When John Foltz, a life-long member of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, attended the 2013 Moravian Music Festival in Pennsylvania, he discovered a new resource that is having a big impact on the congregation’s music ministry.
The Festival seemed so wonderful—creativity, worship and fellowship abounded at the Festival. In retrospect, I wish that I (also a member of Trinity) could have been there, too. I followed the Festival daily through John Foltz’s Facebook postings.
John returned home to Trinity overflowing with excitement. He brought with him a new book. It was Sing to the Lord A New Song: A New Moravian Songbook, released by the Moravian Music Foundation just in time for the Festival. John handed it to me, that first Sunday after his return to Winston-Salem, and said, “Check this out; it is so good!”
I went home that afternoon and went through this new songbook. It was so fresh, so today, so worship-directed and so Moravian. I got on the phone that afternoon and spoke with a dozen Moravians who were contributors, thanking them for sharing the creativity with which God had blessed them.
When I returned the songbook, John Foltz shared a dream: he wanted Trinity to be able to use the songbook regularly in worship. I encouraged John to share his dream with Pastor John Jackman and with other members of the congregation, as God led.
In a matter of three weeks, two anonymous donors had provided the funds to purchase 130 copies. This permitted our choir and congregation to have “songbooks in hand” for weekly Sunday worship.
The gift of the books was wonderful. Thank you Lord! Visioning how Trinity Church would effectively use them brought the gift to life. Pastor Jackman, along with Music Director Jonathan Sidden, developed a worship plan, incorporating a song from the new songbook each week into the Sunday morning worship format. (We continued to sing at least one hymn each week from the 1995 Moravian [blue] Book of Worship.) Liturgies in the new songbook are being used when appropriate to focus worship. We have used two liturgies as of this writing (November 12, 2013).
The new songbook is a good “fit” for worship at Trinity Moravian Church. As Pastor Jackman points out: “Trinity is a congregation that encourages creativity. One of our members, June Edwards, began writing new hymns as a part of her spiritual journey during Gemeinschaft; two of her creations are in the new songbook. New thematic hymns are often featured in worship: hymns by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Lynette Delbridge and others.
We occasionally use “contemporary Christian” music but more often newly written hymns in a traditional style. Our music director has composed new choral settings of some favorite Moravian hymns, including ‘Sing Hallelujah.’
Each week in worship songs from the new books are accompanied by organist Daniel Johnson, Senior High member Corey Shouse and Pastor Jackman in worship, using piano and guitar. Trinity Moravian Church gives thanks to the Moravian Music Foundation for collecting and editing and the Interprovincial Board of Communication for publishing Sing to the Lord A New Song: A New Moravian Songbook and to the many talented writers of song and text. To God be the Glory!
Tripp May is a retired Moravian pastor and a member of Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem.
From the December 2013 Moravian Magazine