Ways to sing together during online worship

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One of the most potent ways we cope with hardship is by singing and praying together. Amid the loss of in-person gathering, congregations have shown a tremendous amount of creativity, whether worshiping via video conference platforms such as Zoom, livestreaming a service, or pre-recording the service. While we deeply feel the loss of the ability to gather physically together for worship and song, there are many ways to sing together virtually.

Members of the Voices Together committee have put together the following tips for singing in online worship, along with examples of songs that work well in these formats. (Copyright information for each song is included. To learn more copyright and permissions, read this guide from Mennonite Church Manitoba.)

Use actions and movement to see other people’s engagement

  • “Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia, Praise Ye the Lord” (standing up and sitting down)
  • “Holy Lord” (Steve Bell) - CCLI #2850298
  • “Like a Rock” (Linnea Good) - OneLicense #97534
  • “As I Rise” (All Sons and Daughters) - CCLI #7016414

Use call-and-response, with a leader singing one phrase and another leader responding with a different phrase. This can be done with muted worshipers.

  • “Guide My Feet” - HWB #546 - public domain 
  • “Asithi: Amen” - HWB #64 - public domain

Try lining out, with a leader singing one phrase and another leader repeating that phrase along with muted worshipers. Most songs can work this way; be sure to use short fragments. 

  • “God Welcomes All” (John Bell) - OneLicense #72484
  • “Cantai ao Senhor (O Sing to the Lord)” - STJ #12 - public domain

Use a drone by holding a sustained note or chord on mute while one person sings. This works well for chants, American folk hymnody, and other pentatonic tunes. 

  • “Creator of the Stars of Night” (Noel Goemanne) - OneLicense #91537
  • “God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens” - HWB #414 - OneLicense #8704

Add additional verses for songs where one word or phrase changes in each verse. Encourage worshipers to suggest additional verses using the chat feature. 

  • “Peace before Us” - STS #16 - OneLicense#00141
  • “There Is More Love Somewhere” - STJ #109 - public domain

Embrace cacophony! Rounds, echo songs, and other repetitive songs work well with overlapping voices.

  • “We Shall Walk through the Valley” - HWB #412 - public domain 
  • “By the Waters of Babylon” - HWB #148 - public domain 
  • “Dona nobis pacem” - HWB #346 - public domain
  • “I Will Call upon the Lord” - STJ #19 - CCLI #11263

If your congregation is using recorded music:

  • Sing along with songs recorded by members of the community before worship. This can include more leaders in livestreams and prevent Internet connectivity issues from interfering with sharing music live on Zoom. 
  • Sing along with existing videos or audio recordings of your church to share music that is comfortable and is sung by familiar voices.
  • Listen to or sing along with songs recorded by Mennonite musicians or choirs. See the Anabaptist Worship Network’s spreadsheet of existing videos.

Related stories:
Sunday morning on Zoom
Mennonites explore virtual worship
Sundays without singing 

(Image by Pexels/Pixabay)

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