Music by Heart

Paperless Songs for Evening Worship

Jul/2008, 176 Pages, SPIRAL, 8 1/2 x 11

ISBN-13: 9780898695908



Simple, beautiful songs for worship, readily accessible to singers in any size congregation.

Includes songs in unison, simple harmony parts, and rounds; most can be sung unaccompanied.

Specifically geared to evening and night-time liturgies, often the times of choice for alternative worship, though many can be used at other times.

Original music by variety of composers, written to be taught by rote and sung without printed music.

Includes teaching notes to help the lead musician be successful.

The contributors to this songbook are committed to encouraging a new sacred folk music - music that we can teach to and sing with one another without a hymnal or a piece of paper in our hands. This original music is simple and repetitive, yet holds incredible depth. It allows congregations to become communal music-makers, learning to sing and improvise together in a vital way.

Introductory essays by Schell, "Singing from the Heart," and Scott, "Singing Paperless Music in Your Congregation: A Practical Guide," set the framework for involving congregations in worship without hymnals or bulletins by using the oral tradition of teaching music by rote. Schell was co-founder of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, and is now Consultant and Creative Director of All Saints Company ( Scott is director of Worship at Riverside Church in New York City and New Music Project Director for ASC. Marilyn Haskel, musician at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, and composer of eleven pieces in this volume, served as editor and notes that "many of these songs were composed during a retreat week sponsored by the All Saints Company and the Church of St. Gregory of Nyssa."

Each song is prefaced by description of its form, level of difficulty for learning, suggestions for learning together and singing together. The basic forms used are simple melody, echo, round, call and response (where response is different from an echo), and layered pieces. Text sources include scripture (22) and the Book of Common Prayer (12). In addition to Haskel, the most frequent composers are Ben Allaway, Robinson McClellan, Ana Hernández, and Eric H.F. Law. The topical index is helpful for planning worship, delineating acclamation, and selecting service-music pieces and prayers, and includes such topics as "bread and wine," "contemplation," "departing in peace," "light," "water," and "word."

My personal favorites and some of the more unusual pieces include:

#10 "As the dark awaits the dawn," echo, text by Susan Palo Cherwien, music by Frederick Frahm; #14 "Let the broken ones be healed," text by Michael Hudson, music by Sandra Gay; #56 "To the bath and the table" adapting text from a bell inscription at West Denmark Lutheran Church, Luck, Wisconsin, noted in Gordon Lathrop's Holy Things, set as a round by Mark Howe over cantor's verses by Sylvia Dunstan ("Crashing waters at creation")' #67 "Hosanna, ho!/Palm Sunday Processional," easy echo by Ben Allaway; and several justice-oriented pieces: #64 "We are walking in the love of God," layered, by Ed Thompson; #65 Ben Allaway's "Freedom come," call and response; #76 Allaway's "My soul is a river" based on Amos 5:24; and #80 William Doggett's round based on Ps. 101, "I will sing a song of mercy."

Those who are looking to encourage congregational singing have in Music by Heart a strong resource for working with their congregations of all sizes and ages. While not all the pieces will fit the ethos of your congregation, here is inspiration for creating your own music to involve and form persons in faith through singing.

Robin Knowles Wallace in The Hymn, the quarterly journal of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Spring 2009, Vol. 60, No. 2


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