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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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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, 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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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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Arise, Shine

Arise, Shine is a two-part layered song composed by Ruth Cunningham. It's been shared at many MMC workshops and is a wonderful way to introduce your community to paperless singing.

While the text from Isaiah 60 makes it useful for the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), it could also be used as a sung refrain for the Third Song of Isaiah in the Book of Common Prayer.

"Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the *glory of the Lord has dawned upon you."

*Some leaders in the MMC community substitute 'glory of God' 

Ruth 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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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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What We Need Is Here

This song was composed by Amy McCreath, who now serves as the Dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, MA. It has become a sort of Music that Makes Community anthem because of its simple but powerful lyrics and easily taught (and harmonized) melody. 

Based on a the final line of the poem The Wild Geese by Wendell Berry, it can be shared in a variety of contexts, within and outside faith communities. 

"What we need is here."

The Rev. McCreath has given faith communities permission to sing and share the song without restrictions. She simply asks you properly acknowledge the author of the tune and text. 

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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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Come to the Feast

Sylvia Miller-Mutia created Come to the Feast at a Music that Makes Community gathering in January 2015. While created as a song for people to sing in procession to the table for communion, it is easily adapted to serve as an invitation or transition into any part of the liturgy.

"Come to the feast!
Come, one and all. Come to the feast."

Alternative texts:
Come, hear the Word...
Come, pray with us...
Go now in peace...

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Love and Faithfulness Shall Meet (Psalm 85)

This canonic setting of Psalm 85:10 was written by Albuquerque-based composer David Poole. Many of his pieces have been created in collaboration with John Philip Newell, the well-known author and teacher on Celtic spirituality.

This setting could be used in various contexts: as a psalm refrain, as a sung Passing of the Peace, or in liturgies focused on peace and justice.

"Love and faithfulness shall meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss."

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Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness

Paul Vasile is an interim/transitional church musician, consultant and composer based in NYC.


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