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God Bless Every Step

This blessing song by Ruth Cunningham sets a translation of a Celtic chant from the Céile Dé order. It's extraordinarily versatile and can be sung as a simple melody (Part I alone), a two-part canon, and as a layered song when Parts II and III are added. 

The song has been used for blessing and sending, on Earth Day and for earth-honoring services, and on labyrinth walks and pilgrimages. It can help to have a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ) accompanying.

Part I:
"God bless every step that I am taking,
and bless the earth beneath my feet."

Parts II and II:
"God bless every step,
God bless the earth."

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Come to the Table (Clemens)

This Invitation to the Table by James Clemens can be offered as a call and response song, with the leader singing the first two lines and the community responding, 'We come together in Jesus' name...' and echoing the word offered by the leader (love, need, truth, etc). 

"Come, come, come to the table in love (need, truth, etc.)"

"We come together in Jesus' name.
We come to the table in love. (need, truth, etc.)"

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Come, O Lord, and Set Us Free

This expressive prayer song from the Iona Community is especially effective for Advent and can be taught through call and echo patterns. It has been used as a Gathering Song, for lighting Advent Candles, Prayers of the People, and Passing of the Peace. It's a zipper/pocket song and you can easily insert themes of the Advent season (hope, joy, and love).

The piece is effective as a simple melody but a beautiful choral harmonization and descant can also be added once the congregation part is secure. Listen to a setting from the Iona Community here.

"Come, O Lord, and set us free.
Give your people peace.
Come, O Lord, and set us free.
Come, Lord Jesus, come."

Alternative text:
Give your people hope...
Give your people joy...
Give your people love...

Copyright for the piece is held by GIA Publications, Inc. so you'll need a OneLicense membership to print the text or music.

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Come, Light of Lights

Come, Light of Lights is layered song composed by Ruth Cunningham that can also be sung as a 2, 3 or 4-part canon/round. 

The song is useful as an invocation or introit, a call to prayer, or a sung Prayer for Illumination. Many communities also sing it during Advent.

"Come, light of lights into my heart.
Come, wisdom of Spirit into my heart."

Ruth has given faith communities permission to sing and share the song without copyright restrictions.

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Behold, I Make All Things New

This short, affirming song by John Bell references passages from 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Revelation 21:5. It is a wonderful song of commitment and could be effective as a song of praise, sung Assurance of Pardon, sermon response, or sending song. 

"Behold, behold I make all things new,
beginning with you and starting from today.
Behold, behold I make all things new,
my promise is true for I am Christ the way."

Copyright for the piece is held by GIA Publications, Inc. so you'll need a OneLicense membership to print the text or music.

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Christ is our Guiding Light

Christ Is Our Guiding Light was composed by Rev. Eric Law of the Kaleidoscope Institute and works well as a canon or round in 2, 3 or 4 parts. There is also a lovely descant line for a cantor to sing once the group is confident. It could be used as a candle lighting song, for the Passing of Peace, and even in protests and marches. 

"Christ is our guiding light:
Come, let us walk in the way of peace."

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Sithi Haleluya

Sithi Haleluya is a well-known Ndebele church song from Zimbabwe, often sung in Shona, as well. It was popular during the anti-Apartheid movement where it was also part of a wide-ranging repertoire of South African protest/freedom songs.

The song was first shared with the MMC community by Canadian song leader Hilary Seraph Donaldson, who learned it from Maria Minnaar-Bailey. Maria grew up in rural Zimbabwe where she played in local marimba bands and learned and taught indigenous styles of music. She now brings those first-hand experiences of African music making to communities in the United States.

You can learn more about the context of the song and find teaching strategies through Break into Song, a series of instructional videos created by Hilary.

Singaba hambayo thina kulumhlaba
Siy’ekhaya ezulwini.
(Sithi) Haleluya.

Literal English translation (Maria Minnaar-Bailey):
We are walking along in this world of woe,
but onward home to Heaven we go.

English singing translation (Andrew Donaldson and Hilary Seraph Donaldson):
Together we walk along in this world of woe,
for heaven calls us on and home we go.

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All Peoples, Clap Your Hands

This setting of Psalm 47 was written by Pascal Jordan, a Benedictine brother from Trinidad. We learned it from Hilary Seraph-Donaldson in her wonderful series of instructional videos, Break into Song.

A solo or cantor line carries the psalm text, while the community responds with “Alleluia,” and rhythmic leg-slapping and clapping. The rhythmic underpinning is reminiscent of a child’s clapping game or the ubiquitous accompaniment of drum kit, congas, and other percussion that drives a steel drum band. This infuses the song with the strong sense that the whole community is drawn into the act of worship.

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Come, Holy Spirit

This call and echo song by John Bell is an invocation of Spirit including the Aramaic phrase Maranatha (Our Lord-come!), which appears in early Christian prayers and liturgy. The piece could be effective during Advent or Pentecost, or as an invitation to gathering or prayer. 

One key to leading the piece is a gesture that invites the group to sustain the final note of each phrase, while the leader sings the next phrase over it. Some leaders make a circular motion or move their hand outward to invite a continued sound.  

"Come, Holy Spirit. (Come, Holy Spirit.)
Come, Holy Spirit. (Come, Holy Spirit.)
*Maranatha! (Maranatha!)
Come, Lord, come! (Come, Lord, come!)"

*Some song leaders in the MMC community substitute 'Come among us" or 'Dwell among us' in place of the Aramaic word. 

Copyright for the piece is held by GIA Publications, Inc. so you'll need a OneLicense membership to print the music or text.

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Come All, Draw Near and Eat

This call and response song setting was composed by Mark Howe and has a haunting, challenging, and beautiful shape. The tender, reverent language of this 5th century Syrian Eucharistic prayer is also striking. 

Teach the response first and let the community become comfortable with the intervals through repetition. Once learned, the community might slowly walk or dance their way to the table while singing, pausing to listen to the verses.

The piece is most effective when accompanied by a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ).

"Come all, draw near and eat.

Your heavens are too high for us to reach, (Refrain) 
But here in your house you come close. (Refrain) 
Your throne is a fire none can touch, (Refrain) 
But here you live and dwell in bread and wine. (Refrain) 
You come to us so we can touch you. (Refrain) 
You draw us to you with cords of love. (Refrain) 
You dwell tenderly with us. (Refrain)"

Mark has given faith communities permission to sing and share the song without copyright restrictions.

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Palestinian Alleluia

Canadian song leader Debbie Lou Ludolph brought this rhythmic, layered Alleluia to the MMC community. Transcribed from a Palestinian source and arranged by John Bell, it can easily be taught without paper. 

The structure of the song means you only need to teach two phrases, which can be done through call and echo. It can help to use hand gestures to offer guidance as you thread the parts together. Once the higher part is learned, teach the lower. A stomp or clap on the downbeat of the second, ascending phrase helps keep the tempo steady and keeps the group in their bodies. When both parts feel confident, bring them together.

The piece is useful as a song of praise, a gospel acclamation, or even as a warm up for a choir or singing circle. 

Copyright for the piece is held by GIA Publications, Inc. so you'll need a OneLicense membership to print the music.

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If In Your Heart (Setting 1)

Ana Hernández has written two contrasting settings of If In Your Heart, a short text by 17th century mystic and poet Angelus Silesius. The first is a rhythmic setting that creates a sense of joyous anticipation. It is wonderfully suited to the Advent and Christmas seasons and could be effective as a gathering or processional song, for candle lighting, or as a Gospel acclamation.  

Ana suggests a syncopated clapping rhythm that suggests a heartbeat, adding another dimension to our singing of the text.

"If in your heart you make a manger for his birth, 
then God will once again become a child on earth."

Teaching note: Teach the melody until secure, repeating phrases and breaking them down as necessary. Try assigning the handclap pattern to a small group (or even a percussion instrument), but encourage them to stay soft until the group’s confidence grows and it ‘locks in’ rhythmically.

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I Will Supply Your Need

I Will Supply Your Need is a call and response song by Ben Allaway, inspired by Philippians 4:19 and the devotional book God Calling by Two Listeners, edited by A. J. Russell. Easily learned and well-suited to many liturgical contexts, the song can deepen into a place of spacious prayer. Improvised harmonies can be invited and additional calls can be written or extemporized to name specific needs within the community. 

Additionally, the song leader can shift the language of the response from 'I will...' to 'You will...' as well as offer dynamic instructions that shape the energy and flow of the song.

"Jesus said to me, "I will supply your need."

The weak need my strength...
The strong need my tenderness...
The fallen need my salvation...
The righteous need my pity for sinners...
The lonely need my friendship...
The fighters need my leading...
No one of this world can be all these to another...
Sing it over...
Believe him/Christ when he says...
Thank you, Lord..."

Teaching note: Perhaps the biggest challenge is the shift from teaching the response (which we model through call and echo) to the call and response structure. Most groups need a gentle reminder (either spoken or sung) that they keep singing the response and don't echo the call. 

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In My End Is My Beginning

Rachel Kroh composed this song at a Music that Makes Community workshop in 2012. The text is from Burnt Norton in T. S. Eliot's The Four Quartets

"In my end is my beginning, in my beginning is my end."

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Listen to the Word of God

This lively call and response song composed by Marilyn Haskel was originally written for a weekly paperless Eucharist at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City that welcomed visitors from around the world.

Begin by teaching the 'Hallelujah!" responses, then sing the call and invite the group right in. Before you know it, the group will be singing the whole song. In Marilyn's context, a quartet of singers filled out the harmony parts in the printed score.

"Listen to the Word of God.
Hear the living Word.

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Go On Your Way in Joy, My Friends

This joyful song by Kerri Meyer, inspired by writer Annie Dillard, has quickly become a favorite in the MMC community. Many of our leaders use it as a sending song, even adding steps that invite the community to dance and sing! It's also a zipper/pocket song that welcomes text changes for the context or season you're in.

"Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Let your left foot say 'Glory!'
and your right say, 'Amen!'"

Alternative text:
Go on your way in peace...
Go on your way in love...
Go on your way in hope... 

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Hamba nathi Mkhululi wethu / Go With Us, Lord, and Set Us All Free - South Africa (Xhosa)

This South African Song in Xhosa is roughly translated “Go with us, our Savior” and comes from the repertoire of anti-Apartheid Freedom Songs written in the 1970's and 80's. It was shared with the MMC community by Paul Vasile, who learned it from Pamela Warrick Smith. In the spirit of music from many African contexts, the song invites opportunities for improvisation and adding actions/themes specific to the community's needs or experiences.

We have seen leaders share it as zipper/pocket song (i.e. Go with us, Lord, and give us your love/joy/peace) or deepen its communal spirit by crafting new verses (i.e. Come walk with us and share in our bread/...and join in the song). It makes a powerful sending song.

"Hamba nathi Mkhululi wethu"

There are several poetic translations of the song into English, not all faithful to the original Xhosa:  

1. You Are Holy, You Show Us the Way
2. God With Us, Lord, and Set Us All Free
3. Come Walk With Us, the Journey Is Long (Anders Nyberg)

Teaching note from Paul Vasile: When you lead Hamba nathi, make sure that you keep a steady beat so the group feels the syncopated rhythm of the tune. I teach the tune first and once that's set offer the bass line. If folks don't intuitively add harmony (almost every group I've taught this to has), outline parts.

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We Are Coming, Lord, to the Table

We Are Coming, Lord, to the Table is joyous communion song from Sierra Leone transcribed by Greg Scheer, a composer, author, and speaker with roots in the Reformed Church. It was carried to MMC by Paul Vasile, who learned it at a Calvin Institute of Worship symposium at the Chandler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA.

Because each section of the song repeats, it's easiest to teach the community through call and echo. In the second section, the word changes from "bread" to "wine" on the repeat, so it can be helpful to call it out a few beats ahead. Once learned, harmony can be invited. Drums and other rhythm instruments can also be added, but be sure they support the group's learning.

"We are coming, Lord to the table.
(We are coming, Lord to the table)
With the gift of bread we are coming, Lord.
(With the gift of wine we are coming, Lord.)
Oh, we are coming, Lord.
(Oh, we are coming, Lord.)

We are coming, Lord to the table.
(We are coming, Lord to the table)
To receive the bread, we are coming, Lord.
To receive the wine, we are coming, Lord.
Oh, we are coming, Lord.
(Oh, we are coming, Lord.)

Copyright for the song is held by Greg Scheer. A CCLI license is required to print or project the music or lyrics.

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There Is Enough

Kerri Meyer wrote There Is Enough at a Music that Makes Community workshop and it became an instant hit! The melody was adapted from a Peter Mayer refrain and she also composed a descant to sing over the tune. 

The song is easy to teach through call and echo. Simple hand gestures can help reinforce the subtle differences between the phrases, especially the first and third. And harmony is so intuitive it may show up before you invite folks to add it.

We've seen the piece shared in so many settings - from church suppers and stewardship campaigns to a protest in the office of a United States senator.

"There is enough!
There is enough!
There is enough, oh,
Enough and some to share!"

"God has blessed her people, God has blessed us!"

The Rev. Breen Sipes of Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish in rural Nebraska shared additional verses she's used with young people in her community:

"I am enough..."
"You are enough..."
"God has enough..."

Kerri has given faith communities permission to sing and share the song without copyright restrictions.

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Antiphon for Whirling

This buoyant, rhythmic setting of verses from Psalm 134 was written by Ana Hernández in 2007.

The 7/8 meter is best felt in the body, first through tapping or clapping the larger rhythmic groups (2+2+3). Ana often invites the group to sing the tune on "la" until they've gained familiarity with the melody and rhythm. Then text can be added.

"Yours the day also the night, you made the moon and the sun.
La la la la...
God has bless'd us. God has bless'd us. God has bless'd us."

A shruti box or another drone instrument can help the group stay on pitch; percussion instruments can add rhythmic support.

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