Evergreen Hymns

Rooted and Grounded in Love

25.00
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Rooted and Grounded in Love

25.00

A collection of 22 hymns written by Sarah and Cooper Sherry between 2013 and 2018. It includes piano music, and many songs include guitar chords. There are instrumental parts for four of the hymns.

The price includes shipping by USPS Flat Rate mail (2 business days) for US domestic shipments. It will take up to 5 business days for us to process your order.

You can also download bulletin friendly versions of the songs, that you may reproduce as needed for congregational worship.

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A collection of 22 hymns written by Sarah and Cooper Sherry between 2013 and 2018. It includes piano music, and many songs include guitar chords. There are instrumental parts for four of the hymns.

The price includes shipping by USPS Flat Rate mail (2 business days) for US domestic shipments. It will take up to 5 business days for us to process your order.

You can also download bulletin friendly versions of the songs, that you may reproduce as needed for congregational worship.

Background Notes

Baptized, Holy Named: In speaking with a couple who had deep concern over one of their adult children, they mentioned to Sarah that knowing that their daughter was baptized was the single thought that gave them any solace.  That statement stayed with us: we hadn’t often considered the sacrament of baptism from the perspective of how others might take comfort in someone else’s baptism.  It also prompted us to consider more deeply the significance of baptism across a lifespan – from infancy through various times of adulthood – and the meaning of this unwavering promise signified by the phrase “marked and sealed.” Cooper’s hope was to create music that felt simple, childlike, and comforting – perhaps evocative of a mother singing gently to a child at night.

Behold, the Myst’ry, Stars and Sun: In many translations, the transfiguration text, which served as a starting point for this hymn, uses the verb “behold.” In its common usage, behold means “to look” or “to see;” however, behold also connotes deeper meaning such as “to discern,” “to contemplate,” and “to feast with one’s eyes.”  In this sense, repeated usage of the word “behold” in this hymn invites us to consider the many manifestations of God’s majesty and mystery (e.g., sun, wind, quiet dark of night, wisdom, peace) not merely from the point of view of simple seeing. Rather, this text is intended as a song of praise where we are reminded to “feast with our eyes” and contemplate a greatness that exceeds human capacity or engineering. The musical treatment drew heavily on Cooper’s admiration for the styles of David Haas and Marty Haugen.

Creator God who Breathes us Life: In Isaiah Chapter 11, we find a people who have been “cut down” but return, capable of bearing good fruit and soothing that which binds people to sin, because they have been rooted firmly in “good soil.”  In a sermon on these texts, it was likewise noted that when our roots are grounded in a soil of love and reconciliation, we are “irrefutably hardy:” when we are cut down, a shoot will grow; we are given new life that heals and bears fruit. The hymn text for Creator God provides a description of this process.  Beginning in verse one with recognition of the source of our life, the second verse gives voice to our times of difficulty, followed by a reminder of the promise of new and abundant life in verse three. The music strives to capture a bit of Natalie Sleeth’s style, who always wrote such pleasant tunes to sing.

For as you Gaze: The verses in Mark 7: 24-37 describe two stories of physical healing that, as was noted in the sermon on this passage, may be difficult for modern-day listeners of these stories to comprehend.  In contrast to the observers’ reactions described in scripture, it is sometimes hard for us to be open to the possibility of healing: many of us suffer from an excess of self-sufficiency, have difficulty in asking for help, or fail even to recognize our need for support. The text of this hymn directly names this struggle, reminding us in the last verse of God’s steadfast promise of healing and strength. 

God’s New Paradigm:Intended as a sending hymn, the text of this piece was written directly from Jesus’ feast parables (Luke 14: 7-14) where we hear directives of humility and hospitality as that for which we should strive in all of our day-to-day interactions.  The use of the word “paradigm” at the end of each verse was deliberately selected precisely because it is a curious word for a hymn text, a device which Cooper tried to emphasize with a similarly surprising chord change.  All of this is meant to draw attention to God’s values of radical inclusivity, ego deflation, and surrender which run so counter to human tendency and are in their own ways highly unusual.  We hope to prompt the singer to consider these directives in a new light, freeing one from any earlier connotations that might have been used in the past to describe Christ’s vision of an abundant feast (such as “kingdom”). This is one of the few hymns that Cooper scored specifically with the pipe-organ and choral singing in mind.

God’s Springtime Promise: This hymn is based on two parables as well as Psalm 139.  In the refrain, we hear references to the Parable of the Sower where, rather than describing individuals as exclusively one type or soil or another, the hymn text acknowledges that each individual has the propensity for both “parched and fertile soil.” The verses of this hymn connect to the following parable of Weeds AmongWheat, where, again, we might be tempted initially to hear this text as a call to judge others.  Instead, however, we are reminded that such judgment belongs to God, as God is able to see that which we cannot.Our limited perspective, not to mention our historical track record, moreover point to the fact that we are extremely flawed at such judgment.  Psalm 139 further directs us, with God’s help, to seek out our own “weeds” (Search me, O God, and know my heart … and lead me in the way everlasting). It may be easiest for cantors to sing the verses as a solo, and the congregation to join on the refrain.

Hold the Christ-light for Me: In this hymn, we are reminded in the refrain that we are a people of hope who belong to a Christian community that supports and recalls for each other the deep-rooted promise of God’s steadfast presence with us.  For example, Mark’s apocalyptic text (13: 24-37),which served as the starting point for this hymn, likely brought courage to those who were suffering under Rome’s domination and who longed to hear words of hope.  It is this type of darkness that is described in the first two verses of the hymn, which, when followed by the refrain, are intended to remind us of the support and hope we garner from our Christian communities during difficult times.  In verses three and four, however, we are reminded that our ability to invite, humanize foes, or connect with each other comes from our participation in our Christian communities.  In this manner then, holding the Christ-light for each other is essential under all circumstances: it is both sustaining and formative. Having the congregation join on the refrain might work best at first, but the verses are also intended to be very singable.

Journey of Advocacy: In Matthew 8: 5-13, we hear the story of a centurion who pleads for Jesus to come and heal his servant.  Although this account illustrates the centurion’s deep faith in Jesus’ healing powers, it also demonstrates his advocacy on behalf of another.  It is this topic that serves as the basis for this hymn text, describing many common reactions to hearing of need (e.g., shouldn’t God intervene? Who am I to serve?”) and blessings we experience (e.g., joining with unexpected allies) when answering such a call. Cooper attempted to channel a bit of Ray Makeever in this one – bring out your folk instruments and start strumming!

Let us Come and Deeply Rest: This text is intended to encourage the letting go of worries and the focusing of one’s thoughts in order to center oneself for prayer or meditation.  Sung repetitively, the different parts may be layered in and out as the song progresses.

Loving Christ, Whose Caring Hands: The story described in Luke 7:11-17 provides an account of Jesus’ healing of the widow’s son.  We are told that, filled with compassion, Jesus suddenly, freely, brought the man back to life (verse one, analogous to “water’s crashing wave”).  Healing and transformation likewise come to us in other ways as described in verses two (“water’s cleansing rain”) and three (“water’s living stream”).  It is hoped that by naming the varied ways we experience healing, we might be better able to see them as they occur in ourselves and in others.

Oh How Often Have We Turned to God: The sermon topic of persistent prayer (Luke’s 18:1-8) provided the basis for this hymn text.  In Luke’s introduction to this scripture, he writes that this is a story of not giving up – words of assurance that were likely very much needed by 1stCentury Christians living under Rome’s domination.  Drawing on the work of Barbara Brown-Taylor who differentiates between praying and wishing, the sermon noted that she wrote, “prayer can wear your heart out” but that it works because it keeps us chasing after God.  “It’s how we bother God, and it’s how God bothers us back.”  This hymn, therefore, seeks to emphasize the transformative power of prayer on our own hearts, minds, and perspectives. Cooper created something like a madrigal with this, perhaps best used by a vocal quartet due to the unconventional metric shifts.

Rooted and Grounded in Love: In response to a request in 2014 that we write a hymn for our congregation’s theme-year “rooted and grounded in love,”Sarah wrote a text that draws heavily on Ephesians 3:1-21.  Readers of this text will see many phrases from this scripture woven into the hymn, with each verse ending with Ephesians 3:17. Further, we extended the root metaphor to include a number of references to growth (e.g., earth, soil, varied forms of plant-life) to enhance the vividness of this phrase. Because our church has both traditional and contemporary praise services, this hymn needed to work in both genres. It is ideally performed by a praise band with bass-guitar and drumset, but can work well accompanied by just a piano if necessary.

Salt and Light: The well-known scripture reading (Matthew 5:13-20) where Jesus tells people that they are“like salt for the whole human race” and the “light for the whole world” is the obvious basis for this hymn.  The hymn goes on to explicate this directive (e.g., share our bread) in verse one, but then acknowledges our fear we have in living according to these principles (verse two), our recognition of our own blessings (verse three), and our reassurance for this as a way of life (verse four).  Small word shifts between verses in the otherwise parallel word construction is intended to highlight these concepts as the song is sung.

The Strength of Peace Found in the Lamb: Revelation 7: 9-17 and John 1: 29 describe the power of the Lamb – a power that is able to reconcile, heal, and guide people through harrowing ordeals.  And yet this is accomplished not through brute force, manipulation, and other typical human forms of power; rather, it is through meekness, humility, servitude, and ultimately surrender. This is another hymn where the congregation may have most success singing the refrain, while cantors tackle the verses as solos.

We Are Called to be Light: Scripture contains many stories of people bravely defying authority in their efforts to serve God.  Two of these stories from Exodus (i.e., Hebrew midwives in Exodus 1, the women who cared for Moses in Exodus 2) served as the starting point for this hymn. We hear how in the course of one’s daily activities, one may face a choice, or opportunity to say “no” to the commonplace “Pharaohs” of one’s time.  Doing so requires that we live in a posture of trust, not fear.  This courage, however, does not come from our own reserves.  Rather, it is a gift of the spirit and, much like happened with the Hebrew people of old, is strengthened when we live as a people who know their own story and to whom we belong.

We Gather, Seeking: This simple call to worship gives voice to two ideas that are likely on the hearts and minds of many who gather for worship: searching for the assurance of God’s presence and seeking God’s renewing spirit.  Its simple and meditative melody can be sung by a congregation, and the harmonies can be included by a small ensemble or choir for added depth.

We Lift our Melodies of Hope: Written during the Advent season, this piece was inspired by the tragic death of a congregation member during the week that the text of Mary’s Magnificat served as one of the lectionary readings.  Mary’s song – one that beautifully expresses her deep faith – points us to the power of song as expression of joy, praise, and expectation.  Verses one (hope and expectation) and three (praise) of this hymn likewise convey some of the same emotion; verse two (fear, sorrow, lament) adds to this range of experience to include the broad ways in which song can be used as both expressions of our faith as well as the means for enhancing, sustaining, and strengthening our belief.

We Question, We Ponder: The story of Nicodemus’ questions to Jesus (John 3: 1-15) served as the textual basis for this somewhat atypical hymn.  He was confused by the concept of rebirth, questioned the veracity of Jesus’ words, yet endeavored to understand.  In other texts, we also see the disciples questioning as well as doubting, straying, and returning. Importantly, however, they also served irrespective of their questions or certitude.  This, then, is the principle message of this hymn: belief comprises a range of activity, but only some of itfeels steadfast and unwavering. By recognizing other aspects of belief such as times of searching, reflecting, or doubting, we hope to give voice to realities and complexities of what it means to have belief. Cooper used this as an opportunity to explore musical progressions based more in the jazz medium, meant to convey the sometimes lonely questions we privately wrestle with in our faith journey.

We’re Joined by Water: In Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism by John (3:21), we read that he received this baptism along with “all the people” who were being baptized at the same time.  Among other messages, the sermon noted that this was Jesus’ way of saying that we are all connected by a common, deep love, one that is symbolized by water.  Further, in so many ways, water connects all of creation: all of life is dependent upon water and, by extension, implies that there exists an important interdependency and interconnection between all forms of creation (verse 1).  Humans, however, often fail to acknowledge such connection, placing themselves on a higher plane and separating themselves from creation’s whole (verse 2).  As with other manifestations of human brokenness, the power to heal this destructive orientation comes from God (verse 3).

When we Live in God’s Peace: In this song, we aimed to identify the multitude of ways we experience blessing.  Many, we think, understand “blessing” as events (e.g., birth of a child) or conditions (e.g., good health) – a type of good fortune that is bestowed on some, but not others, for reasons that are largely not understood.  With this hymn, however, we broadened the concept of blessing to include the many ways in which our hearts and minds are changed by a power that exceeds our own human capacity.  We identify as blessing new ways of seeing, hearing, giving, and growing despite the seemingly unchanging nature of a given situation or our own human limitations.  In this manner then, each phrase or sentence juxtaposes such opposites (e.g., we take action despite our fear, we learn though we’d previously been close-minded). By including so many pairings of powerful yet common-day blessings in this hymn, we hope to illustrate the abundance of God’s blessings to all in ways that extend beyond positive life circumstances or outcomes. The melodic line of this hymn transitions repeatedly between major and minor shifts, pulling the piece harmonically in very different directions – a musical indication of the spirit changing our hearts with each new realization of blessing.

Wine from Water, Masses Fed: For many faithful Christians, a literal understanding of miracles is difficult to reconcile.  This hymn begins by identifying a number of miracles described in scripture and names this doubt; the text also describes some of the different responses of those who question a literal interpretation (e.g., stories as metaphors?).  Without directly solving this dilemma, the last verse of text recognizes that there are many aspects to faith that cannot be answered and that living with this mystery is part of what it means to be a person of faith. Like “We Question, We Ponder,” this hymn explores harmonic progressions very infrequently used in traditional hymn-writing.These jazz-inspired chord structures that are meant to provide something to wrestle with musically as well as conceptually. For this reason, it might be most successfully used as a solo in worship.

Your Bold and Steady Promise: This hymn was written to connect a number of texts that describeGod’s covenant with God’s people (e.g.,  Genesis 9:13, covenant signified by a bow in the sky; Genesis 17, covenant with Sarah and Abraham; Jeremiah 31:33, covenant that is written upon our hearts). The hymn, further, emphasizes that it is this covenant with God that is the very basis for our well-being.  Although these concepts are probably not controversial among Christians, the hymn goes on to describe the struggle we have in remembering the covenant, believing and feeling it to be true, during all phases of life (verse 2).  In the last two verses, we are reminded of signs of this promise, both those that we see in modern-day examples as well as those we can recall from our Christian heritage. The hymn also functions well on the organ, especially if transposed a few steps upto the key of G major. (available upon request!)