Jeanette Burgess is the Music Director at St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta, GA, a community with a lively, diverse musical life that includes paperless singing. Last year, she emailed to share a set of Advent chants created with her community. We offer them to you with her explanation of the process, hoping they'll jumpstart creative thinking as you approach the holiday season.
At our 2017 Advent planning retreat, we read the scriptures for a given Sunday then were invited to capture our thoughts in haiku fashion (syllables in a 5-7-5 pattern). The results were amazing and four became the basis for our Advent candle lighting chants. After deciding on melodies and considering the sparseness of the season, I limited accompaniment choosing from the following instruments: recorder, hand chime, Chinese cymbal, dingsha/finger cymbal, udu, and djembe.
The poems were also used as an opening worship statement and as part of the dismissal each week.
Advent 1 text by Craig Storlie, music by Craig Storlie/Jeanette Burgess
Advent 2 text by Jennifer Arnold, music by Jeanette Burgess
Advent 3 text by Sarah Mauldin, music by Jeanette Burgess
Advent 4 text by Nancy Christensen, music by Jeanette Burgess
The effect of these simple poems/chants was powerful: people who normally felt they had nothing to contribute to worship were “stunned and perplexed” that they, too, had found a voice; a multicultural flavor flowed through the service; the assembly was pleased to see the contribution of many members. I was inspired with the creative challenge and each week was met with anticipation of the newest chant. And we experienced God With Us.
To find additional planning ideas for the season, download our collection of Paperless Music for Advent and Christmas.