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Easter 4A


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



Gathering


The passage in Acts about how the early church gathered together could suggest gathering songs which are a simple call to worship such as Jesus calls us here to meet him (CH 510), Spirit of truth and grace (CH 608), Come now is the time to worship (CH 196 / MP 1040) and Jesus lead us to the Father (Resound). As suggested throughout the Easter season, if you used any of the more contemporary hymns on Easter Sunday such as Christ is alive, and the universe must celebrate (CH 422), Away with gloom, away with doubt (CH 418), Earth, earth, awake; your praises sing (CH 420) or Christ was raised (Resound) it could also be worth repeating them to help them become part of your congregation’s repertoire.


Word


You can be guaranteed to start a heated debate in the Church of Scotland if you ask what the right tune is for singing Psalm 23. This isn’t even a simple split between congregations as you will find a mix of strongly held views within congregations. The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want, the lyrics for Psalm 23 from the Scottish Psalter, sung to Crimond (CH 14) and Brother James’ Air (CH 16) are probably the most widely known while The Lord’s my shepherd (MP 1008 / PFAS 23F / CCLI / Townend) has become a modern classic. Wiltshire (CH 14) and Orlington (CH 15) are both excellent tunes for these lyrics as well and suit congregations who sing in parts, although it is always confusing that they start with the same four notes.


With so many well known tunes it would be easy not to look at other options but there are lots of wonderful settings in a whole range of styles including His love is my resting place (Kimbrough) which has a light country feel and was written as a response to the pandemic, the Victorian hymn The King of love my shepherd is (CH 462), the well known round The Lord is my shepherd, I’ll walk with him always (Hymnary / PFAS 23K) and a beautiful pentatonic Indonesian song My shepherd Lord, with flute so true of tone (STB 291). The Lord is my shepherd (CH 17) and Shepherd me, O God (PFAS 23H / GIA) are both lovely responsorial settings if you have a choir or soloist to sing the verses, although you could also use the sung responses with spoken verses.



Response


The gospel reading is obviously linked to the psalm so any of the songs suggested above could be considered. Halle, halle, halle (CH 345) is a well known chorus and the additional verses by Marty Haugen would make this very appropriate if you have a soloist who could sing these. Other songs to consider are Father of peace, and God of love (CH 272) which links Christ as shepherd with the resurrection story, In heavenly love abiding (CH 551 / MP 331) looks at it through a more pastoral lens and Shepherd (CCLI) which gives a sense of a personal response and faith in the Lord.


The passage from Acts explores what the early church looked like and this can be picked up in songs such as The Church is wherever God's people are praising (CH 522), In the name of Christ we gather (CH 677) and There’s a spirit in the air (CH 616). When the hungry who have nothing / Cuando el Pobre (CH 258) and Simple living (MP 1251 / CCLI / Townend) could link to them selling their possessions and giving the proceeds to those in need in v45 while Let us break bread together (MP 414 / Hymnary) would link specifically to v46.


Pray for the church, afflicted and oppressed (Hope), sung to Song 1, would link to the Epistle with its theme of suffering for the Gospel, while The Kingdom is yours (CCLI)

would be a good option for bands and God of freedom, God of justice (CH 263) relates our suffering to Christ’s own experience. For something really challenging you could use We turn to God when we are sorely pressed (CH 393) which is based on a poem written by Bonhoeffer when he was in prison.



Sending


The reading from Acts can suggest ending with a missional focus on what we are called to as a church with classic hymns such as We have a gospel to proclaim (CH 363 / MP 728) and For my sake and the gospel’s, go (CH 248), contemporary hymns such as Go to the world! Go into all the earth (CH 683), God sends us forth (GIA) and Go heal the sick (WGRG), or worship songs like Hear the call of the kingdom (MP 1282 / CCLI / Getty) and Mission’s Flame (CCLI).







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