Music and language at this month’s National Youth Event are carrying forward a longtime United Church of Christ belief that the words we use to describe God and people are a matter of justice and inclusion – a movement that took a huge step 25 years ago with the dedication of The New Century Hymnal.Read more
A Chicago pastor who is also a hip-hop artist and seminary teacher will give the Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture Thursday, Oct. 17, in Washington, D.C.Read more
Get your youth involved:
- Youth are adopting Sing! Prayer and Praiseas their own. Encourage your youth to select some songs to work up in the song book. Help them to form a band, even seeking band members from outside the church.
- Have youth create a music video and post it on YouTube. Non-musical youth can assist in putting together the video and/or creating a video background when the youth offer the music in worship. (A bonus of having youth invite friends from outside the church, they just might find the church a creative place to be and want to stick around!) Remember, allow the youth to be in charge of their music with gentle guidance from a worship planner.
- Some of the more challenging songs in Sing! Prayer and Praise are perfect for youth to sing as solos.
Get your children involved:
- Little kids can provide creative rhythms to accompany songs. Fill emptied plastic water bottles half-full with beans, rice, or anything else that would make noise. Seal them tightly. Then invite the kids up front to shake as the congregation sings. The energy of the children will add to the spirit of the song. Make sure that the children aren't being used for "entertainment" but are serving as worship leaders for the singing!
- More than a few songs in the song book are easily sung by children. Encourage your Children's Choir director to select songs from Sing! Prayer and Praise. Or, if you don't have a Children's Choir, now would be a great time to pull one together. Tap grandparents to invite their grandchildren to sing. The added bonus, the parents come to church when the children sing!
Get all ages involved:
- Place rhythm instruments throughout the pews or chairs for worshippers of all ages to use as the Spirit moves. You might be surprised at how the more senior members of your congregation take to this! Some have never been "given permission" to move their bodies or get involved in the music in any other way than to sing. The joyful celebration of many rhythmic instruments accompanying the songs adds energy and fun to the worship experience. Yes, God works through fun as well.
BRANDEN GRIMMETT is the organist at Sacred Heart Church in Lexington, Massachusetts – a progressive Catholic community. Branden came to Sacred Heart after serving as organist at Arlington Street Church, Unitarian Universalist, in Boston's historic Back Bay. His previous positions have included director of music and organist at First Congregational Church (UCC) in Somerville, Massachusetts, and assistant music director and organist at Topsfield Congregational Church (UCC) in Massachusetts.
Branden received his B.A. in music from St.Olaf College in Minnesota, and his MTS from Harvard University. He studied organ with John Ferguson and voice with Anton Armstrong, conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. He is an active member of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, the American Academy of Religion and The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. He is also a board member of the United Church of Christ Musicians National Network (UCCMNN).
In addition to performing, Branden is also a frequent clinician and workshop leader specializing in hymn improvisation, congregational singing and contemporary music in worship. He was a featured presenter at the 2008 UCC Musicians National Network gathering in Akron, Ohio, where he led two workshops and accompanied a keynote session led by Dr. James Abbington. In November 2008, Branden was the guest lecturer at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he presented The Theology of Contemporary Praise Music.
In June 2007, Branden served as the organist for the United Church of Christ's 26th General Synod and 50th Anniversary Celebration in Hartford, Connecticut.
ANTHONY CABRERA enjoys a versatile career as a teacher and singer. Since receiving his degree in music from the University of Miami in 1999, he has worked under the baton of a number of conductors including James Judd (Florida Philharmonic Orchestra) Michael Tilson Thomas (The New World Symphony) and Alain Lombard (Florida Concert Association).
Anthony is the Assistant Director of Music Ministries at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) where he directs Cantáte, the youth performance ensemble, and the Youth and Adult Bell Choirs.
He is also the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Miami Gay Men's Chorus (a member chorus of GALA – the association of gay and lesbian choruses) and INSIGNIA – the chorus's select vocal ensemble, and he is the Choral Director and Humanities teacher at the Young Women's Preparatory Academy – Miami Dade County Public Schools' single gender public preparatory academy for girls.
He has conducted performances of West Side Story (Bernstein) and Lucia de Lamermoor (Donizetti). He has also been at the podium as a conductor for the MDCPS Superintendents Honors Festival Middle School Choir (2005) and from 2002 – 2005 for the University of Miami – Frost School of Music Choral Camp.
Anthony has membership in several music ensembles, organizations and associations including: Jubilate a vocal ensemble that specializes in Gospel music, African American Spirituals and the music of the Caribbean, the Florida Vocal Association (FVA), Music Educator's National Conference (MENC), and the America Choral Directors Association (ACDA).
The REV. DR. CHRISTOPHER GRUNDY is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship and Coordinator of Chapel Programs at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. After earning degrees from Carleton College in Minnesota and Union Theological Seminary in New York, he served churches in Iowa and Kansas for eight years. He then returned to academic work, receiving M.T.S. and Ph.D degrees in liturgical studies from Garrett Theological Seminary.
For more than 15 years, Christopher has also been writing and performing music for local, regional, and national church gatherings, including General Synods, National Youth Events, and National Council of Churches young adult events. The UCC's recent Worshiping Into God's Future initiative included a number of his short songs written for worship. He has also recorded several collections of his own music. He is married to Carla Tellor Grundy and they have three boys. You can learn more about Christopher's music at www.christophergrundy.com.
The REV. KEKAPA P.K. LEE has been singing from his earliest years. Raised in Haili Congregational Church in Hilo, Kekapa found motivation for singing through the Minister of Music, Albert Nahale-a, at the church. He has sung in more than a few choirs including Haili, Kamehameha Schools, military chapel choirs, University of Hawai'i at Hilo Choir, as well as churches that he has been a part of. He has experience in choral and congregational music in the Hawaiian language as well as English. In 1998, he won an award, Na Hoku Hanohano, for his album titled, "Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi" ("Let Us Love One Another"). The album featured Hawaiian hymns as he sung all four-parts.
Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Kekapa has standing in the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches UCC (AHEC), one of the five associations of the Hawai'i Conference UCC. Currently, he serves as the acting senior pastor of The First Chinese Church of Christ in Hawai'i (UCC) in Honolulu, Hawai'i. He is a member of Kawaiaha'o Church (UCC) in Honolulu. Prior to that, Kekapa served as the Papa Makua-Associate Conference Minister for the AHEC and The State Council for Hawaiian Congregational Churches—forty-eight plus churches in the HCUCC. He also was Pastor of Waiola Church UCC in Lahaina, Hawai'i from 1987-1999.
As a pastor, Kekapa facilitates most of the congregational singing and chooses the songs and hymns for worship in partnership with worship and music leaders in the congregation. He often plays the ukulele stringed instrument to accompany his singing. At First Chinese, Kekapa weekly rehearses and leads both the Chinese choir (singing in Mandarin) and the Chancel choir (singing in English) in two of three worship services each Sunday.
ELIZABETH LEUNG is a member of Sycamore Congregational UCC in El Cerrito, CA and a scholar of Christian spirituality. A native of Hong Kong, Elizabeth was ordained by the Bay Association and earned her Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
Her theological studies and interests include cultural and religious formation, body and culture, reformed theology, women mystics, and the history of Christian spirituality. Elizabeth's current work focuses on ministries with particular attention to the Asian & Pacific Islander community and LGBT community.
RODNEY MILTON was graduated with a degree in music education from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, in May 2006, and began his middle school teaching career in August 2006. He is active in the music ministry with churches and especially enjoys working with youth. A gifted stylist at the piano, Rodney has been playing for churches for over five years. At the last United Church of Christ Musicians National Network (UCCMNN) event, he led a workshop on Gospel music, exploring its many layers as he encouraged people to think "outside the box" in their music ministry. He is also a member of the UCMNN Steering Committee.
Rodney was a part of the musical team for the UCC General Synod 26 in Hartford, CT and will be apart of General Synod 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich. He has co-directed choirs for the national office of the UCC, including the General Synod Choir and Harambee. Rodney also composes and arranges music.
SONIA IVETTE MORALES-MATOS is a Puerto Rican composer and belongs to a family of distinguished musicians. She studied composition and jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston and has a master's degree in composition and jazz studies from Indiana University, Bloomington.
Sonia's compositions explore a wide variety of styles and genres such as orchestral and chamber music, choral music, Latin jazz, pop, sacred and contemporary Christian, and tropical music. She has received commissions from the Puerto Rican Cultural Society of Dayton, the Musical Arts Corporation of Puerto Rico and from other private entities.
Some of her compositions have been published and/or recorded. Among the ones being published by the UCC we can find: Holy Spirit, We All Praise You, Cuando desciendo a las aguas, Gratitude, and You are the Wheat. Among the works that have been recorded we can mention "Paisajes" concerto for Puerto Rican cuatro and orchestra, Divertimento Caribeño no.1 for oboe and piano, and Introspection for Bb clarinet and piano.
She wrote the anthem We're Called to be the Light of the World in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the UCC. The piece was premiered during the activities of the 2007 UCC General Synod. During 2008, she had pieces ranging from orchestral, Latin Jazz, and chamber music premiere in Puerto Rico, Ohio, and Kansas respectively
Sonia has been a professor at the Escuela Libre de Música de Puerto Rico, John Jay College, the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, and Cambridge College. She is a UCC member and has participated in several projects sponsored by the Worship and Education Ministries Team, Local Church Ministries such as Worshiping into God's Future and Worship Ways. She served as a member of the UCC Musicians Network Steering Committee.
Sonia Ivette resides in Ohio where she pursues her career as a composer and educator.
The REV. JILL K. WARNER is a pastor, teacher, musician, and composer. She holds a B.A. in Music Education from The College of St. Benedict, and received her M.Div from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
Following her years as a music educator and youth director, Jill followed a call to Intentional Interim Ministry, serving seven different congregations in South Dakota, Ohio, Minnesota, Utah and Northwest Ontario.
In 2005 Jill began work on a Worship Revitalization ministry, Tributaries of Faith, in partnership with Faith United Church of International Falls, MN. She is now the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
NATIONAL STAFF AD HOC MEMBER and ADVISORS
The REV. DR. JOSÉ ABRAHAM DE JESÚS was born in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico and grew up in the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico (UCC). At the age of 13, he became a youth leader locally and nationally. At that time, he was asked to serve in a mission point in his hometown preaching and teaching Sunday school. In 1963 at the age of 19, he was assigned by the Conference Council to his first full time parish while he was a student at the University of Puerto Rico, where he earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Education. José completed his Master in Theology at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and his Doctorate of Ministry degree with specialization in Christian Education at Andover Newton Theological School in 1981. Education credits were taken at Harvard Graduate School of Education, Boston College and Boston University as part of the Doctoral degree.
During his 17 years in parish ministry he served churches in San Juan, Fajardo, Rio Piedras and Ponce, Puerto Rico. Since then, he has served as Associate Conference Minister for Christian Education, Programs and Ministries in the Puerto Rico Conference, Adjunct Professor at the Evangelical Seminary in Puerto Rico, Director of Hispanic Ministries for the Illinois Conference and Area Conference Minister for the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the Illinois Conference with responsibility for 67 churches in the city of Chicago and suburbs. He joined the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries national staff in September 1991, as Minister for Education in the Local Church and Vocation.
On July 1, 2000, he was called as Minister and Team Leader for the Worship and Education Ministry Team in the Local Church Ministries, a Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ. In 2008 his position was changed to Team Leader for LCM Mission Priorities. He retired from the national setting of the UCC in 2009.
José is married to Aris Neida, and together they have three children: José, Yanira and Noraida and five grandchildren: Sebastian, Riley Aris, Analía, Sophia and Joely. His hobbies include woodworking, Native American flute-making and playing, music, computer, fishing and hunting.
The REV. SUSAN A. BLAIN is Minister for Worship, Liturgy, and Spiritual Formation with the Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry of Local Church Ministries. Raised in the Roman Catholic Church, Sue spent her young adulthood as a member of a Catholic religious community, where she served as a community organizer in a low income neighborhood. Theological study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City introduced her to the challenges and joys of ecumenical Protestantism, and developed her gifts for preaching and worship leadership. After receiving her M.Div from Union, Sue joined its staff to serve as Director of the Seminary's daily chapel services. Over the next few years Sue worked with a generation of Union students, helping to nurture their gifts for preaching, worship planning and leadership in the ecumenical community and flexible space of James Memorial Chapel. During this time, Sue participated in the UCC curriculum project called The Inviting Word, by editing volumes 2 and 3 of Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource.
In 1995, Sue joined the staff of The Riverside Church in New York City, where she served as Coordinator of Worship. There she collaborated with clergy staff, musicians and lay leaders to shape Riverside's worship for Sunday mornings and festival events, and to develop an informal mid-week service of prayer, preaching and testimony called Creating a Space for Grace.
During her years at Riverside Sue became a member of the United Church of Christ. She has served as licensed minister of small congregations in Maine and Rhode Island. Sue was ordained to her position in the national setting of the UCC in May 2007.
The REV. SCOTT A. RESSMAN, editor, is the Minister for Worship, Music, and Liturgical Arts at the national offices of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio. He began his call in July 2006, following a six-year pastorate at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Andover, Ohio. He is a 1999 graduate of Eden Theological Seminary.
Scott began piano lessons when he was seven years old, studying with his Godmother, Evelyn Miller who was the organist and choir director of his childhood church, Salem United Church of Christ in Tonawanda, New York. Scott would frequently sit down at his family's basement piano and pick out songs that he had heard, so his Godmother advised starting lessons before his natural ear took over.
When he was eight years old, Scott became involved in church music going from room to room in Sunday school to play hymns. When he was fourteen, though he had just a few organ lessons, Scott began playing the pipe organ in church, substituting for his former elementary school music teacher, Daniel Schultz, and eventually numerous churches in the Buffalo, New York area. At sixteen, he was offered an organist and choir director position with a prominent congregation in Buffalo, but didn't accept the call. Less than a year later, he accepted a position with a Disciples of Christ church, where he remained for thirteen years.
During undergraduate study in government and political science, Scott was active in the music program at Medaille College, where he often accompanied vocal students during performances. He also taught private piano and voice lessons. Also while in college, Scott was invited to join the prestigious Paul Robeson Chorale of Buffalo, New York, the only Caucasian male singer in the group.
A fan of theatre, Scott was cast as one of two non-equity performers in "Man of LaMancha," at Artpark, a summer-stock theatre venue in Lewiston, New York. He remembers that time with great fondness.
Before heading off to seminary in 1996, Scott had returned to his childhood church to fill the role of organist and choir director once held by his Godmother. He served the church for two years before becoming the thirteenth individual from Salem UCC called into pastoral ministry. Scott was active in the music program at Eden, singing with the choir and accompanying them for a short time as well. While searching for a call to a local church, he served as the Minister of Music for First United Methodist Church in St. Louis, Missouri.
Scott is a published composer with his organ composition, "In His Love," which was composed after the sudden death of a friend. In 2008, he completed producing The New Century Hymnal on CD, a thirty-five volume set of pipe organ accompaniments for each hymn. On the project, Scott worked with musicians from across the United Church of Christ, recording the hymns at two UCC churches in the Cleveland, Ohio area. The New Century Hymnal on CD marks the first time that any denomination has produced a live pipe-organ accompaniment series for their hymnal.
Scott's work with Sing! Prayer and Praise began in late 2006, when a contest announcing the project sought submissions to the developing praise and worship song book. Hundreds of original songs were received, many from individuals who had never before written down their compositions. Scott was charged with putting together a team to select two winners in competition, the team that would come to be known as the Praise Song Advisory Team (PSAT). This group of diverse individuals volunteered their time to the project, coming to the UCC Church House (national offices) in Cleveland to meet for intense sessions every few months, as well as work by email and phone.
In his spare time, Scott enjoys spending time with his family and friends, watching mindless reality television, surfing the internet, and the occasional trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Puppets may be associated as "for children," but ask a puppet ministry leader, and they'll tell you that puppets are for everyone.
Maybe it's because puppets are a part of nearly everyone's childhood: there was Kukla, Fran and Ollie in the '50s, and Edgar Bergen and his famous puppet sidekick, Charlie McCarthy. And Jim Henson's creations of Kermit the Frog and the gang at Sesame Street continue to delight children and adults alike, well beyond Henson's untimely death in 1990.
Puppets are fun, silly and colorful. They live in a world of pretend, but they can talk about real issues, too. And in the case of puppets who reside in the world of a UCC church, they can talk about things like tolerance, loving your neighbor, and about the promise of Jesus Christ. "Every time we do something with the puppets at church, everybody goes crazy," says Jim Somers, from First Congregational UCC of Rowley, Mass. He and his wife, Heidi, have led S.T.A.R. (Start Taking A Role) Puppet Ministry for the past five years. "They just swarm the stage afterwards."
|Jim and Heidi Somers (c.), co-leaders of Start Taking a Role (S.T.A.R.) puppet ministry at First Congregational UCC of Rowley, Mass., pose with the cast and crew of "Born in a Barn." photo furnished.|
"They just love it. They just can't get enough of it. Why is this? It's probably just because it's different and it's entertaining," says Somers. "Entertaining isn't usually a word that is associated with a church service, but why not? My theater background says, you're putting on a show in the sense that you've got an audience, and you have to captivate them. The Word is out there, the Word is exciting. So let's not make it boring, let's make it exciting. It's a good excuse to say, 'Hey, let's be dramatic here.' "
Cindy McLean, of Peace UCC in Duluth, Minn., leads a troupe of puppeteers from 4th through 6th grade. As much as she sees the puppet ministry benefitting her students, she laughs heartily when she sheepishly admits that she feels it is she who is having the most fun. "[The kids] are so incredibly creative! Sometimes I'm laughing so hard with tears running down my face because they are so clever!"
McLean says the puppets give the kids a place where they can express their faith. "They have a lot of fun with it, and there's a lot of silliness in it, too," she says. "Puppets say really funny things, and get it wrong a lot!"
Karen Mann, the leader of Good Ship Grace Puppeteers at Grace UCC in Lebanon, Penn., had the fortunate advantage of being in the right place at the right time. "We were blessed by the Rev. Dana Schlegel, a previous puppet ministry person," explains Mann.
Schlegel, a UCC minister who is noted for his advocacy of the use of sacred dance and the arts in worship, decided it was time to pass along his puppet collection. When Mann first met Schlegel, she knew that he wasn't going to give his puppets away to be used as playthings. "Just the way he handled the puppets, I knew they were very special to him," remembers Mann. "They were like his kids."
Since then, Schlegel, who suffers from MS, continues to be an invaluable teacher and mentor to Mann's puppet troupe, comprised of eight adults at her church. To honor Schlegel and his important role to the puppet ministry, proceeds from the Good Ship Grace Puppeteer performances go to the MS Society.
Starting a puppet ministry from scratch can have start-up costs, according to McLean. "You need a couple hundred bucks to start," she says. "Now that we're getting established, we're part of the budget. Every show has costumes and scenery."
McLean's troupe had humble beginnings, which required some ingenuity. Instead of purchasing the more costly hand puppets, McLean opted for making "Peeper Puppets," a technique that involves a set of eyes worn on either a bare hand or a glove.
Through websites like <peeperspuppet.com>, these sets of eyes that hook under the puppeteer's finger can be purchased for just over $3.00 each. McLean's puppeteers would wrap boas and feathery things around their wrists to add color. In fact, even after purchasing the more "high-tech" hand puppets, McLean says the peeper puppets still make appearances in their productions. "They're just so cute, we can't bear to let them go," she says.
|Puppeteers from Peace Puppets at Peace UCC, Duluth, Minn., share the spotlight with their "Birds of Pray." photo furnished.|
Somers, McLean and Mann all agree that the internet is the first stop for inspiration and resources. One Way Street, Inc., a Colorado-based company, gets high grades from all three puppet group leaders. The website sells instructional DVDs on puppeteering, scripts, puppets and scenery, and sponsors periodic training seminars and performance festivals.
Still, each leader finds what works best for his or her group. Depending on the skit, Somers will turn to different websites that offer free, downloadable scripts. Mann says her troupe writes their own scripts or adapts a pre-written one, and often they'll center a performance on a song. McLean has also used songs to tell her puppet's story. But since McLean has yet to find scripts that she feels reflects UCC theology and faith, she has written all of her scripts entirely herself.
Taking the show on the road
Mann's troupe, the Good Ship Grace Puppeteers, gets bookings from all over the local area, and the 8-person troupe has developed a close working relationship because of it. Performing at events like Relay for Life, Special Olympics or performing and leading a workshop for the local Girl Scouts keeps them on their toes, especially since they like to customize their performance for each particular audience.
When Mann got called to fill in at the last minute for some entertainment at a Christmas party for a group of electricians, she admits to feeling a bit worried, wondering if the group of adults would take kindly to being entertained by the puppets. "Thank goodness for the internet," laughs Mann, who hurriedly searched for "electrician humor" so that she could work in a few electrical jokes to the set.
She needn't have worried. "We left there with two other bookings [for future shows]. People said they thought it was so funny." Even when playing to a secular crowd, Mann says, "We don't downplay the religious side of what we do, but we're not grabbing them by the lapels, either. There are subtle ways to get the message across."
Finding your niche
A puppet ministry takes a lot of work, but the results bring people close together, sometimes bringing out talents that were never before realized. "This ministry can reach out to kids who maybe don't have another niche," says McLean. "One of our kids who had a disability was one of our best puppeteers. She was awesome, just awesome," she says. "It was just something she could immediately do."
Somers agrees. "The cool thing about puppets is when someone wants to get involved, but they're terrified to stand up in front of people ... This way, they can hide. All we see is a puppet! They can have a blast, tell a story, be part of this whole ministry without actually being in front of anybody."
Mann feels she's part of something that allows Christians of all ages to go back to the basics. "The puppets teach us about showing Christian love and how to treat people," she says. "[The Rev.] Dana [Schlegel] told us that a long time ago. People hear from a puppet what they might not hear if a person just stood up and talked."
Want to start simple?
Praise music is...
"...a memorable, melody-based composition which is musically accessible without being simplistic; it has a fresh sound incorporating less-traditional rhythms and harmonization. Praise music makes one “feel” something with a goal of establishing a deeper relationship with God. It can move one to thought, action, and reflection based on the text or theme. The language of praise music is inclusive and accessible. It encompasses traditional religious vocabulary; explores non-traditional, contemporary images of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and draws from the rich imagery found within sacred Scripture. Praise music seeks to embody the covenantal values of the United Church of Christ: Justice and Peace, Multiracial/Multicultural, Open and Affirming, Accessible to All – as we seek unity; celebrate diversity; honor inclusion; hope for relational, loving communities; and explore multiple images and understandings of God.” ~Adopted by the Praise Song Advisory Team, Sunday, July 22, 2007
Brief History of Sing! Prayer and Praise
The long process to create Sing! Prayer and Praise began in the fall of 2006 when The Worship and Education Team of Local Church Ministries began the "Praise and Worship Music Project," which included the Praise Song Songwriting Competition, as means of developing new musical content, and the creation of the Praise Song Advisory Team (PSAT), a diverse group of musicians, theologians and worship leaders from around the UCC.
On March 10, 2007, the PSAT members gathered for their first meeting at the church house in Cleveland, Ohio. The members came from as far away as Hawai'i and California, and as close as 700 Prospect Avenue in Cleveland. They came from a wide-range of settings and backgrounds, each hoping to bring to the team valuable experience and unique perspectives. As they gathered at their first meeting they wondered what this praise and worship music project was all about and how God would work in their midst. Through their journey, they had many great surprises!
Those surprises centered on a great outpouring of support from all over the church and the submission of hundreds of new and previously recorded praise and worship songs, many written by UCC musicians. Throughout the rest of 2007 and all of 2008, the 11 members of PSAT came together for numerous meetings and defined what praise music would be and mean to the UCC, and what purpose the new song book would serve. These meetings would prove vital to team members as the submitted songs had to be sorted, reviewed, evaluated and approved before the actual construction of the song book could begin, which was a responsibility that the PSAT members took very seriously.
Thankfully, each member of PSAT has an impressive and detailed musical or theological background, lending their talents and expertise in music education and performance to private schools, higher education institutions, choruses, orchestras and UCC churches around the world, so their ability to understand both the musical and spiritual content of each song was essential to the development and construction of the songbook.
As the song book's creative process increased, the UCC Musicians National Network, Inc. (UCCMNN), along with four other UCC ministries, hosted a four-day national workshop in August 2008, in preparation for Sing! Prayer and Praise. This workshop invited musicians, worship leaders and planners, liturgical artists and pastors to come and worship together, learn from their peers, attend plenary sessions and experience the art of praise music. Attendees left the workshop refreshed, excited and inspired to incorporate what they learned about Sing! Prayer and Praise into their congregations and worship services.
By October 2008, the final songs were selected, and the composers whose songs would be included in Sing! Prayer and Praise were contacted. The process to work with publishers and composers, to edit and organize the song book, a detail-rich undertaking that took nearly seven months, fell to Rev. Scott Ressman, minister for worship, music and liturgical arts.
The first boxes of Sing! Prayer and Praise were delivered to Grand Rapids, Michigan for its debut at General Synod 27 in June 2009. It was greeted enthusiatically and has since been embraced by churches throughout the UCC. As its popularity grows, new resources are being considered to meet the needs of local congregations.
Epiphany / Year C - 2010
Hymn numbers and titles are from
The New Century Hymnal
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The New Century Hymnal
See “Epiphany” 154-166
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Baptism of Christ/Baptism of Jesus – First Sunday after Epiphany – First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Affirmed by Love
The New Century Hymnal
167 – Mark How the Lamb of God’s Self-Offering
285 – O Holy Dove of God Descending
169 – What Ruler Wades through Murky Streams
82 – Go, My Children, with My Blessing
354 – God, When I Came into This Life
407 – How Firm a Foundation
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Second Sunday after Epiphany – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Extravagant Sign
The New Century Hymnal
50 – I Sing the Praise of Love Almighty
177 – God of Change and Glory
163 – Many are the Lightbeams
459 – Come, O Fount of Every Blessing
1 – Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Date: January 24, 2010
Third Sunday after Epiphany – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Good News, Good Ways
The New Century Hymnal
154 – Go Tell It on the Mountain
584 – I Am the Light of the World
273 – Praise with Joy the World’s Creator
177 – God of Change and Glory
394, 395 – In Christ There is No East or West
163 – Many Are the Lightbeams
401 – O God in Whom All Life Begins
Date: January 31, 2010
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Prophet on the Edge
The New Century Hymnal
161 – Amen, Amen
496 – Ekolu Mea Nui
61 – Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost
461 – Let Us Hope when Hope Seems Hopeless
411 – Praise the Source of Faith and Learning
540 – We Plant a Grain of Mustard Seed
to be continued
Year C - 2009
Hymn numbers and titles are from the The New Century Hymnal
Sunday, November 29
First Sunday of Advent
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Sign of Things to Come
The New Century Hymnal
See “Advent” 101-123
345 – Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
35 – O Mighty God, When I Survey in Wonder
103 – Watcher Tell Us of the Night
112 – Keep Awake, Be Always Ready
609 – Now is the Time Approaching
Sunday, December 6
Second Sunday of Advent
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Make Ready
The New Century Hymnal
Page 733 – Canticle of Zechariah
110 – Now Bless the God of Israel
115 – The Baptist Shouts on Jordan’s Shore
120 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness
121 – Toda la Tierra
43 – Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
Page 740 – O Wisdom, Breathed from God
Sunday, December 13
Third Sunday of Advent
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Look Forward
The New Century Hymnal
586 – Come to Tend God’s Garden
404 – Give Up Your Anxious Pains
88 – Pero Queda Christo
55, 71 – Rejoice, You Pure in Heart
506 – What a Friend We Have in Jesus
109 – With Joy Draw Water
Sunday, December 20
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Seasons of the Spirit Theme: Moving With Mary's Song
The New Century Hymnal
Page 732 – Canticle of Mary
123 – Mary, Woman of the Promise
15 – My Heart is Overflowing
106 – My Heart Sings Out with Joyful Praise
119 – My Soul Gives Glory to My God
122 – Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
113 – Little Bethlehem of Judah
133 – O Little Town of Bethlehem
If you're a member of a church with a big-time pipe organ with a full-time musician, consider yourself lucky. Not all congregations are so fortunate.
Some churches struggle every Sunday to find someone who is able to play the keyboard during worship.
That's why The Pilgrim Press, in cooperation with the UCC's Worship and Education Ministry, has spent the past year developing a set of pipe-organ accompaniment CDs for creative use in congregational worship services. The series of includes an accompaniment for each hymn in The New Century Hymnal, the UCC's hymnal published in 1995.
"The purpose is not to put any organist out of work," says the Rev. Timothy Staveteig, publisher. "The purpose is to give music options to congregations that may need help in strengthening their music offerings, especially in smaller congregations that may have limited opportunities for musicians."
Recording high-quality accompaniments for each of the hymnal's 617 hymns has been no small task, and the bulk of that responsibility has fallen to the Rev. Scott Ressman, the UCC's minister for worship, music and liturgical arts.
Ressman invited and brought together many of the UCC's finest organists, who volunteered to assist with the project. The recordings took place at several Cleveland-area UCC churches known for their high-quality organs. And the sound quality is superior, Ressman said.
"Great care has been taken to present each hymn in The New Century Hymnal with stylistic integrity," he said.
In addition to use in worship, the CDs also can be helpful for worship planning, choir warm-ups, hymn sings or other occasions when an organist may not be available, such as weddings and funerals.
Because of the high-costs associated with producing and packaging the musical CDs, orders received before shipment will take place in various stages. Orders received before September 2008 will be shipped in part. The first volume is expected in April, the second volume in May and the remaining volumes in June and September.
Listen to sample selections and order online at thepilgrimpress.com.