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Introduction to the Lectionary Companion – 58.1

Sally Ann McKinsey

Year C (2024–2025)

When Sunday comes back around every week, so does our corporate worship. We are formed in the pattern of Sunday-after-Sunday, found by God in the rhythm that pattern makes. May this resource support you week after week, season after season, as you plan worship with your church staff, worship committee, and community. 

This issue provides practical guidance and ideas in the midst of the overwhelm that ministry can bring. The contributions found here also model approaches to liturgy, music, and art selection that may serve as conversation partners in your own process of thinking about liturgy and music for worship. May these suggestions prove adaptable to your unique context, and may they enliven your practice.  

In this issue you will find weekly and seasonal suggestions for liturgy, music, and art responding to Scripture readings from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C. 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 adult, youth, and children’s choirs to piano and organ music. If you have used this resource in the past, you will notice a few modifications in these areas. 

While piano music suggestions have previously been limited to seasonal lists, contributor Tim Redding has offered piano music suggestions for each Sunday and festival to provide support for contexts that do not have or do not use an organ regularly. We have also included vocal solo suggestions by Jason Branham for each Sunday in the time between Pentecost and Reign of Christ Sunday, a period during which many choirs observe a summer break. Special thanks go to Phillip Morgan, music editor, whose tireless efforts have been vital to this edition and to the journal.  

I give thanks for the gifts of the writers who contributed liturgy to this edition. Four unique voices approached common elements of liturgy with wisdom, each offering their artistry and perspective. The Prayer of the Day offered for each Sunday and festival can be adapted for use as an Opening Prayer, a component of the Prayers of the People, or part of another spoken prayer in the service. 

Sequences of Confession and Lament for each season can be repeated week after week in that season or adapted for use during a time of confession or intercession in any service. 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 kinds of 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. 

The collective work of the many contributors to this resource reminds us that we are not alone in the planning and practice of worship. 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
Managing Editor

About Anthems for Children’s Choirs by Karol Kinard Kimmell

Marking the changing seasons in the liturgical year with songs, hymn tunes, and stories from Scripture is important for children in their faith journey. They learn best when they sing about it, so I have offered anthem suggestions for each liturgical season that reflect general themes and also reference particular stories from Scripture or hymns specific to each season. You will find songs from a variety of cultures and musical eras. Some anthems are based on hymn tunes or quote hymn texts; some anthems tell a Gospel story in detail; others are based on psalms. Several are in Latin, a few give new melodies to traditional hymn texts, and all are full of musical concepts to teach. All are guaranteed to be worth the time you’ll spend teaching them and the effort required to place these tunes and texts in your young singers’ hearts and voices. 

I have indicated a skill level of Easy, Medium, or Advanced with each suggestion. I urge you not to walk away from a suggestion that at first glance may appear too easy or too difficult. An anthem that is not such a struggle to learn gives more time to achieve the finer points of choral singing with your singers. Likewise, taking the time to challenge singers to sing a phrase a little higher or a little longer in more difficult anthems, especially toward the end of the choir year, can be rewarding. If you see an anthem listed that has two parts, but your choir is not able to sing in two-part harmony, take the time to investigate the suggested anthem, as all are adaptable for unison singing. Enjoy! 

About Anthems for Youth Choirs by John Tyson

The process of selecting anthems for youth choirs in a worship setting provides an exciting opportunity. The selections I have offered for each liturgical season are carefully chosen. They show a varied and diverse array of choral anthems that will inspire both your singers and your congregants. My goal in offering titles for youth choirs is to suggest music for choral groups of all skill levels and to provide music for every time and place. They will paint a picture, tell a story, aid in Christian education, and enhance your worship services. These anthems can be used anywhere throughout a worship service. They will help propel the liturgy of the season and compel us all in our journey of faith.

I have assigned a difficulty level of E (easy), ME (medium-easy), M (moderate), or MA (moderately advanced) to each anthem suggested. Anthems marked with an E are intended for choirs of any size and skill level. They include melodies, harmonies, and phrasing that are easier to learn. These anthems will have repeating patterns, and accompaniments that help support the vocal lines, and they are suitable for choirs with a limited vocal range. Anthems marked with ME will include a few challenges and build upon the easier anthems. These anthems may include more challenging rhythms, thicker texture, and meter changes. Anthems marked with M may display key and meter changes; have a cappella sections, syncopation, and rhythmic variations; and present a larger vocal range with thicker texture. Anthems marked with MA are for more advanced groups with strong vocal sections. These anthems may display key and meter changes and solo lines on top of advanced harmonic writing. These pieces may also include syncopation and accompaniments that are very different from what the choir is singing, and they will require independent vocal sections. The MA anthems require more preparation but are well worth the effort. As music moves us in different ways, may you be moved as you listen, select, and plan music for your youth choir throughout the church year.

About Piano Music by Tim Reddin

At my church, the primary instrument is the piano, so as the music director and pianist, I spend time each week choosing meaningful piano preludes, offertories, and postludes for worship. I was honored to be asked to do the same thing for this publication. I mostly play arrangements of familiar hymn tunes for these moments in worship, and I try to cover an eclectic range of styles and moods. I highly recommend collections that have arrangements for the entire church year, and you will find several of those in my suggestions. I have attempted to keep most of my suggestions in the “intermediate” range, with some easier and some more difficult pieces here and there. I hope you find this list useful in your ministry!

About Vocal Solos by Jason Branham

A vocal solo is an opportunity for an expressive contribution to any worship service, particularly at times when a choir is unavailable. Each week you have the possibility to incorporate children, adults, and special guests with a solo piece that can highlight an individual’s unique abilities. In the present publication, I have tried to include suggestions of varying styles and difficulty levels. For most Sundays of the year, you will find ideas for a spiritual, a “modern” worship song with guitar accompaniment in mind, and a “classic” solo. This year, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Education Resources Committee, which supports this publication, has been intentional in creating resources for congregations that either do not have or do not use an organ regularly. For practical reasons, I have often selected multiple pieces from the same collection. Be creative and celebrate the astonishing diversity of God’s people with an authentic vocal solo that will be meaningful for all!

About Adult Choral Anthems by Megan Higle

I have spent much time over the years with worship resources, but I have only recently started keeping track of the number of female-identifying composers considered in many lists of suggestions for choral music. As a woman, I work hard to uplift the women around me, and the music we use in worship is one way to do that. I hope you find some selections that may be new to you that are composed or arranged by women and invite your congregations to praise God through music. 

I have worked in churches with all-volunteer choirs, very small choirs, and choirs with hired section leaders. I intend that the selections you discover here will either prove very accessible, offer a slight challenge, or already be in your choral library. 

Remember that these are suggestions! Please take the titles for anthems and hymns I have suggested and look in your own library to see what you have that would fit. My suggestions also invite you to commit yourself and your congregation to expanding your choral library to include updated arrangements by composers that may be new to you.

Following are some notes that describe the ways I have assigned difficulty level: 

E (easy): can be put together in one rehearsal 

ME (medium easy): could possibly be put together in one rehearsal, but usually needs two 

M (moderate): requires at least two, but likely three, rehearsals 

MA (moderately advanced): needs a few weekly rehearsals and a brief touch-up the day of worship 

A (advanced): for these, it is helpful if you have “ringers” in the choir, along with five to eight weekly rehearsals

I am always expanding my personal library and my list of “choral wishes.” I hope that my love of choral music to praise God is reflected in the choral anthem suggestions in this edition.

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 Rachel Hood Vogado

What we see matters, especially within the context of worship. When we consider the different ways that we learn, process, and reflect, it is important to remember that many people need a visual element for understanding. Visual arts add vibrancy to worship spaces and can invite viewers into deeper conversation with Scripture and with the Divine. Through printed or digital offerings, visual arts can supplement sermon ideas, bring liturgy and music to life, and open new understandings and questions with Scripture. The art suggestions shared here include work that spans time, connecting the work of early Christians and artists to followers and artists in the modern era. Care was taken to include a variety of mediums and cultural expressions. 

When selecting images, first consider what is already in the public domain. Many museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum and the National Gallery, offer a searchable database of images within their collections that are in the public domain. Other databases have been created to source and credit art that is not yet in the public domain, such as the Vanderbilt Divinity Library and Eyekons. While there is no charge for use of many of the images in the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, take care to follow the instructions listed with each image in its database for captions and copyright citations. Other databases, such as Eyekons and collections of individual liturgical artists, require payment for use of certain images or offer subscription plans for use of their collection. 

Consider what artists might be in your congregation and community who may be willing to create or offer art for use in worship. Ultimately, when selecting an image or visual element for worship, I encourage you not to take the most literal option for connection with your Scripture text. Consider how a specific word, phrase, or feeling might guide your selection of a visual element and leave space for participants’ interpretations and wonder.

Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

Introduction to Lectionary Aids – 56.1

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…

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