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.
Sheet music can be found in Music By Heart, MMC's first collection of paperless songs.
Here's a video of Marilyn Haskel teaching this setting:
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.
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."
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.
Sheet music can be found in Andrew Donaldson's With Many Voices Songbook.
Here's the episode of Break into Song that features All Peoples, Clap Your Hands:
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
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.
Sheet music for the song can be found in the recent Global Song resource Hosanna! Ecumenical Songs for Justice and Peace. You can also find an arrangements for SATB choir and marimba ensemble in Maria's Chaia Marima Songbook 3.
Here's the Break into Song episode created by Hilary exploring Sithi Haleluya:
This blessing song by Ruth Cunningham sets a translation of a Celtic chant from the Céile Dé order. It's extraordinarily versatile and can be sung as a simple melody (Part I alone), a two-part canon, and as a layered song when Parts II and III are added.
The song has been used for blessing and sending, on Earth Day and for earth-honoring services, and on labyrinth walks and pilgrimages. It can help to have a drone instrument (a shruti box or a soft unison or open fifth on the organ) accompanying.
"God bless every step that I am taking,
and bless the earth beneath my feet."
Parts II and II:
"God bless every step,
God bless the earth."
This joyful song by Kerri Meyer, inspired by writer Annie Dillard, has quickly become a favorite in the MMC community. Many of our leaders use it as a sending song, even adding steps that invite the community to dance and sing! It's also a zipper/pocket song that welcomes text changes for the context or season you're in.
"Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Go on your way in joy, my friends!
Let your left foot say 'Glory!'
and your right say, 'Amen!'"
Go on your way in peace...
Go on your way in love...
Go on your way in hope...
Sheet music can be found in Singing In Community, our latest songbook published by Augsburg Fortress. You can find a setting of the melody alone, as well as a harmonized version arranged by Andrew Donaldson. The first eight measures of this arrangement are the original song by Kerri, and the the rest is an optional modulation just for fun.
Here's the recording from the first time Kerri taught this song at MMC after she wrote it.
Here's a video of Hilary Donaldson leading this song in her congregation, Eastminster United Church in Toronto, ON.
Fear Not the Pain was composed by Rachel Kroh at a Music that Makes Community Composers' Retreat in 2013. The text is from Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus.
The song can be used in many different contexts: at the bedsides of the dying, a mantra for individuals struggling with chronic pain, in interfaith worship gatherings, as well as in liturgies centered around themes of healing, justice, and reconciliation.
"Fear not the pain,
let its weight fall back into the earth.
For heavy are the mountains, heavy are the seas."
Sheet music can be found in Singing In Community, our latest songbook published by Augsburg Fortress.
Here's an audio recording of Fear Not the Pain made in Brattleboro in 2013 as well as the melody transcribed by Marilyn Haskel.
Here's a a four-part arrangement of the song by Peter Amidon. If you enjoy it, you might want to see some of Peter's other arrangements in 55 Anthems for the Small Church Choir.
Composed by Brian Wentzel, this call and response song is based on Isaiah 55:1. Themes of welcome and abundance make it effective for Baptism, Eucharist/Communion, gathering song, or sung call to worship.
"All who are thirsty, come to the waters.
All who are hungry, come here to eat.
All who are thirsty, come to the waters.
There's enough for all."
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.
This Invitation to the Table by James Clemens can be offered as a call and response song, with the leader singing the first two lines and the community responding, 'We come together in Jesus' name...' and echoing the word offered by the leader (love, need, truth, etc).
"Come, come, come to the table in love (need, truth, etc.)"
"We come together in Jesus' name.
We come to the table in love. (need, truth, etc.)"