A musical Christmas gift

A Christmas discovery this year, thanks to Natalie Sims, is the carol “God’s surprise” from the Iona Community.

“Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.”

What’s nice about this one is that, like “What child is this?” it is sung to a traditional English tune, in this case SCARLET RIBBONS (Link downloads a pdf of melody and guitar chords). I liked it so much I decided to record a sing-along track (as professionally as I could manage, decide for yourself):

It’s for those of you who are pushed for musicians at this busy time of the year. You can download a high-quality mp3 from my Soundcloud page. By the way, you can also use this arrangement to sing “What a friend we have in Jesus” at any time of the year as it’s 3 verses in 8787D!

Advent blessings!




A musical Christmas gift

“Glad music fills the Christmas sky”, a carol by Michael Perry appears in the much used hymnal “Hymns for Today’s Church” (#82) but is unfortunately little used. The words can also be found online .

The folk tune “O Waly Waly” suits these words well, and I’ve created an upbeat and full-sounding accompaniment track (which includes the melody). It’s uploaded as a very high-quality mp3 which you can play from a device or burn to CD. If you use it, please do submit a comment.


Download it fromSoundCloud.

Music from Worldmaking

Looking for some songs you could play during the service for people to meditate on, hum along to or learn? Here’s a great site with very high quality recordings: http://www.worldmaking.net/explore-the-songs.php

What’s great about this material is the range, from meditative to seriously upbeat, short and long. And it’s aimed at liturgical churches, too.

There’s also a nice freebie for next Epiphany season.

Try these: “Thank God and sing praise” (Post-communion acclamation)

and scroll down for “Hear my cry O God” (Listen to the whole thing!)

Something here for most contemporary tastes in Anglicanism.

Inclusive language all the way, too!



Elijah flees, encounters God (Pentecost+4C) dramatised

Here is a dramatised version of the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures. By the way, you can copy the text of the NRSV (in the Oremus Bible Browser and reproduce it for non-profit purposes such as Sunday worship, provided you note (NRSV) as the source. Oremus is great for producing your own dramatised readings and other liturgical purposes.

Here is a Word Document file: 1Kings19.1-15Dramatised

or copy and paste the text below:

1 Kings 19:1-15 (dramatised)

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a message to Elijah:

“So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die:

“It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”

Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. (Pause) Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him,

“Get up and eat.”

He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said,

“Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”

He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying,

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said,

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

“I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.”


Dramatised reading for Pentecost 3C

Here is a dramatised reading of Luke 7:36 – 8:3 with suggestions for performance for the third Sunday after Pentecost. Parts are for:

Narrator, Simon, Jesus, Guest, Woman


or just copy and paste this text:

Luke 7:36 – 8:3 dramatised

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself,

If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him —that she is a sinner.”

Jesus spoke up:

Simon, I have something to say to you.”

Teacher,” speak.”

A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”

I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.”

You have judged rightly.”

[Jesus, turning toward the woman]

Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

[to the woman] “Your sins are forgiven.”

But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves,

Who is this who even forgives sins?”

[to the woman] “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Notes on performance:

To make this a multi-sensory experience, consider lighting some incense in the church during the gradual hymn, or other time, so that by the time of the Gospel reading there is a scent of the anointing ointment in the building.

A member (or members) of the congregation could call out the line “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (the whole congregation could echo it if prewarned).

It is appropriate to have a woman seated at the feet of Jesus and facing away from the congregation – long hair would be helpful! The woman could walk out of the church slowly while the reading is completed. It would be very dramatic for the woman to be the one to say “This is the Gospel of Christ” at the conclusion. (Narrator could lead in “Praise to Christ, the Word”.

NB: Make sure no-one reads out the bracketed directions!

Starter ideas for Trinity Sunday (C)

Since we are dealing with the only festival day in the Church’s year which is based on a theological idea (God in Trinity) rather than the commemoration of a particular event, it makes sense to make the focus theological too. Here are three approaches:

God’s wisdom: The Hebrew Scriptures depict Wisdom as a female presence born at the beginning of creation, who says “whoever finds me finds life”. This is an idea echoed in John’s gospel in particular, and Paul writes of “Christ who became for us wisdom from God.” (1 Cor 1:30). Feminine imagery associated with God, and Christ as “mother hen” could be presented as ways to talk about God that are alternatives to typical Father/Lord language, and the question “How would we think/feel differently about God if we used this kind of language more frequently?

God as community: We sometimes forget when emphasising Christian community that God is also community, or if you like, in the business of communing. God is a dynamic threefold relationship of Creator, Incarnate One and Enlivening Spirit, to use just three descriptors – and most importantly it is love which is that which binds the Trinity in one.  Ideas which stem from this are, for example, that Christian faith is most authentically experienced as part of the Body of Christ, in which we are called to dwell in love.

All age presentation: “Light for the Lectionary” offers a simple and useful idea for helping everyone to think about God in trinity. You gather together a box of objects all belonging to and representative of a well-known member of the congregation: an item of clothing, representation of a hobby, a book etc and see if people can guess who the person is. Ask how much the items really tell about the person, and what else you’d like to know. Talk about clues in creation as to the nature of God, and then how much clearer it is when the person themselves is present (have the owner of the items come forward). This is like God becoming incarnate in Jesus. Then, the Holy Spirit is like another person who has witnessed all of the aforementioned, and comes to tell others about it, or to remind us what we have seen and heard.

(This is a condensation of the teaching idea, and we recommend that you purchase “Light for the Lectionary” from Scripture Union UK if you regularly use all-age ideas in worship). Details are in previous posts, which you can find by clicking on the all-age tags on the right.