resources

Using the Narrative Lectionary: Recommended Resources

Using the Narrative Lectionary: Recommended Resources

For many churches, the lectionary (a pre-planned collection of readings to choose from each Sunday) is the guiding force behind worship planning.

Perhaps the two most well-known forms of the lectionary are the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), a 3-year cycle first published in the early 1990s and the Ordo Lectionum Missae (1969) on which the RCL is based, which emerged after the Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council. (source

The Ordo Lectionum Missae has been revised and updated (and translated into English) since then and is still used in many Catholic Churches (now called the Lectionary for Mass). The RCL, which is likely familiar to many of you, is used across denominations in churches around the world. 

But, in the last several years, new lectionaries have emerged, giving churches an opportunity to explore new reading plans and guides for worship.

Last Fall, Mandy Davis of Central Presbyterian Church in Anderson, SC reached out to me for resources and music planning ideas for the relatively new Narrative Lectionary (2010), a 4-year reading plan that follows a more continuous, “narrative” approach, created by Luther Seminary. After exchanging a few emails, I asked if I could touch base with her later in the year to see how it’s going.

Today, I've invited Mandy on the blog to share her experiences (from a church musician's perspective) and talk about her favorite Narrative Lectionary resources. Enjoy!

An Inside Look at My Worship Planning Process

An Inside Look at My Worship Planning Process

How do you plan a worship service? Where do you start?

It’s likely that the process looks different from church to church and worship planner to worship planner, but I thought it might be helpful to share an inside look at my worship planning process, from start to finish.

Before I do that, however, I want to share a few articles and resources that have been helpful to me:

UMC Discipleship - Worship Planning - sample orders of worship, sermon notes, hymn/song suggestions, and other resources (click “This Week’s Planning Resources” to see worship planning suggestions for each week)

A Single-Thread Worship Planning Model - an insightful look at integrated liturgy and the benefits of planning sermon series

The Nuts and Bolts of Worship Planning - "collected wisdom from 100 congregations"

Integrating Visual Arts in Worship

Integrating Visual Arts in Worship

There’s no denying it: We live in a visual age.

Statistics show that only 10% of people remember things they hear and only 20% remember things they read. But, a remarkable 80% of people remember things they see and do. (source)

Visuals play a huge role in how we learn and process information. Did you know that our eyes process visuals 60,000x faster than text? (source). Understanding the power of visuals and the role they play in our everyday lives is crucial to planning and creating meaningful, engaging worship services.

”The visual arts used in worship bring the gospel to life.” (source)

Modern worship is informed by a rich heritage, a collection of sacred symbols and icons, and tangible things like bread and wine. How can we integrate visuals into our worship services on a more regular basis? How can we depict the story of the gospel through art and media? How can we enhance the spoken Word, the prayers, the rituals, the music with visual art forms?

Singing Our Faith: The Power of Musical Theology

Singing Our Faith: The Power of Musical Theology

We gather together on Sunday mornings, in churches old and new. In "Sunday best" and casual attire. In old wooden pews and folding chairs. No matter where or how we worship, we come together for the same reasons - to feed our souls, to shape and strengthen our faith, to be reminded of who God is.

We retell the stories of our faith, we remember God's promises, we claim God's victory over the world, we pray and praise and recite what we believe.

And we can do it all through singing. This is the power of musical theology.

Theology is "the study of the nature of God and religious belief." Musical theology refers to hymns and songs with rich, meaningful text that speaks to who God is and what we believe. 

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Children's Choir

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Children's Choir

Where can you find music resources, tried-and-true teaching strategies, fun games, creative visuals, and accessible craft projects?

Pinterest.

It's crazy how much content there is on this social media platform. In addition to all the recipes, inspiration, art, and home-decorating ideas you could ever need, there are tons of resources and ideas for choir, teaching, and ministry. It seems every time I search, I find something new!

Earlier this year, I shared some of my favorite finds for worship planning and design and handbell choirs. Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite Pinterest boards for children's choir

How to Teach Solfege in Children's Choir

How to Teach Solfege in Children's Choir

If you're like me, you first learned solfege from Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. This film classic is still beloved today - it's a favorite among my elementary piano students!

So, why the funny syllables? What exactly is solfege and how do you use it?

First, a little history.

History

Solfege (doremi, etc.) is a method for introducing and teaching understanding of pitch and a system used for sight singing.

Solfege dates back to the 11th century and the work of music theorist Guido d’Arezzo. There are two primary solfege systems: fixed do and movable do.

In fixed do, syllables are assigned to pitches (e.g. do = C). In movable do, syllables assigned to scale degrees (e.g. do = 1st scale degree of major scale).

Top 20 Contemporary Music Resources

Top 20 Contemporary Music Resources

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called, "Contemporary Music for Traditional Congregations," which included practical suggestions and a list of 20 accessible contemporary songs for more traditional worship (read it here, in case you missed it). I know what you're thinking: "That's great, but where do I go to actually find this music?"

I asked the same question earlier this year. You see, our church is currently having these same conversations. In fact, we're talking about it in a series of meetings this week:

- How can we begin incorporating more contemporary music into our services?
- Where do we find this music? 
- Who from our church can sing/play/lead it?

I did a little homework and today, I'm sharing a round-up of contemporary music resources - places to listen to and download individual songs (lead sheets, chord charts, instrumental parts, choral scores, etc.), where to find lyrics, and several useful collections for choir, praise team, and congregational use.

Happy searching!

50 Invaluable Tools & Resources for Children's Choir Directors

50 Invaluable Tools & Resources for Children's Choir Directors

In search of new repertoire or teaching ideas for your choir? Need a few games ideas for the next rainy Wednesday night? Looking for resources for starting a children's choir program?

Whether you're new to choir-directing or you've been doing it all your life, we all need new ideas and fresh resources every now and again.

Today, I'm sharing a rich and varied collection of some of my favorite children's choir tools and resources - everything from devotions to gathering activities, warm-ups and games to repertoire and curriculum ideas, rehearsal-planning tools, resources for building a choir program, and more.

Enjoy! 

Devotions

Devotions are an important part of church choir rehearsals, as they help center our hearts and minds on the true reason for our singing. Devotions also offer a wonderful way to connect to the stories young singers hear and learn about in children's time and Sunday School.

Using American Sign Language in Children's Choir

Using American Sign Language in Children's Choir

Singing is a full-body activity (source). And movement (especially for younger singers) is a valuable tool to helping children understand and engage with music. American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual form of communication among Deaf communities. ASL signs may use one or both hands/arms. Signs are comprised of certain hand shapes, orientations, and positions on the body, and many involve movement (source). This is unique because it brings the word to life in a way, pairing language with visual art. It's almost like a form of dance.

ASL works well with music, bringing new meaning to the text and giving children a tangible, physical way to interact with the music. Having motions to do while they sing also helps children stay focused in rehearsal and memorize the music more quickly.

Looking to include ASL in your children's choir? Here are a few helpful resources for getting started:

My Favorite Online Resources for Church Musicians

My Favorite Online Resources for Church Musicians

Every church musician has their go-to resources for worship planning, anthem selection, ministry leadership, and rehearsal planning. Some might say their planner; others, their hymnal. Some of you might find the lectionary an invaluable resource for planning and a one-a-day devotional for staying inspired. But what about when you're away from your desk?

Over the past few years, I've found a few resources that I go back to again and again and the best part? They're all online.

From worship planning to anthem selection, hymn choices to choir devotions, here are some of my all-time favorite online church music resources:

Hymnary.org

Do y'all know about Hymnary.org? This is one of my favorite resources.

Hymnary.org features a huge database of hymns from all different hymnals. Look up texts, additional verses, hymn tune information, and much more. Search by text, tune, writers, Scripture reference, or topic, and look up tables of contents for hundreds (thousands?) of hymnals and hymnal supplements. This site also features links to choral anthems, instrumental arrangements, and digital scores.