Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lift your heart and raise your voice - faithful people, come rejoice!

Lift your heart and raise your voice, faithful people, come rejoice:

When I was sweeping out the Gaithersburg Post Office in my first job after high school, I’d hear the letter carriers listening to oldies radio: “Do you remember when this song was a hit – in 1952?” (Well, no! Though it seems to me we’ve sung that song before.)

The church is full of discovery – of fresh expressions of faith, new opportunities for witness and service, and unexpected gifts of prayer and celebration, alongside well-worn ways of worship that reveal new dimensions every time we return to them. Together with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs beloved of old, we find new songs to sing to the Lord.

One of our discoveries in the weeks leading up to Christmas was a new contemporary worship songbook, “Sing Praise: Hymns and Songs for Refreshing Worship” published in London last fall by Hymns Ancient & Modern and the Royal School of Church Music. With that provenance, you’d expect it to have some tradition to it – and it does.

Sing Praise provides songs for all occasions of the church year, from Advent to All Saints - including Candlemas and Ascension as well as other major feasts and events of parish life. What is something of a surprise is that it includes many of the new worship songs we have sung in the past three years, by John L. Bell and Graham Maule from the Iona Community, Kathryn Galloway, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael Perry, Brian Wren, the Taizé Community, Bernadette Farrell, Christopher Idle, and Graham Kendrick, as well as others from the worldwide Anglican Communion and our sister churches.

Once and future hits include: “Lift your heart”, “Jesus, come! For we invite you”, “O Christ, the light who came to us on earth”, “Jesus is risen, Alleluia!” and “You are my salvation; I trust in you.”

The Vestry authorized purchase of these new songbooks with undesignated Memorial Funds. First, though, the singers and musicians will be trying them out. And the songs – many of which will resonate as familiar in message and music – will be printed in upcoming worship service bulletins. Then what we would like to do is invite people to make donations (Memorial if you like) to provide copies for everybody to use. We will all be singing from the same songbooks but the words and music will be modern. 

Would you like to come to a potluck and sing-along of Sing Praise songs? Stay tuned!

—Fr. John and the worship and music people

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