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I Look to the Hills (Psalm 121)

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

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Evening Lamps Are Lit / Firelight Praise

This beautiful, two-part layered song by Ana Hernández is a 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).

Part I:
"Evening lamps are lit, firelight all around. Evening lamps are lit, *praise the only sound."

Part II:
"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.'


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Come, Come, Whoever You Are (Ungar setting)

This buoyant, four-part canon by Lynn Ungar, a Unitarian Universalist pastor and poet, is based on a poem from the "school" of Rumi. While often attributed to him, it appears in manuscripts of other Persian writers of the late 13th century. 

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...

While Rev. Ungar holds the copyright to the song, communities are welcome to use it for worship without restrictions or cost.

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Lead with Love

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)

Verse 1:
Don’t give up hope
You’re not alone
Don’t you give up
Keep movin’ on

Verse 2:
Lift up your eyes
Don’t you despair
Look up ahead
The path is there

Verse 3:
I know you’re scared
And I’m scared, too
But here I am
Right next to you!

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Mungu ni mwema / Know that God Is Good

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!

Katonda mulungi.

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Love, Take a Walk with Me

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."

Alternative words:


Charles is happy to have you share the song but kindly asks you to reach out and request permission.

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Our Mother/Father in Heaven

Our Mother/Father in Heaven is a creative adaptation of a song from Southern Africa, first shared by Liesl Smith 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."

Alternative text:
Our Father/Sister/Brother...

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Who Will Set Us Free?

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?)
Jesus (Jesus)
Jesus (Jesus)
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)"

Additional verses:
Who will clear our sight? 
Who will be our light?
Who will give us life?

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He/Christ Came Down

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.
Hallelujah forevermore!"

*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.

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

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Thank You for This Day, God/Spirit

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...'

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I Am Here in the Heart of God

This beautiful chant by New Thought song leader and composer Erin McGaughan was arranged as a call and echo song by Chanda Rule and has been shared at many MMC workshops over the years. Chanda added several new verses to the original song and there is a modulation between each. Here is a link to the original song for comparison.

"I am here in the heart of God,
God is here in the heart of me.
Like the wave in the water and the water in the wave,
I am here in the heart of God.

I am here in the breath of God,
God is here in the heart of me.
Like the wind in the springtime and the springtime in the wind,
I am here in the breath of God.

I am here in the soul of God,
God is here in the soul of me.
Like the flame in the fire and the fire in the flame.
I am here in the soul of God.

I am here in the mind of God,
God is here in the mind of me.
Like the earth in my body and my body in the earth,
I am here in the soul of God."

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Yarabba Ssalami - God of Peace

This passionate prayer for peace is attributed to a Palestinian source in several Global Song collections.

While the pronunciation of Arabic can differ from country to country, here is a recording of the text in the original language to guide you

Yarabba ssalami amter alayna ssalam,
Yarabba ssalami im la’ qulubana ssalam.

Poetic translation:
God of Peace, rain peace upon us,
fill our hearts with peace.

Singing translation:
God of peace and of justice, rain down upon us your peace.
God of peace and of justice, fill every heart with your peace.

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Let the Broken Ones Be Healed

This lyrical melody by Sandra Gay can also be sung as a three-part round. The text is from Songs for the Cycle by hymn writer Michael Hudson, who took on the challenge of writing a hymn text for each of the gospels in the three-year Lectionary cycle.

Invite the community to listen to the text spoken aloud. Then, break the tune into phrases and invite the group to echo each. Combine the phrases into longer units; listen carefully and use gestures or mnemonic cues to instill confidence. When the group is ready, sing the piece through several times and then invite a canon.

"Let the broken ones be healed.
Let the lost be found and fed.
Let the grace of God roll on.
Let the river rise and spread.
Step into the stream with me.
Let God's gracious purpose be!"


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While We Are Waiting, Come

While We Are Waiting, Come is a beautiful melody by Claire Cloninger and Don Cason that can be taught through echo patterns. It makes an effective Prayer Song or response during the Advent season.

"While we are waiting, come.
While we are waiting, come.
Jesus our Lord, Emmanuel,
While we are waiting, come."

Once the assembly has learned the song well, you can add harmony parts or keyboard accompaniment.

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Come to the Table of Grace

Come to the Table of Grace is a short song by Barbara Hamm, the Minister of Music at Community Congregational Church UCC in Benicia, CA. It could be offered as an Invitation to the Table or during the distribution of communion elements.

Try lining out the melody one phrase at a time, inviting the community to echo until they're confident. It's also a zipper/pocket song that welcomes the substitution of words for the context/season. We have included a few possibilities below.

"Come to the table of grace.
Come to the table of grace.
This is God's table it's not yours or mine.
Come to the table of grace."

Alternative text:
Come to the table of peace...
Come to the table of joy...
Come to the table of hope...

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Spirit, Still My Body

Spirit, Still My Body was written by Charles Murphy, a singer, songwriter, and church musician in the Chicago area. It was shared at our Pentecost weekend in Western Chicago in June 2017.

Enjoy this soulful song and give thanks for Spirit's calming, centering presence in these challenging days.

"Spirit, still my body. Spirit, wake my soul.
I can't tame tomorrow, Now need be my goal.
Spirit, still my body. Spirit, wake my soul.
Steep me in the present, The rest God will control.'

Charles is happy to have you share the song but kindly asks you to reach out and request permission.

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