Sing the World Round at Easter (Year C)
by Rev. Debra Tyree
The story begins simply, quietly, at dawn. There are no hosts of angels singing “Glory to God” or magi processing grandly to find a King. Instead, out of the dimness of the dawn comes the voice saying, “He is not here. He has risen.” Worship leaders struggle with balancing the joy that comes with the knowledge of the victory of the resurrection of Jesus and remembrance of the hushed, pre-dawn voice, “He is risen!”
Many global songs can be used in Easter worship celebrations to enable worshipers to move from the quietness of the empty tomb to the bright light of the victory of the resurrection. These transition moments can be filled with songs of alleluia, thank you, and hallelujah from around the world. Using global song to enhance the worship ministry of your church can sometimes seem overwhelming – how do I use the songs in my worship setting, what should I use as accompaniment, who should sing the songs?
Use the ideas offered here as a starting place. Open your mind and hearts to all of the possibilities that surround the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ throughout the world. You will find that singing global songs in your Easter service adds that something “unexpected” to your worship that you have been looking for as well as a strong sense of unity with Christians throughout the world. We stand together with all believers to proclaim the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
The Psalm for Easter (Year C) is Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24. Sing an “Alleluia” penned by Brazilian composer, Simei Monteiro, as the antiphon! The music and suggested instrument patterns (percussion and guitar) that compliment the baião music tradition are in the collection For Everyone Born: Global Songs for an Emerging Church. Introduce the antiphon by asking the choir to sing “Alleluia” unaccompanied, continuing to hold the final chord as stanzas 1-2 of the psalm are read overtop of the chord. (Note: singers will need to “stagger” their breaths as they hold the chord.)
Sing the antiphon again adding guitar or keyboard accompaniment. Hold out the final chord under the reading of stanzas 14-18. Continue to build the excitement to the antiphon by adding percussion to the accompaniment. After reading stanzas 19-24 invite the congregation to sing the antiphon. Sing it several times, accelerating at each repeat. If you do not use the psalm reading for this day, the choir and congregation could slowly sing “Alleluia” unaccompanied prior to the reading of the Gospel lesson. Sing it with full accompaniment at the conclusion of the Gospel lesson, accelerating with each repeat.
Obrigado, Senhor – We are thankful, O Lord
Volunteers in Mission participants who have served in Mozambique will be familiar with this song of thanksgiving shared by United Methodist Mozambicans. “Obrigado, Senhor” is sung anytime there is a desire to express gratitude. Our Easter worship services are certainly filled with such opportunities. Consider singing this as a gathering song for an Easter Sunrise service. The song, available in For Everyone Born, is quickly learned and should be repeated several times.
Accompanied lightly by guitar, “Obrigado, Senhor” could be sung quietly as if we were journeying to the tomb in the gathering light of dawn. After several repetitions, consider adding light percussion such as shakers and hand drums and stronger rhythm patterns on guitar/keyboard until it becomes a jubilant song of thanksgiving. The final phrase, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia,” could be used as a response throughout the service. Consider singing this phrase as a response to a scripture reading, a time of sharing of joys, as a prayer response, and so on.
Encourage your music leaders to improvise additional harmonizations. Several languages are sung on the recording of the song on the CD, For Everyone Born. These texts are printed in the performance notes in the songbook. Churches with contemporary and emerging worship services will certainly want to add this song to the repertoire of the congregation for Easter and the Sundays following Easter.
Global Song: The Fullness of Praise
Easter is a wonderful time to add the fullness of the praises of the world to your Easter worship. Christians everywhere proclaim that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and yes, that Christ will come again.
In the midst of the deep traditions of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” “Low in the Grave He Lay,” and “He Lives” we also sing “Obrigado Senhor” and “Alleluia” with the world. Join with believers throughout God’s world as we celebrate the empty tomb and the joy of the resurrection. Sing the world round at Easter this year!
Order the For Everyone Born: Global Songs for an Emerging Church, Global Praise 2008. Songbook - ISBN:9781933663265, Audio CD – ISBN: 9781933663258 through www.umcmission.org/store
Rev. Debra Tyree is Executive Secretary for Global Praise, Global Ministries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org