Pairings

This is Monday, and I haven’t done “Monday music” per se in a while, but I wanted to do that kind of thing today.  Here are thoughts on pairing songs for the sake of effective worship sequencing.

When planning corporate worship, I can rarely resist stringing together songs that relate in one way or another.  Sometimes it’s a relationship that wouldn’t be apparent to most worshippers in “real time”–say, two songs of worship that focus on God the Father, or perhaps songs of intent to stay faithful, both in the key of F.  Often, even more specific connections come out, and I’d like to share three pairs of songs from Great Songs of the Church (No. 2 or Revised–either book) that a church or small group might use in combination:

  • To Canaan’s Land
  • There Is a Habitation (O Zion, Zion)

The first one never has been a favorite of mine.  Its worth is nearly negated by many in my extended family, and Kenneth Davis, Jr., my Harding choral director, famously said, about its second stanza, “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no rose.”  I laughed with him about that then and am still reluctant to sing words that suggest an unfounded concept about heaven such as “a rose is blooming there for me.” The final stanza is my favorite in this song:  “I’m on my way to that fair land where the soul (of man) never dies . . . .”

Christians who earnestly believe they’re on the way to heaven can duly enjoy that feeling, and singing a couple of verses of this song isn’t all that bad.  Yesterday, I linked it with the words of the second song:  “There is a habitation built by the living God . . . a city with foundations . . . nor wars nor desolations shall ever move a stone . . . within its pearly portals angelic armies sing, with glorified immortals, the praises of its King.  O Zion, Zion, I long thy gates to see . . . when shall I dwell in thee?”  Some of those expressions are at least mildly maudlin, but they poetically express truth and can be especially effective when combined with a shallower song such as “To Canaan’s Land.”

In this case, we sang the first stanza and a chorus of “To Canaan’s Land,” then three stanzas of the second song, then back to the final stanza of the first.  Key must be considered when doing this sort of thing.  One’s written in F, and the other, in Eb, and they both start and end on the lower “do” or keynote.  This makes for a relatively easy transitions.  I chose the middle-ground key of E, and didn’t need to change.

Tomorrow:

  • Children of the Heav’nly King
  • Sanctus “Holy” from “On Zion’s Glorous Summit’
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