Proper 15B

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

Psalm 111

Ephesians 5:15-20

John 6:51-58


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



Gathering


The Psalm is a good starting point for a Call to Worship with its celebration of God’s goodness and greatness and God’s holy ways are just and true (Jubilate) would be a good opening hymn directly inspired by it set to a well known tune. You could also use many general songs on this theme with well known options such as Great is thy faithfulness (CH 153 / MP 200), Sing to the Lord a joyful song (CH 184 / MP 929), Goodness of God (CCLI) or Good, good Father (CCLI). Some less well known ones worth exploring are the exuberant Mexican song Let’s sing unto the Lord (CH 176) or We rejoice (Satellite) from a Scottish songwriting collective which would be quite simple to pick up and could also link to the Epistle.



Word


Psalm 111 doesn’t have many settings although if you didn’t use God’s holy ways are just and true (Jubilate) as an opening hymn then this is an option here. In this situation I often turn to the Scottish Psalter and Praise ye the Lord: with my whole heart (Hymnary) is in Common Metre so there are many options. However, watch that v2 has an extra syllable at the end of some lines so I would probably use Stroudwater which helps with this. In Hebrew this is an acrostic psalm, where each section starts with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. All my heart will praise the Lord (An Alphabetic Psalm) (CCLI) is interesting in that it does this in English. It has quite a rare metre but could be sung to Liebster Jesu with four Alleluias at the end of each verse. I will give thanks (GIA) is one of the few contemporary settings, written in a jazzy style for choir with a congregational response. The arrangement makes it quite complicated for use in most congregations but I would be tempted to use the first three verses that are all set to the same tune along with the refrain. Alternatively, this is a psalm where you can always use your favourite Alleluia to sing it responsorially.



Response


There are a few weeks in a row where the Gospel focuses on the theme of Jesus as the bread of life and Jesus the Lord said, I am the bread (MP 384) and Guide me, O thou great Jehovah (CH 167 / MP 201) would be some well known options which link to this. There are some great post-Vatican II communion songs which you could use such as Bread of life (CH 663), Jesus, you are the bread we long for (OCP) and You satisfy the hungry heart (CH 671) and if you’re not celebrating communion you can just use the chorus and/or selected verses. With a few weeks of the same theme there’s an opportunity to introduce something less familiar and repeat it and songs worth exploring include All who hunger, gather gladly (GIA) (which could also be sung to Holy Manna), Living bread (Resound), We come to hear your word (Resound) and The risen Christ (CCLI). There are also two songs from Asia I find interesting, Food for pilgrim people (GSW 50 / STB 290) with a beautiful yearning pentatonic melody, and Rice of life (STB 190 / GIA) which contextualises John 6 for countries where rice rather than bread is the staple food.


There are two particular bits of the Epistle which can be picked up well in song. The call to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” could suggest songs such as Jesus put this song into our hearts (CH 692 / MP 376), I will sing a song of love (WGRG) or When, in our music, God Is glorified (CH 203) while the call to “give thanks to God the Father at all times” could be picked up with Give thanks with a grateful heart (CH 180 / MP 170), In the Lord I'll be ever thankful (CH 772 / MP 865 / Taizé) or My heart is filled with thankfulness (MP 1209 / CCLI / Getty).


Songs about wisdom could link well to the Old Testament such as Holy wisdom, lamp of learning (CH 604) or The perfect wisdom of our God (CCLI). How happy are all they who hear (CH 686) and Come and seek the ways of wisdom (MV 10) are interesting in that they both pick up the feminine language for wisdom from Proverbs while God I look to you (MP 1276 / CCLI) would be a more personal response asking for God to give vision and wisdom.




Sending


The theme of giving thanks to God from the Epistle would be a good conclusion with well known songs such as Now thank we all our God (CH 182 / MP 486) and Great is the Lord (MP 199 / CCLI) or you could also consider Give thanks to God (CCLI) by Scottish songwriters Allan McKinlay and Pete Crockett which works as a call and response making it simple to pick up. If you’ve focused on the Old Testament then Be thou my vision (CH 465 / MP 51) could be an option with it’s wisdom reference while Guide me, O thou great Jehovah (CH 167 / MP 201) would link to the Gospel if you haven’t already used it.

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