• Advent I: Hope

    Sunrise in Williston, North Dakota; photograph by Paul Vasile

    Listen - Bret Hesla

    The first week of Advent invites us into a space of hopeful waiting and watching. This short song by singer/songwriter Bret Hesla is one way to invite the community to 'tune up' their ears and bodies, and could be used for gathering, prayer, or to prepare the community to hear a reading.

    Debbie Lou Ludolph models how this song can function in a call and response format. She first teaches the response, "Be open oh my heart" with a simple gesture. Then she calls, "listen, listen...watching, watching...waiting, waiting," and the community responds. Additional calls can be added and improvised in the moment: Love is calling, Ever hopeful, etc.

    Find a score for the song on Bret's website or in the Augsburg's collection Singing Our Prayer: Companion to Holden Prayers Around the Cross.

    I Was Glad - David Haas (Psalm 122)

    The refrain of this responsorial psalm setting is structured as a call and overlapping echo. It’s an easy, intuitive way to invite the assembly into an experience of paperless singing. The verses can be sung from Hass’ setting or spoken, depending on your community’s practice.

    Find a recording and score on GIA’s website, where you can also purchase a copy.

    Yo me alegré - Anonymous, Latin American coríto (Psalm 122)

    This short, rhythmic song from Latin America paraphrases the first verse of Psalm 122. It could serve as an excellent processional song or Song of Praise. If teaching the whole song without paper feels too ambitious, just the second half of the tune can be used as a responsorial Psalm refrain: Yo iré, a la casa de Jehová yo iré. Click here for a score provided by Jorge Lockward.

    The video above is from a Latinx Pentecostal context and offers a slight melodic variation from the score. Keyboard, guitar, and percussion would make a great accompaniment.

    Tip: When teaching a song another language, avoid the tendency to explain or apologize. Simply sing the entire song first to help the sounds organize themselves in listeners’ ears. Speak the text a phrase at a time, inviting an echo and offering a translation. Then chunk it out, singing a phrase at a time, reinforcing and affirming the assembly as you go.

    Listen to the Word - John Bell (Matthew 24:36-44)

    This apocalyptic reading from Mark’s gospel is unsettling. A rhythmic chant from an anonymous Mennonite community invites us to ‘listen, even if you don’t understand,’ and makes a compelling Gospel Acclamation or sung Prayer of Illumination in conversation with this and other challenging texts.

    Here’s a score and a recording that models how the chant can be taught using call and echo patterns.

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