Third Sunday After the Epiphany 2018 — Music Notes

Move  |  RISE UP! 

You’ve Got to Move (Africana Hymnal 4077)

This short, rhythmic song is an example of a “ring shout,” which is an African American tradition of singing that involved music, dancing, and shouting, all while standing in a ring. The melody of a song would be sung and improvised upon while drums were played, hands clapped, and feet shuffled to embody the ecstatic nature of the song. It is clear why it was selected for this Sunday, with the theme built upon the imperative, “Move.” If you have the opportunity to consult the recording that comes with The Africana Hymnal, it will be helpful because it helps teach the performance practice of the singing and clapping together. If the clapping as written on the score is too difficult for your congregation, it is also possible to proceed with other options:

  1. Clap in a half-note pattern (the slower pattern on the recording) throughout on beats 1 and 3.
  2. Have the congregation clap in a half-note pattern on beats 1 and 3 while the choir or a selected group claps the more syncopated pattern from the score.

For more information on a ring shout, be sure to watch the video, Reflect, Reclaim, Rejoice: Preserving the Gift of Black Sacred Music or read the small-group study of the same title.

Give Me a Clean Heart (TFWS 2133)

For many years, this gospel song of confession has been an effective prayer that asks for God’s perfecting Spirit to be at work. It is a personal prayer, but when sung corporately, it becomes also centered upon the congregation as corporate confession is also offered. Accompaniment can vary from piano or organ to rhythm section or full band. Make sure that the dotted-half notes do not become stagnant; allow them to grow dynamically as they are sustained. This helps with both musicality and communication as leaders of congregational singing. The tempo can vary, but a steady pulse of 60-72 (per eighth note) is recommended. It will feel quite slow, but allow it to also have a light swing, with possible triplets in the rhythm section on each eighth note. For an idea of performance practice, view this recording from James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir. Read History of Hymns: "Give Me a Clean Heart" »

Over My Head (TFWS 2148, Africana 4075, SOZ 167

Many different arrangements of this spiritual exist, and the singing of it appears to also be different, depending on the context. One option would be to sing a cappella, slowly and very sustained, with the rhythm ad lib, while another would be to add the gospel harmony found in either The Africana Hymnal or Songs of Zion and also add a rhythm section with a quicker tempo. If you should choose to pair this with “Now Thank We All Our God,” as is listed in this service, I recommend singing slowly, either a cappella or with piano/organ, and segueing into stanza one of the next hymn in a slow, rubato fashion.

Now Thank We All Our God (UMH 102)

If this chorale is chosen to be paired with “Over My Head,” singing stanza 3 only would serve as a great way to transition into the sending forth. To stay in the same style as the spiritual, sing a cappella or with keyboard accompaniment, but sing rubato. A unison melody with a band and fewer, less frequent chord changes is also possible. Read History of Hymns: "Now Thank We All Our God" »       
View and download a vocal descant for choirs »

Moving Forward (Africana Hymnal 4143 or CCLI #4992525)

This modern worship song from Ricardo Sanchez and Israel Houghton is a compelling song of transformation in which the singer commits to moving forward in the name of Christ. This statement makes this particular song a great option for confirmation groups as they come forward to make their commitment to God and the church. The melody is a bit syncopated and leaves plenty of room for improvisation, so take the time to prepare adequately. The best accompaniment is a rhythm section or full band, but a youth or adult choir supporting the melody would also be quite helpful. The recommended tempo of eighth note = 126 is also a comfortable suggestion for congregational singing.

I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me (TFWS 2153)

Church musicians often look for repetitive songs that are easy to teach and use one change of word per stanza as a way to teach and sing without holding a book, bulletin, or other resource. This frees the congregation from being bound to something held in the hands that takes away focus from the song enlivener and directs the voice downward. It might also encourage some clapping! This spiritual is a very singable example of a song of commitment that is especially effective when a choir is available to sing in four-part harmony. If a choir is not available, don’t fret--a pianist, organist, or guitarist can also accompany the singing, but the tempo needs to be steady and not too slow. Keep a pulse that allows the congregation to sing full phrases without discomfort. If the keyboardist is able to improvise on the accompaniment, it will also help it to move ahead during the long, sustained notes. Instruments can vary, from a keyboard instrument to small or large ensemble.