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Our Breath Is Incense

Psalm 141 is commonly used during Vespers or Evening Prayer. This setting by psalmist and singer-songwriter Richard Bruxvoort Colligan invites the community to sing a refrain which alternates with solo verses.

Use call and echo patterns to teach the refrain phrase by phrase. Weave them together when the community is ready and proceed right into the psalm setting without breaking the flow.

Our breath is incense, sweet smell rising.
Our hands are open, lifted up in the evening. 

Verse 1: 
I call out to you Come and hear me 
Give ear to my voice, my God, and quickly. 

Verse 2
Watch the door of my mouth for integrity 
Guard my lips and keep my heart from turning. 

Verse 3 
Let the elders guide and correct my way 
Keep my words and actions true I pray. 

Verse 4 
Watch the farmer's plow turn the blessed earth 
Bones of death and signs of rising birth. 

Verse 5
You are the earth, I am a seed 
Hide me, grow me, love and never leave me. 

Richard's music is licensed via CCLI, and Be sure report use of the piece if you print the text or music for your community.

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Open My Lips, Oh Lord

This song was composed by Marilyn Haskel. 

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Open My Heart

This beautiful, layered chant by Ana Hernández is one of the best-known pieces in the MMC repertoire. The text is adapted from a Chinese mantra to Guan Shi Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassion. 

Leaders in the MMC community teach the song differently. Some begin with Part I, then move to Parts II and III. Others reverse the order to great effect. No matter how you teach it, be sure to tend the beautiful dissonance on the word "heart" and keep inviting the community to deeper listening. Additional parts can be improvised and you can also support the voices with guitar or keyboard accompaniment.

Ana suggests using the chant during Communion, in Taize services, underneath prayers, or to shift the energy of a tense situation. It can also be sung in Spanish and French. 

Open my heart.
Abre mi corazón.
Ouevre mon coeur.

You can purchase sheet music or a license to use Ana's music from her website. 

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Mass for Immanuel

This is a mass composed by Daniel Schwandt in honor of Scott Weidler when he left his position as cantor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Chicago, IL in 2014.

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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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Lay Me Low

This new musical setting of a Shaker text is by organist and composer Daniel Schwandt. It was written at a Music that Makes Community Composers Retreat in Brattleboro, VT in 2013. It has been used in many different contexts: as a call to prayer, for Ash Wednesday and during the Lenten season, for services of healing and reconciliation, and even at funerals or graveside services.

The melody has strong call and echo features, and some leaders teach the song this way. Others line it out line by line, adding simple movements to help the group better remember the text.

"Lay me low, where the Lord can find me.
Lay me low, where the Lord can *own me.
Lay me low, where the Lord can bless me.
Lay me low, oh, lay me low."

*MMC leaders frequently substitute 'hold' for 'own.' We find the original word carries baggage painful to many, especially communities of color with direct connection to the American history of chattel slavery. We honor the Shaker tradition from which the song emerges while also seeking to name and heal painful legacies of oppression.

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Khudaya Rehem Ker

This expressive melody by Pakistani composer R.F. Liberius invites us into communal grief and lament. The tune can be taught through call and echo, with hand motions providing direction, as well as invitation into the swoops and slides that are an essential part of the musical style. Listen to the recordings below for guidance in pronouncing the Urdu text.

The song can be used in many different contexts: during Advent or Lent, in interfaith or ecumenical worship gatherings, as well as in liturgies centered around themes of justice, peace, and reconciliation. 

It can be sung unaccompanied or with a drone instrument (like a shruti box).

Khudaya rahem kar.
Masii haa rahem kar.
Khudaya rahem kar."

Singing Translation:
"Have mercy on us, Lord.
Have mercy on us, Christ.
Have mercy on us, Lord."

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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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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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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I Will Sing a Song of Mercy

This joyful, three-part round by Bill Doggett is inspired by Psalm 101 and Micah 6, which invites us to 'do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.' The melody rises and falls intuitively and the text is short, making it an excellent starting place for communities new to paperless singing. 

"I will sing a song of mercy;
sing a song of justice;
sing a song of praise to God.

I will live a life of mercy;
live a life of justice;
live a life of praise to God."

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I Will Give You Rest

This soothing chant by Ana Hernández is based on a phrase from Matthew 11:28. She suggests using it for personal meditation/centering, as well as in worship services. The tune quickly welcomes harmony; it could also be accompanied by a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ), keyboard, or guitar.

"Come unto me and I will give you rest."

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I Am Thirsty

This joyous song call and response song by Marilyn Haskel celebrates the life-giving, renewing waters of baptism. The text draws imagery from the miracle of water from the rock in Exodus 17, as well as Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman in John 4.

Marilyn begins by teaching the community's responses, which can take some time and patience. As the piece grows in confidence, harmony can be invited and a second leading voice can be added.

"I am thirsty. I come to Jesus.
I believe. I come to drink.
From the rock came life-giving water;
from the well, water for all.

From my heart, water is flowing;
from my heart, outward to all."
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Sanctus and Benedictus (St. Bride setting)

This eucharistic response was written by John Bell as part of the St. Bride setting, a set of paperless service responses incorporating call and echo learning to encourage community participation. 

The echo comes quickly in several moments and it can feel as if the assembly is 'interrupting' the leader. Practice the response quickly before worship and encourage the community to trust your gestures, even if they seem to be too soon. The overlapping parts generate terrific energy and the confidence of the community will grow as you sing it over several weeks.

And when the first beat of the measure is a rest ("are full of your glory" and the second "Hosanna in the highest"), consider a stomp or clap to remind the assembly of the silence.

The response could sung a cappella or accompanied by a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ) to support the community's voice. 

"Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, (Holy, Holy, Holy Lord)
God of power and might, (God of power and might)
heaven and earth are full (heaven and earth are full)
are full of your glory. (are full of your glory)

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!)"

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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Here is Bread for the Hungry Soul

This Gospel music-inspired communion song was written by Mary Kay Beall and John Carter.

"*Here is bread for the hungry soul.
Here is wine for the thirsty heart.
Here is forgiveness, full and free.
Here at the table of the Lord."

*Several MMC leaders have sometimes swapped the first two phrases to good effect: 'Here is bread for the hungry heart. Here is wine for the thirsty soul.'

Copyright for the piece is held by Hope Publishing. If you plan to reprint the text in a bulletin, a program, or in individual song sheet form, you must submit a request for use.

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Hands of Healing

This song by Carol Webb would be especially effective during prayers for healing and wholeness. Individual names may also be substituted for 'me,' adjusting the rhythm as necessary. The piano accompaniment is optional.

Carol writes about the inspiration for the song in a beautiful blog post.

"Hands of healing, Jesus, lay on me;
gentle hands of healing, Jesus, lay on me."

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Haleluya Pujilah Tuhanmu

Haleluya Pujilah Tuhanmu was introduced to the MMC community by Scott Weidler. Written by Glodlief Soumokil, a prolific composer of sacred song from Indonesia, the setting we have shared in our workshops is just the first half of the song. 

Scott teaches the song by inviting the community to echo phrases of the text in Indonesian. Then he sings the tune and asks the community to echo the tune phrase by phrase, using his hands to model the shape of the melody. When the community is singing confidently, he adds a simple step (long, long, long, short, short).

The piece can be used as a song of praise, a processional, or even as a psalm refrain. Drums and shakers, as well as stomps and claps, can offer rhythmic support.

Haleluya! Haleluya!
Pujilah Tuhanmu s'lamanya haleluya!

Nyani dan soraklah
agungkan namaNya.
Pujilah Tuhanmu s'lamanya haleluya!

English singing translation:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Praise the Lord our God forevermore, Hallelujah!

Shout with joy, lift your voice,
Glorify God's holy name. 
Praise the Lord our God forevermore, Hallelujah!

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Hakuna Wakaita sa Jesu / Hukuna Munga kama wewe / There's No One Like Jesus - African Praise Song

This popular African Praise Song exists in a staggering number of variations, depending on the country, language, and denominational background of the community singing it. Here are three versions that have been widely shared within the MMC network: in Shona, Swahili, and English. You'll notice subtle differences in melody, harmony, translation, and instruments accompanying the song. 

The piece is a powerful affirmation of Jesus as teacher, leader, and savior. Many communities embody the text by walking around, searching, and turning around.

"Hakuna Wakaita sa Jesu, 
haku hakunaba/hakuchina.

Ndamhanyamhanya kwese kwese,
Ndatenderera kwese kwese,
Ndatsvagatsvaga kwese kwese,
Haku hakunaba/hakuchina."

"Hakuna Mungu kama wewe, 
Hakuna na hatakuwepo

Nimetembea kote kote,
Nimezunguka kote kote,
Nimetafuta kote kote,
Hakuna na hatakuwepo."

English (singing translation):
"There's no one, there's no one like Jesus.
There's no one, there's no one like him.

I've walked and walked all over, over.
I turned and turned all over, over.
I've searched and searched all over, over.
There's no one, there's no one like him.

English (literal translation):
"There is no God like you.
There isn't, nor will their ever be!

I've walked everywhere,
I've circled/turned everywhere,
I've searched everywhere. 
There isn't, nor will there ever be!"

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God Who Has Saved

This is a song written by James Clemens with lyrics by the poet David Wright. It is available in written form in A Field of Voices

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Guide Us Waking, Guard Us Sleeping

This layered chant commonly used for the service of Compline was written by tunesmith Ana Hernández. Here's a description of the piece from her website:

Guide Us Waking, Guard Us Sleeping is an eight-part circular chant with optional piano accompaniment you may improvise in almost any musical style, from early music to gospel. It's also beautiful with unaccompanied voices. You may also use as few as three parts and still create something beautiful, which makes it perfect as an anthem for small choirs, chanting groups, and improvisors. My friend Julia taught it to her choir and they sang it at the end of rehearsal every Thursday night for years while they put away their books and put on their coats.

"Guide us waking, guard us sleeping,
that awake we walk in love/watch with Christ;
and asleep we may rest in peace."


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