birth, childhood, and ministry of Jesus. Sometimes the broad scope of the narrative found in the hymn can prove difficult in finding a good time for its use in worship, but this Sunday provides one such occasion to sing it heartily. A new folk setting by Jackson Henry is also available. In the first four stanzas, the melody is found in the bottom notes; but in the fifth stanza, the melody is found in the middle notes. The other harmony provided is optional. The tempo is very slow and is reminiscent of a slow, bluegrass ballad.
Resources: History of Hymns
                    Bluegrass Score by Jackson Henry