Advent III: Joy
Death Valley superbloom; photograph by Paul Vasile
Joy Shall Come in the Morning - Mary Alice Amidon
This hopeful song by Mary Alice Amidon was introduced to us by Rachel Kroh, MtMC’s first Executive Director. Notice how Rachel teaches the refrain to the assembly through call and echo, then invites a small choral ensemble to sing the verses in harmony. This is a wonderful way to imagine learning new hymns (especially with a chorus/refrain), alternating between the voice of the assembly and a choir (small or large).
Here’s a video of the Starry Mountain Singers sharing it in a four-part arrangement, as well as a link to purchase a score and learn more about this song created in the days after the Virginia Tech shooting.
Go on Your Way in Joy - Kerri Meyer (Isaiah 35:1-10)
Composed by Kerri Meyer at The Bishop's Ranch in 2014, this song based on words of Annie Dillard has quickly become a favorite at MtMC gatherings. It makes an excellent sending song for the pink Sunday of Advent and, when steps are added, invites us to sing and feel the joy proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah. You can also “zip” in all kinds of words appropriate to the day: “Go on your way in hope/peace/love…”
Here’s a video of the song being taught, as well as a score.
Magnificat - Jaques Berthier (Luke 1:46b-55)
This bouyant setting of Mary’s song of praise is a four-part canon from the Taizé Community. Sing the whole melody through once, then invite the assembly to echo the Latin text and offer a translation.
Teach it in sections through call and echo, combining them until confident in the assembly’s voice. Then divide the room and invite them to sing a canon.
Tip: Your choir can support the assembly’s learning by sitting within or standing around the community, helping anchor each part of the canon.
Here’s a recording of the song and here is a score.
He Has Done Great Things for Me - Shirley M. K. Berkeley (Luke 1:46b-55)
This Gospel song resonates with Luke 1:49 (“the Mighty One has done great things for me…”) and is a powerful song of praise that can be learned quickly without paper. We’ve also used it in a responsive setting of the Magnificat. See an example from a recent workshop, with a powerful adaptation of the text by liturgists from the Community of Christ.
For communities with commitments to inclusive, expansive, and intersectional language, try varying the pronouns - He/She/God/They has/have done great things for me - as a way of opening up new possibilities for how we name the Divine.
Let the recording above guide you as you interpret the style of the song. Much of what you hear that makes the music alive (articulation, word stresses, dynamics, etc) isn't written into the score but learned by listening to choirs and soloists from the African-American gospel tradition.
Miss earlier posts? Find more Advent music here:
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