Introduction to the Lectionary Companion – 57.1
Sally Ann McKinsey
Year B (2023–2024)
Worship planning and practice is inherently interdisciplinary. Music invites theological exploration, theology informs language and liturgy, liturgy becomes action, and action makes art. Singers and preachers alike use the voice to gather people together and to give praise and testimony. May this resource support you in your interdisciplinary partnerships as you plan worship for the next year with your church staff, worship committee, or community. I hope the suggestions found here will prove adaptable and will enliven worship with word, song, and visual art.
In this issue you will find weekly and seasonal suggestions for liturgy, music, and art, each responding to Scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary in Year B. I am grateful for the musicians who, with devotion and insight, have offered a wide range of ideas for music from congregational song to anthems for children’s choirs to piano and organ music. Special thanks go to Phillip Morgan, music editor, whose tireless efforts have been invaluable to this edition and to the journal, especially as I have made my way through my first year in the role of managing editor.
This year, each of four liturgy writers contributed liturgy for a quarter of the year. I am grateful for the gift of four unique voices, each of whom has approached common elements of liturgy with wisdom and offered their own unique artistry and expertise. It is my hope that the liturgy offered in this issue is adaptable and flexible to multiple parts of the service and to a variety of contexts or occasions. The language in the Prayer of the Day for each Sunday may be adapted to various parts of the service—for example, as part of a Prayer for Illumination or the Prayers of the People.
Though this publication has provided weekly confession sequences in the past, I hope that seasonal sequences of confession and lament help to promote continued theological reflection about this movement in the service and encourage you to repeat liturgy over the course of a season or a few consecutive weeks. Each seasonal sequence of confession and lament inhabits a unique place on a scale between confession and lament, drawing connections and distinctions between the two from prayer to prayer. Some sequences lean more toward confession and others toward lament, while some occupy a space between, offering language that invites those with diverse experiences to find meaning in common words.
Seasonal invitations to discipleship offer language that can be used following the proclamation of the Word, as part of the offertory movement, or as a sending action, a way for those gathered to respond to the good news they have heard from God in the service.
As you use this resource throughout the year, may it remind you that you are not alone in the planning and practice of worship. The suggestions found here invite us to worship God from the particularities of each of our contexts and communities, and they also unite us as one body. May worship both comfort and challenge us as we learn God’s love and enact God’s justice together. Blessings in your worship planning in the year ahead!
Sally Ann McKinsey
About Anthems for Children’s Choirs by Meg Granum Gurtcheff
Thoughtfully chosen anthems for children’s choirs can offer new perspectives and insights about the whole of liturgy and music. Often, children are the best equipped to present a theme or provide musical commentary on the message of the day. The anthems selected for children’s choirs in this edition are intended to provide flexible opportunities for children to sing about themes we encounter throughout the liturgical year and within the flow of each Sunday’s worship service. These musical selections may be presented as an introit or gathering anthem, a response to the reading of Scripture, an anthem after the sermon or during the offering, or an augmentation to congregational singing by introducing or responding to a hymn.
The difficulty levels of the suggestions in this edition vary, though the majority were selected with the broadest ability levels in mind and in recognition of the wide range of possible participant numbers in each unique children’s choir. Many of the anthems selected are marked with an E, indicating that they are intended for all ability levels and choir sizes, or ME, which indicates that a selection may present some challenges that can easily be overcome. Anthems marked with an M or MA are for more advanced groups and will include multiple challenges and learning opportunities. Music selections marked with an A contain complex musical concepts or advanced harmonic part-writing and require the most preparation and skill level.
Above all, each anthem selected offers an opportunity for your children’s choirs to embrace the themes of each season through rich texts, engaging melodies, and, often, cherished hymn tunes.
About Anthems for Youth Choirs by NeTorrian (De’) Patton
In my suggestions for youth choral anthems this year, I have done my best to provide options that exhibit the following criteria: connection to the lectionary texts, accessibility, and pedagogical awareness. In my searching, it was important to choose anthems with strong ties to the lectionary texts in each liturgical season. Accessibility was also a vital consideration in the selections I provided, so that each youth choir will be able to find selections appropriate for their unique context and capability. Each piece includes musical interest that will be meaningful for the conductor, singers, and congregation. A pedagogical approach was also important for me as I made this year’s selections. Many youth choirs include singers ranging in age from sixth through twelfth grades, and with that diversity in age comes developing voices all around. Not only do youth choral anthems teach music and singing, but they can also serve as a medium for Christian education. Overall, the list of anthems for youth choirs includes many difficulty levels and styles. It is my hope that these selections will benefit you and your youth choirs in your worship planning.
About Piano Music by Tim Reddin
I serve in a congregation whose primary instrument in worship is the piano, so I spend time every week choosing appropriate piano preludes, offertories, and postludes for worship. I mostly utilize arrangements of hymn tunes for these moments and attempt to cover an eclectic range of styles and moods with my selections throughout the year.
I hope that you find my lists of seasonal suggestions useful, as I’ve tried to include several difficulty levels to accommodate many levels of piano artistry. Pieces that are graded Easy (E) and Moderately Easy (ME) may be sight readable or ready after one rehearsal. Pieces graded Moderate (M) may be ready to play after a rehearsal or two for the intermediate pianist. Pieces graded Moderately Advanced (MA) may have several key changes, time signature changes, or syncopated rhythms, and they may take up more “space” on the keyboard, so rehearsal time will be dependent on individual piano proficiency. Pieces graded Advanced (A) are virtuosic and expressive and may take some preparation for even the most seasoned player.
About Vocal Solos by Krista Wright
Willie Nelson said that “all music is sacred.” The vocal solo selections in this edition come from this spirit, so they may contain a few surprises and unlikely choices. Music from a wide variety of genres may share appropriate connections with biblical texts. Pop music and songs written for the contemporary musical theater are included. While this list doesn’t contain them because of the contextual awareness and care required in their choosing and use, many spiritual songs by hip hop artists, like the song “Faithful” by Common with John Legend, also brilliantly and eloquently speak about social justice concerns and incorporate biblical themes.
The grading scale for difficulty is as follows: Advanced (A), Moderately Advanced (MA), Moderate (M), Moderately Easy (ME), and Easy (E). My interpretation of this scale is subjective and general. You may use your own judgment based on your knowledge of personnel and musical forces, strength of accompanist, rehearsal time, and other factors. Selections marked (A) or (MA) might be reserved for those with accomplished technique or may require sensitivity in other areas when choosing them, regardless of musical or technical demands.
When texts are strong, more than one example may be offered, and some like pieces have been assigned the same difficulty level for different reasons. Some may have an accessible melody but may require more vocal range or stamina, for example, while others may have an independent vocal line, requiring stronger music reading and aural skills, but may support a more limited range.
Think creatively, and don’t be afraid to be controversial. While there is enough sacred repertoire to last for hundreds of years of this resource, stepping outside the conventional can illuminate texts and themes in a fresh way, energize conversation in worship planning, and provide inspiration for parishioners and perhaps even the professed disinterested. Worship should hold space for many different voices. Like Willie says, it’s all sacred.
About Adult Choral Anthems by José Rivera
The choral selections included in this year’s edition are primarily based on the corresponding Scripture readings for each week in Year B and are designed to provide you with a comprehensive list of choral music representing a diverse array of musical styles and diverse traditions from across the world (African American, Latin American, South African, etc.). I also sought to find a balance between what I call “traditional choral gems” and newly published music composed by emerging composers.
Given the wide array of choral ensembles in our places of worship, I designated levels of difficulty based on the amount of time needed to prepare each selection. Easy (E) designations are given for anthems that may require less preparation, while those marked Advanced (A) may require more time to prepare. It is my hope that you will find selections that will meet the needs of your choral ensemble. I feel privileged to collaborate on this project and I hope you will find these selections useful, inspiring, and a blessing to your congregations. Please feel free to contact me if I can assist you in any way.
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 and 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 Visual Art by Sandra McDonald
There are many ways to bring visual art into community worship. Art can be physically present in your worship space, printed images can be a part of your worship bulletin, or digital images can be projected during spoken or musical elements of the liturgy or incorporated into streamed worship services. Art that invites worshipers into the presence of God, enhances the proclamation of the Word, and/or broadens and deepens the worship experience should be chosen. The art suggestions provided here include the work of artists in a wide variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, fiber art, and calligraphy. Some are from centuries ago and some are contemporary. All are chosen to support the lectionary texts for the given week. Excellent liturgical art is available directly from artists, from artists’ representatives, and from collections such as the Vanderbilt Divinity Library (https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/). You will see that the Vanderbilt collection is the most cited source for three reasons: first, the collection is very large and organized according to the Revised Common Lectionary. Second, there is no charge for use of the Vanderbilt images, and third, copyright is covered by Vanderbilt with clear directions for captions and citations provided. A few artists in the Vanderbilt collection require direct contact in order to use their images, which is noted in the library in those cases with directions about how to obtain permission.
Other resources to consider include Eyekons (https://eyekons.com), which represents a large group of liturgical artists and has a fee of either $9.99 or $14.99 depending on the required resolution (online or projected images require less resolution than printed images). When working directly with artists, copyright requirements and fees will vary. For example, the fee for Jan Richardson’s art (https://www.janrichardsonimages.com/) is $15.00 per image or an annual subscription of $165. Other artists charge fees that range from $0 to more than $100, but many do not charge for church use if you request and receive permission from them to use their work. Most churches, even very small ones, have artists or art collectors among their membership, who can be a great resource. If a member is sharing something from their own art collection, copyright approval is still required from the artist.