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 effective 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."
This Ndebele song is sung in churches all over Zimbabwe in Africa. I learned it from Hilary Seraph Donaldson in her series of instructional videos called Break into Song. Hilary learned it from Maria Minnaar-Bailey, and it is available in written form in Maria's Chaia Marima Songbook 3.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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'
We learned this rhythmic, layered Alleluia from Debbie Lou Ludolph at a Music that Makes Community workshop in Minneapolis in 2014.
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.
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."
This song was composed by Amy McCreath. It has become an anthem of sorts for the Music that Makes Community network because of its simple but powerful lyrics and easily taught (and harmonized) melody.
I learned this song from Sierra Leone (transcribed by Greg Scheer) at a congregational song symposium at the Chandler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA. Because each section of the song repeats, it's easiest to have folks echo after you. In the second section the word changes from bread to wine on the repeat so you have to think about how to prompt that. A few beats before the repeat I'll often say the new text and make sure that folks notice the change in that moment.
Song Form: Simple melody with SATB harmony
Place of Origin: Sierra Leone
Copyright Holder Name: Arr. © 2008 Greg Scheer
Print Source: Published in Global Songs for Worship. Purchase this book from Amazon here.
Publisher Name: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Faith Alive Christian Resources
Year of Publication: 2010
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."
Come, hear the Word...
Come, pray with us...
Go now in peace...
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."
Paul Vasile is an interim/transitional church musician, consultant and composer based in NYC.