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Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

Kimberly Bracken Long

Year A (2022–2023)
Once again, we are pleased to bring you another rich resource for worship planning, thanks to the generosity of contributors from all around the country who have provided suggestions for liturgy, congregational song, psalms and canticles, organ music, anthems for adult choirs, handbell music, and visual art. In addition to these weekly offerings, there are seasonal suggestions for children’s choirs, youth choirs, piano music, and vocal solos, as well as guidelines for choosing instrumental music in your context. Please be sure to read the helpful introductions provided by each contributor.

This issue is the final one for which I will serve as editor for Call to Worship. I have thoroughly enjoyed shepherding the journal through the last five years and am grateful for the collegial relationships this work encourages. I am thankful to my colleagues in Theology and Worship, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and the Presbyterian Publishing Company for all of their help. It takes many dedicated people to produce this publication! Special thanks to Catherine Reuning for her administrative support, Leann Gritton for her financial acumen, and David Gambrell for always being ready to brainstorm ideas and solutions. I’m grateful to Kelly Abraham, Andrew Perkins, Katherine Kupar, and members of the PAM Executive Board, especially those on the Educational Resources Committee, for their support and collaboration. Sarah Foreman at PPC is the genius behind our subscriptions and mailings, and Jeanne Williams, also at PPC, has worked for years on cover designs and, with David Gambrell, the nitty-gritty of getting the journal to press. Nancy Goodhue and Tina Noll have been crackerjack copyeditors, and Michelle Vissing provides her excellent skills in layout and design. Paul Seebeck has kept our email notifications going and has supported our mission. And last, but certainly not least, Phillip Morgan has given invaluable editorial assistance, particularly with the Lectionary Aids issue. Thank you one and all.

With every ending comes a new beginning, and I am delighted to introduce the new editor of Call to Worship, Sally Ann McKinsey. A Presbyterian minister and professional artist, she brings deep liturgical sensibilities, preaching expertise, pastoral experience, and artistic vision to the position. Sally Ann received a Bachelor of Arts in Art at Furman University in 2010, a Master of Divinity at Columbia Theological Seminary in 2013, and a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. She is currently Campus Minister of UKirk and an adjunct faculty member in the School of Art, Craft, and Design at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee.

Under Sally Ann’s leadership, the journal will continue to explore the role of worship in dismantling systemic racism, eradicating poverty, and enhancing congregational vitality. Call to Worship will also remain committed to deepening our understanding of what we do in worship and why we do it, attending to ecumenical voices while continuing to be rooted in the Reformed tradition.

I hope that this Lectionary Aids issue will be a valuable resource for your church in the coming year and thank you for being faithful subscribers!

Grace and peace,
Kimberly Bracken Long

About Anthems for Children’s Choirs by Heather Potter
The children’s choir suggestions may be used at various points in a worship service. Songs of praise and thanks are suitable for choral introits and anthems. Sung prayers may augment spoken petitions, and settings of Scripture may serve as proclamation of the Word. These selections reflect a variety of musical styles. They offer opportunities to teach and reinforce key elements of musicality and vocal production along with skill-building steps for independent singing.

Difficulty levels vary, with care taken to offer choices for every choir regardless of age and experience. Anthems marked E may be sung by all groups, particularly those with less-experienced singers. The same is true for anthems marked ME, which contain slightly more challenging vocal requirements or harmonic demands. An M or an MA indicates increasing challenge in harmonic structure, vocal line, or rhythmic complexity. Anthems marked A require the most skill in these same areas. Children’s music is often written as “Unison/optional 2-part.” Adding the second part can change significantly the difficulty of the piece. For these pieces, a hybrid rating indicates the difficulty of the piece as a unison line followed by the difficulty level if the second part is incorporated. These levels are separated by an asterisk (e.g., E*MA).

About Anthems for Youth Choirs by Kenney Potter
When seeking repertoire for youth choirs, I look for the following criteria (generally in order of priority):

  • Faith formation application / worship application
  • Musical interest (for conductor, singers, and congregation)
  • Accessibility
  • Pedagogical application

Overall, there are a variety of levels and styles in this list that will hopefully achieve your goals for this year. For the Sundays after Pentecost, I chose mainly easier anthems that could be done by smaller ensembles. Best wishes on service planning.

About Piano Music by Anne Krentz Organ
The piano is an amazingly versatile instrument. It can be both lyrical and percussive, offering strength and sensitivity, covering a wide range of tone and timbre. In churches where the organ is the primary leading instrument, musicians might consider programming an occasional piano piece. The church organist could switch-hit at the piano, or perhaps there are pianists in the community who would like to offer their talents in worship. The repertoire suggestions provided here cover a wide range of difficulty levels, from easy to advanced, with many falling in the moderate category.
About Psalms and Canticles by Martin Tel
The setting of Hebrew poetry into English metrical verse allows for theological and cultural (re-)interpretation. The recommended metrical settings of psalms represent a breadth of traditions and approaches to psalm interpretation, but each instance purposes to track the assigned lectionary verses. Though responsorial psalmody hews closer to the Hebrew, even here the selection of a refrain can powerfully shape the way the congregation will appropriate the psalm. Such power demands discernment and care. Over time, the psalms should be presented in ways that help us to associate them with both the Old Testament and New Testament lections, with both the original singers of the psalms, as well with contemporary worshipers.

The 2018 Book of Common Worship provides a complete Psalter with eight transferrable refrains that can be used for responsorial singing of all the assigned lectionary psalms and canticles. This Psalter, prepared by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, provides beautiful and natural contemporary language that is inclusive and expansive for both divine and human referents. Particularly with regard to responsorial resources, we are glad to point to Roman Catholic resources. Note that the most recent official Roman Catholic responsorial psalmody draws from The Revised Grail Psalms. Some of these verses use exclusive language (man, men, he) in reference to humanity. In such instances it is possible to substitute the original Grail Psalms translation or to use verses from other sources, such as the Psalter in the Book of Common Worship.

About Anthems for Adult Choirs by G. Phillip Shoultz III
For my submissions this year, I have done my best to provide options that remain faithful to the assigned texts while also introducing as many new composers, publishers, and selections as possible. As you would expect, I have chosen to highlight some of our “choral chestnuts,” but in this offering you also find an array of composers, arrangers, and selections amplifying the Black and Latinx choral experience. I hope to encourage each of us to faithfully share a wide array of diverse voices and compositional styles with our singers, parishioners, and communities. I believe God is glorified when we make our musical circle wide. For suggestions from the gospel tradition, I encourage use of an instrumental combo, even when notated parts are not available, in the hopes that you will seek out and connect with musicians in your area who are skilled in these presentation practices. As you consider my assessment of difficulty levels, know that I used the amount of preparation time needed to bring the piece into worship/public presentation as the primary criteria. And I’ve found that most pieces lean toward the middle, which is why most of my selections are designated as Medium Easy–Medium.

I do hope these selections are of benefit to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if I can assist you in any way. In the belief that the best is yet to come.

About Art by Sandra Kurtze McDonald
There are many ways to bring visual art into worship. Art can be physically present in your worship space; print images can be a part of your worship bulletin; and digital images can be projected during spoken or musical elements of the liturgy or incorporated into streamed worship services. However it is used, art should be chosen to help bring the worshipers into the presence of God, to enhance the proclamation of the Word, and/or to broaden and deepen the worship experience. The art suggestions provided here are the work of a wide variety of painters, sculptors, quilters, calligraphers, and others. Some works are from centuries ago, and some were created as recently as the current decade. All are chosen to support the lectionary texts for the given week.

Excellent liturgical art is available directly from artists, from artist’s representatives, and from collections such as the Vanderbilt Divinity Library. You will see that the Vanderbilt collection is the most cited source below for three reasons: first, the collection is very large and organized by the Revised Common Lectionary. Second, there is no charge for use of the Vanderbilt images, and third, copyright is taken care of by Vanderbilt, and clear directions for citations are provided. A few artists in the Vanderbilt collection require direct contact in order to use their images. This is noted and directions given on the Vanderbilt website.

Eyekons, which represents a large group of liturgical artists, has a fee of either $9.99 or $14.99 depending on the required resolution (online or projected images vs. printed images). Direct arrangements with artists vary; for example, the fee for Jan Richardson’s art is $15.00 per image or an annual subscription of $165. The fees charged by other artists range from nothing to more than $100, but many do not charge for church use. Most churches, even very small ones, have artists or art collectors among their members and this can be a great resource, but if a member is sharing something from their art collection, copyright approval is still required.

About Vocal Solos by John Sall
Cultivating solo singers in your congregation can be a wonderful addition to your weekly musical offerings in worship, especially in weeks when the choir is not scheduled to sing. Voices of different ages and abilities can bring such beauty to a text or theme for the day. Asking children, youth, and adult soloists to participate in worship will bring a unique and personal experience to the congregation. I chose the pieces for the Vocal Solos sections to include a range of styles, difficulty, and themes based on the lectionary for the year. They are in order of themes by week, but in many cases certain songs would work for several Sundays.

I have suggested songs from collections that contain multiple offerings that are excellent for worship. You will find songs from various genres, including spirituals, art songs, oratorio, and hymn arrangements. I included one hymn from Glory to God and encourage you to use hymns for soloists whenever it fits the day. There is such a richness in hymnody, and settings of hymns for solo singers are abundant and easy to find.

Many of the songs listed are included in collections that are available in various vocal ranges. In addition to this option, many songs are also available for digital download in several keys. During the pandemic there was a surge in need for solo worship music as churches were limiting singing. Many recent publications provide some wonderful new resources for soloists that are affordable and readily available.

I have used the following system to rate difficulty:

E = Easy (simple melodies with supportive accompaniment, limited range, straightforward rhythm, easy for a young singer or singer with limited music reading background)

ME = Moderately easy (tuneful melodies with supportive accompaniment, broader range, rhythmically a bit more adventurous, good for a singer with some solo experience)

M = Moderate (vocal line has more autonomy from the accompaniment, rhythm is more complex, vocal range is expanded, arrangement has unexpected development, longer pieces requiring good vocal endurance and technique)

MA = Moderately advanced (broad range, difficult technique including wide intervals, melismas or sustained high notes, complex rhythms, longer phrases requiring excellent technique and breath support)

A = Advanced (suitable for a professional singer or soloist with a depth of experience, difficult range, difficult rhythm, vocally demanding)

About Instrumental Music in Worship: A Reflection and Some Planning Resources by John Sall

Instrumental Music Opportunities, Practices, and Resources

There are as many models, budgets, and local traditions for musical leadership as there are churches. And while every congregation and every musician knows or feels their limits (of ability, training, people, time, budget, etc.), it is inspiring to recognize the variety and depth of resources that congregations have within their care. I hope these practices encourage you to broaden the vision and stewardship of these resources by expanding instrumental color and the number of people invested in supporting the music of your congregation.

Developing and Expanding Opportunities

  1. Ask! I have often been surprised by the hidden abilities of members as dedicated amateurs who never really knew they might contribute to worship directly. Include this request in different places and cohorts in the congregation to be sure young students, adult amateurs, and trained professionals all know you would like to include their gifts.
  2. Be sure musicians of varied abilities have a way to be included and to experience inclusion as a blessing of giftedness and a musical success. This requires careful planning and getting to know players and abilities, as well as working far ahead, but yields valuable experiences. Here are some ways our congregation welcomes and supports musicians in varied contexts which can lead to direct worship leadership over time. So plan knowing this development takes time but will be worth it. These are roughly in order of increasing challenge level:
    1. music during serving-line time at a congregational meal
    2. preludes for special children/family/youth services (e.g., Christmas Eve student preludes, youth-led service preludes)
    3. youth talent show
    4. anthem obbligato
    5. summer Sundays when the choir is off
    6. solos (usually accompanied) in worship
    7. introductions and accompaniments for congregational hymns (solo or ensemble)
    8. ensemble pieces
    9. accompaniments for choral anthems or hymns on festive days

Planning and Practices

Once players are identified (an ongoing process), including their musical gifts in worship requires planning. Depending on a congregation’s size and resources of people or budget, there are different ways to plan regular and varied instrumental additions in worship that work well.

  1. I find it helpful to vary or balance the types of additions because of the added planning time and the attention they require as well as a desire to develop a changing color palette in worship. If the luxury of options is available, I try to match the character of the instrument to the needs of the season and day as well (e.g., brass group at Easter, strings group at Christmas, few instrumental “extras” during Advent and Lent, solos or student groups in the fall and summer when time and attention allow).
  2. During general seasonal hymn and choir planning, I often look specifically for anthems, hymn resources, or solo publications (see the following resource lists) that work for the players. Then I approach final planning with the players to enliven worship but not overwhelm them with material or rehearsal time. I like to request some solo literature of their choosing for one or several spots in the service if they want, and I’m comfortable to write or transpose hymnal parts to allow them to join on congregational singing or introductions as well. This is a skill that can be learned and doesn’t require special “creativity” or composition. Depending on the skill level and challenge of the day, rehearsal might require between a few times weeks ahead to thirty minutes for a run-through before the service.

General Resources

A huge benefit to current publishing trends is the ability to search publisher websites by instrument, keyword, season, and more. This allows a rather specific search for instrumental resources even by hymn tune or title, once planning has taken place, to find pieces that could serve as a prelude, extended hymn introduction, voluntary or communion music, or postlude.

Publishers with Searchable Instrumental Catalogs for Worship

Morningstar Music ( includes a very large “Instrumental” section which is searchable by instrument type and can be narrowed by specific instrument, season, and congregational accompaniment; can even be sorted by those available to download (for a too-late-to-ship addition to worship).

Concordia Publishing House ( is less intuitive to search than Morningstar but has a deep catalog of settings for organ and instruments, including good performing collections of Baroque masterworks and many collections of hymn settings. Look especially at adding just one or two of the large collections of hymn settings that could serve as a major resource for many different general hymns or seasons, including especially Hymnal Supplement ’98: Instrumental Descants Edition, and the series of four seasonal volumes of Hymnal Companion for Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion.

Hope Publishing ( includes a very elegant search feature and a variety of hymn-inspired works for various solo and ensemble arrangements with and without keyboard. I have Hal Hopson’s Creative Use of Instruments in Worship in my library, but the format of this series is focused on some ready-to-use material that can serve as a teaching model and inspiration for further creations of your own.

Augsburg Fortress ( has a very small catalog of instrumental pieces with organ or piano; however, searching for items related to the ELW hymnal is also useful. The Hymns for Ensembles collections (vol. 1 and vol. 2) are designed with over fifty hymn settings each, with parts for multiple instruments/transpositions, and in keys that are friendly to the young wind player.

Shaw Music ( is a newer small publishing venture with several instrument-specific collections that are mostly based on hymn tunes. These would be an excellent addition to the library of a player who would like to add some worship-specific pieces to repertoire that could serve the congregation.

Lucks Music Library ( is a resource for more general pieces if you have string players. It is possible to search the “Solo and Ensemble” library by instrument and to look at Christmas pieces for a variety of sacred and secular works.