Music for Spring Holy Day Services

With many brethren now meeting in congregations of various sizes, including small "Living Room Churches," there is a need to find or create new customs and traditions in conducting services. Some of these changes are the result of new doctrinal study, and some come from practical necessity: sometimes, the old buildings, hymnbooks and ministers are simply not around any more to perform their former functions.

The following letter shares the plans for this year of an independent group in New Mexico. It also solicits input from others on suitable music for the activity described. We feel our readers may find some of the ideas presented here helpful when making their own plans. Our local fellowship here in Michigan will likely use some of these ideas for our commemoration. We will be sharing some of our musical ideas with this group. If you have any suggestions of your own, please send them to us or the New Mexico group.

I was wondering if you might be able to give me some advice on the subject of music.

The Home Fellowship I met with observes the Passover at the beginning of the Nisan 14, and the Night To Be Observed at the beginning of Nisan 15. We are looking for appropriate hymns and songs to sing on the NTBMR. We are looking for 9 to 12 songs to use that evening. Right now we have no idea what songs to use. We want to have something that focuses on the meaning of the evening and is uplifting. We definitely need something a little bit more rousing than Dwight Armstrong's hymns. I actually like his hymns, but they don't seem appropriate for the evening. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have in the way of songs and hymns to sing.

We are planning on doing things a little different this year, at least for us it's different. The evening will open with prayer. The host will give a short message explaining the meaning of this evening. We then will sing three or four songs of hymns. Or we might sing first, and have the message afterwards—we are still working on that. During the meal, the host starting with himself, will recount how God called him, and brought him into the church. Then working around the table, the host will ask each person to tell the story of their calling and conversion. Since the evening is a celebration of our deliverance from spiritual Egypt and sin, this seems like a good way to focus our thoughts and conversion on the meaning of the NTBMR. Children will be asked when was the first time they realized that their religion was different from that of other people. By asking these questions we hope to get everyone involved in the evening's activities.

After dinner, we will sing more songs and hymns, followed by dessert. During the dessert, the host will start another round of questions. This time the question being what was a spiritual lesson you have learned this past year, or at any other time that you would like to share. When dessert is finished, we will end the evening with more songs and hymns and a final prayer.

We hope to put together a little booklet that will have various scripture verses in it pertaining to the meaning of the evening. The host will build his message around these scriptures. The booklet will have the order of activities for the evening, the questions to be asked, and a copy of the words for the songs we will be singing. Everyone will have a copy of the booklet so that they will not have to worry and Bibles and hymnals.

We would appreciated any suggestions you might have on music to use for this evening.

Thanks, Calvin Lashway

Las Cruces, New Mexico

rlashway@NMSU.edu

505-524-4530

While we have not completed our search for appropriate music, either for this activity or for regular weekly services, we offer one recommendation that many may find helpful. WORD, Inc. produces many hymnals and tapes under its Maranatha label that contain mostly inspiring, Biblically-sound worship music. Although there may be an occasional song you may have to avoid for doctrinal reasons, many of the lyrics are straight from the scriptures, both Old and New Testaments. A wide variety of musical styles are represented, from ballads to anthems to lively Messianic-style choruses.

We particularly recommend a compilation titled Maranatha Music Praise Chorus Book, Expanded 3rd Edition. This edition includes over 300 of the most popular songs of this kind from the past 25 years. We have heard from "Church of God" folks across the country in a variety of groups who have independently started using this particular material. There is a spiral-bound accompaniment book that includes both the musical notes and the guitar/keyboard chords. And there is a "words only" edition for about $3 each that would allow each member of a group to have their own copy inexpensively.

These hymnals should be available from your local Bible Book Store anywhere in America. Just ask for the third edition of the Maranatha Praise Chorus Book, (red cover), copyright 1993. The songs in the hymnal are included on a series of tapes also distributed by WORD/Maranatha, which should also be available through the same store where you find the hymnal. For this immediate Passover, it may be helpful to buy just one tape containing some appropriate songs and learn those.

We will be obtaining a set of the Maranatha books for our Michigan congregation, which we will use along with other traditional hymns. Many of the traditional hymns from the 1800s are no longer bound by copyrights. It is legal to copy these hymns and make your own book. Also, see "News from Local Congregations" for the new Hymnal in production by Mark Graham. Finally, some congregations find it acceptable to use songs from hymnals produced by other "Church of God" congregations. By using one or more of the above methods, you should be able to have a joyful song service at your Feasts this year.

—Pam Dewey and Norman Edwards


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