As MennoMedia prepares to release the full list of songs included in Voices Together before the end of August, it is releasing a sneak peek at titles contained within the collection. These nine songs will appear in the various hymnal editions shipping to congregations later this fall:
- “Total Praise” was written by Richard Smallwood in 1996. Recommended for Voices Together by African American consultants, this triumphant gospel anthem could be a song for a church choir or a fun challenge for a congregation.
- “Kwake Jesu nasimama” is a Swahili text based on the 19th-century hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.” The Kenyan tune can be sung with instrumental accompaniment, as in the linked video, or a cappella.
- “My Lighthouse” is a soaring, high-energy anthem from an Irish folk worship band, Rend Collective, written in 2014. The song reflects God’s enduring love and promise through the imagery of a lighthouse that leads us safely to shore.
- “Your Love Is Washing Over Me” was written by Jaylene Johnson, a Winnipeg-based pastor and musician. This short song is repeated with one word changing each time: “Your mercy/peace/joy is washing over me.” It lends itself to body percussion, and the recording demonstrates how vocal harmonies can be layered onto the melody.
- “How Great Thou Art” appeared in the 1969 Mennonite Hymnal, but, because of copyright limitations, was not included in the 1992 Hymnal: A Worship Book. This song is beloved in Mennonite circles and ecumenically around the world, and will appear in Voices Together.
- “When Memory Fades” is an example of a new hymn text (written in 2002 by Mary Louise Bringle) that addresses themes we haven not seen in previous Mennonite hymnals. This song is about God’s care through aging and memory loss. In Voices Together it is set to the tune FINLANDIA (often known with the text “Be Still, My Soul”).
- “Quietly, Peacefully” uses a famous melody from Dvořák’s New World Symphony. Composer Lori True arranged the music and added the text, which focuses on resting in God.
- “Sanctuary Prayer” was written by a small group of people in English and Spanish when Edith Espinal entered sanctuary at Columbus (Ohio) Mennonite Church in October 2017. The congregation read this prayer together weekly in both languages during a worship series on the history and meanings of sanctuary in the Christian tradition.
- “Gardener God” is written by Pilgram Marpeck, a 16th-century Anabaptist church leader and theologian. This prayer inspired by John 15 draws on vivid and timeless imagery of grounding and growth to speak life into faith journeys today.
“After more than four years of curating Voices Together, the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is so excited to share it with the church this fall,” says Bradley Kauffman, general editor of the new hymnal. “This sampling gives a small window into ways the committee has listened to and cared for the needs of diverse congregations.”
A virtual launch for Voices Together is scheduled for Nov. 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. EST. For more information, visit VoicesTogetherHymnal.org.