Moravian Music Sunday
May 2, 2021
In light of current guidelines, you are free to consider your own date, suitable for your congregation, for Moravian Music Sunday!
If your congregation is NOT SINGING, the texts by this Moravian poet may provide a new way to listen and share in worship.
Easily planned with provided resources and materials for a worship experience for your congregation; this page and shared resources will remain active throughout 2021.
The Hymns of James Montgomery
On this day, set aside to acknowledge our Moravian musical heritage,
we lift our hearts and our voices in praise and thanksgiving.
Whether your congregation is singing together or not, we can let the words of these hymns by James Montgomery work their way into our hearts and souls. Whether we read in silence, or listen to the reading of these words, God listens to each of our hearts, and calls us to respond to God in faith, in love, and in hope.
Recognizing that music is a means of proclaiming the Gospel,
we celebrate Moravian Music Sunday on the fifth Sunday of Easter, which, in 2021, is May 2.
The Moravian Music Foundation provides all the materials for a service featuring and celebrating Moravian music, below:
Scroll down for all provided materials!
Through our singing we respond to God in faith, in love, and in hope.
But, even if we cannot sing this year, we take this opportunity to praise God with our voices, focusing on the beautiful expressive poetry in these texts.
We are grateful that God gave us the gift of music, an audible form of comfort, celebration, and worship which connects us to our past, and binds us to one another, and to our God. Let us all praise the Savior with music, in thanksgiving for all God’s mercies.
On this day, set aside to acknowledge our Moravian musical heritage, we lift our hearts and our voices in praise and thanksgiving. We express our thanks to the musicians among us who create and arrange, who organize and direct, who nurture and teach, and who play and sing. And, especially, we give thanks to God for the cherished gift of music. May it be so!
The order of service may be used in several different ways.
- If the majority of your congregation members have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and you are meeting in person, you may choose to have the congregation sing some or all of these.
- If your congregation is not meeting in person, or if you are not comfortable with choral or congregational singing(), you may have a soloist sing some or all of the verses; or you may have someone read the text aloud as a poem, with or without quiet instrumental music in the background. (This music need not be the specific hymn tune; it could be improvisation based upon the sense of the text, or other appropriate instrumental music. Be creative!)
() I would not recommend congregational or choral singing until most, if not all, of your members have received the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s simply not safe to share the vapors created by singing, even with masks.
The order is designed to flow from one hymn to the next without spoken hymn introductions or other commentary. On the following page is a brief outline of the structure of the service.
Focusing on the words in 2021:
Knowing that we don’t know what our situations will be in May, we have planned a very different sort of Moravian Music Sunday observance this year. We are celebrating the hymns of James Montgomery (1771-1854), and we are not suggesting any specific choral or solo music. Nor are we recommending a spoken liturgy. Instead, we will reflect on the seasons of the church year using Montgomery’s hymns.
To print, click on the document, below, and then click on the download icon; from there, you can print or download the document.
Worship outline and music suggestions
Bulletin Insert in color or b&w
Moravian Music Sunday liturgy and insert
There are many Moravians living today who are writing hymn texts and music, anthems, instrumental music, sacred songs, and all sorts of music – probably someone in your own congregation! While we are offering some suggestions for specific hymns and anthems, we encourage you to seek out those gifted composers and authors in your own congregation and celebrate their gifts.
Statement to be read; Special Hymn for Moravian Music Sunday
One more treat you may enjoy:
a poem by James Montgomery in five cantos of heroic couplets. This was prefaced by a description of the ancient Moravian church, its 18th-century revival and its mission to Greenland in 1733. The poem was noted for the beauty of its descriptions:
The moon is watching in the sky; the stars
Are swiftly wheeling on their golden cars;
Ocean, outstretcht with infinite expanse,
Serenely slumbers in a glorious trance;
The tide, o’er which no troubled spirits breathe,
Reflects a cloudless firmament beneath,
Where poised as in the centre of a sphere
A ship above and ship below appear;
A double image pictured on the deep,
The vessel o’er its shadow seems to sleep;
Yet, like the host of heaven, that never rest,
With evanescent motion to the west,
The pageant glides through loneliness and night,
And leaves behind a rippling wake of light.
— Canto 1, lines 1-14
We would appreciate receiving bulletins or reports on what you choose to do for Moravian Music Sunday. What you do may serve as a model for someone else!
Many thanks, and may God continue to bless your ministry!
The Rev. Nola R. Knouse and the staff of MMF led Moravian Music Sunday worship service on Moravian Church Without Walls on June 7, 2020.