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Love is the Spirit of this Church

A spirited affirmation of religion's core value
Commissioned by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing
Poet/Lyricist: 
Tony Larsen & Elizabeth Alexander

A spirited invitation to what religion is truly about: Love. This progressive reimagining of a classic gospel tune calls for lively participation from all present, including worship leaders and congregants. Rousing lyrics by Rev. Tony Larsen and Elizabeth Alexander call on the church community to expand beyond "the walls and steeple" and become "a gathered people," blessing the world with its actions.

The "Old-Time Revival Version" (currently available), features a spoken introduction by a rousing worship leader, a driving pulse, and a "testimony time" to recognize the church's concrete acts of love. Lead sheets for additional instruments are available upon request.

The "Contemporary Gospel Version" (coming soon) features a soulful introduction for a strong soloist, rich harmonies, and an optional role for a unison children's choir.

Performance by Pacific Northwest UU Music Festival Choir / Elizabeth Alexander
* Like or Share on YouTube *

ORDER MUSIC DIRECTLY FROM SEAFARER PRESS:
Look Listen Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Item Price Quantity
Contemporary Gospel Version: SATB, soloist, piano, opt. children's choir - Choral Score
5"00 M SEA-138-00 $0.00
Sheet Music
http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/Love%20is%20the%20Spirit%20of%20this%20Church%20-%20Pacific%20NW%20UU%20Music%20Fest%20-%20Cecelia%20Hayes%20-%20Harper%20recording%20-%20edited.mp3 Old-Time Revival Version: SATB, soloist, piano, opt. band - Choral Score
6'00 M SEA-138-01 $3.50
Sheet Music
http://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/Love%20is%20the%20Spirit%20of%20this%20Church%20-%20Pacific%20NW%20UU%20Music%20Fest%20-%20Cecelia%20Hayes%20-%20Harper%20recording%20-%20edited.mp3 Old-Time Revival Version: SATB, soloist, piano, opt. band - Choral Score
6'00" M SEA-138-01D $2.25
Licensed PDF

Love is the Spirit of this Church

Tony Larsen

Additional lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander

Oh our church is built of neither brick nor stone,
For it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.
It’s a shelter fashioned from our hearts alone.
Yes it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.

CHORUS: For it’s love, yes it’s love,
For it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.
Not the walls or steeple but a gathered people
Is what makes up the spirit of this church.

It is not stained glass that makes these windows bright,
For it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.
They’re illuminated by compassion’s light,
Yes it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.

CHORUS

And our sacred altar is not carved of wood,
For it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.
It is consecrated by the greater good,
Yes it’s love that’s the spirit of this church.

CHORUS

Composer's Note: 

It took three ministers plus a minister’s daughter to create this song. It all started in 1878, when Presbyterian minister and hymnwriter Elisha A. Hoffman penned the classic altar call warhorse, Washed in the Blood. Over a hundred years later, Unitarian Universalist minister Tony Larsen began leading spirited revivals for religious liberals, setting original lyrics to tunes from well-known revival songs.

Tony’s new lyric was based on the first line of a church covenant written by Unitarian minister James Vila Blake in 1894: “Love is the spirit of this church and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.”

Tony’s popular revivals were performed all over the country – including in Madison, Wisconsin, where this minister’s daughter showed up in 1993 with a baby on one hip and a tambourine on the other. Twenty-three years later, a commission for the dedication of a new church building offered her the perfect opportunity to create a revised and full-fledged arrangement of Love is the Spirit of this Church.

 

Performers: 

* Premiere: Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing / Lyle Brown

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