Marty Haugen Shelf-life

The following note has appeared in the worship folder for Haugen’s Morning Praise when used at recent Schools of Worship Enrichment (SoWE).

A setting of Morning Praise, composed largely by Marty Haugen, was first introduced to WELS parishes at the first national worship conference in 1996. Parishes that have used it for a decade or more may discover that the standard liturgical songs do not have the “shelf life” of some other liturgical settings. This is not surprising with music that is easy to learn. The potential for longer use of this service is enhanced when different psalms and canticles are used within the familiar structure and sung liturgical dialogue. Psalm 89 and the hymn after the sermon [CWS 734] are not part of the original Haugen service.

CWS 734 works well at a SoWE for two reasons. We explore the purpose of music in worship, and this text is a nice complement. The musical style also works well in a Haugen service with piano, guitar, hand percussion, and a descanting sax or clarinet.

An even better substitute for Haugen’s Te Deum is “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” - a metrical version of the Te Deum. An arrangement by Sem student Kent Reeder was featured at the 2011 national worship conference. Kent has given permission to share the files for this version: piano, guitar, and more. They are available at the Commission on Worship Connect site here.

A recording from the conference shows one rendition, with percussion. While there is no percussion part available, the recording can guide percussionists. A simple arrangement - just piano, or piano/guitar/handdrum (or tambourine) - also works well.

The version of Psalm 89, also by Haugen, that we’ve used in place of his Psalm 63 is I Will Sing Forever. This easy arrangement works with SATB choir or just a soloist.

Here’s the text for your worship folder, if you like.

You have promised, “My kindness is forever, as the heavens forever stand firm. With my chosen, my covenant is sure; with David and his heritage forever.” Refrain.
Let the heavens sing out in praise to you, Lord; let your faithful rejoice in your love. In the skies, who is equal to the Lord? And who among the heavens is like Yahweh? Refrain
Oh how happy the ones who sing your praises, those who walk in the light of your love. They exult in your name throughout the day; they find their joy within your saving justice. Refrain
You, their Savior, the strength in which they glory, by your favor, their heads are held high. For the Lord is our shelter and our shield; the Holy One of Israel, our Ruler. Refrain

A tiff file of the refrain melody can be found here

Many other psalms can be substituted as well.

Finally, here’s a fond SoWE memory. At one site an adult confirmand played sax while his wife served as cantor. At the end they both approached me separately to thank me for the weekend. He said, “I didn’t know we could do this in WELS.” He was used to worship that rarely used instruments other than the organ. He was mightily encouraged to use his gifts!

Rev. Bryan Gerlach

Bryan Gerlach serves as the Director of the WELS Commission on Worship. His parish ministry experience includes congregations in Texas and California. Gerlach has a Master of Church Music degree and continues to serve as a regular pianist and organist at two WELS churches in the Milwaukee area.

Full biography »