What Would Be Your Parish’s “Go-To” Songs to Sing?

I posted recently about two issues that have made a connection for me: Singing as an Expression of Faith and my Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola. While on the pilgrimage at our stop in Avila, I encountered a group of pilgrims in the town square joyfully singing hymns and clapping their hands, a scene I have encountered before from groups of different ethnicities.

On the next bus ride, I lamented to my friend and colleague Tom McGrath that, up to that point, we had not done any singing as a group on the pilgrimage and that, in general, spontaneous singing is a lost art in Anglo culture. We decided to remedy that and so, from that point on, whenever our group gathered for Mass, Tom and I invited the group to sing some brief songs and refrains. Our first attempt was “Now Thank We All Our God,” but many of our younger pilgrims did not know the words from memory. At our next opportunity, we introduced a refrain that could be repeated Taize-like and learned spontaneously: “Take, O Take Me as I Am” and later, the popular Halle, halle, halle-luia!” The response was enthusiastic. In fact, after Mass, as we dispersed and headed for the bus, I heard a small group of our younger colleagues spontaneously break into “Here I Am, Lord.” I made a mental note and pulled that one out for our next Mass, confident that they knew the lyrics.

This, of course, got me to thinking: what if every parish staff sat down with the music director and drew up a list of 10–12 “go-to” songs that folks either know or could learn easily, and committed to singing one of these at EVERY parish gathering? The songs should be short, repeatable, snappy, and uplifting. (You may want to have two or three that are more “sedate” such as “Jesus, Remember Me,” for occasions that are more solemn.) Every parish organization would be asked to appoint one person who is capable of carrying a melody to initiate singing at every parish gathering.

So, here’s my question to you: if you were to compile a list of 10–12 “go-to” songs for your parish to sing spontaneously at any parish gathering, what songs/refrains would you choose?

Four Tips on How to Survive Vacation Bible School and Still Have Fun

happy children outdoors

While Vacation Bible School is one of the most high-energy weeks of the year, it can also be one of the most stressful. Lots of volunteers you may or may not know well combine with dozens of children of all age groups bouncing around and being kids in organized chaos. Here are a few tips […]

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Understanding Church Tradition—Free Catechist Meeting Resource Packet

Understanding Church Tradition: Catechist Meeting Resource Packet

When journalists report, listeners or readers want to know the source of the information and whether or not those sources are reliable. When it comes to religion, it helps to know the source of the information we are being asked to embrace as the truth. For Catholics, we identify our source as Scripture and Tradition—not […]

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St. Paul, Conversion, and Mission

Caravaggio's "Conversion of Saint Paul on the Way to Damascus"

As the year winds down, we’re taking a session to talk about St. Paul and his conversion and missionary journeys. Our guide is Finding God, Grade 7, Chapter 23, but as usual, I’m using that as a jumping off point rather than following the book’s lesson plan word for word. We are all called to […]

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A Great Video for Baptismal Prep: Ritual Matters

Come and See DVD

One area of adult faith formation that is always in need of more attention is baptismal preparation, especially when it comes to helping young parents recognize how they can help their family to grow in faith. A great resource to keep in mind is something that has been around for a few years: the “Ritual Matters” video that […]

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A Glimpse of My Pilgrimage to Spain and Rome

St. Ignatius was born in Loyola, Spain, and was pursuing a military career when he was severely wounded by a cannon ball that shattered his knee. What have been the "cannon ball" experiences of your life - times when you were forced to change plans?

As I mentioned earlier this month, I had the privilege of enjoying a pilgrimage to Spain and Rome to follow in the footsteps of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. I can’t thank Loyola Press enough for making this sacred journey possible! Here are some pics I took that help to capture […]

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Four Ideas for Celebrating Pentecost

Holy Spirit stained glass

Pentecost has long been one of my favorite feasts in the liturgical year. Who doesn’t love a story with fire, wind, speaking in tongues, and a bold proclamation of the Gospel? Unfortunately, though, by the time Pentecost rolls around in the calendar, many of our religious education programs have ended and our creative energy switches […]

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Planting a Spiritual Garden: Three Ways to Help Others Grow in Faith

gardening--people carrying plants

Spring has finally arrived after another harsh winter in Green Bay. As I turn my attention to my garden, I marvel at the hardiness of the tulips I planted before the ground hardened in the fall. Their bright green sprouts remind me that spring is a time for new life and growth. Helping others cultivate […]

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The ABCs of God’s Love

letters a, b, and c written on board

Jesus calls each of us to spread the Good News. One way we can do this as Catholic Christians is to show God’s love to those we encounter no matter if they are friend, family, or stranger. This concept can be tough for many adults to live out. How do we teach the children in […]

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Misery Loves Company

reader feedback

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my frustration with regards to not finding the “secret formula” to attracting adults to faith formation. I was tickled to receive the following e-mail from a good friend of mine who has been a catechetical leader for years and is one of the smartest people I know: To […]

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