Celebrating Monday Morning Grounding

  • You know that something is good, when a clergy colleague on Friday tells you that what you’re doing in keeping Monday Morning Grounding going is a ministry and makes a difference, and then on Monday when the Trader Joe’s cashier asks how your Monday has been and, I can say: I woke up tired and grumpy and because of Monday Morning Grounding, I’m having a better day. 

    So, that’s the truth. Monday Morning Grounding can turn your day around and set you up for the week. We sing, we’re playful, we share meaningfully, we are hospitable. We notice and share what we notice. People are welcome to come on Zoom with camera on or off, singing on mute unless we’re passing a song around (which we often do), and as Breen (MMC Board president) likes to say, you can come with your shoes on or off, because this is holy ground. You are welcome and invited!! Don’t think that this is like any other Zoom meeting (non-MMC) that you’ve been to.

  • Call for Original Songs for the Sacred Land Playlist

  • The Deadline has been extended for the Sacred Lands Playlist to Monday, July 1st!

    The Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery and Music that Makes Community are collaborating together on a community singing playlist project!

    MMC is excited to partner with The Coalition, a faith-based movement that seeks to respond to the call of Indigenous communities to the Christian Church to address the extraction, extinction and enslavement done in the name of Christ on Indigenous lands, to support their mission and liberate and spread the power of communities’ spiritual life through singing.

    We welcome original* song submissions around the theme of "Sacred Lands." Understanding the land as sacred, not as property or commodity, is an Indigenous worldview -- one which the dominant culture desperately needs, if we are going to actually address the root causes of today's climate crisis. 

  • We Are All Doing Our Best

  • My first Music that Makes Community board meeting was on a Saturday morning after what had been a long, hard week at work. A colleague and I had different expectations about a deadline, and as I watched that time come and go without the desired end result, I felt disappointed, then blamed, then just done. My conversations that evening with my spouse were peppered with some of my favorite vocabulary words, and I felt validated and vindicated as I turned up the “not my fault–they’re to blame!” tune in my head to 11!

    Needless to say, with this as my evening prior, I was not entering the MMC virtual space with the calm and equanimity I usually experience with the group. My distress increased when I looked over the agenda and saw we would be invited to share a song. “I don’t even have a song! My first meeting and I’m showing up without a song!”

    I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, hummed for a few minutes, and this is what appeared:

    We are all doing our best
    We are all doing our best
    When fears are rising
    And tempers are flying
    We are all doing our best

    We are all doing our best
    We are all doing our best
    Let's care for each other
    Be held by Our Mother
    We are all doing our best

    - Jennifer L. Sanborn and the Spirit of Song, 1/27/2024
    (and probably Chanda Rule's In the Heart of God, as I think about it!)

    Oof. I felt seen. Or heard. Or called out. Or Loved in. Regardless, I knew I had caught my song to share with the group.

    As the board gathered, I volunteered to share first because it’s hard not to fear a quickly-caught song will fly away as fast as it flew in. Somewhat timidly, then with greater strength, I invited these new boardmates to join me in singing, “We are all doing our best.” Could there be a better affirmation to sing when venturing into new, treasured, complex, and important work together?



  • Last-minute Songs for Holy Week + Easter

  • On Monday, March 4, three members of Music that Makes Community's Board of Trustees, Rev. Breen Marie Sipes, Rev. Nancy Willbanks, and Adam Michael Wood, gathered on Zoom for an open 90 minute Drop-in jam of songs for Holy Week and Easter.  Here's the list they came up with!  It includes many well-known songs and some new tunes you may not have heard before.  May these songs be fodder for your preparations. And when you have a moment, whenever that is, let us know what you're doing in the comments.  We love to hear about new songs you've created and about experiments you've tried!  Everything is a lesson here.

    General Resources

    - https://www.musicthatmakescommunity.org/tags/lent 
    https://anahernandez.org/sheet-music/ - search for paperless 

    You can find additional songs on the MMC website or in our song resources, Singing in Community and Music By Heart. If you can’t locate a video or sheet music for a song, please reach out and we’ll help.

    Lastly, take note of the copyright suggestions at the bottom of the page.  The songs listed here come from a various of sources with some covered by OneLicense and others you'll need to contact the originator directly.  

  • Welcome Conie Borchardt!

  • Dear song-sharing friends,

    As we continue our year-end fundraising/friend-raising campaign, I am delighted to officially welcome my dear friend and co-conspirator, Conie Borchardt, as our next Executive Director for Music that Makes Community! I have worked with Conie on the Board for the past two years.  When I came on Conie adopted me as their “Board buddy,” so I have had quite the behind-the-scenes look as she has prepared for the transition into this new role.

    2023 MMC Board retreat at Good Courage Farm(Image:  2023 MMC Board retreat at Good Courage Farm)

    Conie brings a wealth of experience and connections to this position, as well as deep passion and care for our work. In addition to being MMC’s Board Treasurer for the last two years and a musician with 30+ years of experience in Lutheran, Episcopal, and United Church of Christ (UCC-USA) churches, Conie has been administering community art projects, writing grants, and fundraising under her business, Points of Light Music, LLC. They have woven Dances of Universal Peace, a multi-faith paperless movement and spiritual practice, into MMC workshops and trainings. Conie is also a Full Voice Coach and a Spiritual Director. All of these experiences give Conie a solid foundation from which to grow and lead Music that Makes Community into the next season.

  • Big News! A Leadership Transition Announcement

  • A message from Breen Sipes, 
    Chair of MMC's Board of Trustees


    Dear friends,

    I am writing on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Music that Makes Community to let you know the bittersweet news that Paul Vasile, our Executive Director for the past eight years, has resigned. He has taken a position as Interim Director of Music at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, which begins in January of 2024, and we support and bless Paul in this new endeavor.  Paul has given so freely of himself through his inspiring, gracious, and innovative presence among us. He has built deep networks and cares so very much for this work. Paul has set us up well for the excitement of what is next for Music that Makes Community. Paul’s last day with MMC will be December 1st, and we will provide a time for us to celebrate him together through two online good-bye events.  

    Here are a few words from Paul:  

    After several months of discernment, I notified the Board of Trustees that I will conclude my service as Executive Director on December 1, 2023. While it was not an easy decision to make, my heart overflows with gratitude for MMC’s practices of song sharing, listening, community building, and hospitality. My faith and vocation have been shaped by this work, the songs we have courageously created and shared, and the invitation to pay attention to our experiences and all they teach us. I have learned so much from each of you and the beautiful ways you've shared your gifts. Thank you so much!


  • MMC Staff and Board Updates

  • As MMC begins this new year, reinforced and galvanized by your incredible support and gifts, there are changes and new beginnings ahead for our community. 
    Most significantly, after three years of service, Charlotte Moroz will transition out of her role as Community Curator at the end of February. While she will happily continue as a future leader and participant in our work, she is being called away to focus on her doctoral studies and explore life in California, where she has recently relocated.

  • Virtual Practice Groups - Round 2!

  • Our bi-weekly Zoom Play Time group brought inventive experiments and heaping spoonfuls of creativity to the table, our first-ever Virtual Summer Retreat opened for registration, and our Summer Singing Celebration was a splash of a party, with Chanda Rule, Conie Borchardt, Ana Hernández, and other MMC leaders bringing over 85 attendees together in songs and visions of peace, justice, and community.

    And, not least of all, our first round of Virtual Practice Groups took flight, with five groups practicing virtual song-leadership, building skills and community throughout May and June. Our participants spoke and...they were a hit!

    "Centering, community building, and worth it!", reported one participant.

    "The Virtual Practice Groups were a great way to meet new singers and to talk together about how to face the challenges of singing in online environments. I really looked forward to my hour of singing," said another.

    We've all, by now, experienced myriad Zoom and virtual meetings, but participants thanked our intrepid MMC leaders for offering such a "unique and wonderful experience," one participant going further to say that "while many are busy with the technical aspect of virtual choirs, being in an MMC Virtual Practice Group gave me the opportunity to just sing and enjoy being with others in this new way."

  • Songs for Deepening into Silence

  • "The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear." - attributed to Rumi

    Cultivating silence may prove challenging to many of us, especially in these anxious, fast-moving times. But we know singing is a proven way to focus and steady our breathing, lower our heart rate, and calm the mind so we can begin to find moments of inner stillness and quiet. We offer the following paperless songs hoping they help you find ways to center and listen deeply, settling into places of restful silence. 

    Be Still - Taizé Community
    Be Still and Know that I Am GodTaizé Community
    Be Still and Know - John Bell

    Da pacem cordium/ Give Peace to Every Heart - Taizé Community
    Dumiyah - Richard Bruxvoort Colligan
    Dwelling in the Present Moment - Laurence Cole

    Listen, Listen, Wait in Silence Listening - from Songs of Presence:Contemplative Chants for the New Millenium
    Listening - Lea Morris

    I Will Give You Rest - Ana Hernández
    In the Silence - Carey Creed

    Hope Listens for God (Psalm 62) - Conie Borchardt

    Listen with the Ear of Your Heart - Barbara Cates

    Peace, Perfect Peace - Robinson McClellen

    Silence - Paul Vasile 

    Teach Us to Sit Still - Cricket Cooper

  • Paperless Songs to Inspire Action

  • This list of songs and online resources is for communities seeking to be more intentional about taking action to support justice, equity, and dignity for BIPOC lives (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). The list draws from a range of musical traditions and countries. Please feel free to add additional songs in the comments below.

    Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round - African-American Spiritual
    All Shall Be Well / Another World - Ana Hernández
    Another World - Kerri Meyer 

    Danos un corazón - Juan Antonio Espinosa

    Enviado soy de Dios / Our God Now Sends Us Forth - Anonymous Latin American

    Gonna Bring that Light - Kerri Meyer (scroll all the way down)

    Hold Everybody Up - Melanie DeMore
    Hold On (Keep Your Eyes on the Prize) - African-American Spiritual

    Freedom Bound - June Jordan
    Freedom, Come - Ben Allaway 
    Freedom is Coming - South African Freedom Song

    Hamba nathi Mkhululi wethu - South African Freedom Song
    Hold On - Gospel Song, arr. Geraldine Luce

  • Zoom Song Leadership Webinar

  • Join several MMC presenters for an hour-long webinar focused on online song leadership next Wednesday, April 22 at 3 pm EST. We'll explore best practices for singing in online gatherings of all kinds: choir rehearsals, song circles, worship, and even meetings. We'll share some songs and creative approaches to singing we're finding effective on Zoom and Facebook Live (that might also be useful when we gather in person again).

    Register here and after the webinar you're invited to make a contribution, as you're able, to help us continue our work.

    **UPDATE** Due to the extraordinary response, we have closed registration for the webinar but will announce another very soon. We sincerely appreciate your patience!

  • Virtual Leadership: What We're Discovering

  • With little preparation, worshipping communities around North America quickly shifted their worship online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While online or streaming worship isn't a new thing, completely virtual worship experiences are unprecedented, and the experience is inviting us to discover new ways (or build on what we already know) to make community.

    MMC is especially curious how we make spaces for participation, sung or spoken. How can leaders be present in online spaces in ways that support community engagement and deepening connection?

    This week we saw a fantastic Facebook post by pastor, church planter, author, and liturgist Emily Scott (and co-founder of MMC!). Emily’s book, For All Who Hunger, which comes out in May, is about community and connection around tables, even in times of disaster. 

    So we got through our first Sunday of offering worship online! Woo!

    As we put plans in place for future online gatherings, I continue to believe that many of our congregants need spiritual and social CONNECTION more than they need audio/visual PERFECTION.

    People need to hear their names. They need to tell their stories and know those stories are heard. They need spiritually grounding practices they can participate in, not just watch. We have highly produced content thrown at us all the time. How can we make our online gatherings personal and loving? (Not knocking high quality here...just saying it might not be all of our first goal, depending on our context.)

  • Songs for Unsettled Times

  • We have all experienced times of uncertainty, fear, and disorientation. And while so much may feel out of our control, singing is a powerful tool to support and strengthen community as we move through challenging, painful, and traumatic experiences. 

    MMC leaders have compiled a list of songs that we hope will be useful to you and your community in these unsettled times. While we are writing in the context of a global pandemic, it's certain we'll need singing to face other local and global challenges.

    As you think about what to share with your community, listen to your heart and your community as they name their needs, fears, and hopes. Short, simple melodies can be a powerful balm and many can be treated as pocket/zipper songs, which allow us to add words, names, and feelings specific to our context. 

    No matter what you sing or how the songs are shared (in emerging online/virtual spaces or safely in person), may these songs comfort anxious hearts and remind us that we’re together in deeper ways than we ever imagined.

  • Last-minute Songs for Lent

  • Lent is right on our doorstep and perhaps you're still looking for music? We've included a short list of paperless songs below, including some sturdy paperless standards, new tunes written in the past year or two, and a few surprises, as we imagine Lent not just as a season of repentance but an invitation to lives of justice, beauty, and love

    If your community hasn't experienced paperless singing yet, try incorporating a short prayer song or psalm setting instead of a lengthy or complicated tune. Consistent, positive experiences encourage and reinforce the practice, and weekly practice helps this style of singing gradually embed. Consider a paperless song while there is movement or ritual action in the liturgy, or moments a bulletin or hymnal might take the focus away from face-to-face connection. 
    We also suggest teaching at moments when intergenerational community is gathered. The experience of paperless singing is enriched when worshippers of all ages learn side-by-side. Our experience is that children and young people intuitively participate in mirroring and imitative singing, and they can help encourage the participation of more reluctant adults.

  • Singing for the Soul: The Joy of Singing Together

  • Mike Leigh is a former student of the College of the Resurrection and now serving in the North Scarborough Group Ministry and is Area Dean of Scarborough. This reflection on his summer sabbatical was originally published in the Community of the Resurrection Magazine (CR Quarterly).

    “Congregational singing….has the power to create community, form and transform the heart and mind, and transport a person completely into a spiritual dimension unlike any other.” - DJ Bull

    I’ve always said that it was singing that kept me in the church. I remember that I never really liked Sunday School as a child and the only way out I knew of was to join the choir! I distinctly remember when I was 7 years old we had a visit from the choir master to our school and he talked about needing new boys to join the church choir, so I went home and pestered my mum relentlessly until she gave in and sure enough, I was admitted to the church choir.

    I loved the choir; it was my highlight of the week and the thing I enjoyed more than anything. The thing I found though, was that it was not the type of music we sang nor the quality of the sermons that I sat through (surprise surprise) that I loved, but it was the sense of belonging that I found which drew me in. We were a group of children bound to each other, yes, through the singing of Anglican chant and the wearing of cassocks and ruffs (not too dissimilar to my experience of being a clergyman in the Church of England, I have to say!) but we were also bound by the times when we passed jokes and mints along the choir stalls during particularly boring sermons, or played football after rehearsals, or shared sweets bought at the corner shop after a wedding. I loved the choir because it was my community and it was there that I was most at home.

    Community has always been something that human beings have longed for, we are created to live in community and we need to find places to meet and share our lives with others. It doesn’t surprise me that in this age where families are more displaced and traditional community activities like social clubs,  music societies and churches are declining, we see other things emerging (very often online like Snapchat or Facebook ) to fill the gaps.

     It interests me then that in this world of changing community we discover that one area of growth is in community choirs. Gareth Malone is famed for resurrecting community singing but I am glad to say that this has been happening for a lot longer than the BBC like to think and in an ever changing world of community, it is wonderful to discover that people still want to sing together. For a long time we have known that singing is good for our health and that it has the ability to draw us together and create community. Why? Because as human beings we have always sung and a quick look at other cultures reminds us that for many people today, singing is simply part of what it means to be part of a tribe or a nation or a race.

  • Paperless Music for Advent IV: Love

  • Advent IV: Love

    Girl with Hands Lifted (New Orleans, LA); photograph by Paul Vasile


    While We Are Waiting, Come - Claire Cloninger and Don Cason (Matthew 1:18-25)

    This meditative song by Claire Cloninger and Don Cason can be taught through call and echo patterns. It makes a beautiful prayer song or response during Advent and could also be effective as an acclamation or response with the gospel lesson. While all the verses are beautiful, focus on one so the text can deepen and become a prayer of the heart.

    Learn how to teach the song and find a score here

    Once the assembly has learned the song well, add harmony parts or keyboard accompaniment.

    Tip: Trace the shape of the melody with your hand and notice several large, unexpected leaps. While you teach it, help the assembly remember and anticipate these moments through hand gestures or other non-verbal cues.

  • Paperless Music for Advent III: Joy

  • 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.  

  • Paperless Music for Advent II: Peace

  • Advent II: Peace

    Snow geese migration; photograph by Paul Vasile

    Cantemus pacem mundi - Doug von Koss

    As the second week of Advent invites us to pray and work for peace in our world, here is a three-part layered song by Doug von Koss that puts feet on our prayers. Written to protest the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, Doug wanted a strong musical statement that would “lift the desire for peace to a more assertive and active place.” He borrowed a melody he had heard in Canada and used a short Latin phrase (translated "sing for the peace of the world") as the text. 

    Notice how patiently Marilyn teaches each part, inviting those in the circle to listen and breathe together as the song grows in confidence. While this piece may be ambitious for a congregation new to paperless singing, try teaching one of the parts to the assembly and invite additional leaders or a choir to sing the others. It could also serve as an excellent warm-up for a choir beginning to explore oral/aural tradition learning.

  • Paperless Music for Advent I: Hope

  • 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.

  • Paperless Music for Advent: Introduction

  • Advent is around the corner and this year Music that Makes Community is excited to offer musical resources to share in your community. As we prepare for and celebrate the arrival of the Word who ‘became flesh and lived among us’ we can’t imagine a better experience of embodied faith than singing with others!

    We’ve organized musical material around Revised Common Lectionary texts (Year A) and themes for each week. There are links to with links to videos, recordings, and scores. We offer teaching suggestions and they are just that…suggestions. You're welcome to adapt them to your space and worship context.

  • Music that Makes Community with Young People - Part II

  • Fiona Vidal-White is a musician, Christian educator, and liturgist currently serving at Church of Our Savior in Arlington, MA. She is the author of the hymnal My Heart Sings Out and its companion leader’s guide, designed as a musical resource for all-age worship. Her passions include the welcome and formation of all God’s people, especially children and teens, through teaching and learning, hands-on in-reach, and outreach and liturgy and music.

    Read Part I of Fiona's reflection here.

    What ideas should we consider when singing with children and intergenerational groups? A good starting point might be “how can I model and facilitate best practices in (church) music for children as they grow up?"  

    Also take into consideration the developmental skills of children, and the different interests and priorities they have in each stage of life, and the fact that their adults will probably be with them, and like to know that what we are singing has meaning and value as well as being fun. Then there’s the fit of the song with what’s happening in worship. Are we reading, praying, sharing a meal? What is the theme of the service? Baptism, a Saint’s Day, the different seasons of Advent, Lent, or Easter? Matching our music choices to enhance the teaching without being “teachy” is, I believe, a major role of simple congregational music.

  • Music that Makes Community with Young People - Part I

  • Fiona Vidal-White is a musician, Christian educator, and liturgist currently serving at Church of Our Savior in Arlington, MA. She is the author of the hymnal My Heart Sings Out and its companion leader’s guide, designed as a musical resource for all-age worship. Her passions include the welcome and formation of all God’s people, especially children and teens, through teaching and learning, hands-on in-reach, and outreach and liturgy and music.

    I certainly didn’t know the term then, but it was paperless music that drew me into both singing as a youth choir member, working with children and church music, and finally creating a hymnal of my own that focused on intergenerational singing. I was a teen when my father, a vicar in the UK, purchased Sound of Living Waters to go in our pews alongside Hymns Ancient and Modern, and us choir kids were so thrilled. We sang Seek ye First, and I Will Sing a Song unto the Lord,  We See the Lord, and Let All That is Within Me Cry Holy, as well as many of the hymns. As we developed a repertoire, we were allowed to choose the communion songs “on the fly”, which we really enjoyed.

  • Help MMC Share the Song!

  • This October Music That Makes Community collaborated with Alice Parker, a legend in the choral music world. Best known for arrangements and compositions created for the Robert Shaw Chorale, community singing has been her passion and joy for the past four decades.  

    Alice and I had the opportunity to lead Sharing the Song, a workshop for song leaders excited to nurture and sustain singing in their communities. In partnership with her non-profit Melodious Accord and Eden Theological Seminary, MMC was part of welcoming 18 song leaders to a transformative time of skill building and reflection.

    "It was the perfect wedding of instruction, inspiration, and affirmation for me as a community song leader. I take home a renewed sense of the energy and power of music." 

  • MMC Enriches Imagination!

  • While many come to our workshops expecting to learn new songs, they discover something even more transformative - new ways to build community through singing, even in unexpected places! 
    Did you have a required morning class your first year of college? The one you only survived with coffee or skipped more than you care to admit?
    Dr. Justin Yonker, a professor at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia attended MMC’s Paperless Singing/Story Sharing workshop at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in September. Inspired by our encouragement to take singing to places where it could help create community, he walked into his Intro to Astronomy class the next morning and taught a song. It didn’t take long for students to jump right in. And for the rest of the semester they sang before each class and students led songs of their own (all astronomy-themed, of course)!

  • MMC Empowers Leaders!

  • While many come to our workshops expecting to learn new songs, they discover something even more transformative - renewed confidence and creativity as leaders! 

    Consider the testimony of Sarah Brockus, a United Methodist musician who attended our fall workshop at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center in New Jersey:

    "I can’t thank you enough for the gift of this retreat. Our Pastor was gone this Sunday so I led almost the whole service – and the spirit moved in ways it never has before!

    The workshop gave me permission to “go with it.” I composed, I shaped – I made up whole new things in the moment that I’ve never done before. The congregation’s response was through the roof!! And they appreciated that I took time to fully teach them the songs – the listening part was extremely important 

    The communal spirit was heavenly and received positive feedback from the congregations for weeks afterward!"

Music that Makes Community
304 Bond Street * Brooklyn, NY 11231

[email protected]
(612) 204-2235