Epiphany/Baptism of the Lord 2018 — Music Notes
January 7, 2018 (Year B)
God is Speaking! | RISE UP!
God Is Speaking (W&S 3025)
This text by Ken Bible is a great opportunity for children to lead the congregation in singing. FRÈRE JACQUES is a well-known simple tune. Begin the singing of it with one child as a solo, and invite a children’s choir, along with the congregation, to join on the second stanza. Another approach to singing would be to sing it as a round, with the congregation divided into two, three, or four sections. After the conclusion of the round at the end of the song, allow a few seconds of silence, and finish by slowly singing the opening measure again (“God is speaking”) in unison. Children can accompany the singing with Orff instruments or ukuleles; or a piano or organ can accompany. It is very possible to sing this, however, a cappella; and I recommend this as the best option if it is possible in your setting.
Arise and Shine
This short, cyclic song allows the Scripture to ring in the ears of the congregation, announcing the coming of the Light of the World. It is intended to be sung repetitively, with intensity and dynamics ebbing and flowing throughout its singing. Keep the rhythm steady, but allow the participation and leadership of the Spirit to dictate the volume. Begin with a soloist singing the melody, and invite the congregation to sing at the best time for your worship space. The melody is simple enough to sing without need for sheet music or books, so a processing choir will be able to sing this quite easily as they enter the sanctuary. Accompaniment is simple, but it is in 6/8, which should flow with two primary beats in each measure.
Songs of holy boldness also require a certain air of prayerful defiance in order to sing them with a sense of authenticity. This work by Mark Miller builds up both the community and each person singing it. The words draw the congregation into a relationship with a rhythm and pattern of “you” and “I” language, and the later reference to Romans 8:35,37 (“There is nothing, or no one who can separate”) declares that the people of God will not be driven apart from God or one another, regardless of how people interpret “truth.” The accompaniment is in a gospel style, and it requires a slight swing and a fairly slow tempo. The ideal accompaniment is piano or full rhythm section. The choir and congregation can sing the melody in unison, and the choral setting from Choristers Guild also contains vocal parts for choir. To teach the tune to the congregation, enlist a soloist or choir section to sing the first one or two stanzas before inviting the congregation to sing.
Water Flowing Free (Africana Hymnal 4043)
This modern hymn embodies the nature of flowing water, both in the textual and musical imagery. Offering the congregation a way to experience the characteristics of water in singing creates a deeper space within each person where the Spirit can dwell. The words have a gentle lilt to them when sung at the appropriate tempo, and the piano accompaniment can also be more manageable when not taken too fast. The ideal instrument is piano, although a flute, violin, or other treble instrument doubling the melody can also add a gentle quality to the singing of this hymn.
Take Me to the Water (Africana Hymnal 4045 or W&S 3165)
Two possible settings of this traditional African American song are listed here, and it is recommended to assess both to determine which would be best sung in your context. The setting in The Africana Hymnal contains an interesting gospel-styled accompaniment that can be very exciting for pianists, and it places the tune in a slow 6/8 meter. The version in Worship & Song is a four-part choral setting in 2/4. The texts are also different as well, with three stanzas shared between the two settings. No matter which version you choose, strongly consider the one that most effectively draws the congregation to the water in a procession within your context.
Come, Let Us Use the Grace Divine (UMH 606)
Charles Wesley penned this classic hymn to lift up the covenant made between God and God’s people. In the case for worship on this day, it is a vital part of the Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant and serves as a reminder to the church of vows made and the new life found by receiving God’s grace and committing to the Christian life. A number of instrumental arrangements of the KINGSFOLD tune can be used, with a particular harmonization of interest found in The United Methodist Hymnal Music Supplement II, no. 103. Do not sing this tune too slowly, as it will lose energy and make the phrases too difficult to sing. To find a good tempo, consider that the musical phrase containing the text, “Come, let us use the grace divine, and all with one accord,” should be comfortably singable in one breath. The ideal accompaniment can vary since E minor is a great key for a number of instruments, including organ, piano, guitar, and wind instruments. Read History of Hymns: "Come, Let us Use the Grace Divine" »
Walking in the Light of God (W&S 3163)
This freedom song from South Africa arises out of the struggle against apartheid, and it is always important to note this when singing the text. When connected with the Scripture passage from Isaiah 60, it appropriately embraces the spirit of longing, restoration, and reconciliation. The best approach for the singing of this song is SATB choir, a cappella, with percussion (shakers, djembes, other simple drums), and congregation on the melody. If this is not possible in your setting, a simple accompaniment on piano or guitar would also work. I would not recommend, however, playing the parts on piano as written. Do not subdivide the rhythms into units any smaller than eighth notes. In other words, when there are multiple sixteenth notes (as in measure four), only play a quarter note or two eighth notes instead of the sixteenth notes. This will make the accompaniment more musical and less apt to drag the tempo. The spoken “‘Hamba” section needs to be spoken with rhythmic energy--quite percussively — to embody the dancing or marching nature of the tune. The phonetic translation of the text in Worship & Song serves as an appropriate guide for pronunciation. Read the Walking in the Light of God Hymn Study »