For an alphabetical list of all songs in the database, click here.
This plainsong setting of the Lord's Prayer was adapted for paperless singing and gestures by MMC founder Donald Schell. The melody is ancient, possibly reaching as far back as first and second century synagogues. The gestures are adapted from ancient Christian postures of prayer.
The setting is essential call and echo, with the leader singing and gesturing one phrase at a time, with the assembly following. Full kneeling (prostration) is not required, but an invitation can be given to the group to adapt the gestures to their body's comfort and ability.
Amen Siakudumisa is a praise song by Stephen Molefe, a talented South African musician who was one of the first to compose indigenous liturgical music following the Second Vatican Council. Written in Xhosa, one of several languages spoken in the country, it was intended to be sung as the “Amen” at the conclusion of the Great Thanksgiving of the Eucharist liturgy. It is also useful as a Doxology, as a psalm refrain, or as a song of praise.
The piece would usually be accompanied by marimbas; drums are not commonly used in Xhosa song. Learn more about the history and context of Amen Siakudumisa in this excellent blog post by Dr. Michael Hawn.
“Amen siyakudumisa (Masithi)
Amen siyakudumisa (Masithi)
"Amen, we praise your name, O God. (O sing now!)
Amen, amen. Amen, amen.
Amen, we praise your name, O God." (O sing now!)
"Amen, we praise your name.
Amen, we praise your name."
Learn more about the history and context of the song in this excellent blog post by Dr. Michael Hawn.
This three-part layered Hosanna by singer, church musician, and composer Holly Phares would work beautifully for a Palm Sunday processional or a festive occasion.
Ana Hernández has written two contrasting settings of If In Your Heart, a short text by 17th century mystic and poet Angelus Silesius. The second is a tender, lullaby-like melody that welcomes extemporaneous harmony. Try adding guitar or piano accompaniment to give the song a stronger rhythmic flow.
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.
"If in your heart you make a manger for his birth,
then God will once again become a child on earth."
Hosanna, ho! is a call and echo song for Palm Sunday written by Ben Allaway. Useful for a processional or gathering, the leader sing out a phrase and the entire congregation simply sings the phrase back. Percussion instruments and improvised harmonies add to the joyous energy.
Blest is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord. Alleluia!"
This call to faithful action by Paul Vasile is inspired by quotations from Frederick Douglass and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, speaking back to the shallow 'thoughts and prayers' and inaction of American politicians in face of ongoing mass shootings and gun violence. It is intended to be used in faith-based protests and marches, or as a sending song in churches and synagogues.
"It's not enough to offer thoughts and prayers.
It's not enough to say that we care.
It's not enough to hope that things will change.
We've got to pray with our feet,
pray with our feet, pray with our feet
and get out, out on the street."
MMC Presenter Jorge Lockward has written several more verses. The song also welcomes alternate lyrics to include people with a range of ability, or to name specific actions or work the community is called to do.
"We’ve got to pray with our mouths...
pray with our wheels...
pray with our vote..."
'The tune is HOLY MANNA (attributed to William Moore), which I learned from singing and leading Sacred Harp. (Here is a good version, and here is a less-polished version of a young and inexperienced me leading). I knew the tune from memory and then slightly adapted the words from the English Language Liturgical Consultation for use in a dinner church-style Eucharist at clergy retreat. The tune is familiar enough for people of different traditions to pick up (even if it's just from hearing it in a Ken Burns documentary), and the challenge is figuring out where to space the phrases of the text with the tune for calling and repeat.'
Here's a blog post Sylvia contributed about this song and how she uses call and echo to incorporate movement into worship.
"Holy, holy, holy, holy, (Holy, holy, holy, holy)
God of power, God of might (God of power, God of might)
Heaven and earth are full of your glory (Heaven and earth are full of your glory)
Hosanna in the highest! (Hosanna in the highest!)
Blessed is the one who comes (Blessed is the one who comes)
in the name of the Lord (in the name of the Lord)
Hosanna in the highest! (Hosanna in the highest!)
Hosanna in the highest! (Hosanna in the highest!)"
This call and echo setting of Psalm 121 by Roddy Hamilton was carried to the MMC community by Rita Pihra-Majurinen. It's easy to learn and provides for a variety of singing options: leader/all, choir/congregation, or two groups echoing each other. Rita also wrote additional verses, so you can sing the whole psalm in call and echo.
The piece is effective accompanied by a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ) to support the group's singing. With or without accompaniment, the tune quickly finds harmony.
"I look to the hills. (I look to the hills.)
Where does help come from? (Where does help come from?)
My help comes from God, (My help comes from God,)
who made heaven and earth. (who made heaven and earth.)"
Additional verses by Rita Pihra-Majurinen:
"God who guides me feet,
God who never sleeps,
You who keep us safe
neither slumber nor sleep.
You are close at hand
like the evening shade
sunlight by day,
moonlight by night.
You will keep from harm
those who trust in you
as we go or come
This beautiful, two-part layered song by Ana Hernández is her paraphrase of the Phos hilaron, one of the oldest hymns in the Christian tradition. It can be used as a gathering song, on Epiphany and during celebrations of light, or as a candle lighting song, as is the practice at St. Lydia's in Brooklyn where this song is frequently shared.
Leaders the MMC community teach the song differently. Some begin with Part I, then move to Part II. Others reverse the order to great effect. The piece is effective when accompanied by a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ).
"Evening lamps are lit, firelight all around. Evening lamps are lit, *praise the only sound."
"Light of the world, of endless blessing, sun of our night, lamp of our days;
Light of the world, of endless blessing, we raise our hearts in thanks and praise."
*Some communities sing 'praise and thanksgiving sound.'
This Rumi poem has also been set as a tuneful, four-part canon by Lynn Ungar, a Unitarian Universalist pastor and poet.
Try lining out each phrase using call and echo until the group is confident. Then add the melodic ostinato to complete the poem. This setting is effective as a gathering or welcoming song, a Call to Worship, during Lent, and times of spiritual pilgrimage.
"Come, come, whoever you are,
wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
Ours is no caravan of despair.
Come, yet again, come!"
Though you've broken your vows a thousand times...
This powerful walking song by vocal activist Melanie DeMore was written in November 2016 and has found a home at protest and worship services alike. The chorus can be learned quickly after a few repetitions and the verses are sung as call and echo dialogue between the leader and the group.
When asked about the inspiration for the piece, Melanie said, “I was inspired by the great movements that were started out of the love for their people, not out of the hatred of others.”
You gotta put one foot in front of the other
And lead with love
Put one foot in front of the other
And lead with love! (2x)
Don’t give up hope
You’re not alone
Don’t you give up
Keep movin’ on
Lift up your eyes
Don’t you despair
Look up ahead
The path is there
I know you’re scared
And I’m scared, too
But here I am
Right next to you!
This short Swahili Praise Song is well known in many Eastern and Central African countries, though many sources trace its origin to Democratic Republic of Congo. The song was transcribed and harmonized by John Bell and appears in many hymnals and songbooks.
While it might be easy for people of privilege to hear this song as a joyful affirmation, its energy shifts when placed back in the context of a country like Democratic Republic of Congo, which has endured painful legacies of civil war and colonization. What does it mean for a community to say "God is good" in the midst of challenging and even life-threatening circumstances, not just when it is easy or convenient?
It can be sung in several languages and additional verses can be improvised or added for the context, a common practice in Praise Songs from an African context.
Mungu ni mwema.
Know that God is good.
C'est vrai: Dieu est bon!
This sturdy tune by singer/songwriter Charles Murphy is a wonderful zipper/pocket song. Charles often asks a group he is leading, "What needs to walk with us today?" and welcomes their responses into the song. It is wonderful for gathering and sending, and could be used as a prayer for individual/group discernment and pilgrimage.
"Love take a walk with me,
and Spirit guide me feet."
Charles is happy to have groups use the song but asks that you reach out and request permission first.
Our Mother/Father in Heaven is a creative adaptation of a song from Southern Africa, first shared at an MMC Holy Week Retreat at St. Lydia's in Brooklyn. Taught through call and echo, the piece invites improvisation and imagination in our language for Divine.
"Our Mother in heaven,
give us your love
We are knocking at your door
for love, for love and peace."
Who Will Set Us Free? is a powerful song of lament and longing written by Father Bernardo Maria Perez and Philippine composer Francisco Feliciano. It is based around a five-note (pentatonic) melody and can be sung unaccompanied or with a drone instrument (like a shruti box).
The song can be taught without printed text or music using call and echo. Leadership can be offered by a cantor or by a group of voices taking the lead, creating a powerful dialogue and reinforcing the spacious, reflective quality of the music. The song could be useful in Advent, Lent, or times of communal grief and challenge.
"Who will set us free? (Who will set us free?)
We're waiting (We're waiting)
We're waiting for you (We're waiting for you)
You said you'd be coming (You said you'd be coming)
Don't let our hope be futile (Don't let our hope be futile)"
Who will clear our sight?
Who will be our light?
Who will give us life?
He/Christ Came Down is a joyous melody from Cameroon transcribed by John Bell of the Iona Community. It appears in several hymnals and songbooks.
Several leaders in our community invite movement and embodiment while sharing this song, often with an arm gesture beckoning Christ to come down. The words can also be coordinated with each Sunday of Advent (i.e. hope, peace, joy, love, light), making this an excellent seasonal offering.
"*He came down that we might have love.
*Some leaders change the text to ‘Christ came down…’ More Voices of the United Church of Canada translates the text as ‘Jesus Came Bringing Us Hope.’
This song from The Native American Church Movement awakens a powerful sense of openness and thanksgiving. It is inspired by the Native American ritual of greeting the morning sun—a time for acknowledging the daily renewal of creation and connecting with God, The Great Spirit.
Additional verses can be added, with an invitation for the community to add their intentions in the moment.
"Thank you for this day, *God,
thank you for this day.
This healing, this healing, this healing day.
Thank you for this world...
Thank you for these friends…
Thank you for this life…"
*Several leaders in the MMC community sing 'Thank you for this day, Spirit...'