singing

MennoMedia: Do not sing together if you are gathering physically for worship

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With stay-at-home orders being lifted across much of the U.S. and Canada, churches are thinking about what it will look like to open their doors again. Yet because the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much with us, it is up to churches to consider how to do so safely. 

Sundays without singing

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Never thought there would be Sundays without singing. 

Like churches across Canada, ours has been shuttered as a precaution against the novel coronavirus. I understand why this must be, but I sure miss getting together and joining our voices.


'Singing solo is lonely,' writes Carl DeGurse (pictured).

Music leaders sing hymnal preview

Musicians, in foreground from left, Merrill Miller, Alissa Bender, Perry Blosser, Rosene Rohrer and Andrea Weber Steckly accompany a song during the Worship and Music Leaders Retreat on Jan. 10-12 at Laurelville retreat center in Mount Pleasant, Pa. (Photo by Kreg Ulery)

In the 1980s, Ken Nafziger drew inspiration from publisher and camp association president Levi Miller, and began leading a music retreat at Laurelville.

A farewell to the ‘blue hymnal’

Eighty people from different Mennonite churches, denominations and even provinces participated in Sargent Avenue Mennonite’s hymnal sing-a-thon weekend at the end of September. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Singers sang all 658 hymns from Hymnal: A Worship Book and raised $800 to help Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church purchase copies of the new Voices Together hymnal. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Over the span of a single weekend, Sean Goerzen sang or played every single hymn in the blue-backed Hymnal: A Worship Book. All 658 of them. “I feel like I know the hymnal in a very intimate way now,” he says with a laugh.

Queer hymns now online

Cedar Klassen presents the new collection to The Hymn Society. (Photo courtesy of The Hymn Society)

Songs for the Holy Other is a project of The Hymn Society. (Photo courtesy of The Hymn Society)

Cedar Klassen is the coordinator of the working group that put together Songs for the Holy Other. (Photo courtesy of Cedar Klassen)

Growing up, Cedar Klassen loved singing hymns.

Things I noticed at Gathering 2019

Members of the worship team lead the singing at Gathering 2019. (Photo by Jane Grunau)

I didn’t used to get nervous leading singing. There were times before leading at Mennonite Church Canada’s Gathering 2019 when I was nervous. I was less nervous leading 6,500 youth and sponsors at the St. Louis ’99 Youth Convention than some points before leading a few hundred in Abbotsford, B.C., last month.

Bringing diverse voices together

Anneli Loepp Thiessen is pictured playing piano for worship at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Anneli Loepp Thiessen)

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee met in Cincinnati in July, 2018. Pictured from left to right, front row: Cynthia Neufeld Smith, Jackson, Miss.; Adam Tice, Goshen, Ind.; Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Ottawa; and Benjamin Bergey, Harrisonburg, Va.; and back row: SaeJin Lee, Elkhart, Ind.; Tom Harder, Hillsboro, Kan.; Allan Rudy-Froese, Kitchener, Ont.; Mike Erb, New Hamburg, Ont.; Bradley Kauffman, Cincinnati, Ohio; Darryl Neustaedter Barg, Winnipeg; Sarah Kathleen Johnson, Toronto; and Katie Graber, Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Darryl Neustaedter Barg)

Mennonites are stereotyped as people who love singing and forming committees.

Anneli Loepp Thiessen fulfills both of these stereotypes. The 23-year-old is one of 12 people from Canada and the United States who make up the Voices Together committee charged with making a new Mennonite hymnal planned for release in 2020.

Eastern Canada youth sing from hymnal-in-progress

SAUBLE BEACH, ONT.—Mennonite Church Eastern Canada hosted its annual youth retreat on the first weekend of February at Silver Lake Mennonite Camp, Sauble Beach, Ont. This year, more than 40 youth from seven regional churches attended the retreat, says Jean Lehn Epp, interim youth ministry resources coordinator. This number has declined in recent years, with the trend towards more local retreats, she says, adding that, for those who attend, retreats are valuable times for youth to connect and relate with young people from other churches.

Is there such a thing as a Mennonite song?

Darryl Neustaedter Barg leads worship in Laurelville, Pa. last month. (Photo by Kreg Ulery)

How many of the songs in our Hymnal: A Worship Book (HWB), and the two supplements Sing the Journey and Sing the Story do you think are Mennonite? What does that even mean? If it means songs that are embraced by Mennonites in worship, well, the answer might be all of them. If it means songs with what some might call Mennonite theological distinctives, that would be quite a few of them. If it means songs written by self-identifying Mennonites, you might be surprised. The number of tunes, texts and full songs in HWB is less than 60.

Grebel sings to bridge gaps and build community

Grebel students, faculty and staff will spend the 2018-2019 school year intentionally singing together as a way of building bridges and exploring issues of diversity, justice, hospitality, faith and peace. (Photo by Jennifer Konkle)

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, students, staff and faculty at Conrad Grebel University College took a deep breath and sang together, first in unison, and then in several different parts to build a new melody. The piece called “We All Sing” was written by Karen Sunabacka, a Grebel prof, and commissioned for the College’s 2018-19 integration initiative.

Singing with the Spirit

Song leaders from a number of MC Saskatchewan churches participated in ‘Singing with the Spirit,’ a weekend music and worship event hosted by Nutana Park Mennonite from Oct. 2 to 4, 2015. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Marilyn Houser Hamm led workshops in song leading and accompaniment in addition to plenary sessions on congregational worship at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Marilyn Houser Hamm led workshops in song leading and accompaniment in addition to plenary sessions on congregational worship at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Practising their conducting techniques at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church are, from left to right: Gwen Ens, Russ Regier, Val Regier, Shelley Bueckert and Monica Dalke. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Practising their conducting techniques at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church are, from left to right: Gwen Ens, Russ Regier, Val Regier, Shelley Bueckert and Monica Dalke. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Participants in Darrell Bueckert’s percussion workshop at the ‘Singing in the Spirit’ music and worship event held recently at Nutana Park Mennonite Church include, from left to right: Bob Neufeldt, John Elias and Lynn Driedger. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Percussionist Darrell Bueckert, demonstrates the use of a shaker at the ‘Singing with the Spirit’ event. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“I will sing with the Spirit, but I will sing with understanding.” These words, from I Corinthians 14:15, formed the basis of Marilyn Houser Hamm’s recent music workshop at Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon.

On the way to Sängerfest, 1934

Photo: Mennonite Heritage Centre/Mennonite Archival Image Database

A group of 18 young men and women travel in the back of a truck on their way a Sängerfest or song festival in the Didsbury, Alberta, area in 1934. No seatbelts used here! Song festivals were popular in Mennonite circles as a way of gathering to see old friends, enjoy singing four-part harmony music, and a way for young men and women to meet in controlled environments.

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