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Baptism of the Lord A


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


As this is the first Sunday in Epiphany it would be good to open with a song which sets the season, such as The first Nowell (CH 323 / MP 644), Come and praise the Lord our king, Alleluia (JP 34 / Jubilate), Joy has dawned (MP 1319 / Getty) and Christmas Offering (CCLI). Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (CH 201 / MP 529) has a focus on what we offer to the Lord in worship while it’s also worth mentioning How brightly shines the morning star (Hymnary) which is the classic Epiphany hymn in some traditions.



Word


Interestingly there are two paraphrases of Psalm 29 from different sources both set to the tune Ebenezer, All who throng the halls of heaven (WGRG) and All on earth and all in heaven (PFAS 29A), with the strength of this tune a good match for the text with its imagery of thunder, trembling and tumult.. Ascribe unto the Lord (Grace) is set to a Sacred Harp tune and would be well suited to a folky arrangement by a band. Ascribe (CCLI) takes the first few verses as its starting point and while it is probably more suited to a solo voice it’s simple enough for a congregation to pick up with some sections that can be repeated. The earth is yours (CCLI) focuses on the verses about the “voice of the Lord” and how creation responds and is also written more with a solo voice but a congregation could at least pick up the chorus.



Response


There are a number of songs which specifically reference the Baptism of Christ of which Out of the flowing river (CH 335) is the most focused while Mark how the Lamb of God, self-offering (CH 629), When Jesus came to Jordan (Hymnary) and The sinless one to Jordan came (NEH 58) take it as a starting point to reflect on broader theological themes. If you have a congregation or choir comfortable with chant then When you, O Lord, were baptised (Hymnary / TM 98) is also worth considering, set to a Russian Orthodox tune perhaps best known for its use in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.


You can of course consider other songs linking to baptism and particularly to the water theme such as Grace Like a Wave (CCLI) or Baptised in water (CH 636) which can be sung to Bunessan. Wash me in the water (WGRG) and Wash me clean in that cool river (STF 453) are very short choruses which would be easy to pick up while Come to the river (OCP) has a bit of a Gospel feel and an easy chorus while verses would perhaps be best taken by a soloist.


Finally, there are songs which call to the Spirit. Breath of God (CCLI / STF 386) would work well as the first verse is based on the opening of Genesis before the chorus moves into this call while Holy Spirit living Breath of God (MP 1183 / CCLI / Getty) also links back to “Creation’s birth” in it’s final verse. Spirit of the living God (CH 619 / MP 613) is always a good song to consider as well since it is a “heart song” for so many people.


The passage from Acts commands us to preach and testify and songs which pick up some credal statements could be a good response such We believe in God the Father (Hymnary), The Church’s one foundation (CH 739 / MP 640) and This I believe (The Creed) (CCLI) while There is a balm in Gilead (Hymnary) speaks about how we are called to tell the love of Jesus. Sing praise to Christ the child (Jubilate) would be a good fit for this season as it explores Christ as a child, as a man, and as God.


There are some fantastic contemporary hymns which can link to the Isaiah text such as God of freedom, God of justice (CH 263), Praise the One who breaks the darkness (CH 348) and With longing we pray (GIA) while you could also consider the short chant The kingdom of God is justice and peace (Taizé). There are also a few songs which particularly focus on the light imagery we find in v6 but which tie in to the broader themes as well such as Arise, your light is come (Hymnary), Christ be our light (CH 543 / MP 1201) and You are the light (CCLI).



Sending


If you want to finish with a focus on baptism then I bind unto myself today (CH 639) or We know that Christ is raised and dies no more (CH 635) are good options. However, the reading from Acts can make an excellent sending theme as it calls on us to be witnesses and to preach the good news. There are a range of hymns that could pick up on this including We have a gospel to proclaim (CH 363 / MP 728), You are called to tell the story (CH 680), Go to the world! Go into all the earth (CH 683) and I will sing the wondrous story (MP 315). Some worship songs which could link are Mission’s Flame (CCLI) and Send me (CCLI) while El mensaje que hoy proclamamos / Hear the message we now are proclaiming (H 46) from Colombia, Sent by the Lord am I (CH 250) from Central America and Murassala (WGRG / H 82) from South Sudan would all send people out dancing.



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