A Reflection on "As our Voices Join Together"
By Amanda Udis-Kessler
Sometime in March 2020, I realized that congregations switching to online worship might find it useful to have a hymn available that had been written both for and about virtual worship. I wrote a text called “We Are Gathered,” set to Nettleton. It is poignant for me to share here a new hymn text, also to Nettleton, called “As Our Voices Join Together,” written for the day when we worship in person together again. I received helpful guidance from Eric Dundore about focusing the text on the power of collective worship (including music) to heal the pain, grief, rage, and fear we have lived with in our isolation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have attempted to write a text that is true both to traditional worship elements and to the UCC’s commitment to justice and inclusion. For example, I have taken care not to include certain ableist words (“hear,” “see,” “stand”). I have also used the term “Love” for the Holy and have referred to Scripture as “the words of justice.” There is an optional alternate verse that would be useful if the hymn is sung in services that include communion.
Regardless of whether the regular or alternate second verse is used, I would encourage congregations using this text to modulate up a whole step for the final verse to capture its sense of hope and joy musically as well as textually. ■
Amanda Udis-Kessler is a hymnwriter, songwriter, composer, and writer. Her hymns, responsive readings, and selected sermons have been published in seven hymnals and on the ProgressiveChristianity.org and Unitarian Universalist Association Worship Web websites. Amanda serves informally as composer-in-residence at Vista Grande Community Church UCC in Colorado Springs, where she is a Covenantal Partner. Amanda is a member of the UCCMA, the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and the Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries. Find Amanda’s free-use hymns, songs, and worship music at queersacredmusic.com and everysoulmusic.com; contact Amanda at email@example.com
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