The Rev. Sylvia Miller-Mutia is Rector of St. Thomas of Canterbury in Albuquerque, NM and has been a presenter at Music that Makes Community events since 2013.
MMC Alumni Benjamin and Tamika Jancewitz lead Tamika's beautiful Salamu Alekum at MMC in Baltimore in November, 2015.
In liturgical churches, the "Passing of the Peace" serves as a bridge from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Table. It is a ritual chance for us to be reconciled to one another and share in the peace of Christ before we bring our offerings to the table and share in communion.
But the transition is not always as elegant or ritually satisfying as it might be.In some places, people simply exchange the peace with their nearest neighbors, while in other places, the peace goes on longer than the sermon, as parishioners move through the space greeting every single other person. Often the passing of the peace feels to me less like the profound ritual action that it is, and more like a chance for people to catch up on greetings and gossip from the past week.
When we started the Supper Service at St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco, we decided that we would lean into the "ritual action" rather than "conversational" quality of the Peace by singing rather than speaking our exchange of the peace. We rotated through a variety of songs, "Da Pacem Cordium" (Taize), "Shalom my Friends", "Peace, Salaam, Shalom." This past October at the Parliament of World Religions I learned a chant from the Earth Spirit community that could work at the peace: "Peace in my heart. Peace between our hearts. Peace in the heart of the world."
In my current parish (one in which the prevailing custom is to greet every other person in the congregation) we use a Peace Song to gently call the congregation back together for announcements following the peace. When we sing together, I believe the peace that we share swells to fill the whole room, and (hopefully) flows out to fill the whole world.
You can find a robust selection of paperless songs of peace using the "Peace" filter (under "Contexts and Gatherings") on our MMC Songs Database. Check it out now by clicking on this link!
How have you incorporated paperless songs of peace into gatherings or services? Share your stories in the comments below. If you know of a paperless song that would work well for passing the peace, for a vigil or prayer for peace service, you can add a listing to the MMC Songs Database.
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