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Five Songs, Five Styles

Siyahamba
Psalm 8
O Lord, Our Lord
Shout to the Lord
Go to the World!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). Any committee charged with choosing songs for a new hymnal needs to keep this admonition from the apostle Paul in mind. Worship leaders too need to keep this worthy goal before them as they choose hymns for their communities to sing. While the phrase “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is not intended to be a complete list of distinct categories, it does point to the diversity of songs available to Christians. Here are five songs with accompanying song notes from the forthcoming Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation that show something of that rich diversity.
—ERB

Global Song
Siyahamba/
We Are Marching/ Caminando /
(Leader’s Edition)

Click to listen [ full version ]

Text

Siyahamba, as it’s often called even by English-speaking singers, is a word in Zulu, one of the many languages of South Africa. This song was born as a song of protest. Its one line, repeated again and again, packs a punch of perseverance and defiance. In God’s light—in the path marked out by God—we march together to do God’s will.

Music

You’ll need a march-like steadiness to effect the dynamic of unrelenting resolve. If you can’t march around your sanctuary while you sing, at least sing as if you can! Sway, clap, lift your hands over your head, and let the upward leap of a fifth on the syllable “ooh” be a wild victory yawp! Beyond that, vocal harmony and layers of rhythmic energy, interest, and variety add to the jubilation and optimistic spirit of the song. Whether you learn from written music or by ear (which will be easier for most), let your singing be heartfelt and spontaneous. Once you know the melody, sing it unaccompanied except for percussion. For the drum pattern provided; use a resonant drum, like a tom-tom or an African djembe.

Ideas for Use

  • As a processional.
  • As a parting song to rally the troops for another week of service in the kingdom.
  • When your church is confronting an important hurdle or obstacle.
  • Using other words to support the text: “We are singing, dancing, praying, serving…”
  • Consider using the light/darkness imagery of “Siyahamba” for candlelight services during Advent or New Year’s Eve.
  • Connect with another up-tempo hymn like “O When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Source

South Africa. The additional Spanish translation is an indication of this song’s growing popularity around the world.

Psalm
Psalm 8 (Pew Edition)

Click to listen [ melody ]

Text

Psalm 8 begins and ends by ascribing majesty and glory to God’s holy name (YHWH, transcribed here as “Lord”). The stars of the sky and the children of the earth proclaim it, and God uses these as a fortress strong enough to hold back and silence the wicked. The middle section of the psalm comments both on the inherent insignificance of human beings and on their inherited glory, made by a gracious God to be the crown of all creation.

Music

The refrain is taken from the first phrase of the hymn “Many and Great.” Sing it with a definite feeling of two beats rather than four, so that it is not allowed to drag. Try an introduction with flute or recorder accompanied by the drone pattern, perhaps with drums. If you use percussion, a floor tom-tom or a deep-sounding, resonant hand drum is most effective on the first beat of every measure or even every second measure. Don’t let the percussion distract from the ethereal nature of the song.

Have the choir hum a drone on C and G very softly during the reading of the psalm, joining the congregation for the singing of the refrain at points shown. To bring in the congregation each time, the organ or a C instrument could play the first four notes in rhythm while the choir continues humming the drone on C and G.

Ideas for Use

  • At the beginning of worship as a psalm of praise.
  • Include in any service celebrating God’s creation, our role as stewards of creation, and our anticipation of the new creation, when we will reign with Christ in the new heaven and earth.
  • Instead of singing only the refrain, sing the entire song “Many and Great” either at the beginning or end (for motions for st. 1, see RW 59, p. 22; they will be included in the Leader’s Edition).

Source

The refrain, both original text and music, was composed by Joseph R. Renville, a Native American and Congregational minister who helped found the Lac Qui Parle mission in Minnesota. Lac qui parle is French for “the lake that speaks.”

Thirty-eight Dakota prisoners of war sang this hymn as they were led to execution at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862.

Scripture

Psalm 8

Praise Chorus
O Lord, Our Lord (Leader’s Edition)

Click to listen [ full version ]

Text

The text begins with a quote from Psalm 8:1 and then moves to exclamations of praise, using additional names for God.

The use of Lord and Lord in stanza 1 is not mere repetition. The first “Lord” (in small caps) indicates the proper name of God, YHWH—a word so sacred it was never pronounced by the ancient Hebrews. The second “Lord” is a term of deference to power and majesty.

Music

The musical interest of this inviting song is lost if accompanied solely with guitars. Also use a piano, but play lightly. Honor the quarter rests and allow the congregation to sing the melodic pickups without accompaniment. On the final phrase, consider having sopranos improvise a descant a third above the melody, returning to the melody for the last four notes. The tone should be upbeat and celebrative. Add drums for rhythmic texture, and if you have a synthesizer, a horn voice brightens especially the last section. The tempo should be brisk, in two, but not bouncy.

Ideas for Use

  • Immediately following the Call to Worship.
  • As an alternate refrain for Psalm 8 (see p. 34).
  • Combined with another song such as “Majesty,” or sung in between the stanzas of “We/I Sing the Mighty Power of God.”

Source

Michael W. Smith, who began his career as a keyboardist for Amy Grant, is recognized as a pioneer and leader in Christian music. He has recorded fourteen albums, and many of his songs are perennial favorites, including “Thy Word,” “Friends are Friends Forever,” and “Great is the Lord.”

Scripture

Psalm 8:1

Worship Song
Shout to the Lord (Pew Edition)

Click to listen [ melody ]

Text

Filled with scriptural images and phrases, this text almost feels like a psalm. It expresses worship and love for God in a way that matches well the strength of the tune.

Music

This song builds nicely in power and intensity. The stanza, sung in a lower register, helps set the stage for the excitement of the higher refrain. If you are aiming at a tone of jubilant celebration, sing as fast as 108. If you are aiming for majesty (the way it is most often sung), try as slow as 72. The words “Lord” and “earth” are sung on off beats, which helps give them power as they anticipate the beat that comes directly after. Put emphasis on those notes to give the song its natural energy.

Ideas for Use

  • In a service of praise, possibly at the end of a set of praise songs.
  • In connection with reading or preaching on a number of psalms; the first phrase is found also as a refrain to Psalm 65.
  • Following the last line of the song, “Nothing compares to the promise I have in you,” the worship leader could make reference to one of the many promises we have in Jesus.

Source

Darlene Zschech (pronounced “check”) is the worship director of the Hills Christian Life Centre in Sydney, Australia. “Shout to the Lord” is one of the most popular new worship songs of the last decade and is the first praise song to be nominated for a song of the year Dove Award.

Scripture

Psalm 18:1-2; Psalm 92:4; Psalm 65; Psalm 98:4

Hymn
Go to the World (Leader's Edition)

Text

This is a fine “send-off” text. God’s people compel each other to do two things: first, to go into the world to preach and baptize in obedience to Christ’s great commission in Matt 28:19 (st. 1), and second, to serve as Christ's representatives and servants in the world (st. 2-3). The final stanza reveals a change of voice: now we hear the direct words of Christ's Great Commission, when he promises to be with his church until the end of time (Matt 28:20b).

Music

ENGELBERG is an attractive melody with many ascending motives, designed for energetic singing with no pauses between stanzas. The congregation may sing the initial three stanzas forcefully in unison, or have the choir sing the alternate setting of stanza 3 (perhaps also with trumpets), beginning more softly and growing in the unison section. Then signal the change of voice in stanza 4 by adding handbells for an especially rousing conclusion.

Ideas for Use

  • As a parting hymn
  • In ordination and commissioning services.
  • As a "charge" hymn for thoes who've just professed their faith or their renewed faith.

Source

Sylvia Dunstan wrote this text while she served as a prison chaplain as an ordained minister of the United Church of Canada.

The tune ENGELBERG was initially composed by the Irish-born musician Charles Villiers Stanford for use with the hymn text "For All the Saints," and it is well known for its association with Fred Pratt Green's text "When In Our Music God Is Glorified."

Scripture

Matthew 28:16-21

Excerpt
Ten Reasons to Come to COLAM 2001
Wheaton, Illinois, July 11-14

Featuring the release of Sing! A New Creation. Complimentary copies will be given to all full registrants.

  • Meet and learn from John Bell from the Iona Community in Scotland.
  • Hear composer Marty Haugen sing his own songs and teach how he leads worship.
  • See Dennis Dewey bring Scripture to life in his dramatic presentations.
  • Learn about worship and youth from Jeff Klein.
  • Learn from Bob Batastini about worship in the style of Taizé.
  • Get sermon ideas and notes from David Holwerda.
  • Join the conference choir under the leadership of Pearl Shangkuan.
  • Sing Gospel with Charsie Sawyer.
  • Take your worship team for hands-on practice of new worship songs.
  • Learn about repertoire and techniques for organ and piano applied to songs in Sing! A New Creation.

And much more, including seven worship services; many who have attended prior COLAMS have said that the worship services are the most rich and rewarding part of coming together.

The commentary on each of these songs was taken from the Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation. Associate editor Ron Rienstra worked with a number of authors to provide background and teaching notes for every song in the collection:

Sharon Bradimore
James Hart Brumm
Kathleen Hart Brumm
Brian Carder
Gregg DeMey
Andrew Donaldson
Randall Engle
Robert Keeley
Jorge Lockward
Bert Polman
Sue Rozeboom
Tom Trinidad
David Vroege