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!"

  • Creative Worship Planning: Haiku as Chant

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    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.

  • Singing Together Shapes our Humanity: A Preschool Workshop

  • P8271121.jpgLate last spring I got one of those invitations that just makes you want to shout, "YES!" 

    My friend Amy Baker, a fellow parishioner at St. Gregory’s, San Francisco is Program Director at Old Firehouse School, Mill Valley.  She wondered if I’d want to lead a half-day in service for all the teachers at Old Firehouse.  She wanted the work,  

    - to be rooted in brain development (why music is so fundamental for humans, why young children respond so well to music and rhythm, how we can use early childhood development to make our teaching lives easier/better/etc…)

    - very practical (specific songs, but more emphasis on learning useful principles and musical basics that smart teachers can take and use creatively)

    - and very reassuring and unintimidating (so that even people who think they know nothing about music and/or who have been told they can't sing will be comfortable integrating sung and other/rhythmical music into their classroom lives)

    What a great invitation to share Music that Makes Community’s work and discoveries with teachers who already sensed that singing together shapes our humanity! And to encourage them to risk singing more in their classes! Yes! Yes! Yes! 

    So what in the science would help us find our way? 

    Could our noticing free us from the interpretative restraint of the commonplace computer metaphor for the brain and thinking - data delivery, data storage, and data retrieval? 

    Could we shape a fragment of practice and experience that would help us discover “people-making” in our singing together (borrowing systems theorist Virginia Satir’s wonderful name for the mutual formation that we are always offering one another). 

    Would we hear whispers of “tacit knowing,” scientist-philosopher Michael Polanyi’s description of the knowing and truth that’s there before speech and gives life to personal knowledge? 

  • Composer of the Month: Kerri Meyer

  • Kerri_Meyer_headshot.jpg
    Over the coming year the MMC blog is featuring composers who write paperless music! While you may recognize a few names from our song collections and workshops, we're especially excited to share new compositional voices bringing breadth, depth, and richness to an evolving body of music sung without paper. Each composer has generously agreed to offer a free piece to the MMC community; others can be purchased from the composer directly or found in existing resources. We hope you'll enjoy the videos, audio clips, and sample scores, and find new songs to share with your community.

    About Kerri Meyer:

    Kerri serves St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and is a candidate for ordination. In another chapter of her life, she was the Executive Director of Mila Vocal Ensemble, a professional women's group specializing in the folk music traditions of Eastern Europe and Georgia. The Christian vocation to justice-seeking neighbor-love motivates her work and her singing. Kerri is well-known to the MMC community through several songs, including Go On Your Way in Joy, My Friends and There Is Enough. 

    Several of the songs below are from Resistance Through Preaching and Song, a project involving several MMC presenters including Kerri and Sylvia Miller-Mutia. Comprised of six pastors from various denominations, the group is harnessing the liberating, prophetic power of the gospel and the role of song in countering an empire which seeks to tell a single story about people. They believe that using scriptures to create new songs to sing in worship will help open ears to hear, tongues to proclaim, and hearts to receive the gospel anew.

  • Composer of the Month: Angela Morris

  • Angela_Morris_by_Aaron_Winters.jpg
    Over the coming year we'll regularly feature new composers who write paperless music! While you may recognize a few names from our song collections and workshops, we're especially excited to share new compositional voices bringing breadth, depth, and richness to an evolving body of music sung without paper. Each composer has generously agreed to offer a free piece to the MMC community; others can be purchased from the composer directly or found in existing resources. We hope you'll enjoy the videos, audio clips, and sample scores, and find new songs to share with your community.

    About Angela Morris:

    If Brooklyn’s music circles draw a Venn diagram, saxophonist-composer Angela Morris thrives in the loop between avant-jazz and pop. Originally from Toronto, Canada and based in NYC, she has performed throughout North America and Europe. Her vocal group Rallidae released their new album, Turned, and Was, in November 2016 on the NYC-based label Gold Bolus Recordings; their debut Paper Birds was praised by AllAboutJazz as “an exceptional debut by and exciting and innovative new band.”

    Morris is a member of Motel and TMT Trio, two collaborative trios that have respectively released albums in 2017: like you always do, I always did too by Motel (Prom Night Records), and Star Ballad by TMT Trio. Morris composes and co-leads several groups, including a 17-piece big band with Anna Webber – she is an alumna of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop lead by Jim McNeely and studied composition with the Grammy-nominated jazz composer Darcy James Argue. In addition to her own projects, she performs with Helado Negro, Jason Ajemian’s Folk-Lords, Myra Melford, and Jessica Pavone. Morris also gives workshops and private lessons, serves as a presenter for Music that Makes Community, and coordinates music and liturgy at Saint Lydia's Dinner Church in Brooklyn.

  • Composer of the Month: Barbara Cates

  • IMG_1465_(2).jpgOver the coming year we'll regularly feature a composer who writes paperless music! While you may recognize a few names from our song collections and workshops, we're especially excited to share new compositional voices bringing breadth, depth, and richness to an evolving body of music sung without paper. Each composer has generously agreed to offer a free piece to the MMC community; others can be purchased from the composer directly or found in existing resources. We hope you'll enjoy the videos, audio clips and sample scores, and find many new songs to share with your community.

    About Barbara Cates:

    Barbara Cates has never thought of herself as a composer until now, but she usually has melodies rolling around in her head, and sometimes they attach themselves to words, or the right words rolling around call forth a melody. The inclusive, intuitive approach to composing at Music that Makes Community workshops have brought something forth from deep within or beyond; one song even came to her in a dream! 

    Barbara has had many musical influences: Foreign Service postings in Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uzbekistan, living at The Taizé Community for a time in her youth, and exposure to a wide variety of paperless musical traditions, from Jubilee Gospel to Sephardic to Georgian polyphony, at Vocal Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV.

    At home in Baltimore she is part of two faith communities: Memorial Episcopal Church, where the informal Faith@Eight and Taizé services give her a chance to experiment, and Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, where she sings in a choir with a wonderfully inclusive repertoire. She and her husband Matthew Stremba sing to their cats, Bobur and Koshka. Barbara also convenes MMC’s new Baltimore Practice Group at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

  • Composer of the Month: Debbie Holloway

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    Each month over the coming year we'll feature a composer who writes paperless music! While you may recognize a few names from our song collections and workshops, we're especially excited to share new compositional voices bringing breadth, depth, and richness to an evolving body of music sung without paper. Each composer has generously agreed to offer a free piece to the MMC community; others can be purchased from the composer directly or found in existing resources. We hope you'll enjoy the videos, audio clips and sample scores, and find many new songs to share with your community.

    About Debbie Holloway:

    Debbie Holloway is a congregant and sometimes-composer at St. Lydia's Dinner Church in Gowanus, Brooklyn. St Lydia's is where she was first introduced to paperless congregational songleading, which meshed naturally with her other musical proclivities and interests.

    After working by day in Operations at the Museum of Food and Drink, Debbie enjoys exerting creativity in her side gigs as a freelance film critic. But her first love was music; whenever she can, she loves to make music with her husband or siblings, participate in choral singing, and support the music of other artists. Congregational songleading holds a special place in her heart because of its nonperformative aspect, simplicity, and the trust and camaraderie it builds within a community. 

    While these songs are her first few efforts, she hopes these will be the first of many.

  • Composer of the Month: Bret Hesla

  • Each month over the coming year we'll feature a composer who writes paperless music! While you may recognize a few names from our song collections and workshops, we're especially excited to share new compositional voices bringing breadth, depth and richness to an evolving body of music sung without paper. Each composer has generously agreed to offer a free piece to the MMC community; others can be purchased from the composer directly or found in existing resources. We hope you'll enjoy the videos and sample scores, and find many new songs to share with your community.

    About Bret Hesla:

    Composer/songleader Bret Hesla leads singing for groups of ordinary people. With guitar and banjo, he has spent much of the past 30 years collecting, writing, songleading and performing music on issues of peace, justice and sustainable living, in gatherings of community groups, faith communities, schools, peace/justice groups.

  • Singing in Community: a New Paperless Resource

  • This post originally appeared on the ELCA Worship Blog. Paul Vasile is the Executive Director of Music that Makes Community.

    For over ten years Music That Makes Community has hosted workshops around the United States and Canada inviting participants to experience the power of paperless singing. The work started with a question and a challenge: how could we invite worshippers to participate in liturgy without hymnals, bulletins, or screens? How might clergy and musicians develop the skills – non-verbal communication, modeling and imitation, focused listening – to lead song (and liturgy) with sensitivity and care? And without minimizing the richness and depth of musical experiences mediated through paper, how could singing ‘by heart’ strengthen community and invite the participation of reluctant or disenfranchised singers?

  • Singing in Community: Holy Week


  • For twenty-one years, Scott served as Program Director for Worship and Music for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He recently relocated to Toronto where he is currently freelancing as a musician, liturgist, and teacher. 

    The week that Christians call “holy” is coming soon, as it does each year. The ancient liturgies of this week summon us all to sing. Short acclamations of faith stand at the heart of the Christian year. It rarely takes a lot of words to say powerful, strong, and true things. Sometimes, less is best. Sometimes, words alone are not enough. Many of the acclamations from the traditional liturgical journey of holy week accompany the actions of a gathered community, not passive spectators.

    “Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord” may be proclaimed as we process through the streets of our neighborhood. Learn a joyous, three-part 'Hosanna' taught by Holly Phares.

    “Where charity and love prevail, there is God” we sing as we kneel at the feet our friends and enemies, humbly washing their feet, as Christ did for us. Watch Debbie Lou Ludolph teach 'Between Darkness and Light.'

    “We adore you, O Christ and we bless you” we might sing as we move reverently, yet confidently, to the cross of Christ to receive healing and wholeness, perhaps leaving something from our own being that needs to be discarded. Hear Lindsey Nye lead her original song, 'Have You Died Before.'

    “The light of Christ” we declare, while shivering in the cold spring night around the new fire and the pillar of light, waiting with Christians around the world and throughout all time to once again greet the resurrection. Feel the joy of resurrection as Nancy Boldt McLaren teaches 'In Christ We Live.'

  • MMC partners with The Hymn Society in 2017

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    Brian Hehn is the Director of The Center for Congregational Song, the new initiative that The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada launches in October 2017.

    c2d2a9_b25e269de4424a1fa02e97fa84133db2.jpg_srz_238_252_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz.jpegThe Hymn Society is a community made up of hymn writers, song writers, hymnologists, song enliveners, and many other kinds of people. What unites us is a passion for congregational song. We believe that the holy act of singing together shapes faith, heals brokenness, transforms lives, and renews peace. Because of those core beliefs, our work is to encourage, promote, and enliven congregational singing. So, it is a natural fit that The Hymn Society and Music That Makes Community be in partnership with one another. The core values on the MMC website echo much of what our members hold true, and many of our members are a part of both of our communities. 

    The Hymn Society is excited for what MMC will be bringing to our conference this summer. Our members will have ample opportunity to dive into the MMC experience with a Sunday afternoon sing and a 2-session workshop on Tuesday. If you’ve never been to a Hymn Society conference before, what you’ll find is a group of scholars, practitioners, pastors, priests, poets, composers, and congregation members who are eager to sing and learn from each other. My first Hymn Society conference was in 2009 and I have never looked back! The combination of hospitality, knowledge, humility and skill with which our members approach their work is akin to the community that MMC is building with its membership. It makes for a wonderful week of singing and learning that is memorable and faith-shaping. I hope you’ll join us.

  • Paperless Music for Winter Solstice

  • Paul Vasile is a interim/transitional church musician, consultant, and composer based in New York City. He has been a Music that Makes Community presenter since 2011 and now serves as MMC's Executive Director.

    Several years ago, I hosted my first Winter Solstice gathering. It had been a season of loss and transition and I didn't feel especially cheery or comfortable approaching the holidays. Adding to the uneasiness, my ministry as a church musician asked me to give my best to liturgies and concerts that brought hope, peace and joy to others. But I just wasn't feeling it.

    So I gathered a group of close friends in my apartment on the longest night of the year. We prayed, we sat in silence, we shared a simple dinner of homemade soup, and we sang. It wasn't more than a hymn and a few short chants but there was something tender and beautiful in our voices. Our breathing softened as we filled the room with sound, making space for the unsettled and difficult parts of our lives. I think we left with a little more strength for the journey, with a measure of grace for the days ahead. I know I did.

Music that Makes Community
paul@musicthatmakescommunity.org
(929) 266-4662
131 Odell Clark Place, Apt. 3A
New York, NY 10030