HYMNS ETC. - Hymns for the Lecitonary
Hymns for the Lectionary Epiphany - Easter
A versatile hymn for the Epiphany through Easter. As John Bell pointed out in a meditation in one of his books, John the Baptist affirmed Jesus as the “Lamb of God” not at the time of his death, but when Jesus came to be baptized. It is an expression that could be used for Jesus at any time during his life on earth. Mary used that concept in writing fourteen (yes, fourteen!) stanzas about incidents from Jesus’ life, each one ending with the refrain: Agnus Dei! Gloria! Behold the Lamb of God! She intended that one or more of twelve stanzas could be sung, depending on the lectionary reading for the day, with “bookend” stanzas 1 and 14 with John’s easy-to-learn tune as a congregational hymn. The refrain allows children to participate in the singing. “Behold the Lamb of God” may be found in the hymnal, Lift Up Your Hearts: Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Faith Alive Christian Resources). It is also in Singing Our Savior’s Story: A Congregational Song Supplement for the Christian Year (Hymn Texts since 1990), comp. and ed. James Abbington (GIA).
January 6 (Epiphany)
“How Foolish They Were” (ROCKVILLE) from our newest collection, Faith That Lets Us Sing (Wayne Leopold Editions, Inc. 2017), looks at the wise men from the East as perhaps the first “fools for Christ” that Paul mentions in his letter to the church at Corinth. It calls on us to be as wise and as foolish in giving of ourselves and our possession in the name of Christ today.
“Though Shepherds Heard the Angels” (BAINTON) was inspired by memories of church historian Roland Bainton’s reading from Martin Luther’s earthy, practical Christmas sermons at Yale Divinity School each year. The text wonders if Mary looked at the gifts the wise men brought her son and wished they had brought something more useful! It concludes that even if she caught their symbolism and felt afraid for her son, she trusted in God’s loving purpose for him.
January 13 (The Baptism of Christ)
“When Jesus Was Baptized by John” (JORDAN SPRING) is also in Faith That Lets Us Sing. The text explores the dual meaning of baptism for Jesus and for us, as both affirmation of God’s love for us and a spiritual anointing for living out our faith in the name of Christ. The tune was named for the spring we visited near the Jordan that may have been used for baptisms when the river was at flood stage. This hymn is a good choice for worship when we remember our own baptism.
“For Your Wise, Creating Spirit” (FIRST CHURCH) is based on the baptismal prayer in the United Church of Christ Book of Worship that refers to the role of water in biblical events from creation to the life of Jesus. The text is set to a tune John wrote as an alternate for a hymn commissioned by First Congregational UCC in Washington, DC. When the congregation chose his other tune for their hymn, we decided it was too good to waste, so Mary wrote this text for it.
January 20 (Second Sunday after Epiphany)
“The Wedding Guests Were Waiting” (SIGNS TODAY) sings about Jesus’ transforming the water into wine at Cana in the first stanza, tells the healing of a Roman centurion’s son in Capernaum and feeding the multitude with a small boy’s lunch in the next two stanzas, and in the last stanza points to these miracles as signs of the power Jesus has from God. The lively tune can be sung in canon or with Orff-type accompaniment. The hymn is in our Time Now to Gather collection (Abingdon 1998).
January 27 (Third Sunday after Epiphany)
Our third collection of songs for young children, Sing the Stories of God’s New People (AugsburgFortress, 2016), has a delightful song, “Find Your Place,” based on I Corinthians 12:12-31. Here is the text:
The parts of my body are different, it’s true,
but if one were missing, then what would I do?
My foot cannot talk, my ear cannot see,
my hand cannot walk.
How odd that would be!
My nose cannot taste, my eye cannot smell.
Each part has a job only it can do well.
The church, like a body, has many parts too,
And each one is needed, so which one are you?
John’s tune is lively, upbeat, and easy to learn. This is a song that children could sing as a commentary on the very familiar epistle reading.
February 3 (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany)
Sing the Stories of God’s NEW People also has a song based on I Corinthians 13:4-6. “Love One Another” helps children learn the meaning of love, whether receiving it or giving it, in terms they can understand. This is another song that will allow young children to contribute to congregational worship.
“Love Is Enduring” (LOVE IS) from Faith That Lets Us Sing has a tune that supports but does not overwhelm the simple text based on I Corinthians 13:4-8a. Stanza 4 can be substituted for Stanza 3 when Holy Communion is part of worship. The hymn was adapted from a song we wrote from one of our MAD camp musicals.
February 10 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)
The first stanza of our hymn “Jesus Sang to Fisherman” (BLACK MOUNTAIN) is based on Luke 5:1-11, and the other three stanzas tell of others he called to follow him. A refrain follows each stanza asking Jesus to sing to us today, trusting we will follow him. This hymn is in Time Now to Gather. “Like Fishermen Who Left Their Boats” (BY THE SEA) from Faith That Lets Us Sing has a similar theme.
March 31 (Fourth Sunday of Lent)
“A Long-Lost Lamb” (PARABLES or FOREST GREEN) is a hymn in our collection Time Now to Gather that speaks to today’s theme of “Embracing Love.” Stanza 1 refers to the three “lost” parables I Luke 15, Stanza 2 to Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene, and Stanza 3 to Peter and Paul. Stanza 4 calls all of us today who suffer guilt and despair to return to the shelter of God’s love. The refrain that follows each stanza proclaims God’s joy when the “lost” returns. The hymn is also in Voices Found (Church Publishing, 2003) and One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (GIA, 2018). (See Recent and Upcoming Events.)
April 14 (Sixth Sunday of Lent) Palm/Passion Sunday
“We Sang Our Glad Hosannas” (HOLY WEEK) is a meaningful hymn for Palm Sunday for churches who move from the Liturgy of the Palms to the Liturgy of the Passion, but it may also be used on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. Stanza 5 that points to the hope of Easter is optional if the hymn is sung before Good Friday. The hymn first appeared in Time Now to Gather, but it is also included in the supplements, The Faith We Sing (Abingdon, 2000) and Sing the Faith (Geneva Press, 2003)
April 21 (Easter)
“When It Seemed that Love Was Dying” (KRISTA’S TUNE) retells the story of the Resurrection experience of Jesus’ followers in John 19:38-42 and 20:1-18. The text is set to one of John’s most beautiful tunes that captures both the despair and sorrow of the disciples and their overwhelming joy at the Resurrection. The hymn is only found in our first collection, Come Away with Me (Abingdon, 1998), but you may contact us for a copy.
In the first two stanzas “A Vacant Place at the Table” (HOLY QUESTIONS), a hymn in Faith That Lets Us Sing, the disciples question how God could allow their beloved Jesus to be sentenced to death, how they could deny him in their fear, and who would be their leader now. In the third stanza they hear the angel announce Jesus’ resurrection, and ask who could doubt him as God’s promised one now.
May 19 (Fifth Sunday of Easter)
“Creator God, How Grand the Earth” (GENESIS) in Faith That Lets Us Sing (Wayne Leupold Editions, 2017)praises God for all the gifts of creation in the spirit of Psalm 148 but also prays that we will be mindful of our calling to be faithful stewards of the good earth God has given into our care.