Epiphany, January 6.
We have a new hymn about the wise men and their gifts that was inspired by one of Martin Luther’s sermons on the Nativity. The second stanza reads:
“Yet Mary must have questioned such gifts for one so small.
He could have used a blanket, a rattle, or a ball,
not incense for a temple or myrrh for one who’s dead,
or gold enough for monarchs to crown his little head.”
John named the hymn-tune BAINTON, in memory of church historian and Luther scholar, Roland Bainton, one of Mary’s favorite professors at Yale Divinity School. For a copy of the hymn text and tune, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For children ages 4-7, take a look at “Finding Jesus,” one of the songs in our collection, Sing the Stories of Jesus (Augsburg Fortress).
The Baptism of Christ (First Sunday in Ordinary Time), January 13
“Jesus Is Baptized” is a lively “call and response” song from Sing the Stories of Jesus that children could easily learn and teach to the congregation in worship.
We have a new baptismal hymn, “When Jesus Was Baptized,” that can be sung to John’s new tune, JORDAN’S SPRING, or to a familiar 86.86 D tune. The last two stanzas make it especially useful on occasions when people are asked to remember their own baptisms. This is offered as a free download (see “Free Hymns.”)
“Spirit Falling Like A Dove” from our collection, Come Away with Me: A Collection of Original Hymns, is appropriate for this Sunday.
“Behold the Lamb of God,” a hymn published in octavo form (GIA), has a stanza telling about Jesus’ baptism that could be book-ended by the two new stanzas that appear with the hymn in the new hymnal, Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Reformed Church in America/Christian Reformed Church.) The octavo version is set for keyboard, C instrument, and cello.
“You Are God’s Child,” a baptismal anthem adapted from our musical, “Paul & Co.,” is available from Choristers Guild (CGA541). It is arranged for unison/two-part voices with optional SATB choir and keyboard.
Second Sunday after Epiphany (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time), January 20
The first stanza of our hymn, “The Wedding Guests Are Waiting,” from our collection, Time Now to Gather: Hymns for the Church Family, is based on the story of the Wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). John’s tune lends itself to an Orff-type accompaniment and can be sung in canon. Children could sing the stanza in unison and then in canon as a short anthem.
One of the scenes in our musical drama, Called to Be Friends (Hymns, Etc.), is based on John 2:1-11. It begins with a lively wedding dance followed by a song, “What A Happy Occasion!” for Mary, Miriam (the hostess at the wedding), and 4-part chorus, interspersed with brief dialogue between Jesus and Mary. The scene can be done independently of the musical.
Third Sunday after Epiphany (Third Sunday in Ordinary Time), January 27
“Behold the Lamb” (See above) has a stanza based on Jesus’ preaching in the Nazareth synagogue at the beginning of his ministry.
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time), February 3
“Behold the Lamb” (See above) would also be appropriate on this Sunday when the response to Jesus’ preaching in Nazareth is read.
Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 10
Our collection, Sing the Stories of Jesus (AugsburgFortress), has four short songs for ages 4-7 on the “Lost” parables in Luke. The first, “The Lost Sheep,” and the last two, “A Lost Son’s Sad Song” and “A Father’s Glad Song” would be appropriate contributions from a children’s choir on this day, and could be incorporated into the readings from Luke 15.
“A Long-Lost Lamb,” a hymn from our collection, Time Now to Gather: New Hymns for the Church Family (Abingdon), makes reference to several biblical stories of the “lost,” including those in Luke 15, and ends each stanza with the refrain:
“Good news! It’s time to celebrate with friends who gather round.
So God rejoices, Jesus said, whene’er the lost is found!”
The hymn is included, with a different tune, in the hymnal, Voices Found (Church Publishing Inc.)
Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm/Passion Sunday), March 24
Many churches who want a transitional hymn between the moods in this service have been using our hymn, “We Sang Our Glad Hosannas,” which first appeared in our collection, Time Now to Gather, but is also in the two supplements, The Faith We Sing (Abingdon) and Sing the Faith (Geneva Press), as well as in a songbook for older children, FaithSongs (Abingdon).
If younger children participate in the Palm Sunday service, consider using “Hosanna!” from our collection, Sing the Stories of Jesus (AugsburgFortress).
Maundy Thursday, March 28
“Behold the Lamb” (see above) has a stanza about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday, March 29
If you want to include a dramatic lament in your Good Friday service, consider using “God, Why Have Your Forsaken Us?” from our musical, By the Sea (Choristers Guild). Arranged for Chorus and Dancers, the lament begins with a unison stanza that is repeated in a two-part canon, then three-parts and four parts, before ending with a second unison stanza.
“Behold the Lamb” (see above) has a stanza about the crucifixion.
Holy Saturday, March 30
If you hold an Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday in your congregation, consider using our hymn, “When It Seemed that Love Was Dying,” from our collection, Come Away with Me (Abingdon). The first two stanzas tell of the despair of the disciples after Jesus’ death, the actions of Joseph and Nicodemus to claim the body for burial, and the watching, grieving women. The last three stanzas joyfully proclaim the resurrection and its meaning for us. Mary thinks the tune for this hymn is one of John’s most beautiful tunes. He has captured both the sadness and joy of the disciples’ experience in one melody.
Holy Week, March 24-30
Our cantata, If They Could Speak (Hymns, Etc.), is designed to tell the story of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Easter. It includes nine short songs arranged for SATB Choir with piano, snare drum, suspended cymbals, tambourine, flute, cello, and handbells. The narrative commentary and scripture, adapted from the NRSV, are arranged for Narrator and Four Readers. If the work is used on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, the last song could be saved for Easter Sunday, and an optional ending prayer and hymn could be inserted. Suggestions are also included for adding dramatic and visual effects. The cantata is available from Hymns Etc. in a reproducible format.
Easter, March 31
“Alleluia! Christ Is Risen,” a three-part canon with handbells and keyboard accompaniment, incorporates the traditional Easter greeting and response: “Good morning, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.” It can be sung by treble or mixed voices and choreographed for a solo dancer. It is also from our musical, By the Sea (Choristers Guild).
An “Alleluia” for young children may be found in our Sing the Stories of Jesus (Augsburg) and could be sung as an introit or greeting at the beginning of an Easter service.
“Behold the Lamb” (see above) has a stanza on the Resurrection.
Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21
This is traditionally Good Shepherd Sunday, so if this is your focus, consider our hymn, “There Is A Need for Shepherds,” which is included in our collection, Come Away with Me (Abingdon). It emphasizes the need for us to be shepherds of one another today, and would support the reading from Acts as well as John.
Consider also “Good Shepherd, Our Leader, Provider, and Guide,” a hymn from our collection, The Song Lingers On (Zimbel Press), which is a new paraphrase of Psalm 23.
Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 28
“Good Friends, Rejoice, Be Glad, and Sing,” from The Song Lingers On (Zimbel Press), would be an appropriate response to the reading from Acts 11 on this Sunday. The hymn is an adaptation of the closing song in our musical, On This Rock (Hymns, Etc.), which is based on the story of Peter and Cornelius.
Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 5
This would be a great Sunday to perform our musical, Paul & Co. (Choristers Guild) which is based on Paul’s experiences in Philippi as told in Acts 16. The musical includes a setting of Psalm 67, which is also published separately in octavo form for unison and SATB choirs with piano, opt. flute and handbells, and opt. congregation. (CGA589).
Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12
This is Mother’s Day, also called the Festival of the Christian Home. Many churches use our anthem, “Love Enough to Give” (Choristers Guild, CGA808) on this day. It is a setting for unison and SATB choir with piano, opt. flute and opt. congregation. It appeared originally as a hymn, “A Mother Lined A Basket,” in our collection, Time Now to Gather (Abingdon), and is also in two supplements, The Faith We Sing (Abingdon) and Sing the Faith (Geneva Press).
Paul & Co. (see above) would also be appropriate on this Sunday.
Pentecost Sunday, May 19
On this Sunday, consider “When the World Is Babbling ‘Round Us” as a sung prayer. It is included in our collection, Come Away with Me (Abingdon), and was also published as an anthem for unison voices under the title “Prayer for Pentecost.”
“Twelve Disciples in the Temple,” is an unusual anthem for Pentecost set to John’s arrangement of the Japanese gagaku melody for unison/two part and congregation, with keyboard, suspended cymbal, gong, triangle, wind chimes, and handbells. Instrumental parts and a reproducible sheet for congregational participation are included in the octavo. (Choristers Guild, CGA1027).