Fourth Sunday of Easter 2018 — Music Notes



Raised, He’s Been Raised from the Dead

This song from The Africana Hymnal is an exciting way to celebrate the season of Easter, especially at the beginning of worship. The piano score would be considered intermediate level, so be sure the pianist has plenty of time to look at it if practice time is required. In the 6/8 meter, invite the choir and/or congregation to clap on beats 2, 3, 5, and 6 to create a percussive, idiomatic feel for the song. Soloists and/or choir can sing the stanzas while the congregation joins in the refrain, or the congregation can sing the work in its entirety. Ideal accompaniment would be a gospel band of piano, bass, drums, and possibly even guitar and organ. However, a solo piano would also work. The voices will be required to lead since the piano score does not include the melody.

Easter Alleluia

We offer this title up this week as a possibility to follow “Raised, He’s Been Raised from the Dead,” although the pieces themselves are idiomatically quite different. Despite the fact that both are in 6/8 meter, the O FILII ET FILIAE tune definitely sounds and sings much more like the Renaissance tune it is. If your congregation is up from moving from gospel to Renaissance, however, jump in! This can also be a standalone piece for choirs and congregations as a processional. Whereas many people would automatically move to organ as accompaniment here, I would recommend strummed guitar, tambourine and/or hand drum, and recorder or flute. This will allow the tune to dance more while also providing energy to the pulse. The congregation will be able to sing the whole work in its entirety, but it is also easy to teach the refrain and have a soloist or choir sing the stanzas. Especially if this is offered as a processional, the refrain is easy enough to learn and sing while walking!

My Savior Lives

The tempo and melody of this song make it very energetic, and we encourage its use here to begin worship. The ideal key for congregational singing is A, although the original key of B could work in many contexts as well. The primary consideration for worship planners and leaders here is the variation in perspective. The song itself begins with “our” language and even uses the words “everyone together,” but quickly changes to “I” language. My recommendation here would be to encourage everyone to sing with “our” language in the song. Make note, however, that it is illegal to change words in song texts without the permission of the copyright holder. A simple instruction of “we will sing the words ‘we’ or ‘our’ every time ‘I’ is used” should suffice, whether that be spoken or included in a bulletin or slide. This might seem clumsy at first, but congregations can get used to these kinds of dynamics, and they are important!

Bless That Wonderful Name

This energetic song from The Africana Hymnal gives the congregation words of emphatic praise to bless the name of Jesus. The piano part is quite challenging, but it would also be possible to sing this song a cappella with percussion and hand claps. The piano adds another layer of interest, but singing it without harmonic instrumentation can also work well. If possible, clap on the offbeats and add some stomps on beats 1 and 3. For a more challenging clapping pattern, try stomping on the beats, with claps on the offbeats. Divide the vocal parts included in the collection as SAT, with any basses doubling the soprano part or singing falsetto with the tenors. If accompaniment is used, instrumentation can range from solo piano to full gospel band/rhythm section.

Blessed Be the Name

For the purposes of this service, it would be most helpful within the medley to sing this in the key of F (down a minor third). It would be possible to continue the tempo of “Bless That Wonderful Name” and segue to this song seamlessly. If accompaniment is used, it would also be possible to repeat this chorus, ascending keys each time. Another approach would be to divide the congregation and sing this in a round, beginning each part offset by either 2 or 4 beats (when the first part reaches count 3, or when the first part begins the second measure).

This I Believe

Hillsong has crafted a wonderful liturgical piece that is intended to function as a credo, paraphrasing and rearranging the parts of the Apostles’ Creed. Remarkably, they crafted it into a song that has a “Verse-Chorus-Bridge” form. One of the only concerns is the deconstruction of the Apostles’ Creed into a series of statements that are not orderly and systematic in presentation. In other words, the attributes of the three persons of the Trinity are scattered throughout the song. However, the creed’s form has been replaced by the form of the song structure, and this might provide enough to help internalize this historic statement of belief. The melody is simple and repetitive enough, but also motivic, so the congregation should be able to learn it with little effort. Accompaniment can vary from solo piano or guitar to full band. Again, if accompanying with piano, do not double the melody. Allow the voices to lead the rhythm to avoid bogging down the rhythm.

Broken for Me

This work is a wonderful addition to the communion congregational song repertoire because the music itself is somewhat meditative, with a four-measure chord sequence that remains the same throughout. The melody is simple, and even though there is a small amount of syncopation, it is consistent and repetitive, which will add to the effectiveness of the singing. Accompany with piano or rhythm section and keep the tempo relaxed. Add additional vocal harmonies as desired, especially on the refrain.

O Living God

The SHENANDOAH tune tends to pluck at the heartstrings of many people in the US today. It is a nineteenth century song with a soaring, lyrical melody just waiting to be sung. The text and tune setting in Worship & Song is good for congregational singing, but it can also work effectively as a solo or an a cappella choral piece. There are many options in singing this song, so use your creativity to adapt accordingly for your setting. Whatever the approach, maintain a slow enough tempo so the phrases can be very legato and rubato. A crescendo is effectively used in the first four measures, as well as in the phrase “O Lord, almighty God,” with a subito piano phrase to end each stanza.

Christ, We Are Blest

This hymn by Steve Garnaas-Holmes contains text that represents the fullness of the Eucharistic rite–Gathering, remembrance, community (and Christ’s incarnation), and leaving to serve others. As Christ has risen, so we rise to go forward and live as Easter people. The SLANE tune is very familiar in many churches because of its use with the hymn “Be Thou My Vision.” Accompany with organ, piano, guitar, flute, or even a tin whistle. The folk nature of this tune makes it an effective hymn to follow “O Living God,” and the tunes become a great juxtaposition of folk hymnody between Europe and North America. Explore the "Christ, We Are Blest" Hymn Study »

Our God’s Alive

Again setting a defiant tone, this song is a bold addition to the close of the service. The risen Christ is presented as the victor over the grave, and Jesus passes on to us the same boldness in the present reality of the resurrection. This song would be a great segue into the next series as we explore the power of the Holy Spirit–the source of our strength and courage. The ideal key for congregational singing is D minor, and the ideal accompaniment would be a full band, although a solo guitar could also work.