By: RJ Hillis

Sing to the lord and rejoice in his goodness and lift up your voices to sing of his grace.
Streams of mercy that flow from our Savior call us to songs of eternal love.
O Praise the Lord.

World Communion Sunday is a day when Christians around the world gather the first Sunday in October, at the table of the Lord. For World Communion Sunday, we are singing Kenneth Jennings’ arrangement “Sing to the Lord” which is based on the tune from Korea folk song, “Arirang”. This song is said to be the most famous folk song of Korea; so well-known that it is often described as the unofficial anthem. While this folk song has had many variations over the centuries since its creation, one of the most common themes is of a rendezvous and parting between lovers in a mountain pass.

For his arrangement, Jennings uses the theme of the original tune and recontextualizes it as the love between God, our Savior, and his people. The song starts with the firm foundation of the Basses giving a call to worship, while the higher voices, starting with the Sopranos and followed soon by the Altos, join in by humming a supporting melody. When the whole choir begins to sing, the lyrics are sung in a round, as a metaphor for the whole world joining in worship for God, singing the same worship but in different times and places.

When the four voice parts join in unison at measure #27 and again at measure #35 it is on the lyric, “Streams of mercy that flow from above. Praise the Lord.” Just as the lyrics sung in the round illustrate the many people and many places that worship the lord, the unison part shows that the same message of praise unites us as Christians across many nations and many cultures. Christians will gather in all manner of places, from huge cathedrals to mud-thatched sheds to celebrate together with others from around the world. The Lord invites to his table all who claim his promises of life abundant and life everlasting and all who serve him as his disciples, proclaiming his Gospel to a hurting world.

God of all nations, we give You thanks that we are all made in Your image, with such rich diversity. On this day we are in solidarity with the faithful around the world. As we break bread together, we remember that we are still one body in You, even though we have different languages, cultures and traditions, different ways of worship, praying and praising. In solidarity we drink the cup together of hope, of new life, knowing that Your will is for Your people to be one body. We are one body, but we are not the same—it is through the gift of diversity that we are able to be Your body. We thank You and praise You for making us all who we are, individually and collectively. We each celebrate our own ancestry, culture and ethnicity, and we pray to You now as You taught us. Amen.


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